I’ve just read a wonderful and amusing essay written by Drew Moore published in The Fortnightly Review and titled “Genealogy in America”. (The original Fortnightly Review was one of the most important and influential magazines in nineteenth-century. This New Fortnightly Review in the age of technology is a fascinating discovery.)

The essay/article describes how Mr. Moore embarked on a voyage of discovery five years ago to find his ancestors on his father’s side of the family. Of course, he struck “genealogical gold” during the first week and from what I can glean, the information was found on Ancestry.com.

The famous ancestor was none other than Geoffrey Chaucer. The fun begins when he starts to draw comparisons between himself and Chaucer in such an amusing way that the reader will laugh out loud (at least this reader did). Moore goes on to describe how the discovery gave him a new sense of identity and self-confidence to the point that it remapped his life.

If you’re hooked on genealogy you’ll certainly be able to relate to the self-deprecating tone of the writer and recognize some of the same puzzles everyone experiences, including why we do all this research in the first place and what on earth makes us want to continue.

The well crafted bottom line is a the reminder that searchable databases like Ancestry and others are “only as reliable as the research of its members”. Verify, verify, verify. And, if possible, go for the DNA tests too.

Before I point to the link, I’ll tell you that Drew found that he isn’t  related to Chaucer after all, but in my opinion his sense of self is just fine and his writing skills are more than fine. The author has his feet solidly planted in terra firma.

Click on the link to The Fortnighly Review to read the article.

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2 Comments on Genealogy in America a humorous voyage of discovery comes with a warning

  1. Ohad C. says:

    Thanks for this post about the article. I agree it’s hilarious.

  2. Buzz Man says:

    Hope to see more like this. Thanks for sharing. The writer actually hits the nail on the head for many people who find the wrong person…then have to start all over.

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