The Genlighten Blog

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Featured Provider: ancestorhound


Ancestorhound specializes in research in the Midwest including the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. She says, “I was first bitten by the genealogy bug eight years ago after my first son, Sullivan, was born. Since then I have been actively researching my children’s family lines, which has allowed me to explore records throughout the US, Canada, England, Germany and Poland.” She’s a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the National Genealogical Society and is a graduate of the Boston University Professional Genealogy Certificate Program.

1. How did you get started doing genealogy research?

I started researching my own family shortly after my first son was born 8 years ago. I wanted to know more about the family that he had become a part of. I’ve always been interested in historical and true-life stories, like the Little House on the Prairie series, because of the way the authors can transport me to a different time and place. Genealogy does the same thing for me—for every ancestor I try to find out details about their life so I can understand what it was like to live in their time and place.

2. Do you have a genealogy superpower? If so, what is it?

Ummm, not really. I have a record source that I think is a superstar —city directories. I am constantly amazed at the interesting things I find in them, from siblings and relatives I didn’t know existed, to interesting advertisements that enrich my understanding of the people living at that time.

3. Describe a challenging research problem you’re particularly proud of having solved.

All of them! Seriously though, I am very proud of all the research I have done, especially when locating a particularly obscure document that holds the key to a research question. I don’t give up easily, and I think my tenacity in trying to find just one more record is the key to my research success.

4. Tell us a favorite story about one of your ancestors.

One of my great-great grandmothers had an interesting, although probably very sad, life. Her husband came back from the Civil War a broken man, and ended up killing himself shortly after the war. She remarried not once, not twice, but three times after that—and divorced the first two husbands! For a woman to have divorced at all in Michigan in the late 1800s is unusual, but twice is practically unheard of. I also suspect she was separated from the fourth husband, as they were living several counties away from each other at the time of her death in 1900. But in all of her divorce paperwork she seemed to have a legitimate complaints against her husbands, usually that they were drinking or gambling or unable to make a living. I’m proud of her for not putting up with men who didn’t treat her well.

5. What’s the most interesting record source or repository you’ve utilized in your area?

The Library of Michigan is an amazing genealogy resource. I particularly enjoy their collection of newspapers on microfilm for nearly every county in Michigan.

6. What tools to you use to create the reports/images that you provide to clients?

I use Word for my client reports and Picasa or Photoshop for my images, depending on how much image enhancement is needed. I’m experimenting with Scrivener right now to see if it helps me organize my research better while writing reports.

7. What advice would you give to someone who is trying to break through a
brick wall?

Hire a professional! Oftentimes we can’t see the obvious, and having a professional look through your research and create a research plan will be the push you need to get through the brick wall. It will be money well spent.

8. What hobbies do you pursue when you’re not at the archives doing research?

With two young boys, most of my free time is spent playing with them or watching them play sports. But when I want to get away, curling up with a good book or watching Food Network are my guilty pleasures.

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