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This project, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, starts just as I am determined to revitalize my blog, which has been languishing for a long time. I have so much material about my personal research that I want to share more often than my once-a-year genealogy newsletter that I send out with my holiday cards.

This week’s theme is Start. Amy Johnson Crow suggested telling the story of how one started doing genealogy…

I’m the last person in my family I would have thought would embrace genealogy. My sister Laurie was the sibling who always knew the names of relatives that we would only see at family funerals, since we lived in New York, and my parents’ families lived in Chicago. She knew which woman was whose mother, and how everyone was related to us. I was usually in a corner with my nose in a book while she socialized.

Studio portrait of Sophie Klebanskaya taken about 1909 in Slonim, her hometown, when she was about 14.

Studio portrait of Sophie Klebanskaya taken about 1909 in Slonim, her hometown, when she was about 14.

But in 1989, it suddenly occurred to me that my grandma Sophie was getting to be really old – she was 94. And I asked her if she would be willing to talk to me about her life. So at my next visit to her retirement home, I set up a cassette recorder and started asking questions about what interested me.

During the course of that talk, Grandma mentioned having a photo album with pictures of her childhood. My husband and I had one of those early, monstrously heavy, video recorders and I asked if I could come for another visit and record her talking about the pictures in the album. She didn’t want to be on camera herself, but she agreed to me recording the pictures as she described who was in them.

And I was hooked…

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