My amateur origins
Like many professional genealogists, my introduction into family history was as an amateur working on my own family tree. In 2016, my partner and I decided on a lark to finish off a hike in the Oakland Hills with a walk around the Mormon temple, which hangs over the city like a majestic castle. We stumbled on a building on the church grounds called the Family History Center. Curious, we walked in and were given a tour of the research center by two of the church’s elders.
Painfully learning the skills of analysis and correlation
Equipped with free FamilySearch accounts, my partner and I quickly assembled our family trees back to our 2nd great-grandparents. The discoveries were addictive. In hindsight, however, we were being reckless with the past — accepting any hint we encountered. The reality (I would painfully come to realize later) is that this is how most amateurs construct their family history, with little thought to a sources trustworthiness or historical context.
That same year, I founded airloom.space, a creative and business entity that could contain my wide array of professional skills, passions, and interests. The thread that ties all of my practices together (whether they be design, storytelling, history, or art) is a deep interest in the traces and legacies that we humans leave behind in our limited time on Earth.
A genealogy hobby that became a profession
With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, I needed a hobby that I could safely do from quarantine. I returned to my family’s genealogy. I had recently married my partner, and we had plans to have children. So, I decided to thoroughly research our future child’s ancestry. That project took me all over the United States and Europe, and I deepened my knowledge of genealogy through books, webinars, and conferences.
Over the next two years, friends would ask me to work on their family trees. And that evolved into working with my first paid genealogy gig in 2021. I am currently in the process of applying for my Certified Genealogist credential from the Board of Certified Genealogists. Many professional genealogists don’t undergo the certification process, but I am committed to improving my own craft so that I feel confident about the stories I surface from the past.