Michiko, A Partner in Good Trouble


The Peter Mott House and Underground Railroad Museum, Lawnside, NJ

The first day that I met Michiko Quinones I knew we were going to get into trouble. In fact, within the first 5 minutes, we got into trouble. I had just arrived at the Peter Mott House and Underground Railroad Museum in Lawnside, New Jersey. I was there to attend training for my new life as a docent. One of the exciting aspects of this new journey was that Michiko is already a docent over in Philadelphia. She does what I aspire to do. She was going to be my guide into this more historical space.

So of course I took the chair next to her. The first thing out of her mouth after hello was “Did you know about the 1838 Philadelphia Black census?” “Oh sure,” I said turning back to Linda Shockley who was leading the training. I was trying very hard not to take the bait. That genealogy record bait would have my mind pointing in a thousand directions, none of which had anything to do with being a docent. Take a breath I told myself. Settle into the historical space. I am a docent.

Did you know they also did a census in 1847?” she asked, Forcing me to turn and look her in the eyes. They were not docent eyes but hungry-on-the-hunt genealogy eyes.  A one-word response wouldn’t do this time.  “This done by the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, right?” 

Of course, she responded. I responded, and so did Linda. “Okay, ladies genealogy later,” to which we both laughed.

Just recently we began working on a project together to to assess and digitize the collections of the Lawnside Historical Society. This has been a dream of mine since I began researching in Lawnside decades ago. I knew this needed to be done but I could not be the driver. But, I would be a full partner to anyone who came ready to take this project on. Michiko walks full of steam and raring to go. 

Although she got me in trouble the first time we met, I have no doubt that more trouble is ahead for both of us, good trouble.

Michiko will be our next special guest. Below are the websites where you can see her work. I am so proud of all of this. I remember the day that I felt alone with the Pennsylvania Abolition Society records. But now I have Michiko. The records are so incredible that every time I research them I  giggle with excitement like a person coming off of an amusement ride. Please watch the show because I’m sure that the episode will feel like a  fun ride as well.

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