Welcome to ROOTS & ROUTES! To celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the website, we're updating and streamlining our pages - but our mission remains the same: finding your place in America... through family history, heritage travel, and lifelong learning.

It's time for Spring Training and vintage teams are no exception. Both players and fans will want to brush up on the rules - easily done from our home page, where you'll also find a new teenage travel adventure and more. (Older feature stories, while not actively maintained, are easily found in the Archive.)

You can explore our updated resource pages quickly by clicking Migrations, Family History, Travel Now, or Travel Then in the top navigation bar. Soon there will also be a new interactive interface for our education pages and many more ideas for family fun at home and on the road. Meanwhile, you can still find our evergreen learning resources by clicking Learn. Other sections you may miss: our letters to the editor, action alerts, and heritage events calendar - will soon reappear in our new social media pages. Meanwhile, we'll continue to preview the Big Events of 2011 here on the Bulletin Board.


There will be many festive anniversaries this year – including the fiftieth anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival on August 5, 6 and 7. But the biggest events moving into the spotlight in 2011 do seem to be both somber and potentially contentious.

Beginning with the secession of South Carolina, which was celebrated by some and criticized by others on New Year's Eve, it appears we will be commemorating some dark historical times that will inevitably evoke comparison to the ongoing economic, political and natural disasters we see unfolding on television every night. (Astonishingly, there's even an earthquake bicentennial – in New Madrid, Missouri.)

OUTBREAK OF CIVIL WAR - 150th Anniversary of Firing on Fort Sumter - April 12-13, 1861

Fort Sumter

View of Fort Sumter, ca. 1861

TRIANGLE SHIRTWAIST FACTORY FIRE - 100th Anniversary - March 16, 1910


Remembrance logo designed by Bradley Kemp for the puppet opera, Triangle.

So be it. As the ongoing commemoration of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire has brought attention to the plight of immigrant communities here and sweatshops abroad, we can only hope that some social good will come of these considerations. And it is always in crisis that American "exceptionalism" stops being debated in "ivory towers" and is actually demonstrated in action in communities large and small all across the country.

9/11 - 10th Anniversary of World Trade Center and Pentagon Attacks

Fort Sumter

Firemen Helping - Steven, age 10, courtesy Nancy Beal, Village Community School, New York

The themes of order and disorder, unity and disunity mark American history as they do all national histories, but the fact that vibrant cultural enclaves and ethnic communities exist (and let us also emphasize "co-exist") in America with roots in and connections to every other society on earth does make our particular survival story especially meaningful.

In the coming months, we'll be highlighting public programs that examine these issues and inviting historians, geographers, museum curators, writers and other expert commentators to discuss the art and act of commemoration in our own pages.