All posts by Banai Lynn Feldstein

JGSLA 2010 – Day 4 Recap

Wednesday was a day for IAJGS business. The first session I attended was the panel on Celebrating Jewish Genealogy Month led by Schelly Dardashti in which we discussed programming and other things that weren’t necessarily related to IJGeMo (International Jewish Genealogy Month, as it will now be called) but left me with a few interesting ideas.

Lunch was a repeated restaurant with Bob Wascou and Rochelle Kaplan.

The IAJGS Annual Meeting was not long after lunch. The meeting wasn’t as bad as some people let on last year when they told me I should be happy I missed it. (I was supposed to represent Utah, though I wasn’t yet the president, but my computer lab was scheduled at the same time.)

I went with Barbara Hershey to Daniel Horowitz’s session on How Do We Share and Preserve Memories in a Digital Era? but didn’t stay long. It naturally turned into a talk about MyHeritage.com, which neither of us was interested in hearing at the time.

After a quick visit to the concierge lounge, I did a bit of bookkeeping in my room and missed the next presentation, then arrived a few minutes late to Zvi Gitelman’s What’s in a Name? The Origins and Meanings of Jewish Family Names. There was a fun moment in that one when he mentioned that some Jews bought their names to get good ones. Just as I whispered to Judi sitting next to me that my Rosenthals did that, he listed a few names that were usually purchased and the first one he said was Rosenthal.

I finally made it to the Film Festival room after that (having seen a film earlier in one of the other lecture rooms) where I saw the very end of Yoo Hoo Mrs. Goldberg and Genealogy Goes to the Movies before I headed back to my room to turn in for the night.

JGSLA 2010 – Day 3 Recap

Tuesday started early for me. After waking up in time to wait for the pathetic little beep-de-beep from the in-room alarm, I went to the Professional Genealogists Birds of a Feather (BOF) meeting. This used to be an active group and just barely started up again two years ago. It sounds like this year might have the chance to be the beginning of a good group again. All we need are some people to… yeah, I kind of volunteered to help get that going.

I had a few hours of a break after that and got a few things done unrelated to the conference. I had offered to volunteer some time in the Resource Room, and that was one time I meant to go, but I was tired. Sorry to Barbara Algaze for not finding time in my schedule to hang out and help people. I really did mean to, but this conference just has a lot going on that I’m interested in doing; seems like there’s more than some other years have had. I did stop in and sign up for time with the USHMM person and their database. While in there, Steve Luxenberg came in and I bought Annie’s Ghosts from him, having previously exited after his session quickly to escape the crowd.

After lunch with Mark, Kathy, Bob, and Michael Goldstein, I headed to Ilene Schneider’s Yiddish: A Fun Look at the Language of our Ancestors. I bought her book a couple days ago. The only problem I had with this session was the lack of translation. Most of the audience understood the few things she didn’t translate, but I never learned Yiddish and only knew the most basic words. However, I was able to figure out what one of the phrases was by saying it in my head a couple times.

I headed over to You Can Go Home Again: … Ancestral Visit to Eastern Europe (they must not have had word limits to titles this year) with Sol Sylvan and Alexander Dunai. Sol lost my attention very quickly, did a commercial for a bag they were auctioning, and showed a film. Alex gave a bit of advice for traveling to Europe, and then it was over. I was not impressed. I would have preferred to hear a lot more from Alex.

My second session for the week, Newsletter Editors BOF, was next. Kahlile Mehr was really leading it but had been putting my name on the session so I could help him. This group had also met for the previous two conferences and the discussion had been interesting. This year, I think we accomplished a few things, especially by getting the IAJGS Board more involved.

I skipped the JewishGen presentation for dinner with roommate Judi and six other people, returning for The Bialy Eaters: The Story of Bread and a Lost World. It was interesting, but I was getting tired, so I might have enjoyed it a little more if not for that. However, I now realize I should try a bialy. We were bagel people and I’ve never had one before.

JGSLA 2010 – Day 2 Recap

The second day of this conference began for me with the last session before lunch. I presented a computer lab called Publish or Perish Using Microsoft Publisher. The person who was supposed to assist or introduce me did not show, but my roommate, Judi Missel, was kind enough to volunteer and she arrived a few minutes after I had begun. I received a lot of questions about the benefits of Publisher over Word and was glad when some benefits revealed themselves during the session. I don’t use Word, so I couldn’t really tell them the true benefits other than what I thought they were. Judi was extremely helpful to the point where I stayed in front of the class teaching while she ran between the few people that needed the most help. Usually I have had to do that in previous years. I had a small class of only nine people, but at least a few came away saying that they liked the program and would not be afraid to use it.

I initially thought I might do beginner and intermediate levels of the class after last year, but with the small attendance, I won’t repeat that lab again without at least one year’s break. Mark Heckman gave me a great idea for a lecture for next year and I’m already thinking about what to put in it.

After lunch with Judi, I continued the day at A Different Memory: Poles, Jews, and What We Think We Know About Them with Anna Przybyszewska Drozd. The session didn’t quite match up with the title. She had some interesting stories to tell, and convinced a couple other people to tell their stories. I think her presentation could use some improvement. I don’t think she was quite confident in her English, but other than asking for help with a few words, it sounded pretty good to me. After all, these people who learn English as a second or more language, no matter how bad they think their English is, it’s usually better than most of the rest of can speak any other language.

Steve Luxenerg presented Genealogy From the Inside Out: Pursuing the Elusive and Unknown, sharing the genealogical view of his writing of Annie’s Ghosts. I thought he led a great session. It was standing room only.

I volunteered to assist with Daniel Horowitz’s computer lab, but found Elise Friedman was there for the same reason. I found a film on the schedule that I wanted to see, but when I went to the room, saw that the schedule was wrong. There have been a few scheduling issues this year.

I sat in for a bit of Lisa Louise Cooke’s Solving Family History Mysteries with Google Earth, and visited with Gary Mokotoff briefly, and a few others, in the Vendor Room on my way out with my roommate. We went to the concierge lounge and had a nice dinner snack of hors d’oeuvres.

After setting up briefly in the hallway with my computer before going to that film, a private screening for five people of The Legacy of Jedwabne, I finished the day watching the Jewpardy game, arriving a bit late because the film started late.

JGSLA 2010 – Day 1 Recap

Sunday started a bit slowly for the conference as it usually does, but just for me. Things were already in full swing in terms of sessions for attendees. Usually Sunday has a couple of meetings, lunches, and beginner sessions, but there was a lot more to do this year.

Missing the early session that interested me, I visited the Resource Room, the Vendor Room, and the Market Square, which was new this year. I wandered around a bit talking with people. There are always plenty of people at this conference that I know and others that are happy to talk about their genealogy with complete strangers.

I spoke with Eileen Polakoff for a bit where she was sitting at the APG table in the Market Square, along with the people at the Washington DC and France tables, where we spoke about upcoming conferences. I even stopped at one table and bought a book. I had her session marked for another day and I’ll likely still go.

I went to lunch with Mark and Kathy and Bob Wascou, who had just arrived to register before we saw him.

A little more schmoozing time and I went to the first IAJGS Management Seminar which was led by Thomas MacEntee teaching about 21st Century Marketing. He went through the usual suspects of Facebook, Twitter, web sites, blogs, newsletters, email marketing. He said a lot of things I knew but also threw in some things I hadn’t thought of. Watching the time, he basically skipped over LinkedIn, and that’s one site I haven’t really used yet but was curious about.

From there, I went to the President’s Reception where I schmoozed some more. There’s a lot of schmoozing at these conferences.

I spent some time talking with Barbara Hershey from Portland, Oregon, until it was time for the opening ceremony.

The conference co-chairs were introduced and it was explained that outside is not fog but the “marine layer”. They got very detailed announcing who was already registered, giving counts by country and by US state. Eleven people are here from Utah. I know seven, are they counting the vendors from Ancestry for the rest? So far, 1016 people were registered for this conference.

The winning poster for Jewish Genealogy Month was revealed and it was a nice one. I never much paid attention to those, but I don’t think they’d ever been that classy looking.

We were treated to a comedy film that probably ran a little longer than it needed to, a parody called Who Cares Who Do You Think You Are? which added a new episode into the series featuring Jordan Auslander. Eileen Polakoff, Ron Arons, and Karen Franklin also appeared in the episode.

Steven Smith (or Stephen?) introduced himself and then the keynote speaker, Daniel Mendelsohn.

Daniel is the author of two books, the second called The Lost. His speech started out by talking about errors in records while doing genealogy research, but it turned into a story about the difference between family history and genealogy. He didn’t call it that, but that’s how I refer to it. In genealogy, we collect records to learn the facts about people’s lives. In family history, we collect the stories. Unfortunately, some of us can’t get any stories, so we are missing the narratives of the lives of the people who came before us. He shared some incredible stories from his family, including the one about a record he found on which he knew everything was a lie except for the person’s name. It makes you wonder how much you can rely on some of these records, but most of us have no choice but to believe them since we have nothing to contradict them and no narratives to go along with them.

Then the crowds headed out to the dessert tables. I got out pretty quickly and grabbed something, then went back into the ballroom, where it was less crowded. Pamela Weisberger was working her way out of the room and she introduced me to Daniel. He stood around talking to me and a few others for a few minutes. It’s good to know the people in charge. :-)

I eventually talked to a few other people, grabbed a few more snacks, then headed up to my room where I was too tired to blog and went to bed pretty quickly.

And that was just the first and usually slowest day. Today, I present my computer lab just before lunch and I have a few other things in the schedule that I want to attend.

JGSLA 2010 – 0.3 – Registration

I am now registered for the IAJGS conference.

Getting here wasn’t as smooth as that registration. I didn’t get much sleep so I was tired during the drive.

Registration for the hotel could have gone smoother. I saw a few familiar faces in the lobby while dealing with the front desk. I found my way up to the room with my roommate. The rooms here are quite spacious and I like the decor. It’s kind of retro and I really like the look. Usually I think hotel decor is tacky. Our room looks out over the Staples Center.

Roommate Judi Missel went to the pre-conference banquet and I went out to dinner with Mark Heckman and Kathy, Ron Arons, and Jonina Duker. Returning to the hotel and jumping in line for registration, I talked to far too many people to list here.

The day ended on a high note and now it’s late am I’m heading to sleep. I think I’ll try to blog more this week before midnight.

JGSLA 2010 – 0.2 – Preparations And Glitches

I finished up all my client work and even did some of my own genealogy organizing. I got my family newsletter sent out, finally, and updated the book just a smidge. I am teaching a computer lab on using Microsoft Publisher and that book is my example, so I thought I’d get reacquainted with it again before the conference.

This Friday morning, I woke up early and packed and cleaned a bit around my house. The garbage had a very late pick-up which I had to wait for, but I wasn’t quite ready to leave yet. And then finally, off I went.

An hour later, when I got to the Springville exit, my car died. This car is 19 years old and she’s never had something break that actually stopped her from working before. Looks like it was the transmission. But Murphy and his laws didn’t get me completely. If I’d gone past two more exits, I would have been in the middle of nowhere and completely stranded. This way, at least I was in Spanish Fork. So I left my car at a repair shop without even asking him to fix her and Enterprise came and picked me up.

And so I was finally on my way again. I must say, cruise control is a wonderful thing and I don’t know how I survived so many drives across the country or across multiple states before without it.

And now I’m in Mesquite. I was hoping to make it to Las Vegas for the night. I even got half an invitation from a friend, and I called her, but I didn’t really feel like driving anymore and it was already dark. She went online for me and found an obscure little motel with free Internet included and here I am writing this blog entry. In the morning, I’ll stop in Las Vegas for breakfast with her and then I’ll be in Los Angeles in the afternoon for the IAJGS Conference.

JGSLA 2010 – 0.1 – Before I Leave

I had a bit of a blogging black hole in there where I made no entries. I’ll try to be better. In the meantime, it’s time to prepare for the IAJGS conference. Actually, it’s probably past time to prepare, but I’m just getting started.

I plan to drive down to Los Angeles in advance of the conference, but the time to get there in advance is shrinking. I want to meet some more of my relatives; I have a few in the area that I’ve never met.

I’m teaching a computer lab and still need to make preparations for it. I gave the same lab last year, but wanted to improve on what I did and part of that improvement will take me some time working at home.

I will be helping in the Resource Room and introducing a couple of other computer labs that I volunteered for. This will be my first time as introducer. I was just curious about a couple labs and there I went volunteering again.

In the meantime, I’ve been flattening the weeds in my yard and it’s just slightly possible that someone will give them a serious death spray while I’m gone. I also fixed an old leak in my swamp cooler, so I shouldn’t have to worry about turning off the water to that while I’m gone.

NGS 2010 – Part 2

It was quite unfortunate that I missed the third day of NGS. I only had one session highlighted in my schedule, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t have gone to any others. It was just the lack of sleep all week that caught up to me. So I really had to make the most of Saturday.

I got started a little later than I meant to so I missed the first lecture I had planned to go to. As I was about to head to the next lecture session, Beau Sharbrough came around and I got to talking to him, was introduced by him to a few people including his wife, and missed another lecture.

Lectures

By the afternoon, I’d had enough vendor room socializing and found a new addition to the schedule: J.H. Fonkert’s Anatomy of a Genealogy Research Report. I followed that with Maureen Taylor’s Every Picture Tells a Story: Dating Family Photographs. Both research report lectures I attended were filled with good information. Photo dating is a weakness of my genealogy skills, so those lectures are always helpful. Maybe someday I’ll pick up some of the books on the subject and really learn something.

I missed all the evening events during the week like the concert at the conference center (I really wanted to go to that) and the group watch of Who Do You Think You Are?.

Social Networking

This conference further reinstated to me that when I attend IAJGS conferences, I go for the social networking more than attending lectures. At my first IAJGS, I attended as many lectures as I could, but found that I didn’t learn very much because I already knew so much. I viewed the NGS lectures about the same way. I’ve chatted with many Twitterers and bloggers online, but many of the ones I talk to the most weren’t there. I did get to briefly meet several of them including Dick Eastman, Randy Seaver, Ancestry Insider, Lisa Alvo, and Kathryn Doyle. I was upset that Megan Smolenyak only attended the day that I missed. I was really thankful that I had some friends tethered to their vendor booths so I could visit with them often. (I hope I didn’t drive them nuts.) I stopped at many other vendor booths just to chat a bit, which I rarely did at IAJGS.

Conclusion

I was really hoping to really meet the bloggers and spend more time with them, but we didn’t know each other so I didn’t get invited to their impromptu get-togethers. I know I judged some of the conference a bit unfairly due to my IAJGS experience. For instance, I know everyone who runs those conferences and many of the regular attendees, so there’s no lack of people to socialize with all week. Also, there were several times when I couldn’t decide what lectures to attend because I had no interest in any of them. At IAJGS, there’s usually something that I have at least a mild interest in learning about because it’s all on-topic for Jewish genealogy.

All in all, I enjoyed the conference. I will definitely consider attending future NGS and FGS conferences.

NGS 2010 – Halfway Through

This year is my first year attending the National Genealogical Society conference. It is taking place in Salt Lake City, so I really didn’t have an excuse to miss it.

Monday

My week started on Monday when Michael Goldstein came into the city in advance of the conference and I met with him for lunch, some research at the Family History Library, and then dinner along with Daniel Horowitz, Kahlile Mehr, and his wife.

Tuesday

On Tuesday, I brought boxes to Ron Arons at the Salt Palace Convention Center. He had shipped his books to me in advance of NGS for his booth in the vendor room. This was beneficial to both of us as I had no idea where the conference would be in the very large Salt Palace. He thanked me with dinner and then we went to the FHL for a UJGS meeting where Daniel Horowitz spoke to a crowded room about MyHeritage. I only left 30 flyers at the FHL the week before and I was absolutely thrilled at the guest turn-out along with the large number of members in attendance.

Wednesday – NGS Day One

By Wednesday, the first day of NGS, my sleep deprivation was really catching up to me. I have two rare sleep disorders and one of them sometimes dictates that I am basically awake all night and asleep all day. I am in the midst of that one now, but forcing myself to stay awake during the day does not cause me to sleep at night anyways. I was working on only 3-4 hours of sleep each day.

I was only a few minutes late for the 8am opening session. Sitting so far in the back, I mostly listened as there were too many heads in front of me to see much. I was most interested in watching the video of the Granite Mountain Vault and was glad to see later that the FamilySearch booth in the vendor room was replaying it.

After the opening session, everyone crowded into the vendor room as the opening session room was set up for regular sessions. I walked around and spoke with people, picked up some snacks, and learned what some of the companies were about.

I attended some of Laura Murphy DeGrazia’s Prove It! Evidence Analysis for Genealogists, and stepped into Thomas Jones’s Five Way to Prove Who Your Ancestor Was, which was standing room only. Unfortunately, the sleep deprivation was catching up to me and I was wiped out. I headed home early.

I obviously missed a couple sessions I wanted to attend on Wednesday, and the Ancestry presentation, but I learned about the major points overnight from Twitter.

Thursday – NGS Day Two

On Thursday, I again arrived late for the first session I wanted to attend, but this time I could partly blame the weather. Claire Bettag’s Research Reports: Meeting the Standards was not quite standing room only, but I stood outside the door with a small group instead of trying to find the few remaining empty seats.

Again spending time in the vendor room, I spoke to Ron Arons for a while and several other vendors. I stopped at the Genlighten booth (many times during the week) to speak with Dean Richardson and his wife, and the MyHeritage booth to see Daniel Horowitz. I somehow spent enough vendor room time that I didn’t go to an 11am session. I had nothing marked in my calendar, but I’m surprised while typing this blog entry that I don’t recall attending any sessions.

During the lunch hour, Ancestry had a session to speak with bloggers, which I attended. I saw mention on Twitter of the Geneabloggers meeting in the vendor room but never found this elusive location. So I finally saw a few of my tweeps (Randy Seaver, Lisa Alvo, Ancestry Insider, among others) at this meeting.

Afterwards, I sat with Tony Macklin for a while to discuss the Ancestry web site. We ended up looking at the new search and trying to find my great-uncle’s 1930 census page, which caused a great deal of difficulty. Did the transcription get changed (incorrectly) since I first found it years ago or did I have such a hard time finding that one record? In the end, we did find it, and submit the transcription correction.

At 4pm, I went to Thomas Jones’s Organizing Evidence to Overcome Record Shortages. This time, there were still some seats left. I was on time and actually heard the introduction, which he gave himself. I stayed for most of the session, leaving only when he was on his second example near the end. Again, the lack of sleep was catching up.

I wanted to go to the Conference Center for the evening concert but knew that it was unlikely I would be able to stay awake while sitting still in a darkened room for two hours. I checked in again with Ron and, while realizing that I’d be driving home in rush hour traffic, he suggested dinner again to wake me up a bit and delay the drive. (It worked. Thanks again Ron.)

Upon arriving home, I started to catch up with Facebook and Twitter, only to leave that unfinished to go to sleep. I woke up around midnight, but went right back to bed to wake up around 5am. Finally, some sleep! (And in the dark, almost like a normal person.) I don’t suppose I’ll be without the feeling of sleep deprivation all day, but it should help.

Two more days to go at NGS. What do I hope to accomplish? I’d really like to talk to my Geneablogger friends some more and get to know them a little. I only have a few sessions marked in my schedule, but I’m sure I’ll drop in on many of the others.

WDYTYA – Episode 5 – The Nitpicker’s Version

From the previews, we already knew that Brooke Shields was going to find that she was descended from royalty. Reading some of the articles that have been written recently by people who don’t like genealogists, this is what they think the field is all about: finding where your family intersects with the royalty of Europe. Although Brooke has this on one side of her family, the majority of genealogists do not. Or maybe many of them do, but not in Jewish families. Either we run out of records to trace, or Jews were simply so isolated from the rest of the population that our families don’t intersect with the European royalty that everyone else is trying to find in their families.

Why Do The Research?

I think that most people find an interest in genealogy because they inherit old items from parents or grandparents, or are involved in helping someone downsize from the old family house to a smaller place.

For Brooke Shields, it was the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. I didn’t really understand what it was about that event that made her suddenly interested in her family history based on what she said, but I can understand that people reacted very strongly to that moment in time and that was simply her reaction.

No Family Visit

Brooke started by going to New Jersey, where her mother was born. Apparently she had no family to talk to in the way all the other episodes started. There was no mention of any other relatives. Were there none alive or did she not have contact with them? Either way, sometimes you have to start without.

Michelle Chubenko was her first contact, a genealogist who worked in New Jersey. They searched through microfilms for the birth record of her grandmother and sister. Can regular people do that if they go to the archives? I have never been to the New Jersey archives but I’ve been to others, and such things didn’t happen. You have to request the record, giving specific details, often the details you are trying to learn, in the hopes that they will find the record for you. Oh, the privilege of celebrity and a camera crew.

Looking up her grandmother and sister, they saw that there were four children in the family, which Brooke didn’t know about. She was “in shock” that there were two more siblings, but Michelle found the records of the other births. Just because she hadn’t heard of them, why would she be surprised to find there were more?

Come to think of it, my grandfather was one of twelve. When I was told there were two others that had died in infancy, I was surprised. Not because I didn’t think it was possible but just because I hadn’t been told about them before. Watching the first time through, I didn’t think of this and took her shock at the revelation to be wrong, but now I see that it was probably the same kind of reaction I had.

From the birth records, they determined that of the two brothers, one died in infancy while the other was still alive when the fourth child was born. Brooke suddenly wanted to know everything about him, saying she felt like a detective. That is exactly what genealogy research is about.

To Newark

Going back to the old neighborhood, historian Tom McCabe showed her a 1910 picture of the street where the family lived and pointed out the buildings where they lived and where two of the siblings were born.

Meeting with Michelle again, now in a restaurant, Michelle “did additional research”. I always like when they mention that they did research and didn’t just produce all kinds of information out of thin air. She found Brooke’s great-grandmother’s death certificate, when her grandmother was only ten years old. She also found the death for Edward when he was 13, along with a newspaper article about his drowning.

Why do they meet so many genealogists in restaurants? Are there no better places? Just seems odd to me. Sure, that may happen in real life when you’re meeting a stranger and need a public location, but that’s not the case here. Maybe they just like the bad lighting conditions for the episodes.

From Mom to Dad

Once Brooke had discovered enough to understand more about her grandmother, she switched to her father’s side. When I look at how far back in time the research went for her father’s family, I can only hope that they did more on her mother’s side but didn’t find anything TV-worthy.

At the New York Historical Society, genealogist Gary Boyd Roberts unrolled a family tree scroll going back to the early 1700s.  (We later see the other side of it goes to the 1600s.) This is one of those moments that I don’t like, where they skip over far too much of the research and just suddenly produce all kinds of results. Not only that, but he traced that far back and all she could ask about was what came before.

Of course, she may have asked questions about every person in the chart and none of that made it into the episode, but not only does this show that genealogists can magically produce detailed charts going back several hundred years, but that the person receiving the information should only ask what came before that and expect to find more going even further back in history. Usually, when time and money aren’t an issue, whatever information is found is all that can be found. This also suggests that no matter what information is available, if you get on a plane and go to another country, you’ll find so much more when you get there. Is that true? If so, I need to start racking up more frequent flyer miles.

To Rome, Italy

Daniela Felisini, a professor at the University of Rome, who had written a book about the history of the Torlonias, brought Brooke to the location of the original textile shop and bank where her ancestor began building his businesses.

Villa Torlonia was one of the palaces that her ancestor bought for the family’s summer home. Wouldn’t we all like to find a place like that in our family’s history?

Once again, she wanted to know more about where Giovanni came from, which was her original goal. That family tree scroll went back to Marino, Giovanni’s father, and that was who she wanted to know more about. Going back to his birth in 1725 wasn’t enough.

From the wedding certificate of Marino, they discovered a French origin for the family.

Not the Best Part of the Show

Before the commercial break, a clip is shown where Brooke is standing in front of the house and says “This is where it all began.” (This is not shown later in the episode but just in the previews.) She is not the only celebrity to say this in the show previews. Each part of this particular episode was about finding what came before whatever research she was given, so why does it begin at that house and not several generations before? Is that as far back as the research went in that family so it became the beginning of it?

This is like when people say they are finished with their genealogy. No, they probably aren’t. They may be finished with the records that are available, but their genealogy goes back a lot further.

The narrator’s voiceover after the commercial was also disturbing. “She thought her father’s side was Italian, but now she’s just discovered she may have very strong French roots.” I remembered this a little differently after the first viewing, but it still sounds a bit wrong. To me, it sounded like her family could be traced back to the early 1700s in Italy, but she wasn’t really Italian?  If you can trace your family back 300 years in a country, I think your family is from that country. Just because they came from somewhere else before that doesn’t negate your link to that country. After all, we’re really all from Africa, if you trace back far enough into the history of the species, but we don’t all claim African roots.

Augerolles, France

On the trail of Marino Torlonia, she went to France. Historian Carene Rabilloud showed her the baptism, where he was born in France. Next, she visited the house where the family lived 300 years earlier.

Brooke felt “linked” to the family and it was repeated a few times that she studied French literature in college and she was amazed to find that France was part of her ancestry. Moments like that are some of the bonuses you get from studying your genealogy; finding specific connections to your ancestors.

Again, The Chart Was Not Enough

After tracing beyond one side of the scroll, she wanted to go back on the other branch that went back to the early 1600s.

“Not being satisfied without the least bit of royal blood in my veins, I must find out about her.” As I stated before, this is what some people think genealogy is all about. Brooke sounded like she wasn’t quite so serious as that may read in this blog, but it was what several writers have complained about recently in those anti-genealogy stories.

This is where Ancestry.com finally got their plug. What train was she on that had Internet access? I want to take that train when I go to Europe.

Paris, France

Charles Mosley, a genealogist who specializes in royal families, was her contact at the Louvre. Christine Marie’s father was Henry IV. This seems like a pretty important bit of information. Why did the genealogist in New York not have this information on that fancy scroll? Hopefully only because they wanted to break this information later in the episode.

At Saint-Denis Cathedral, she got to touch the actual heart of Henry IV, which seemed macabre. (Borrowing that word from David Tennant in his BBC episode, when he handled a skull found under the church floorboards.) Charles said that the heart was her property more than anybody else; well, hers and all the other possibly hundreds or more descendants, right?

Of course, once you get to European royalty, it all traces back to Charlemagne, so Charles was able to tell her more about her royal ancestry going back even further.

Considering how far back in time you have to go to get to Charlemagne, it makes me wonder about the so-called Borg Tree on Geni.com. Is that tree based on descendents of the royal lines? A cousin of mine married into a family that also traced back to those royal lines. I was sent a file of the genealogy that just went straight back until it got to Charlemagne’s grandfather. If you combine all the information including siblings, cousins, and descending down the families, how many people alive today would be connected to that family tree?

Conclusion

“Being able to sort of find your place in the grand scheme of things, there’s something empowering about it.” That’s a nice way to sum up genealogy research. There are lines like this in each episode. We are all the sum of the people who came before us, whether we inherited something from them in our appearances, our talents, or if it’s just a matter of a change of geography that changed the course of our family forever.

I was kind of disappointed with this episode the first time I watched it, with perpetuating the search for royalty in her family and constantly asking what came before that family tree scroll instead of showing that she could be satisfied just knowing that much. I think it was done that way deliberately to continue the story and show her searching for her ancestry beyond what was written there, but when you take that much care to put together a large scroll in fancy calligraphy that way, you don’t stop at the interesting parts.

Rewatching the show, I was not as disappointed as during the first viewing, but I think this was my least favorite episode so far. And considering how much I enjoy watching every episode of this show, saying it’s my least favorite isn’t really saying anything bad.

This article is the fifth in a series. Previous articles: