Politicians, stay-at-home dads, academics or businesswomen...they all know the value of family and the joys of staying in touch with them. But what is on their family photos? How often do they call their mother and what celebrity do they secretly admire? Get ready to find out through the MyHeritage interview series!
This time we have a special interviewee for our interview series. Elyse Doerfinger is only 19 years old, but she is already a seasoned genealogist, which makes her a bit of a prodigy in the usually older genealogy scene. Elyse is a member of the Youth Genealogists Society and the Graveyard Rabbit Student society, a student and a blogger. Her blog 'The Graveyard Rabbit Student' is dedicated to everything cemeteries; preservation tips, tips for organizing pictures of headstones, and websites where you can find a picture of your ancestor's headstone. Her other blog 'Elyse's Genealogy blog' provides tips or lessons she's learned while being involved with genealogy, as well as posts about family members and family stories, new websites, products and pictures such as the one displayed here, of her and genealogist Dick Eastman. She recently drew lot of attention to that blog by proposing that older genealogists should embrace technology more.
This is what she told us:
You recently wrote a post saying that genealogical societies should embrace technology more. Why do you think that?
I think it is a great way to not only enhance the research of the members, but it is also a great way to attract new members. It is a great way for genealogical societies to market their events to potential new members and to other genealogical societies. The possibilities are endless and for the most part, free! It would be a waste to ignore the technological resources that are just waiting to be utilized.
You are a member of the Youth Genealogist society- can you tell me a little bit about them?
It is a great organization that lets young genealogists come together. It is a rather new organization that started in January of 2009. It is just a great place for younger genealogists to discuss everything related to genealogy - from research strategies to cool websites. Just last month at the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree 2009, Micheal Melendez hosted Kids Camp, which was a huge success.
Why do you mainly older people are interested in genealogy?
I think a lot of it has to do with time. While genealogy doesn't have to take up most of your life, it is so addictive that often it begins to do so. During retirement, people have lots of spare time and the ability to travel during the working week to visit libraries and archives.
Are you a member of MyHeritage.com? If so, tell me what you like about the site?
I really like the organization of the site and how bright and welcoming it is. There are so many great features on this site, such as the photo and video sections. I love the recipe section and I can't wait to try my relatives' recipes.
Do you think the MyHeritage site is attractive to young genealogists?
I love that MyHeritage.com has the option of uploading photos and videos from your mobile phone or from your email. Features like that are perfect for the younger generation that is all about flexibility and mobility.
When and how did you become interested in genealogy?
I became interested in genealogy in the seventh grade when my history teacher gave an assignment that required interviewing a World War II veteran. The only World War II veteran I knew was my paternal grandpa, who lived across the country in Tennessee. I had only met him when I was a toddler and hadn't talked to him on the phone except for once or twice a year. I was really worried that the conversation would be awkward, but it only took a couple of questions before I was very comfortable talking to him. His stories really brought history alive for me and it made me wonder who else in my family had participated in historical events.
My curiosity became an addiction when I went to visit my grandpa in Tennessee in the summer of 2003. His family had lived in the area for generations. Everywhere I went, I heard another story about another family member that I didn't even know existed. When I finally asked my grandpa about his parents, he politely told me that it was "none of your concern". By not giving me information, I became determined to find my family story. I didn't know it at the time, but my grandpa had a rough childhood starting with his mother dying when he was very young. He was very attached to his mother and it angered him when his father remarried so quickly after her death.
How professional a genealogist are you?
I consider myself to be an intermediate genealogist when it comes to American research. However, when the research turns to Europe, I am a beginner. But in the last year, I have begun to tackle my German and Welsh lines.
Have you found out any interesting or exciting stories about your family in your research?
Oh yeah! On my mom's side, I've learned a lot about my grandparents. For example, I learned that my grandma was a horrible cook. So before Sunday dinner, when the entire family ate at my grandparents' house, my grandpa would drive to a fast food restaurant called Wienerschnitzel to buy hot dogs for everyone. When he got back to the house, he would hide them in the shed until after dinner. During dinner, as everyone gave my grandma an excuse for why they couldn't eat much, my grandma would serve small "no thank you" helpings. After dinner, each person would go to the shed to eat their hot dogs.