Saturday, March 2, 2013

My first client

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I just finished the research and reporting of my first genealogy client. What an experience that was! She gave me a pretty good amount of info on the ancestor whose ancestry she wanted researched, and was open to just learning anything about that side of her family I could find. I took the starting ancestor and his parents, and was able to find all of his grandparents, six of his eight great-grandparents, and solid immigration info on two families of his ancestors. Plus some odds and ends of various relatives, interesting historical tidbits.

It was really interesting to see how involved I became in researching this family. It almost felt like I was researching my own family, that's how keen I was to keep looking trying to puzzle out who was who, and where they lived, and could I find their parents if I looked in one more place. It was really hard to stop searching, to say I'd found enough to write about, and move on to the reporting phase. But you have to draw the line at some point, because (as every genealogist knows) you're never really done.

A few highlights from the experience - maybe it's the detail freak in me, but I got a kick out of citing a source or two for every fact I stated in the report. Just knowing that I had documented evidence for each and every item in that report felt good! I puzzled for a day or two on how to find one particular ancestor, and spent some time reviewing the documents that I had, analyzing the clues in them, and drew what I felt was a solid conclusion. Then, a couple days later, I found a newspaper article that gave the name of this particular ancestor, and it turned out to be exactly the person I'd concluded it was. That felt good too!

But the highlight of the whole thing was my client's reaction to my findings. She expressed how excited she was to learn so much about her family, and how meaningful it was to know more about where she comes from. That to me is one of the main reasons I do genealogy - to get that feeling of belonging to a family, to a people, to a country, that you're tied to by history and blood and life and death. To help someone else feel that is just about the best feeling in the world. And one I look forward to having over and over again by helping others research their family history.

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