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Genealogists’ research reaches beyond bloodlines

Tribune correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: May 19, 2013 at 12:13 AM

Back in March, Barbara Jones was poking around items at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair in St. Pete when she found a lovely old christening photo.

The child’s name and the date “1889” were written on the back. The front of the photo revealed the photographer worked for a studio in Jamestown, N.Y. She couldn’t resist the urge to buy it and see whether she could track down the family.

We genealogists are like that. We’re willing — even eager — to jump right in and start tracing the families of total strangers. Maybe that’s because in the genealogy world we don’t really believe in strangers, do we? We’re just one big family, certain that eventually we’ll discover more multiple-times-removed cousins.

So Barbara took the photo home, sat down at her computer and began searches on the studio and the child. She found a family to whom she thought the child might belong and emailed the query to them.

She had selected well; she connected with the baby’s fourth cousin. Barbara shipped the photograph “home” to its family, now living in Michigan.

And the thankful family shared their proud heritage with her. The family back in New York made the tricorn hats worn by Revolutionary War soldiers.

Some of the family migrated from New York to Michigan, and Barbara’s contact still lives there on the family farm, making maple syrup.

Genealogy is about finding ancestors and putting them into historical perspective, but it is so much more. Certainly it is about random acts of kindness. So go do something nice for a fellow researcher!

And, thank you, Barbara, for sharing your inspiring story.

Want to book a week’s vacation in genealogy heaven? Then get out the checkbook and make your reservation to join the National Genealogical Society for a one of two weeklong research trips to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

The groups will be guided by three of the field’s most respected genealogists. The first trip will be Sept. 15 to 22, led by Sandra MacLean Clunies and Shirley Langdon Wilcox. Wilcox and Marie Varrelman Melchiori will guide the Jan. 5 to 12 trip. All three ladies are board-certified genealogists.

Each trip will include seven nights at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel, six full days of research at the Family History Library with its hundreds of thousands of rolls of microfilm, and several group evening and meal events. Attendees are responsible for airfare and meals (except those specifically listed in the registration materials).

NGS rewards early birds with substantial discounts on registration. For example, those who register for the September trip by June 15 will save $250. On top of that, members pay $375 less than nonmembers.

Detailed rate information and registration instructions are online at http://tinyurl.com/7qcnznh.


Sharon Tate Moody is a board-certified genealogist. Send your genealogy questions and event announcements to her in care of Baylife, The Tampa Tribune, 200 S. Parker St., Tampa, FL 33606 or stmoody0720@mac.com. She regrets that she is unable to assist with personal research and cannot respond to requests for locating or researching specific individuals.

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