Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words and is a Snapshot of Memories



Over the past week I have been re-examining and seeing out more pictures of my family and ancestors. I love to find documents detailing my ancestors' service in the military, when/whom they married, how many children they had. That doesn't compare to seeing a picture of a family member I never met or seeing a picture of a family member when they were about my age in the prime of their life, getting married and starting to have children.

As I mentioned in my blog post last week I officially started doing genealogy when I was 18. That wasn't when I started to seek out family pictures. I was probably about 10 years old when I started digging through the photos that we had put in some photo boxes, not sorted, no names or dates on the back (with the exception of a few Polaroids and more recent photos where the date was time stamped - a great feature!). I would bug my mom and ask her "Who is that?" "What year/". I later invested in photo safe pens so I could label photos on the back. My intent was to start scrapbooking and putting photos in a sleeve before pasting into archival books but sadly time got away from me and when I moved out of my parents house at 22, the photos remained in their boxes, secured away in closets.

I've been asking my parents and my maternal grandmother to start breaking the photos out of their cardboard prisons and take a picture with their phones. My grandmother is quite savvy with her iPhone. I've shared a few photos here below that I was recently sent. These were pictures I only recently saw for the first time. The ancestors I researched feel more alive to me - I can look at their faces and admire their fashion sense and their closeness with family. I hope that more members of the family will continue to share photographs with me so can week our memories alive. I continue to seek out more of my cousins that I find through DNA to share pictures of loved ones I remember and those who I wish to know more about.


My 2x maternal great grandmother, Chaje (Clara) Goldman with her daughter Matilda (Mollie) Siegel



This is great grandmother Matilda (Mollie) Siegel with her husband and great grandfather Anton (Eddie) Gailunas (shortened to Gail) in front of their house in Levittown, NY.

What precious family photographs were shared with you?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

What Was My Starting Point for Genealogy?




I'm participating in the 52Ancestors challenge issued by Amy Johnson Crow and the AncestorChallenge2018 issued by David Allen Lambert. Each involve hightlighting an ancestor in genealogy, which I will be blogging about and sharing via social media. The prompt for 52 Ancestors is "Start". I've decided to start with how I got started in genealogy, a question that I am asked frequently at conferences and other events. I want to say out loud no, I'm not a beginner. I've been researching for 15+ years. I just have a really young face.

I first started researching my family history when I was 18 years old. I was a first year student who was taking a genetics course for my zoology major. One of our assignments was to build a family tree and conduct interviews with family members to obtain detailed medical history. It felt awkward to ask the females in our family when their last menstrual period was, how many pregnancies, how many miscarriages, etc. Really personally stuff. It did help to understand any possible medical issues to look out for in my family.

I built the family tree going back to my grandparents. Sadly I don't have a copy as I tossed out years before I really started diving deep into genealogy. This assignment really helped open the floodgates to having conversations with my family, particularly on my father's side. I started to document the family tree on Ancestry.com (this was back in the early 2000's) and since I didn't have a subscription I was relying on public records that weren't behind the pay wall, information from my living relatives, and of course other Ancestry family trees.

It would be several years after I graduated college that I would start purchasing subscriptions, attending conferences, asking relatives to retrieve vital records they found in their collections, and of course use social media (it became popular as I was leaving college). Sometimes I'm amazed at how little I had known starting out and how much I know now.

How did you get started in genealogy?