Wednesday, January 31, 2018

RootsTech is Almost Here!

It's T minus 27 days until RootsTech 2018! And of course I have been counting. It's the largest genealogy conference that I have ever been to. Last year was my first time and I can honestly say it was one of the most amazing experiences I ever had. It's such a lovely feeling to be surrounded by others that share your love (read addiction) of genealogy and to meet so many friends that I met online in Facebook groups and my #genchat and #iamnextgen friends.

RootsTech was the first time I really took a solo vacation. To spend an entire week devoted to something I'm so passionate about. I feel like I've come a long way since I first started researching when I was 18 years old and just trying to learn more about my paternal grandmother. It feels fitting that I was just accepted to have my photo below displayed at the RootsTech Photo + Story Competition. This is my paternal grandmother who really inspired my start of genealogy - I feel her with me and I'm glad that I can continue to take her with me. I'm honored to be selected.

Here's my story about this photo:

This is a picture of me and my paternal grandmother in her kitchen on Long Island. For the first few years of my life, my parents, brother and I all lived in my grandmother's house with her daughter, my aunt. We were a close family and grandma would make meals with all of the trimmings. On the stove was the turkey and there was likely chocolate chip cookies going into the oven later that day. I love this picture of my grandmother. She was so happy being a homemaker to her family, taking pride in her cooking and taking care of my grandfather.

When asked why I should be chosen to win in the Family category, I wrote the following: 

My grandmother inspired me to research the family tree. I wanted to know more about her family roots. I only had the opportunity to know her for a short time (about 6 years). I remember her baking and her loving nature. When grandma went to heaven, I hoped that she was happy playing bingo and spending time with my grandfather. I recently found some new cousins through her Corcoran line that really added to the diversity of my family story.

In addition to attending the various lectures, there's also time to research at the Family History Library and also attend some parties with your new friends! You will also come home with lots of goodies from the different vendors.

Who is going to RootsTech? What are you looking forward to? 

There's still time to register for RootsTech! Click here to register. 

Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for RootsTech 2018. I provide blog posts (in my own words), and social media coverage from now until after the conference. In return, I have free admission to RootsTech. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Protesting Runs in the Family

The art of protest and practicing civil disobedience is a trait that I have seen in many families, including mine. In particular several members of my family like to participate in marches.

My father marched in Washington, D.C. during the Vietnam war. He was near peope that were tear gassed. You could say he was just another hippie but he didn't believe in the war. He reported for his medical physical and was one number away from being called up for the draft.

During college I participated in several marches, including Take Back the Night as well as the March for Women's Lives in D.C. This is when I started to practice activism with the Women's Center at SUNY Oswego. These experiences truly changed my life as it gave me a voice to my experiences. When I was a young teenager I was involved in a very abusive relationship that nearly killed me.  It has been hard to trust others with my story as not everyone believed me. That's why the #MeToo movement is so powerful and important. We need to listen to each other's stories.

The Doherty family is continuing our legacy of protest with my aunt Rose participating in several marches including the last two Woman's March and several anti Trump marches and rallies. It makes me proud to see my family standing up for what they believe in. 

Did you know that archives are also interested in marches and collecting items like signs? Most recently Northeastern University collected signs before they were thrown in the trash at the end of the event. You can contribute your poster that you had at the Boston Women's March to their digital archive at Many archives and libraries around the country are collecting items. I would recommend doing some research online and contacting them to see if they would be interested in your sign at this event or any other events you participated in.

It's a whole other area to explore when you research your family tree. Did you find a picture of an ancestor holding up a sign in protest of a cause they believe in? Did they write an article in the newspaper about a particular issue? Maybe they have an arrest record for when they were participating in a demonstration.

I have included a picture of me at the March for Women's Lives. I'm on the far right in the denim jacket holding a sign. I hope my ancestors find this picture and think of me and the causes I have helped champion.

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 (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?

Monday, January 1, 2018

Top 10 Posts of 2017

Happy New Year readers! As I start off a new year, I was inspired by my friends at GeneaBloggersTRIBE to look at the top 10 posts that I wrote in 2017. This helps me understand what's important to you to read about in my blog.

In total, this blog has been viewed 4,703 times!

Here is the list ranked based on views in 2017:

1. My Military Ancestor - Dennis Rooney - 764 views

2. Irish Soda Bread: A Family Recipe Passed Down Generations - 409 views

3. RootsTech Giveaway Contest - 349 views

4. Ancestry Genetic Communities - 220 views

5. My First Trip to the Family History Library (A Genealogist's Disneyland) - 192 views

6. Opting Out - Should You? - 172 views

7. Ch-Ch-Changes in the Genealogy World - 152 views

8. RootsTech: The Wrestlemania of Genealogy Conventions - 147 views

9. Prepping for RootsTech - 140 views

10. Why The Shamrock? and California State Archives Trip - 139 views (a tie!)

What do you find the most interesting that I blog about? What topics would you like to see me blog about? Please leave your comments below.