Join us as Center of the American West affiliate and local historian, Buzzy Jackson, releases her newest book, Shaking the Family Tree: Blue Bloods, Black Sheep, and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist. “Who are you and where do you come from?” As a historian, Jackson thought she knew the answers to these simple questions – that is, until she took a look at her scrawny family tree. With a name like Jackson (the twentieth most common American surname), she knew she must have more relatives and more family history out there, somewhere. In Shaking the Family Tree, Jackson dives headfirst into her family gene pool: flying cross-country to locate an ancient family graveyard, embarking on a week-long genealogy Caribbean cruise, and even submitting her DNA for testing. Through her research, she connects with distant relatives; traces her roots back more than 250 years; and discovers – genetically, historically, and emotionally – the true meaning of “family” for herself.

Buzzy Jackson is a Research Associate at the Center of the American West, where she has taught undergraduate courses and worked on a range of projects, including the recent PBS film, Lovers’ Guide to the West: Living With Energy; the anthology Remedies for a New West; and a history of the Denver Water Department. Jackson received a Ph.D. in History from UC Berkeley, where she wrote her first book, A Bad Woman Feeling Good: Blues and the Women Who Sing Them (W. W. Norton: 2005). She writes for a variety of publications and is currently at work on a new book project.