JD Smith

J.D. Smith, author of the website The Rheinland American, is a professional writer, genealogist, and lecturer who specializes in Germans to America in the 19th century, especially those from the Rhine River Valley. Currently, he is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he teaches creative writing and English language and literature. He is at work on an index of emigrants from Pfalz-Zweibrücken and Pirmasens to America in the 1800s.


When the Gehen Gets Tough: Interpreting German Emigrant Narratives  – German-speaking emigrants shaped the American Midwest in the 1800s. But how do we analyze our own ancestral emigrant narratives, and to what greater context might those narratives belong? What genealogical and interpretive skills best serve us when we research such stories, especially when narrative evidence seems scarce? This session will explore what it means to read and interpret the lives of German emigrants to America in the 19th century.

Time: 12:30-1:30pm  | October 13, 2018 

History with a Heart: Narrative Skills for Genealogical Writing  – While proof and analysis give genealogies their body, a skillful narrative animates the lives of our ancestors, making their stories vital and enduring. But how and when should one use narrative in a written genealogy? Is a book always the most effective mode to convey your ancestral story? This workshop will introduce you to different modes of genealogical narratives and the narrative writing skills necessary to get them going with energy and conviction.

Time: 1:45-2:45pm  | October 13, 2018