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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Do you have a genealogy hero?

Earlier this week my good friend Jennifer Alford published a post that really spoke to me.   She said it better than I ever could so make sure you go over and read it.  In a nut shell though she talked about how it takes many hands to make this community go and in our community ther are many, many unsung heroes who may get overlooked by the genealogy masses.

I am taking up the torch to name the people who pop into my head when I think to myself “jeesh, xyz would not be here without that person!”  To keep it fresh, I will not rename the ones Jen did (and she stole some of mine!) but I will name 5 people who I admire within our community and, well, have taught me a thing or two.

So, in no particular order, a few of my heroes whom I am lucky enough to also consider friends and at times mentors.

When I was the Family tree First Blogger Midge was the instructor of the cemetery class I took through Family Tree University.  I LOVED it!!  Really, I am a bit of a teacher’s pet but the course was amazing.  We started to talk more and more through email.  I followed her blogs.  We became Facebook friends.  While we still have never met in person, yet, she was one of the first people to help guide me through those first timid steps into the genealogy deep end.  She is quick witted and full of so much great information.  While she is retired now I enjoy reading up on what she is doing with her family tree and the new projects that she is taking on.  Her blogs and other writing on everything to do with cemeteries and technology is extensive and an amazing asset to this community.

Jim scared me.  He seemed so intimidating and serious.  For those of you who know him, stop laughing.  When you are new to something and then suddenly all the people you read about, listen to, and idolize are all in one room together and acting like, well, normal people it is a bit overwhelming.  If you are like me the shiny wears off in about 5 minutes as you say something extremely off the wall and realize that everyone in the room puts their pants on the same way as they laugh at with you.  I have confusing German roots so I read and admired Jim’s work.  Then I got to know him through a couple different encounters.  His “Roots and Branches” column is amazing work (and celebrating its 900th story!) as well as all he does with the German community.  A real asset to the field.

Gena and I have worked together now for 2 years (wow, it has been that long!) on the blog for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.  I am their American Certificate student blogger and you should totally check it out if you have not already.  Poor Gena gets to deal with me on Skype complaining asking for clarification about things in each course.  What many of may not know is how much she does.  Not only is there an amazing amount of work for The Institute but also with her own endeavors.  She writes several blogs, is a published author, did a YouTube series, and will literally give you the shirt off of her back to help you.  Recently she merged the fields of genealogy and geology into an amazing lecture (you should ask her about it).

This will sound odd, but I can’t remember exactly how I first met Lisa.  She has just always, well, been there.  I did take 2 courses from her while I was the Family Tree Firsts blogger.  Amazing courses on researching overseas.  We talked over social media and finally met in person at NGS in Richmond.  A talented writer and lecturer with spunk and a beautiful personality.  Her work on Eastern European research makes her one of the go-to people in the field.  She will also take the time to really talk to you and answer questions.  There has been more than one time I turned to her for advice or mentoring, and I have never been let down by her guidance. 

Next to my children, she is the reason I am here today.  Not only is her Clue Wagon blog hysterical but she is always on point and never afraid to say what a majority of us are thinking.  She just typically says it first and in her charming snarky way that leaves me with tears rolling down my face.  Kerry was an editor at Family Tree when I began my genealogy journey.  She put up with a lot of bad writing those first few months.  Trust me, it took me a while to get comfortable with my voice (the grammar I am still working on) but she was passionate and encouraging to this fledgling genealogist.  Her encouragement, that awesome passion, and ability to cut through the BS shines through still in all she does.  I am so grateful to her for that.


  1. What an awesome list! Thanks for sending more positive vibes out in the world. :-)

  2. You didn't mention that I bullied you into getting your work done. Thanks for the mention and the statement that I am quick witted. As I approach 70 in a couple years, I wonder how I am going to pull that off. Remember, I have been "doing genealogy" on and off more that 50 years. Wow, am I old.


    1. You are great and a wonderful teacher! I don't remember bullying but I do remember lots of "you can do this!"

    2. By the second week, you had not posted anything. I finally emailed you. We weren't supposed to do that. I had had students who signed up and paid but never did any work. I was not going to let that happen with you!

    3. I had forgotten about that. Usually with those courses I would wait until a free weekend and then do as much as I could all at one time. With kids and stuff it gets crazy you know! Thanks to your emailing though that was one of the best classes I took. I love interaction with people :)

  3. A wonderful way to acknowledge our gen heroes! Great idea.