Full Siblings

Full Siblings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1969, I received a letter from a cousin I never knew and would not meet for another 25 years.  It was a brief 4-generation outline of my paternal family beginning with a great grandfather who was born in 1849.  1849!?!?   I couldn’t get my teenage head wrapped around that concept!  1849…. The letter held my interest for a couple of days.  I asked my father if he knew anything about the information in the letter.  He knew his own immediate family: mother, father, grandmother and a couple of half-siblings, but that was the extent of what he knew or was willing to share.  The letter was folded and safely put away for almost 30 years.  “What you don’t know won’t hurt you!” was the typical response from him about his family and pretty much the same from my mother.  I knew her mother, my grandmother, as she lived next store to us in the old Victorian duplex in Springfield, MA along with my 2 maiden aunts.  “What you don’t know won’t hurt you!”

Fast forward to 1997.  I’m now living alone and I was looking for some software to load onto my new computer.  “Family Tree Maker” practically jumped off the shelf, promising to help me find those lost treasures of family fame and fortune.  I pulled out the letter from my cousin and began a family tree.  It began slow and built into quite the “hobby” and now the “profession”.  My personal data base contains over 39,000 family members, some of whom are still alive!

Ruth Chauncey Bishop Reading Room at NEHGS.

Ruth Chauncey Bishop Reading Room at NEHGS. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve now branched out into a field that couldn’t be farther from the profession I’ve been in from my youth.  I continue as a research associate at the Museum of Springfield History and Archives. I belong to a number of professional genealogical associations such as New England Historic Genealogical Society, Massachusetts Genealogical Council, Association of Professional Genealogists and the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists.  I’m the Vice President of Western Massachusetts Genealogical Society and the New England Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists.  I’ve taught hundreds of avid genealogists from the basics to advanced research techniques, conducted workshops, provided personal consultation and worked as a private genealogy researcher on a contract basis.

Married since 2007 to Karen, I couldn’t be happier.  She’s a fabulous partner and also an avid genealogist, although she’ll say she’s not as avid as me!  Well, maybe she’s right, but she’s still a fabulous partner and extraordinarily helpful and supportive.


The only people with whom you should try to get even with are those who have helped you.

 ― John E. Southard


6 thoughts on “Background

  1. Trinity

    Great concept for a blog! You might want to check out one of my blogs, The Writer’s Stuff (; I cover things about writing, but also history; at the moment I’m making public my grandfather’s journals from the second world war; sparse, but fascinating. It would be great to see more photos… the more historical images, the better! 🙂

    1. Dave Robison

      Thanks for the visit and the comment. I’ll certainly take a look at thewritersstuff and poke around a bit! I wish I had more photos, but most of Clem’s album has been posted…I suppose I could start repeating some things to keep them toward the top. I might take a few other pictures that I have of him and post them as well. I have a shot of him and my grandmother holding me all bundled up when I was about 5 or 6 months old. Occasionally, I try to find contemporary photos of the places he mentions in “Lest We Forget”.

      1. Trinity

        Definitely worth the research; some relative of yours, somewhere, has photos – I’ve started gathering my own family’s photos and either scanning them in, or even photographing them with a digital camera to preserve them digitally…

        1. Dave Robison

          Sadly, they’re all gone. Anything and everything that was available is right behind me here in my office loaded into moderately organized boxes, files, folders, whatever! Much is unidentified so posting it may not appear as anything but curiosities. I have “Post Cards” with pictures of people and places that were never sent to anyone. Thus I have no idea who is on the card or who was the intended recipient. But I keep it all. I found a family 2nd cousins, 3 siblings and their spouses, who actually lives near us. They are all aged 65-75. We all agreed to meet and bring our photos in case each of us could identify the other’s collections. It turned out that about half of what I have matched about half of what they had! We shared common great grandparents…

          1. Trinity

            Fascinating! Good luck to you; I’d encourage you to seek out that “separation of six degrees”… someone you know knows someone you know who knows, and all that. I’ve tracked down some pretty impossible things in my life, including missing persons on several occasions, so if you need any ideas, just let me know! Otherwise, more power to you on your quest!

Comments are closed.