Janette Silverman, has been active in genealogical research for over three decades. She began her genealogical journey by researching her own family. While she began searching for her family’s roots with absolute certainty that there would be no way to find any data on her family prior to their arrival in the United States, she quickly learned that when it comes to genealogical research preconceived assumptions or received family lore are often wrong, an approach which has become the polestar of her historically verifiable approach to genealogy. Not only did she find her family roots in Europe, she actually located and traced verifiable historical proof of her four grandparents’ families in Eastern Europe. Her personal family tree now numbers over 18,000 persons and traces her ancestral roots back to the fifteenth century in Europe.
Janette Silverman holds bachelor’s and two masters’ degrees, and is a doctoral degree candidate. Her doctoral dissertation centers on genealogy. She has also been active in the genealogical research community. She serves as President of the Phoenix Jewish Genealogy Society, works as a volunteer for JewishGen, the Ukraine Special Interest Group (SIG) as a Projects Director and the Italian Genealogy Group, and serves as a moderator for online genealogical resources. She also teaches beginner and intermediate level genealogy classes and speaks on the use of specific kinds of archives and documents in genealogical research.
Janette Silverman views the researching of family history as akin to writing a book. She does not limit her research to the immediate nuclear family since they constitute but one chapter of a much larger saga. Researching extended family, frequently finding connections in surprising places, often illuminates fascinating stories as part of elaborating the larger saga. For example, imagine her delight when she discovered that a woman on her own family tree was related to both her brother-in-law’s and her mother’s families through marriage, thereby tying both sides of the family together!
In researching her own family and in doing work for her clients, she has examined historical records in Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, England, Canada, Germany, Italy, Holland, Israel, France, and the United States. The historical records she works with are in English, Hebrew, Yiddish, Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, French and German.
The central lesson that Janette Silverman has learned from her long experience in genealogy is that families are integrally linked to the history of the places from which they came and vice-versa. As our families take on major roles as historical players in the records that illuminate their personal stories, it becomes harder to view history strictly as a third party observer. Genealogical research places our family in the saga of their history and times.