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.
Janette’s doctoral dissertation focuses on genealogy and is entitled “In Living Memory. Professionally, Janette is a Senior Genealogist/Research Manager at ancestryProGenealogists. Her research specialties include Eastern European Jewish research and holocaust era research. She has been an active volunteer in the genealogical research community. She served as President of the Phoenix Jewish Genealogy Society for 5 years, works as a volunteer for JewishGen as the Ukraine Special Interest Group (SIG) Coordinator, serves as a moderator for the JewishGen Discussion Group, and is on the JewishGen Operations Committee. She previously volunteered on transcription projects for the Long Island, New York Italian Genealogy Group. Janette teaches beginner and intermediate level genealogy classes and speaks to groups all over the United States on the use of specific kinds of archives and documents in genealogical research. Her presentations include Myths and Mysteries of Immigration, Research and Travel in Ukraine, What’s Jewish about Jewish Genealogy, In Search of the French Connection, A Rose by any other Name, Call Me What, The Blumenthals of the Upper Lower Peninsula, Making History Relevant and Personal, The History of the Nashville Jewish Community, It Started With a Box.
Janette 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 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.
Her current personal research project focuses on the displaced persons traveling from Hamburg, Germany to Boston, Massachusetts on the March 3, 1949 sailing of the SS Marine Jumper.