‘I love all of this work, but I really love connecting people.’
“I’ve always been interested in history. When I was a teenager, I found myself really attracted to cemeteries. In my 20s, I started getting interested in my own family history. I found out from my uncle that I was a direct descendant of somebody who fought in the Revolutionary War, so I decided that I wanted to join the Daughters of the American Revolution, also known as the DAR.
“I went through the research process of doing that because you have to prove your lineage in order to join. After spending so much time tracking my family back to the Revolutionary War, I ended up learning so much. I caught with most genealogists call the bug. At that time, I was actually working for Lehman Brothers and, in 2008, I ended up losing my position during the recession. I was finding it difficult to find work even having had an MBA by that point.
Doing that work for the DAR, I got the confidence to start my own business.
“With no job, I moved to Arizona and transferred to another DAR chapter. With the new chapter, I became a registrar – somebody who works on other people’s applications. I was doing volunteer research and doing the application process for other prospective members. Doing that work for the DAR, I got the confidence to start my own business. Soon after, I switched gears completely and decided to just try and do genealogy professionally.
“My business didn’t get big until 2011, when I moved back to Long Island. Initially, I was just helping people discover family history. Seven years ago, though, I took my first probate case and became qualified in New York State for probate search. That work involves finding heirs that may be inheriting something like property. I also do work for real estate investors who are looking to buy homes that never went through probate, making sure a house is legally able to be sold.
“I love all of this work, but I really love connecting people. I have found birth parents for adoptees and connected clients with other biological family, which has been pretty amazing. Connecting people to their past or living relatives is really just so moving.”
Interviewed by KJ Bannan