19 August 2011

Follow Friday - Strangers Are Friends We Haven't Met Yet

The journey that has gotten me to this point, writing a blog about being an Archivist adding Genealogist to my repertoire, has been a long and winding path. Sound familiar? It’s a well worn path, as I’m to understand, becoming a Genealogist. And, not unlike how I became an Archivist, the path is neither straight, nor purposeful.

Probably what I love the most about genealogy are the people that I’ve met. Not just the second cousins twice removed, but also the research librarians who’ve stepped up to help, or the foreign Archive that waived their (exorbitant, IMHO) copy fee as a professional courtesy to me. Oh there’ve been plenty of curmudgeons and hang-ups, back in the day when I random dialed people with my surnames, along the way too but for the most part I like to believe that people understand our natural curiosity about our human past.

Curiosity ruled when it came to my ancestors. It is my mom’s side of my family that I wanted to research first; my father has an *interesting* family that includes a sister who is the family record keeper, so no point in recreating the wheel. I knew very little about my mother’s father; he died when I was less than a year old (as did my father’s father). My mom didn’t talk about him a lot, but when she did it was always with a bit of melancholy. Sadly, my grandfather had been an alcoholic, and though he had provided for his family I suspect there are aspects of that past that my mom prefers to keep private.  What makes things more interesting is that my mom is, as she calls herself, a “menopausal baby”. Nice. What that means is that she is that *one* baby born long after her siblings, when her mom was 40. So it is that my mom’s mother Francis Jeffrey was born in 1893 and her father Victor Wersel in 1892, and her two sisters, Virginia and Jacqueline in 1922 and 1924 respectively. They were very private people, and I believe because she was ‘the baby’, my mom wasn’t privy to as much of the family’s history as she might have been otherwise.

You now know as much as I did, back in 1996, when I started down this path. I was working in the financial field at the time, putting in a lot of hours, but my curiosity had gotten the better of me and I had to find out about my grandfather’s family. So it was that I started relying on the kindness of strangers to find my roots. The beauty of it is that by learning it’s ok to rely on those strangers, I found a bravery in seeking information, a fearlessness in asking questions, that I had not possessed before.

This passion for information led me to my career as an Archivist, to my love of all things technology, and to Twitter, where I've met many Genealogists. One suggested to me that I should write a blog about my journey and share it with all of you. For that, I will always be grateful.


  1. Thank you for the kind words in your blog! I'm glad we met too. :)

  2. You're very welcome...though I have to admit I've been having some Inception-esque moments going back in time to talk about what I did at the same time trying to keep in mind where I want to go. :-)

  3. When I started reading, I thought, "strangers are long-lost relatives we haven't met yet." You have a wonderful way with words and a wonderful friendship, Jen and Laura!

  4. Marian, thank you for the compliment...I'm glad you enjoyed it. And yes, it's great having such a wonderful friend!


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