I have the pleasure of introducing you to Janice Sellers and her blog, Ancestral Discoveries, described as, “ . . . My blog covers a wide range of material, including things I learn from my research, research resources, current events in genealogy, reviews of television shows (have to talk about ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’!), and sharing photographs. My primary focus is on Jewish, forensic (real forensic, having to do with legal matters, not ‘forensic’ as used by some people, which is really only scientific) and newspaper research.”
“I was born in East Los Angeles and lived in Los Angeles County until I was almost 9 years old. My family then moved to Australia for two years, and from there to Florida, where I stayed six years and graduated high school (from Niceville Senior High School — yes, that’s really its name). For college I returned to Los Angeles and went to the University of Southern California, where I graduated with a degree in foreign languages and also studied library science, music, and computer programming. After ten years in L.A. I moved to the San Francisco Bay area, and I have been living in Oakland for more than 20 years. (Go, Raiders!)”
How Janice Got Started in Genealogy
“I started researching my family history when I was 13 years old. I have all my original notes from when I interviewed family members back then.
I grew up hearing family stories from my mother and grandmother, so I already had a latent interest. What really got me going was the assignment in junior high school to create a family tree going four generations back. I still have the original purple mimeographed handout.”
Janice’s Thoughts on Blogging
“I started my blog on January 15, 2011 (I just had my third blogiversary!). I was inspired to start it by taking a class with Craig Siulinski through the California Genealogical Society. I wanted to share my passion for genealogy with others.”
Janice’s Tips for New Bloggers
“Writing is hard and takes time! Make sure you schedule time for your posts, or it’s very easy to fall behind and go a week or two (or more!) without posting. Also, as an editor (my career before becoming a professional genealogist), please think about grammar and spelling when you write! There are so many blogs out there I would read more if I didn’t become so frustrated at the poor spelling and grammar.”
Janice’s Favorite Blog Posts
“I think my favorite post is the one I did for Mother’s Day 2013, ‘Things My Mother Taught Me.’ It was a nice way to reminisce about my mother, who passed away in 1995.”
Janice’s Time with the Ancestors
“Not nearly enough! I usually spend between 5-20 hours on research a week.”
Janice’s Favorite Ancestors
“What, I have to pick only one?! Possibly the most interesting is Alexander Mack, the founder of the German Baptist (‘Dunker’) religion. It takes a lot of courage and conviction (and chutzpah!) to decide you have the only correct interpretation of scripture and get a bunch of people to follow you.
I also have a Quaker ancestor who was renowned during her lifetime for giving fervent testimony; when she was older and could no longer stand for very long, she would kneel and preach for hours. Those are both from my father’s side. On my mother’s side of the family, my great-great-grandfather Gershon Nowicki lived into his 90’s and had a reputation for flirting with women all the way to the end. He was a
very observant Orthodox Jew who immigrated to the U.S. when he was about 70 years old and became a Hebrew teacher here. I have one photo of him, with my great-great-grandmother.”
How Genealogy Has Improved Janice’s Life
“I think learning about your family history gives you respect for those who came before you and lets you feel better connected to your ancestors. Everyone’s family is interesting to learn about. Nobody’s family is perfect, and most families have at least one black sheep, but that’s part of what makes them interesting. And in a broader sense, genealogy has given me a way to meet and interact with people I probably would not have otherwise, so it’s broadened my view of people generally. It’s been a very educational and humbling experience.”
What Janice Loves Most About Genealogy
“I love finding details about my ancestors and family members that make them come alive to me as real people. Once I found a newspaper article about when my grandfather had donated his collection of antique tools for a display in a local library. I knew my grandfather, but I had never known he collected antique tools, so it was a fascinating little tidbit about him. Newspapers are wonderful for this kind of knowledge.”
Janice’s Time Capsule Message
“Talk to your relatives, especially the older ones, now, while you have the chance. They are the best sources to tell you about themselves and your family. Once they have passed away, their memories go with them, and the only way to learn about them will be by trying to piece together whatever pieces of information you can find. And share the information you find with other family members, so that what you have learned and put together doesn’t disappear after you are gone.”
Please take a moment to head on over to Janice’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Janice, it’s great to have you here!
© 2014, copyright Gini Webb
Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her 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.