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Serendipity in Genealogy

Find-recordsWhether you believe in ‘divine guidance’ or not, there can be alot said for when for some totally unknown reason, a book, a vital record, a photo, a database, a newspaper articles … anything suddenly is made available to you to assist in locating or even learning about a previously unknown ancestor. This occurrence can sometimes be referred to a ‘Serendipity in Genealogy’.

If you have been working for several years on your family history and you think back, surely you have had some incident where ‘thing’ just ‘fell in your lap’ relating to an ancestor. Some people see it as our ancestors wanting to be ‘found’, researched and information written down about them — not to be forgotten. Whether is was a bloodline relative or a family branch you are doing for a spouse, you could have this closest to learning more about a specific person.

Find-microfilmIt might be hard to recall a specific incident of this special assistance, but look back a moment when you were totally surprised about some new information acquired in your research. For me, it was when I learned during my research that my father was born in Manchester, England rather than what he had always stated, what my mother knew and what was on his vital records, that he was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts. When I had obtained, through quite a bit of effort, a copy of the Declaration of Intention for Naturalization on November 1935 of my father’s father (whom I did know was from England) and there written (almost overlooked) was the birthplace for his oldest son (my father) in Manchester, England, I was totally shocked. No one in the family ever knew that information.

Further confirmation was needed. I checked the English vital records index on births and sure enough a birth registration for my father, with the correct date, location and parents were correct. Next, I reviewed the passenger ships manifests on microfilm to find the ship and date of departure and arrival on the SS Carmania April 23, 1914 to the Port of Boston. So I had three official vital records, all showing my father was born in England and came to America as a 9-year old boy with his family. I feel I was guided to learning the truth of my actual family heritage, making me half-English.  find-ship

Sometimes you can be researching a database or on images microfilm for something and you stumble on something else; a hometown, another relative, anything and you can’t quite figure to got there … but you did!

There is a Message Board on ‘’ (Rootsweb) where people can share some of their own ‘Serendipity in Genealogy’. Reading some other people’s experiences might dawn on you of some similar experiences.

Related genealogy blogs:

Finding Success in Research

Take a Closer Look – Using FamilyTree

Finding Ancestors’ Records


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