Tag Archives: genealogy heroes

My Genealogy Hero

“This search is starting to sound familiar.” I read the words again. Could it be possible that the genealogist I hired had researched this family before?

My genealogy hero, Marianne, entered my life when I was brand new to genealogy. I was in the middle of an adoption search to find my mom’s biological mother and needed someone to photocopy various city directories. I feared I was already wearing out my welcome with the library staff, so I asked for researcher recommendations. Marianne was the first genealogist on the list.

Marianne was very responsive. The city directory search led to other research. She even took photos of the various homes my grandmother had rented. One day, upon finding an obituary for my grandmother’s father, something struck her. She had researched this family before.

She looked through her files and realized she had done research on my grandmother’s son (my biological uncle), who had also had a child put for adoption. In her letter, she mentioned that she had done research on this family and would contact her former client if I wished. That is how I met my new cousin, who had done his own adoption search with Marianne 5 years earlier.

Once I got over my shock at the serendipity of it all, I had chance to reflect on how professionally she had conducted my research. She exceeded all the standards expected of professional genealogists. Her communications with me were frequent and analyzed the data collected, suggesting next steps. She was very familiar with the resources available in the city, county and state and where to find them. And I’m still amazed that she recalled the prior research (considering the last name was very common) and could find her correspondence files.

I am lucky to have had such a great mentor for my first genealogy search. Who is your genealogy hero? What heroic acts have you done in the course of your research?

© Corey Oiesen and Genealogy Heroes 2009.

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The Beautiful Czech National Archives

5 June 2009


In a recent course I took from Karen Clifford, A.G., she conveyed several common laws of genealogy. Of them are:

• Start with ‘what you know’ and move back in time.

• Have a research plan before visiting a repository.

• Be polite and respectful of the staff.

I know these rules. I follow these rules — at least in the U.S. Today I broke all of these rules.

I had found out almost at the last minute that I was going to the Czech Republic for work. I quickly remembered the Czech genealogy project in my back pocket, waiting for me to have time to work on it.

I quickly started my research, but only have the family in question traced back to the late 19th century – and still in the United States. At this point, it would be futile to do research during my brief free time in Prague. Despite this, I decided to go visit the Czech National Archives. I figured I would just see what it was like — and perhaps poke around if they had a browsing library.

I prepared by reading the website for the archives. I also took a chance and entered my client’s last name in the database, but got no results. Since I only speak the bare minimum of tourist Czech, I found a list of helpful vocabulary words at FamilySearch.org.

The archives are housed in a beautiful, new building in the southern part of Prague. Like any archive, you really need to know what you’re looking for, in order to ask the staff members, who then bring you the book, manuscript or microform.

Staff members there at the time did not speak much English, but were eager to help me. I felt a little guilty about wasting their time, since I was only there to look around. Fortunately a Czech genealogist who speaks English (thanks, Karel!) was there and helped me out. He explained the purpose and how to use the county/parish books I had randomly picked up. This helped me do a little exercise of looking at the county/parish formations and then finding them on the map. Basic, but at least I learned something!

Was my trip a waste of time? I don’t think so. I made contact in case I need to hire a genealogist in the future. And I now know the rules of the archives if I ever go back. I’ve come to the conclusion from my recent trips that genealogists are nice all over the world.

© Corey Oiesen and Genealogy Heroes 2009.

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National Genealogical Society, Raleigh

Hello from the National Genealogical Society conference in beautiful Raleigh North Carolina. I had the pleasure of taking a workshop today from The Board for Certification of Genealogists® (BCG) Education Fund. The course was about writing family histories and was delivered by Ann Carter Fleming, CG, CGL, FNGS and Kay Haviland Freilich, CG, CGL.

As we spent the day storyboarding and developing ideas for our books, I began to realize that I CAN write a family history on someone I did not know. I have hesitated in doing this because I have a handful of relatives who knew the two ancestors in which I’m interested. Why wait for them to write the history? Go ahead and interview them, cite them in your history and have them correct and proof read your work.

Capturing and preserving the family stories before they disappear is an act of heroism in itself. Now to just get started…

How about you? Are you working on a family history? What is keeping you from moving forward?

12 May 2009
© Corey Oiesen and Genealogy Heroes 2009.

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Genealogy Heroes

Greetings blogosphere and welcome to the launch of the Genealogy Heroes blog, the blog where heroes of research are recognized. Those who are not driven to do family history research do not often understand the value of it. “Why are you wasting your time with the past? Try living in the present,” they may say.

That is, until they start thinking. “Hey maybe you can find out what happened to Uncle Tony. He went to work one day way back in the 1920s and never came back. No one knows what happened to him.” From the simple curiosity of, “I’ve been told I’m part Cherokee, can you help me prove it?” to the heartbreaking, “My dad left when I was three years old. I’d really like to know my medical background, can you help me?”, the genealogist knows that answering these questions for someone will be life-changing.

So, have you done something heroic in the line of duty? Have you helped solve a mystery? Found a missing person? Helped someone meet new cousins? Finally discovered when your family emigrated from the old country? Helped a friend break down a brick wall? Please share your stories with me. Thank you!

12 May 2009

© Corey Oiesen and Genealogy Heroes 2009.

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