I have to be among the luckiest people in the world – I spent all day every day doing something I love (genealogy) and I work with an amazing team of researchers, specializing in Eastern European and Jewish research at the most incredible company – AncestryProGenealogists®. So why am I in England?
The answer to that goes from very simple to an introspective look at my childhood and reading habits. So, the simple – I have many clients whose Eastern European families (Jewish and non-Jewish) settled in England. Our London office does most of this research for me, but I’ve been wanting to be in the archives at Kew, and at several other archives whose records may be available if they’re ordered, but I’d like to be really familiar with those records. The other part of that answer (nothing is as simple as it seems it should be) is that RootsTech, the mega-genealogy conference, held annually in Salt Lake City, is having a conference in London, and I’m speaking at it!
The retrospection about why I’m here isn’t too complicated. As I reached my teen years, the British (musical) invasion reached the shores of the U.S. To my parents’ dismay, I joined the screaming hordes of Beatlemaniacs. Before that, though, there were years of other British interests. My parents are great readers and they intended their children to follow in that path. They definitely succeeded, but while we were young, they enrolled us in book clubs for children. Most of the books were by British authors. For years, the worst thing my parents would say to me while I struggled with the meanings of unfamiliar words and their pronunciations was “look it up in the dictionary.” One of my early favorites was “Bedknob and Broomstick.” I graduated from some of these fantastic fantasies to more serious biographies of Queen Elizabeth I and other royals. From there, I immersed myself in Thomas Costain’s books – “Below the Salt,” and then his Plantagenet series. Charles Lamb, Shakespeare, Donne all followed in their turn. Of course I read much more extensively too including lots of science fiction, the rest of the books written by Chastain, other historical novel about Greece, Rome, Egypt. It was, however, the books that took place in England that captured my heart and to which I always returned.
I jumped at the opportunity to come to England to speak at the conference – it was an honor to be asked. For some reason, I have never been here before. I am barely awake now. I arrived at Heathrow at about 11 AM this morning and all I’ve done so far is take a 2 hour cab ride to the hotel. The streets we passed through just latched on to my imagination and I wanted to just get out and walk. I was restrained and it didn’t happen. The weather was picture perfect and I was looking forward to a long walk along the Thames. However, just a few minutes before we got to the hotel, it started pouring. Now I’m too tired – it was a redeye, and my eyes definitely are red. My plan? Whether it’s raining or not, no matter what the weather tomorrow turns out to be, I’m going to be out somewhere walking and taking photos. I’ll post them as well as photos and comments about my research during the week and photos from the conference.