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I’ve got to say I’m inspired by the camaraderie in the genealogical community. Most of those I’ve reached out to with questions about shared ancestors have responded. And they have been helpful, whether or not there is an actual family connection.

In fact, I am so impressed that I’ve decided to reach out to at least one of my GenFriends each day. If nothing else, just to keep in touch. I know we may never meet in person, but that doesn’t matter. These people are special to me.

They are the comforting souls at the other end of my message or email or phone call who understand a brick wall or an amazing discovery or double first cousins or disappearing ancestors. They just “get it.”

And I appreciate that … especially the fact that they take the time to respond, however brief. Some even go way beyond that, sending me CDs of information that I would never have guessed existed. And there are those in Find A Grave who have driven miles to document and photograph graves of my ancestors living far away from me.

For my part, I am trying to be just as good a GenFriend to other genealogists as they are to me. So if you have research questions about any of the branches on our family tree (see Word Cloud above) bring them on. I’ll try to help!

Just wondering, how do you reach out to your GenFriends?

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Ancestry.com offers a useful service called Member Connect. This gives you the option of finding others who are searching for the same ancestors you are and reaching out to them. Super helpful tool for genealogists who are looking to maximize their scope of family knowledge.

An email can be the beginning of a great collaboration, new discoveries and breaking down brick walls. However,  sometimes, that hopeful email can go unnoticed, unread or simply ignored.

Of course, I know that sometimes those who have planted a family tree might be busy or may have forgotten about it altogether. And then, I’m sure that there are trees out there whose owners have passed on, with no one to take up the challenge to cultivate or leaf out their family tree.

I only know that when I send out an email request for help, I am full of great expectations.  And when I receive such an email, I am so excited that someone has made the effort to make a connection. To me, that’s what life is all about.

I’d like to know: how do you make connections with other researchers?

… I have so many questions I would ask my parents.

Family History Writing Challenge – Write about someone you regret not asking more questions of when they were still living. 

I’d ask my Mom and Dad all about their parents, childhood and family life. About how they met, fell in love and married. About the challenges they faced and how they overcame them. About their hopes and dreams.

I’d ask about their travels and adventures. We’d go through the hundreds of photos with no information on them and they could tell me the stories about their friends and family I never met.

I’d show them the family tree I’ve made and they could help me fill in the blanks and tear down the brick walls.

We’d have such fun, if I could turn back time.

I’d like to know: what are some unanswered questions you have about your ancestors? Who else might be able to provide answers.

… Our bridge to the future.

Sometimes I find it’s easy to get mired down looking for ancestors and solving brick-wall mysteries. But as valuable as this research is, it can also become tiresome and repetitive.

I’m finding that leafing out our family tree with information about living individuals gives me a welcome break. I love the opportunity to connect and reconnect with relatives. We renew friendships and share stories that give a glimpse into the ties that bind families together, whether by blood, by surname or by kinship of the heart.

And when I return to census files, birth and death certificates, wills and such, I feel refreshed and ready to look back into the past because I’ve had so much fun looking into our family’s future.

Genealogy experts say you should begin with what you know. I’d like to know: have you recorded your own life story yet?

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