About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
I am a native of Illinois and grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. After dropping out of college, I moved to California in 1973 with my first husband. I married my present husband, Butch, in 1977 and got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me a grandmother 25 times over and a great-grandmother of 19. Three years after I married Butch I returned to school. I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication and was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 to return to school and get my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore and genealogy - and add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play a number of folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega with Genealogy Journeys where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that can be found at http://genaandjean.blogspot.com and more about my own business projects is on my Circlemending website.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Connecting with our ancestors and with other passionate genealogists

I just returned from the Family History Expo in St. George, Utah, and it was a great weekend! Unfortunately, I didn't have any time to attend the classes presented by my colleagues, but I did get to meet a number of excited genealogists of all levels. I was impressed with the number of people I met who are committed to doing thorough and accurate research and properly documenting their findings.

My husband, Butch, and I had a booth where we sold CDs and presented the music and instruments of our ancestors. A number of folks in neighboring booths enjoyed the music in the background throughout much of the 2 days and we had a great chance to tell people about how their ancestors relaxed with "homemade music." It was a lot of fun for us and, apparently, for expo attendees as well.

I also had the opportunity to present a couple of programs - my "Clue to Clue," which is a favorite of many, and a 2-part presentation on Federal Census records. Both were well-received and I connected with people who are researching the same areas that I am. One woman I met is related to a neighbor of my g-g-g-grandfather (in NY) and another woman told me that she is related to the family of a young boy who, I believe, apprenticed to my g-g-grandfather (in MI).

Part of the fun of doing genealogy is connecting with others who share the passion. When I show my exciting finds to family members and friends, most look at me as if I am crazy. At conferences, seminars, and expos, genealogists can connect to people who identify with the excitement of locating a lost ancestor, finding an elusive grave, or finally identifying a maiden name. That happened a great deal this weekend and that, in itself, made the event a high point in 2009 (and it's only March).

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