I have the pleasure of introducing you to Deborah Large Fox of the Help! The Faerie Folk Hid My Ancestors! and the Journey to Recite the Kaddish in Uzlyany blogs. Deborah describes her blogs as follows “[Help! The Faerie Folk Hid My Ancestors]…aims to help researchers navigate through the quagmire of Irish genealogy. Journey to Recite the Kaddish in Uzlyany is a journal kept by my husband and me, plus other contributing family members, as we navigate Jewish genealogy to uncover the Fuchs family history that was lost to the Holocaust.”
How Deborah Got Started in Genealogy
Deborah began collecting family stories and records when she was a young girl. In the 1990’s, Deborah left the practice of law and became a researcher for a local historical organization. She also began to give classes and lectures on genealogy in the Philadelphia area, which she continues to do today.
How Deborah became interested in doing family history is a question to which she has given quite a bit of thought. “I simply don’t remember NOT being interested in the family history. To me, the ordinary stories about my relatives and ancestors had a mythic quality, just like the characters in story books.”
When Deborah was 14 years old, her grandmother gave her a letter written in 1847 by her third great grandmother in County Tyrone, Ireland, to her children in America. The letter spoke of the crop failures. On the news that evening [when she received the letter] were stories of the violence of the Troubles. Deborah’s grandmother pointed at the televised riot scenes and told her that the letter came “from right there.” Deborah was hooked.
Deborah’s Family and Her Blog
In Deborah’s own words, “ I have yet to get my Irish relatives in the family history, can you believe it?” However, Deborah’s husband and their daughters are very supportive and appreciative that blogging keeps her busy.
Deborah has been very excited about the response she has gotten from her husband’s family for the Uzlyany blog. The blog has spurred many family members to become involved: “Our uncle Marvin has composed posts for the blog, and he and an aunt have shared family lore, photographs, and records. I think that eventually the blog might become a ‘wiki-blog!’”
Deborah feels blessed to have many supportive friends and family members who regularly follow both of her blogs. “I am particularly fortunate to have found a wonderful group of friends and supporters in a local (Philadelphia/South Jersey) Irish genealogy group I founded, the Irish American Family History Society. The support group members mean the world to me. They also keep it ‘real’ and prevent me from taking myself too seriously! Truly a unique bunch.”
One of Deborah’s biggest concerns was whether or not she would have enough to fill one or two blog posts, “Ha! I can hear my friends and family laughing at that one!” Deborah would spend weeks building up a “slush” pile of topics before she even posted one word. Deborah didn’t start writing until after she found GeneaBloggers, “the support and guidance provided by the web site and blog was invaluable – made me feel as if I, too, could be a blogger.”
Deborah began her first blog while she was recovering from elbow surgery and was stuck at home for a couple of months. She met Dick Eastman at a conference a few months earlier, and he had asked her if she blogged. Deborah laughed and told Dick Eastman that she couldn’t blog, and Dick Eastman asked, “Why not?” Deborah decided to take up the challenge. The first few months of posts were done by, “one-fingered, left-hand typing.”
The title of Deborah’s blog, “Help! The Faerie Folk Hid My Ancestors!” was the name of a monthly series of Irish genealogy classes Deborah gave at a local family history center, “People chuckled at the name, so I kept it for my blog. The Irish faeries are indeed known for stealing and hiding people, so the name is an apt one.”
“Journey to Recite the Kaddish in Uzlyany” is a description of a goal that Deborah and her husband share, “one day, to visit the burial grounds of Elia and Fruma Fuchs and their family members in Uzlyany, Belarus. They were killed in 1941, and no one was left to perform the Jewish mourning rituals.”
How Deborah Follows The Rest of Us
Deborah uses Google Reader as her main means of keeping up with her blog reading. She also subscribes to a few blogs via her email.
On a typical day, Deborah follows about three or four blogs that post daily or regularly, plus ten more that she checks weekly. Deborah also reads GeneaBloggers regularly, as it is sent to her email. In Deborah’s own words, “I am continually discovering new blogs through GeneaBloggers.”
What Deborah Loves Most About Genealogy
“The Stories! I love finding those hidden nuggets of information that make my ancestors come alive once more. I love seeing a name on the family tree become a person with a personality and a life story of his or her own.” Deborah also loves the people she has met and continues to meet along her genealogy journey. She has met long lost cousins that she treasures. Deborah has met fascinating people at her many talks and lectures, “No way is genealogy a dry and dusty hobby spent in dark microfilm rooms!”
Deborah is also very surprised at the similarities between Irish and Jewish research, “Both are extremely difficult because of lost records and irregular record keeping. Neither Irish nor Jewish research is easily accomplished by methodical digging. On the contrary, researchers have to be on the lookout for odd lists, books, local histories, and family tales. Both types of research require ‘detective’ eyes and constantly inquisitive mindset.”
Deborah’s Time Capsule Message
“My message for future generations? Be aware of your roots, because you have a home in your family history, even if you travel far and lose connections. The miracle that is you was created by all those ancestors who came before you and passed down to you that miraculous combination of genes, along with the stories of their loves and lives. They were human beings such as you, with foibles and follies as well as successes and talents. In a world that is becoming increasingly homogenous, your family history makes you unique, but never alone!”
* * *
Please take a moment and head on over to Deborah’s blogs, leave a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Deborah, it’s great to have you here!
© 2011, copyright Gini Webb
Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, recently retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her now seven grandchildren!
Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.