Sunday, July 24, 2011

Getting Aquainted

First of all I'd like to welcome any newcomers to my blog. I would like to tell you why/how I started genealogy and show you the information I request when starting work for a client.

As a child, my mother was always involved in this thing called "genealogy". I knew what the word meant, but really thought that she was a little "crazy" for spending hours transcribing cemeteries, cutting out obituaries, going to the LDS library and reading microfilm, etc. My brother and I would just roll our eyes and dad patiently took her on little trips to "research".

I grew up very close to my paternal grandparents, but never knowing my maternal grandparents as they had already passed away. Any maternal relatives lived hundreds of miles away and we visited them on train trips a few times during my childhood.

As I went about my life, my family grew smaller and smaller very gradually until my paternal grandmother passed away at the ripe old age of nearly 107. I hadn't really experienced much death and I was already in my forties. I had since become interested in scrapbooking, but realized that I had very few photos of my extended family and began to think of those grandparents that I never knew. As a matter of fact, I had never even seen a photo of my maternal grandmother. I began wondering if I looked or acted like her. I knew that I looked like a clone of my mother. I began wondering what my mother's childhood had been like, and how she grew up. I wanted to make a photo album for each of my grandparents and their lives. I asked a scrapbooking expert how I could make a scrapbook album for my maternal grandmother or other ancestors when I didn't even have photos, or know anything about them. The expert suggested that I write a letter to my grandmother, ask her questions, etc., and scrapbook that. As I contemplated doing this, my curiosity got the better of me and I prayed to God that I would be sent a photo of my grandmother so I could just see her.

Now I knew God wouldn't just email me a photo and so I started to ask cousins, looked for more distant cousins and family to see if they had photos. Soon I had to start family group sheets to keep them straight, search for addresses and phone numbers online. In a very short time I started to have more and more "cousins" and my family grew. Before I knew it, I was infected by the genealogy bug. As the disease grew, and I searched, I began sharing what I had learned and doing RAOGK (random acts of genealogy kindness). People had helped me and I wanted to pay it forward.

Two years ago I was in a bad car accident. I became disabled and found the time to look at my life and ask God what he wanted me to do with it. I feel that I have been given a gift to connect people with their loved ones, and their heritage. I have decided to try and make this not only a hobby, but my life's work. People always say, "find what you love and do it", and that's my story.

I've helped friends and strangers. I've recently started a website which is at the top of my blog. I still do RAOGK and free work for benefits and referrals, or just for fun, but I also need to make a living like everyone else. So far God has provided me with "enough", but as that old joke goes, if God sends you a boat as your floating out in the middle of a lake with out a paddle, you better grab on for your life.

As a side note, I'd like to advise you all to write down those little gems your family tell you, even if you think they're insignificant or that "you will always remember". I wish I would have picked up a pen and journal years ago. Start asking you know your dad's favorite color, or what was his favorite Christmas present? What does your mother remember about her grandparents. Are you sure you know where she was born? Do you know who is in their old photographs that have been hidden away for years, or maybe they've been hanging on the wall and "just always been there".

I am posting my initial questionnaire for starting work for a client. Maybe it will help you get started. There are free genealogy forms on the net (if you can't find them, contact me). There are also some ideas and techniques for interviewing your family to get started.

Just one warning may become "infected"!!

Family History Questionnaire

1. Client name, address, phone #, and email address:

2. Family member/Ancestor/Line you want researched (List name, birthdate, birthplace, death place of oldest grandparent known in this line):

3. Tell me everything known about this ancestor, i.e. marriages, dates, children, the child you are descended from, places lived, family lore, nicknames, dates, dates, dates, etc. (Interview a relative if necessary).

**Using just this information I have found hundreds of ancestors for clients just in the past month. Please see my referrals on my website or contact me with any questions. I LOVE my work! :-)

P.S. I found a photo of my grandmother, but have added finding more to my "bucket list"!


  1. Laurel, love your description of how you become interested in genealogy. When I read the sentences, it sounded like I was reading from my own life. Never knew my paternal grandmother nor anything about her or her family. She died in 1909. Through research and distant relatives, I now have a wonderful picture in a frame and know her story. I have been doing family research (geneallergy - because it is addictive) for about 10 years.

  2. Beautiful blog and what a wonderful thing you're doing. All of my grandparents are gone; I have one living great-aunt left. I should write to her and ask some questions while I still can!

    Visting from the etsy linkedin group.