Do you know who you really are? You may know your immediate family and your grandparents, but do you know who your great grandparents and great-great grandparents were? Do you know your genetic make-up? Your autosomal DNA that connects you to people worldwide?
Dr. Wendy Elliott-Scheinberg, Genealogist and retired History Professor at Cal State Fullerton, started out only by wondering about her grandmother’s birthday, she wrote letters to some relatives asking about her family. She states “My mother didn’t even know her own mother’s birthday,” and that made her want to know more. Being a stay at home mom with four small children under the age of 4, she was bored, and genealogy was something she could easily do. “I was hooked from there and never wanted to stop.”
With all the innovations today, like digitized records on the internet, it is very easy to find history about your family from hundreds of years ago; however, there are exceptions. For example, it’s difficult to find documentation of relationships in periods and ages where few records exist. If a court house burns down, the land, court, and tax records, as well as marriage records might be gone forever, so it is much easier to have it all on one thing, like the computer, so you don’t have to worry about it getting lost or burnt down.
Today, computers are a necessary tool for genealogists. With websites like Ancestry.com, records are at everyone’s fingertips. Ancestry.com has the world’s largest collection of records available online. Ancestry members can access records that date back to the 1300’s. “More than 170 million pages from the largest collection of wills and probate records in the United States is now available online exclusively on Ancestry,” stated the corporate press of Ancestry.com. Other services provided by Ancestry are DNA testing and Family Tree Maker.
Thanks to shows like Who Do You Think You Are? and PBS’s Finding Your Roots, Genealogists are now getting more exposure and recognition. Dr. Wendy Elliott-Scheinberg has recently started working for the Finding Your Roots show, editing and corroborating research done by other genealogists.
The easiest way to begin your own research is to start a 14 day free trial with ancestry.com, but before you do that, talk to your family. Who are your oldest living relatives? Call or write letters to them and ask them what they know. Where were their parents and grandparents born? Do they have birth and death dates? You will be astonished by how much they can tell you, and then you will be off on a new adventure full of mystery and surprises.
Genealogy has given Dr. Wendy Elliott-Scheinberg opportunities to interview and research people like Don Johnson, Bill Cosby, and Robert De Niro.
Dr. Wendy Elliott-Scheinberg lover her job. She states, “It’s a puzzle. Every time you solve one, you make more.