Born between 1976 and 2001, Generation Y is known for being a uniquely sophisticated and tech savvy age group that has just entered adulthood. As one of the most diverse and constantly evolving communities in American history, ‘Gen Yers’ are quick to evolve, fiercely competitive and often transcend expectation. Many believe that having grown up in a world of email, text message and social media, Gen Yers have developed stunted attention spans, sub-par social skills, and noncommittal attitudes. However, it can’t be argued that this ‘plugged in’ generation is setting the pace for today’s work force and their ambition is challenging innovators across the globe to raise the bar.
As findmypast.com has been getting to know the US genealogical community since its North American launch in July of 2012, we were thrilled and surprised to find that America’s up and coming youth have jumped on the genealogy band wagon. Even more surprising is we often found them driving the progress of methodologies and the preservation of institutions that keep family history research thriving. We want to spotlight a few outstanding gen(Y)alogists, from casual to professional, that prove both American youth and family history deserve a different kind of attention.
Are you or do you know a gen(Y)alogist? Let us know!
“The younger you start with genealogy, the more people you have access to. People are sources and they bridge the gap from the present you to the past.”
Darcie Posz, 28 – Washington, D.C.
“The younger you start with genealogy, the more people you have access to. People are sources and they bridge the gap from the present you to the past. Get a digital recorder and interview as many relatives as possible now. Upload their story and begin verifying the accuracy with some of the genealogy databases available online. Becoming familiar with the resources available online can give a sense of the myriad of records available out there. Make mash-ups of grandma’s life where you can hear her voice telling a story from her past over digital images of records from databases like FindMyPast, or corroborate the story while using Google Earth to take a trip with her.”
Darcie M. Hind Posz has been a professional genealogist for more than nine years. Research emphases include Chicago and Hawaiian/Polynesian genealogy and urban ancestors. Her writing has appeared in APG Quarterly, FGS FORUM and NGS Magazine and portions of her research are housed at Columbia University. In the past she was the chair of the Federation of Genealogical Societies Outreach Committee. Currently, she is President of the National Capital Area Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists and resides in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at email@example.com.
“…in order to stay grounded, it’s important for me to look back on my roots.”
Tiger Curran, 25 – Sarasota, FL
“Today’s society is increasingly ruled by technology – especially for young people. That’s why in order to stay grounded, it’s important for me to look back on my roots. When I think of my ancestors and where they came from, I realize my own place in history. Researching your own family history doesn’t feel like work (most of the time); you’re not being graded or critiqued so the drive to do it is completely personal.”
Tiger, a motion picture costumer and rap artist, was raised in Sarasota, Florida by parents who were strong advocates of art and history. In 2012, Tiger and her mother (recently awarded full Irish citizenship) made a heritage pilgrimage to Ireland. “We scoured ancient cemeteries to find tangible evidence of our ancestors, and an amazing Irish woman we met in a cemetery told us, “You’re doing an amazing thing. You’re walking the very roads your ancestors walked.” We climbed over these tangled vines and ancient walls and said a little homage to our ancestors who had lived there so many years before us.”
“In a world where important news is instantly shared in 140-characters or less, taking pause and looking to the past can be a welcome break. Regardless of your age, family history enables you to discover yourself.”
D. Joshua Taylor, 27 – Venice, CA
“When I started family history I was a bit unique. At age 12 I attended my first “conference” and quickly found myself in a sea of baby boomers. For the most part they were kind, though many raised an eyebrow at this “kid” who had identically found himself there. Time after time attendees would ask if I was lost and needed assistance. I wasn’t lost at all – in fact I felt more at home among this community more than anywhere else. In a world where important news is instantly shared in 140-characters or less, taking pause and looking to the past can be a welcome break. Regardless of your age, family history enables you to discover yourself.”
D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS is the Business Development Manager of North America for brightsolid online publishing, the creator of findmypast.com. A nationally known and recognized professional genealogist, lecturer, genealogical author, and researcher, Josh is the current president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and former Director of Education at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Taylor holds an MLS (Archival Management) and an MA (History) from Simmons College, and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including RootsTech’s Distinguished Presenter Award, the Federation of Genealogical Societies Award of Merit, and the Rubincam Youth Award from the National Genealogical Society.
“As I discover more about my ancestors, I am able to find strength in their turmoil and inspiration from their accomplishments. Plus, it is just plain fun to try to solve the mysteries.”
Elyse Doerflinger, 23 – Southern California
“When I first started researching, it was all about solving the mystery and trying to uncover the skeletons in the family closet. But over the years, I’ve found genealogy provides me with a place in the world and grounds me. As I discover more about my ancestors, I am able to find strength in their turmoil and inspiration from their accomplishments. Plus, it is just plain fun to try to solve the mysteries.”
Elyse Doerflinger is a professional genealogist specializing in using technology tools to make research more efficient. She is the author of Elyse’s Genealogy Blog and has created a number of Youtube videos to share her knowledge with others. Utilizing her ten years of genealogy research experience, Elyse has written for Internet Genealogy Magazine and Family Chronicle Magazine, and speaks at genealogy societies and conferences in Southern California.
“I’ve always admired my mother’s vast knowledge of our family’s history.”
Rebecca Zoe Leigh, 26 – Venice, CA
“I’ve always admired my mother’s thorough understanding of our family’s history. Even though much of my family tree was done before I was born, I still love searching for anything to add color to my family tree. Who knows, maybe new search technology will provide with something they missed.”
Rebecca was born, raised and currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. She attended Connecticut College and Institute of Psycho-Structural Balancing. Rebecca comes from a long line of ancestors that have invested heavily hiring genealogists. She and her mother recently discovered a comprehensive genealogy in their garage that was commissioned in the 1930’s, translated from French in 1960, and goes back to nobility in the 1600’s. Rebecca is currently a massage therapist and singer-songwriter and recently released her first album that is now available on iTunes.
“Researching into my family tree was an outlet for me, into gaining a connection to the grandparents that I otherwise never would have known.”
Nick Gombash, 26 – Chicago, IL
“Family history and genealogy are essential to youth, because it helps them connect with their family and it gives them a sense of belonging and that they’re important. It makes them reach out to their family, close and extended, to ask questions about who they are and where they come from. I feel that I dove into genealogy so early, because of the lack of any grandparent figure growing up; all of my grandparents either passed away before I was born, or when I was a little over one year old. Researching into my family tree was an outlet for me, into gaining a connection to the grandparents that I otherwise never would have known.”
I began performing genealogy research as a hobby almost twelve years ago, until five years ago when I started researching professionally. My area of expertise is primarily in Hungary and Germany (and Germanic-speaking countries). In February of 2010, I created Hungary Exchange (www.hungaryexchange.com), a non-profit genealogical website and Facebook group geared towards providing free indexes and records to help genealogists research their Hungarian family tree. Hungary Exchange has since grown to host roughly 130,000 free records pertaining to Hungarian genealogy. In January of 2011, I was the sole source of information used to create the Hungarian section of an Eastern European genealogy course, at the Society of Genealogists convention in London, England. And finally, I was published in the May/June 2012 issue of Family Tree Magazine for one of the top forty international genealogy blogs of the year.
“The further back I go, I realize more and more that at some point, we are all connected.”
Jonathan Quant, 26 – Culver City, CA
“My family’s knowledge of our ancestry only goes back a few generations. Despite their disinterest in our family history, I had a visceral need to find out more. I don’t know what I’m looking for exactly, but that’s the mystery I like. The further back I go, I realize more and more that at some point, we are all somehow connected.”
Born and raised in Culver City, California, Jonathan is a baker, marriage officiator, and an accomplished hula dancer. A member of findmypast.com, Jonathan was able to trace his ancestry to black creole lines in Louisiana.
“As an awkward teenager trying to make sense of my life, I felt like I did not belong. Family History helped me to realize my own importance and connection to the world around me.”
Bradley Marchant AG, 30 – Philadelphia, PA
”As an awkward teenager trying to make sense of my life, I felt like I did not belong. Family History helped me to realize my own importance and connection to the world around me.”
Bradley D. Marchant AG. I have been involved in genealogical research for half of my life, as I started when I was 16 years old. I even skipped school to go to the National Archives in Philadelphia a few times. I have a degree in Family History-Genealogy from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. I have worked as a featured genealogist on The Generations Project. I specialize in Nordic, British Isles and Hispanic research. I am also accredited in Swedish research through ICAPGen. yourownheritage.com
“The earlier you start your family history, the more time you will have with your oldest relatives to learn, record memories, and share discoveries.”
Leah Munson, 22 – Boston, MA
“The earlier you start your family history, the more time you will have with your oldest relatives to learn, record memories, and share discoveries. I get a pride in looking at everything my ancestors lived through and comfort from knowing that, at some point, they were where I am in my life right now.”
Leah is an actor in Los Angeles and a recent graduate from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. Raised in Boston, her family has a strong background in family history with roots spreading across North America.