Many years ago, I sent off a letter to an unknown Parish Priest in a small village in Luxembourg. With a beginner’s optimism I felt sure he’d answer and find my family information I requested. Time passed with no response until one day I received a letter postmarked in Luxembourg, written in French. Ah if only I could read it! After the letter was translated, I discovered that a gentleman was researching his family in the same village. The Parish Priest had passed my request on to him. Over the next few years, he sent me documents, explained local history and translations. I will never forget his kindness in sharing this treasured information about my family and his kindness. It was truly serendipity that our paths to crossed. Even our ancestors crossed paths in that small village. My ancestor was a witness for the death certificate for one of his!
If you have been doing family research for any length of time, you know that despite your most stellar research efforts and sleuthing skills, some of your treasured finds have come through the kindness of strangers and fellow geno bugs. There are genealogy websites dedicated to helping fellow researchers that we’ll explore today.
As you’ve probably realized from reading these blogs, I love books. When I’m stuck in my research and need inspiration, I read about others genealogy stories and their tales of serendipity. They trigger ideas for my own research and give me hope when a dead end gets overwhelming.
Here are sites that are dedicated to helping other genealogists and providing a location where information can be shared and exchanged.
Your challenge this week:
If you’re stuck in your research or have run out of ideas for a brick wall, pause and read inspiring stories. Be imaginative and look at other ways to find the information, even if they seem unlikely to get the results you’d like to see. Write to a far-off village or a society or library or distant relative. That one kernel of information you’ve been looking for may present itself in the most unexpected way.
And we all have the opportunity to spread genealogy kindness to others. Answer queries on message boards or in society letters or volunteer at your local society. Share your research with relatives. You may have the answer to the very problem they have been puzzling over for years.
“Serendipity means a fortunate happenstance or a pleasant surprise. It is an event that happens unexpectedly.”
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With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.