When I first started “doing” genealogy, any find was exciting and the cause of great joy - whether it confirmed something I already knew or took me back one more generation. After a while, I was surprised that the research became “routine” – not that it wasn’t exciting anymore, it was just to be expected. If you have the luck to have records readily available that go back hundreds of years, going back a few generations will be a task on your “to do” list along with buying milk and stopping at the post office. But, no matter how many years you’ve been searching, some finds are worthy of the genealogy “happy dance” – when you find something that makes you so happy you want to dance!
In my own research, there are quite a few remembrances of doing the happy dance that only the joys of genealogy can cause:
- The first census find – Today, the availability of U.S. census records online has made it relatively easy to find your ancestors in those records. But twenty years ago, it was a bit more dramatic. When I first started my research, the latest available census record was from 1910 – and I had to look at it on microfilm at the Philadelphia branch of the National Archives. My first find was rather exciting for one simple fact – three of my four families to find were so badly misspelled that the Soundex was useless. I wouldn’t find the others for years!
- The immigrant hometown find – One of the most spectacular happy dances was finding IT – my immigrant ancestor’s hometown. Each time it happened, the dancing began – for I finally had a place beyond “Poland” or “Germany” in which to search further. The ways and hows of this particular find varied. For one, it was through an American-born child’s baptismal record. For another, a social security card application. For others, it was as easy as the passenger arrival record! No matter the source, finding the place makes you feel like a detective who has just solved the case no one else could solve!
- The next generation find – While finding evidence of my great-grandparents’ birthplaces in Europe was exciting, even more so was finding a record of who their parents were. It finally disproved the challenge posed when I started my research: “They didn’t keep records back then!”
[Written for the 65th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy: Happy Dance - the Joy of Genealogy]
Explanation to the “Really Young” or “Really Don’t Know Movie History” readers – the dancer above is Gene Kelly, one of my other “gene” hobbies.