1. When did you first start researching your family history? Was there a moment when you knew you were “hooked?”
I started researching my family history about 35 years ago. My Aunt had done quite a bit of work on my Mother's family but we knew nothing about my fathers. He didn't even know his grandparents. This was back in the days when there were no computers...but a couple months, a lot of letters and dozens of reels of microfilm later I had great-grandparents and great-great grandparents and I was hooked!
2. Do you have a pet ancestor? Can you tell us a little bit about what makes this person so special to you as a researcher?
One of my favorite ancestors is actually my husbands Great-Great Grandfather. We call him Poor Orson Oakes. We don't know who his mother is, he was raised by his step-mother Sally. At the age of 21 Orson married the widow next door. She had seven children. Her brother was not happy and as executor of her husbands estate created a wonderful Land Document that gives her husbands land back to Mary and her children but prevented Orson from ever making a dime from his years of work running the farm. Orson was in his forties when be joined the Missouri 11th Cavalry (Union). He served for 9 months and got cholera. He went home to recover and then joined the Missouri 14th Cavalry (Union) again after 9 months he went home to recover and then back to the MO 14th. When he applied for a pension the US Government would not grant it saying he left the Cavalry to serve with the Confederate Army (hedging his bets). Well some eight years and 250 pension pages later, after agents interviewed family, friends and fellow soldiers living from Ohio to California Orson got his pension. I guess he's my favorite because for someone the family knew nothing about (we don't even have a picture and he didn't die until 1904) he left a fantastic paper trail of some unusual documents.
3. What record set to you believe is the most under-utilized? What advice would you give students in using this record set?
Anything that isn't online. I've been working with some New Deal Records at NARA - San Francisco, what a treasure trove. Almost every family was touched by the Depression and nearly every family benefited by the programs put in place. The WPA is just the tip of the iceberg.
4. What books and periodicals would you recommend for intermediate to advanced researchers? Are there any lesser-known texts you advise?
Anything inspirational, anything that tells about record sets and encourages you to find them. There are lots of great publications out there.
5. What is the most rewarding thing about being a genealogical educator? What advice would you give for those who would follow in your footsteps?
Questions and comments from the room. An educator should always be open to corrections, we can't know everything. New updates come along and we might have missed them. The worst sessions I've ever attended were led by lecturers that insisted they were right when many in the room knew they were wrong. It ruined anything they might have had to share.
6. Why would you recommend a student attend SLIG in general?
What I see is a comraderie that can't easily be achieved at conferences, and an in depth genealogical experience that can't be achieved in weekly or monthly classes at home. Everyone seems to go away more enthused about continuing their research.
7. Will you tell us a little bit about what makes your SLIG course unique among genealogical education offerings?
While house histories have become more popular over the last few years starting from San Francisco where so many records were lost in the 1906 earthquake offers an opportunity to discuss some of the more obscure resources for learning about a house.
8. Will you share something with us that students may not know about you? Perhaps a non-genealogical hobby?
A bit of a "flower child" my best friend and I sang ballads and protest songs in many a "hootenanny" while in high school. I got a lot of flack when I married a "cop."
9. Any parting thoughts or advice?