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?