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Jeanette Shiel


 Years later, I moved away only to discover generations of my family's deep-seeded roots were back in New England, New Jersey, and New York.  

My original degree and career were in hospitality management and I was employed as a corporate purchasing manager for a small hotel chain.  I transitioned from hotels and purchasing to medical equipment manufacturing and cost accounting.   Then family happened...mine.  

My mom passed away in 1995 and I was 28 years old.  I realized then, all too late, that I knew nothing about my family.  But there was one defining moment it all changed: My paternal grandmother, 90 years young at the time, but keen as ever, showed me her family bible, at right.  She had no idea who the man's name was, "J. P. Uline" stamped on the leather cover except that it was her mother's maiden name.  I was mesmerized by all the names and dates written on the inside pages.  Imagine her surprise to learn that "J. P." was her great-grandfather, John Peter Uline.  

With this new hobby and new infatuation, I completed NGS's [National Genealogical Society] home study course, American Genealogy.  A few years later, I also returned to school at California State University for another degree and majored in history, with a focus on American history, minored in Film Studies.  Believe it or not, the film is a great way to study our culture!

I love the challenge of research, of never knowing the end results.  Even with negative results (I relate to Thomas Edison's quote regarding the failure of discovering the light bulb, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”)  ...and I cherish those, "aha" moments.  

The genealogy trail never ends; the puzzle is never solved.  It is an addiction, both a personal and a professional quest to solve the puzzle.   

I grew up in New York, never interested in my family's heritage when I was young.  

Uline Family
circa 1900
Rensselaer County, New York

My genealogy perspectives and goals have changed over time.  I was (and still am to a degree) the obsessive hunter, the gatherer, the collector.  I wanted (and still do) every piece of evidence that had every name of every one of my ancestors on it.  My focus has now expanded to teaching and writing.  In teaching, I enjoy the look of faces when... "they get it."

In writing, I have discovered that it is rewarding to create biographies by building upon facts found everywhere in historical records.  Recreating their lives, in the context of history, is important because my ancestors' lives are more than just vital records and statistics. However,  I still love to dig into a good research project! I will never stop learning, never stop researching.   As a Board Certified genealogist, continuing education is vital in advancing methodology and skillsets.  


We, as humans redefine ourselves throughout our lifetime, through our goals and through our achievements.  We need to be diligent to preserve our records so our descendants will not have to reconstruct our lives.  It is an eternal project, one that relates the past, present, and future.

What do I do?

I research dead people and I love it!

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