EasyGenie recently interviewed Michele Doyle of A Quiltwork of Lives. Michele has more than 30 years of genealogy research experience, and has conducted on-the-ground research in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Ireland, and Wales as well as North Carolina. She is involved with FamilySearch as a volunteer research consultant and as a member of a training committee, and is also a member of the Genealogical Speakers Guild.
Ian, EasyGenie: Thanks for talking with me! What's your earliest memory that got you started with genealogy and family history?
Michele, A Quiltwork of Lives: When I was a kid, my mom and my aunt started to research the Micheals line. They had both married in and so it wasn't their blood line. As my mom was helping my aunt, she decided to start looking into some of her lines. She gathered scraps of information on little bits of paper. In my late 20's, I began to help her with this research. One day she dropped a pile of scrap paper on her bed and told me to figure out what to do with all of this information. So I did and many years later I now help others.
What types of offline records do you turn to when conducting a research project?
Michele: I am close to Raleigh so I am able to go to the State Archive and the State Library. In North Carolina, many of the early original county records have been moved to the Archives. This makes multi county research a bit easier.
Describe a particularly rewarding "brick wall" breakthrough for a client.
Michele: I was helping a client with a Daughters of the American Revolution application. We came to the generation that would connect into an existing DAR line but the line already had a son with the same name. I was able to prove that someone had connected the wrong, same name, son to the DAR line. We were able to get the line changed so that my client was able to join the DAR.
What's your favorite website to use that not many people know about?
Michele: FamilySearch Wiki. Not many people seem to know it exists. It is my go-to resource anytime I start researching in a new area or in a set of records that I have not used before.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone just getting started with genealogy, what would it be?
Michele: Get the stories. Talk to older generations. Find out more about your ancestors than just names, dates, and places. Our ancestors come alive when we are able to add context to their lives.
The importance of stories in family history
We totally agree with her emphasis on getting the stories - so many new genealogists turn to Ancestry as their first stop when it really should be interviewing older relatives and cousins and recording family stories before it's too late. Many thanks to Michele for participating in the interview!