Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Genealogist who is also Writing a Book

It's not easy being me these days. Genealogy and book writing are usually all-consuming tasks by themselves. Combine them and you get a crazy, schizoid scramble of work and excitement. Let me describe yesterday so that you get an idea of what I'm doing.

After reading a 1944 news article, I realized that it held the names of some missing descendants. So I added those married names to people in my family tree. That led me to other people with connecting family trees, and then I began an email exchange with one of them. At first, we both went off on a tangent because there were 2 people of the same name in her famly tree.

Once we straightened that out, she supplied an email from her Uncle, who gave names and addresses of the woman in question, her brother, and both of their children. So I wrote letters, printed out the info and photos that I had of the brother and sister's relatives, and put them in envelopes to mail to them. Guess what? They live just 1.5 hrs away from me, and had been living 1 hr away from yet another relative that I recently found - and none of them had a clue that they were related and living so close to each other!

At the same time, I was getting emails and photos from a woman and her daughter. I had recently tracked them down by getting their names from someone else's ancestry, and then I did a GOOGLE search on the daughter's name. I found her on Linked In and My Space social networks, but she did not respond to my emails. Then a later GOOGLE search showed that she was a journalist. I printed my chapter about her part of the family with some photos, and sent it to her at the newspaper. Her mother then emailed me, and we began an exchange of information.

I also opened a packet of photos going back to the 1940s. This was the result of another successful search. For this search, I had been unable to find anything on the descendants after the 1940s. So I GOOGLE searched on the man's father. I came up with a 1998 message on a genealogy board. The man's 16 yr old granddaughter was doing a genealogy project, and her Mother asked for information. The post was too old to reply to, but I saw the e-mail address. So I GOOGLE searched on the email. I then found the granddaughter's full name, so I put that into my family tree and came up with some of her family details. I then GOOGLE searched on the granddaughter's name but nothing came up, so I searched on social network sites such as FaceBook, MySpace, and LinkedIn. I found her and sent an email. No reply. I saw her husband's name, so I sent an email to him. He sent the info to his mother-in-law, who then emailed me because I had enough details to prove that this wasn't just an internet scam trying to get identity information.

Everyone is cautious about giving out personal information. You should be! But if you are curious about your family roots, and someone gives you good information that matches what you know and more, then you might be open to exchanging information and photos.

I work on, write/answer emails, scan photos, and then put them in my book, adding informational details as I go along. So this is a typical day in the life of....

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At March 1, 2010 at 1:45 PM , Blogger Catherine said...

This account of taking a bit of source material and running with it is not only educational--as far as illustrating the process of doing intense geneological research--but also fascinating.


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