I was bit by the genealogy bug in the 1980’s, when as a teenager, I discovered a history book about the township where my paternal grandmother grew up. In it were her parents and her grandparents, family members I had only ever heard about but never met – the last one passed just a few months before I was born. I was fascinated by these family stories and knowing more about my history than “dad’s family is Finnish.”
Professionally, I’m a librarian. I used to pick up Sunday shifts at a neighboring library after I moved into management at my home library. The neighboring library subscribed to Ancestry Library Edition, so in between helping patrons, I’d search the databases for family history. At that point, I was only working on my dad’s side of the family – he was 100% Finnish and it turns out the Finns kept amazing historical records, most of which have been digitized, indexed and stored online. I’ve “met” a ton of cousins and filled in many gaps in my dad’s family going back to nearly 1500. Family names include Pohjola, Moilanen, Tauriainen, Kinnunen, Sorila, Heikkinen, Kemppainen.
I developed an interest in tracing my mom’s family history after interviewing both my mom and my maternal grandmother for a paper in my Women’s History class during my undergraduate studies. Mom’s family has proven to be a bit more tricky. DNA tells us that she’s 100% European Jewish, which we knew, but my grandparents’ ancestors hail from a variety of countries (Lithuania, Poland, “Russia,” Hungary) whose boundaries have changed over time. Family names include Kass, Scheinker (Sheynker, Shanker, Schenker), Taub, Weinstein, Klein, Fridsol, Marks.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I started tracing my husband’s family’s genealogy. I was curious about any potential Jewish ancestry, as the Inquisition hit Portugal and eventually even the Azores, where his family comes from. Family names include Andrade, Pacheco, Mota (da Mota, da Motta), Escaler, Medeiros, Botelho. So far, no Sephardim, but I’m having a blast learning about his family history and traditions, which are so very different from my own.
Over time, I will be adding confirmed information here, along with documentation and links to my confirmed tree(s). I’ve been greatly helped by the trees I’ve found online and feel it’s important to contribute what I can, too.