Saturday, December 12, 2015

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Dear Genea-Santa Letter

It's been a long, long time since I wrote a letter to Santa Claus, but I can get into the spirit of things with Randy Seaver tonight for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:

1) Write your Genea-Santa letter. Have you been a good genealogy girl or boy? What genealogy-oriented items are on your Christmas wish list? They could be family history items, technology items, or things that you want to pursue in your ancestral quest.

2) Tell us about them in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook Status or Google Stream post.

Here are my wishes:

Dear Genea-Santa,

I think I've been a pretty good genealogy girl this year.  I've done lots of volunteer work for several genealogy organizations, serving on boards and editing four different publications.  I've managed to keep up with my blog, posting between two and three times a week.  I've paid attention to my education, attending two conferences, four all-day seminars, and about 50 Webinars, and I spoke to several societies myself.  I even managed to do some research on my own family and have added quite a bit of information to my database.  I have genealogy on the brain day and night.

This year's gifts were welcome:  I was able to organize a small reunion of Sellers family members to celebrate two milestone birthdays.  I traveled to Cuba looking for information on my cousins who used to live there, and I've found and made contact with several cousins on both sides of my family.

I do have some wishes for next year, though.  These are things I would love to see in genealogy (and yes, I'm dreaming big):

•  I want to help my 90-year-old aunt find and make contact with Raymond Lawrence Sellers, the son she gave up for adoption 70 years ago.  We've already made progress:  The state of New Jersey found an index card confirming the adoption.  My aunt has signed and mailed in the paperwork that authorizes contact if the boy who was born Raymond Lawrence Sellers on September 23, 1945 should contact the New Jersey State Adoption Registry.  She's also doing a DNA test so we'll have another avenue to search.  It would mean so much to her if she could talk to him, so I'm really hoping for this one.  It's the most important item on my list.

• I hope we are able to resolve the question of just who the father of my paternal grandfather was, and whether he was also the father of my grandfather's siblings.  I've grown up my entire life as a Sellers, so it's been a bit of a surprise to discover that might not be my bloodline after all.  But I'm keeping an open mind and am waiting to see what evidence I can find either way.  One of those new cousins I contacted agreed to do a Y-DNA test, so the first step will be to see if it matches my father's.  Considering the latest family rumors I've been told, I might need to do a little bit more testing even after that, but it's a start!

• My brother and I decided we'd test the waters for Ukrainian research on our Gorodetsky line.  It would be really nice if the researcher there could find lots of great records for our family (and if somewhere in those records there were confirmation that the Kardishes really are cousins, that would be icing on the cake).

• A discovery of heretofore unknown surviving Jewish records from the former Grodno gubernia would be fantastic.  If some of my relatives were mentioned in them, so much the better.

• Moving out of the personal realm, I'd love it if optical character recognition (OCR) scanning of old newspapers could somehow become more accurate and reliable.  Maybe someone will come up with a way for computers to assess poor-quality spots on newspaper pages (torn, ink blobs, type dropped out) and try logical infilling, rather than merely scanning them as is and having something that looks like a bunch of control characters come out as the search text.

• I hope the fact that has announced it will be dropping Family Tree Maker will help people figure out that they shouldn't be relying on Ancestry (or any other online site) to store and manage their family trees, but that they should have them resident on their personal computers, where they can control all the information.  I certainly won't trust a huge corporation run by faceless investors with all my family information.

• And I'm with Randy in wishing that will give subscribers access to the raw DNA data and permit chromosome browsing, rather than relying on the twitching, spastic leaves to do everyone's research for them.  (I've given up on Ancestry correcting its indexing mistakes; I figured it was a huge victory when it finally conceded it would at least post the "alternative readings" that people submitted.)

I hope I don't sound too greedy, Genea-Santa.   A lot of my wishes are good for other people also.  I don't usually have cookies in the house, but I can promise you some fresh fruit and dark chocolate.  And if you would like some wine or brandy instead of a glass of milk, we can probably arrange for that too.


  1. A good list - that should keep Genea-Santa and the genea-elves hopping for several years!! Yum - dark chocolate!!

    1. Thanks, Randy! I hope Genea-Santa thinks the picture I chose is flattering! :)


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