Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Life's Connection with the Past

There was an article titled "Searching for Life's Connection With the Past" written by Riva Richmond and published on Page B6 of the Tuesday, October 10, 2006 edition of The Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately, it is behind the WSJ firewall (Dick Eastman has a link for those with a subscription - I found it in the end bathroom stall at work today). The subheading is "Aided by Online Records, More Hobbyists Turn Genealogy Into a Business."

The writer tells about Laura Prescott, including:

Ten years ago, Laura Prescott immersed herself in her family's history and its tales of Westward-bound pioneers, New England farmers, Revolutionary Soldiers and Mayflower passengers.

Following the trail of ancestors who lived in New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the 17th century, Ms. Prescott saw "how much my family was tied into the nation's history, just on a common level" as farmers, tradespeople and Minutemen, she says.

Now Ms. Prescott, 48, a college history major who worked in banking and marketing, is turning her love of a good puzzle, a gripping story and an era gone by into a full-time profession. Last year, she joined the growing ranks of self-employed professional genealogists who make a living tracing and chronicling the lives of ordinary families.

"You can be a professional genealogist if you can get as interested in someone else's family as you are in your own," she says. "My big passion in genealogy is not just the names and the dates and the facts. It's tying it into history and putting flesh on the bones of the data you gather."

The article goes on with more information about Laura Prescott and additional quotes by Kathleen W. Hinckley, Loretta Dennis Szucs, Megan Smolenyak and D. Joshua Taylor. The article says that professional genealogists charge an average of about $50 an hour, depending on location and special expertise. Megan's paragraphs include:

"It's all history mysteries," and its all about the individual's own life, says Megan Smolenyak, the genealogist and author who recently corrected history by uncovering the identity of the real Annie Moore, an Irish girl documented as the first immigrant to enter Ellis Island who was later confused with another woman of the same name. "That's why so many people get addicted to it."

Ms. Smolenyak, ..., who was a management consultant for 15 years until she changed careers, has made a living mainly as a consultant on television programs, and by helping the U.S. Army track down the family members of unaccounted soldiers from past wars. She says she does 90% of her work on the Internet, and has her own web site, honoringourancestors.com, but she is also quick to pick up the phone and call distant family members or anyone else who might speed her research. "The two most helpful populations for me are librarians and funeral home directors," she says.

All in all, a very nice article about genealogy research, professionals and turning a hobby into a small business, plus a short biography of Megan, one of my favorite genea-bloggers.

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