The knack or inclination to do genealogical research is often referred to as the “genealogy bug.” Mine caught when I was a senior in college, in 2008. I was finishing up my B.A. in History and getting ready to head to law school in the fall. I loved my major, and researching American history got me thinking about my own family history. I vaguely knew about some of my ancestors through stories which were passed down like a game of telephone, but knew almost nothing concretely and had no documents or sources to back that information up. I learned all about the importance of primary documents in my college history courses, and I felt compelled to confirm my family’s history through concrete sourcing.
So, I ponied up the dough and bought a subscription to Ancestry.com. Sifting through those old records, trying to decipher handwriting on an 1880 census, discovering details about my ancestors…I felt like a detective, or a genealogical version of Indiana Jones. I was hooked!
Of course, I made some mistakes along the way. I added every little “hint” (the green leaves that shake and quiver above a person’s name, they really make it too tempting) and merged my tree with any stranger’s who seemed to match my (fairly common) surnames. I had a relatively easy schedule that final year of college, so I often spent hours in front of my beat-up red laptop, digging around to find more treasured information. Then, I headed to law school in the fall.
My new life also involved a lot of time in front of a computer, but in a different way. I was in the library until nearly midnight every night, just trying to survive in the new, intimidating, and seemingly all-consuming world of THE LAW. Family history and genealogy were the furthest thing from my mind as I chugged more coffee than any human should consume and tried to memorize hundreds of pages of case law. (I don’t recommend doing either.) I cancelled my Ancestry.com subscription, as my time and money were all invested in graduating from law school.
This brings us to the present day. I am a working attorney with a fantastic job, a loving husband, an adorable (if wayward) cat, and all the responsibilities that come along with adulthood. And guess what? I still have the bug. I finally have the time again to do the research I love and I have renewed my Ancestry.com subscription. Armed with a brain trained extensively in analytical thinking, research, and never settling for “just a hunch” (thanks, law school!), I am back at it and better than ever.
I have started this blog both to journal my way through this new age of my research and to highlight some of my ancestors. I also hope it is a useful and fun tool for other family historians or genealogists, as well as members of my own family who are interested in learning more about what I think of as the Story of Us.
Follow along my journey by clicking Subscribe in the upper right corner, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy hunting!