When we head to the microfilm reader section of our favorite research library, our greatest hope is usually to learn something new about a long-dead relative. A woman named Jan discovered something even better.
Guideposts.com ran this story about Jan, whose husband Rich was adopted as an infant. After deciding that Rich needed some “closure” about the identity of his birth parents, Jan began looking for them. She did know the birth mother’s name as well as Rich’s date and place of birth. Eventually this information led her to census records on microfilm at the National Archives (US).
Unfortunately, when she went to pull out the microfilm reel she needed, she found it was missing. But by chance she had heard two fellow researchers mention the same state, so she found them in the microfilm reader section. They not only had the microfilm reel she wanted, but they were looking at the census record for her husband’s birth mother. One of the researchers was Rich’s birth sister, who was looking for her long-lost baby brother.
What an inspiring story about members of a birth family reunited! So many of us experience these moments of “genealogy serendipity,” when we feel led to find a particular record, artifact or even a living person. Sometimes we make these amazing discoveries online. But often it’s when we’re out pounding the pavement, making extraordinary efforts ourselves, when we make the most extraordinary discoveries.
Where can you go to look for extraordinary finds? A family cemetery? An ancestral hometown? A major research library? I take similar inspiration from Geoff Rasmussen’s book, Kindred Voices, which shares his many experiences with genealogy serendipity. I recommend it as a great holiday read for yourself or a gift for someone else who totally “gets” the value of heritage and family like you do.
Thank you to Genealogy Gems Premium website member Maryann for messaging me on Facebook about this story! It’s an inspiration!