Genea-what-ogy?

Oh look another genealogy blog. What’s different about this one? For the moment, not much, it’s quite empty. Unlike my family tree. A couple of thousand people (including extended family) and counting.

In October I will begin postgraduate studies with the University of Strathclyde in Genealogy, Palaeography and Heraldry. As I move from being an amateur genealogist to (hopefully) a professional genealogist, I would like to document my experience. While I feel I have a lot of experience in researching family history, as my studies progress I am certain that my methodology and understanding of documents and processes will change.

Hopefully, it will make for interesting reading.

So, why does a customer support manager with 15+ years professional experience decide to change career so extremely?

Well, as with all (good) stories – Once upon a time…

When I was 14 years old, I snuck into my grandmother’s bedroom, rooted around under her bed, and withdrew an old tattered suitcase that contained a stack of papers and a magnifying glass. This suitcase held the entirety of her research into my grandfather’s family history. I recall looking through the barely legible photocopied pages in wonder, marvelling at the old handwriting, and trying to understand the Swedish in which they were written.
I was, of course, caught by my grandmother and told not to go through other people’s belongings, but I was hooked. I asked her to show me how she found all the documents, how she read them and also asked her to teach me Swedish!
From that moment I helped my grandmother with the research, and began learning about genealogy and how to trace my family history.
Fast forward to 1998 and I am now living in France. I’m studying part time with the Open University for a BSc and I am still fascinated by genealogy. I knew my grandfather’s uncle had fought in WWI in France, and I decided to find out more. This was the early stages of online genealogical research, and through message boards, local historical research associations and the Imperial War Graves Commission, I was able to discover not only where my great, great uncle Olaf was buried, but also exactly which battle he was in when he died, and what likely happened between 1916 when he was reported MIA and 1930 when his body was discovered.

Private (Pte) Olaf Milford Johanson, 11th Reinforcements, 12th Battalion, AIF.

I was the first family member to visit his grave in the Somme region of France, a very moving moment for myself and my entire family.
Since I have begun researching I have also managed to find living relatives in Sweden, have visited the home built by my Swedish ancestor and have gotten in touch with distant relatives back in Australia, as well as in the United States and Scotland.
I have helped friends get started with genealogy, coaching them on the best research methods, basic tips and do’s and don’ts. Helping other people discover information about their families is what drives me to continue my own research, and is what makes me want to share this passion with others.

Following my degree completion I moved into working in the computer game industry, and managed to create a successful career for myself. In recent years, however, I have been wanting a change and after much reflection (and encouragement from those close to me), have decided I wish to make my lifelong passion a professional reality. 

5 thoughts on “Genea-what-ogy?”

  1. Awesome! I look forward to following your journey to a new career. I often wonder if I should get more serious about genealogy and try to turn it into a career but I still have so much to learn about my own research…

  2. Loved your blog. I had no idea that you had connected Patrick to us as you were unsure when we discussed it some time back. In the meantime I wish you lots of good luck and sending lots of love as always. Nan xxx

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