Pursuing a career in genetic genealogy was a path I largely had to forge myself. Today I share what I've learned, what I would do differently, and advice for those interested in pursuing a similar career path. Person I just met: “What do you do for work?”Me: "I’m a genetic genealogist.”Person I just met: “Wow! I didn’t even know that job existed. How did you get into that?”I probably have this same conversation (or variations on the same theme) every other day. Since I was sixteen, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in genetic genealogy. My fascination with genealogy began when I was still very young. I can trace my interest to the family history binder I got from my grandparents on my eighth birthday. Then in 2006 during the Winter Olympics, a television special entitled “African American Lives” aired on PBS, and it introduced me to my chosen career. In the show they shared stories regarding the ancestry and origins of African American celebrities. …Read more
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I remember being a young girl and sitting at the kitchen table with my great-grandfather. It must have been a Sunday because he was wearing his suit and the smell of meatballs filled the air of my grandmother’s kitchen. I remember asking him question after question about life in Italy, about our family members who were still there, what it was like coming to America and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time, why we always got together on Sundays and ate macaroni, and on and on. Thankfully, he was a patient man. He thoughtfully answered every question in his broken-English, and my love for heritage began.This story typifies one of the easiest ways to build generational bridges: relating to each other through our shared heritage. A simple conversation with your child or grandchild will start forging that bridge and can create a link to the past, present, and future. Grandparents and, if we’re lucky, great-grandparents, are some of a child’s first teachers, and one of …Read more
It does not take long delving into the world of genealogy to see that death and high mortality rates were more intimate and frequently encountered facts of life for our ancestors than for us in modern times. Lacking much of the knowledge and technological advancements of later eras rendered even everyday life more dangerous, and learning about disease and its impact on history can provide great insight into our ancestors – their habits, fears, superstitions, diets, religious beliefs, and more.Most of the time, communicable disease was caught and spread as a result of poor hygiene, unclean environments, and even unsafe food practices. Regular bathing didn’t really take hold as a common practice in the Western world until the mid- to late-1800s. Even then, “regular” often meant only once a week, particularly since running water (and hot water) in every home was still decades away. Soap manufacturing for sale in stores happened around the late 19th century. Prior to that era it was …Read more
Irish research can be difficult. Although the island is small--about the same size as the state of Indiana--its violent history and many divisions makes research complicated. In addition, many United States records simply report that our ancestors were from Ireland with no indication of the county of their birth. However, knowing a little bit about the history and geography can provide the necessary clues. Here are four tips that can help you trace your Irish ancestors from the United States back to Ireland.1. Understanding the Island of Ireland TodayThere are two distinct political entities on the island of Ireland: Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The dividing line was drawn by England in 1922. This is an important date to keep in mind when searching for more recent Irish ancestors.The Republic of Ireland, or Eire, is an independent nation made up of the southern 26 counties of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is predominantly Catholic, with about 3% of the …Read more