Editor’s note: Sandra’s review of Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem by Paula Williams Madison dovetails nicely with Family History Month, which we will be celebrating on Sat., Oct. 13 from 1 – 10 p.m. at our Middlefield Branch for our First annual GCPL family history month seminar and lock-in program. Full details and registration for that can be found here.

Finding Samuel Lowe is a fascinating story that ties together China, Jamaica and Harlem in one woman’s life. The author grew up in Harlem in a troubled household with her mother, Nell, her father and her two brothers. She knew that her mother had Chinese and Jamaican ancestry and her father was African American and Jamaican. Thus the children looked somewhat different from others in the community and were considered outsiders.

Image result for Finding Samuel Lowe : China, Jamaica, HarlemAfter her mother’s death, Paula undertakes a genealogical journey to find her maternal grandfather, Samuel Lowe, a member of Hakka, a Chinese subgroup. She travels to Jamaica to find out about her grandfather’s life before he returned to China permanently. The resulting research reveals a complex history of Chinese migration to the Caribbean, a love story tainted with the stigma of racial discrimination, and a triumphant reunion of a family from Jamaica and China.

This intriguing story reveals some interesting genealogical trends and some little known cultural realities of the Caribbean. This is an excellent choice for the celebration of family history as the final chapters illustrate a familial love that transcends color, language, and culture. History and anthropology fans will find global inspiration as this extended family reunites. A DVD chronicling this story is also available in the library. Finding Samuel Lowe is also available as an audiobook from Hoopla. 

Sandra is currently reading Killers of the Flower Moon: the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.