Thursday, January 19, 2012

Interview with Lisa Louise Cooke Part I

What happens when a non-techie (me) and a techie (Lisa) sit down for a chat? I was a bit worried that we would run out of things to talk about. I shouldn't have worried. Lisa and I talked for hours. I have so much to tell you about, I may have to break this blog up and do several posts. There's just that much.

First off, I just want it duly noted that I can keep a secret. You see, Lisa told me all about her upcoming book when we met for lunch in December. I promised I wouldn't let the cat out of the bad. But now she has announced it so...

Check out her new book: Everything You Need To Know About Finding Your Family History in Newspapers. You can find out more about it by going here.

So, on with the story.

The first thing I asked Lisa was how she got started in genealogy. It seemed the logical place to start. Now, you may have heard the story, but I had not. Lisa related to me how when she was eight or nine years old she visited her grandparents in the Stockton, CA area and became intrigued with some scrapbooks she found.

She brought one of the scrapbooks to her grandmother and asked her to tell her who the people were in the photographs. Her grandmother, "stopped her work, threw the kitchen towel over her shoulder, wiped her hands on her apron" and began to write down on the back of an old envelope the names of Lisa's great grandparents. She spelled the names as she had heard them using the phonetic spellings. Lisa still has that envelope and is still gleaning clues from the information her grandmother provided all those years ago. That was it, Lisa said, "I was bit by the bug."

She spent the rest of that summer going through the photos with her grandmother. She learned about her grandfather's side of the family which was "American" back to the Revolutionary War. From then on Lisa "dabbled" in her family's history. She would write back and forth to her grandmother asking more questions and exchanging information. Lisa even saved her allowance to send off for death records and birth records. (Ok, teenage genealogists are a different breed.)

Genealogy took a back seat for a while as Lisa married and raised her kids. Then the internet "hit." It was perfect timing for Lisa, her kids were older and Lisa found her passion, her groove. She relates how she jumped into it "full boar" and adds, "I probably didn't come out of my home office for a month."

Did you know that Lisa is a "farmer?" Lisa learned that her great grandparents came to America with the dream of owning their own land to farm. Although they never fully realized the dream, Lisa feels that her "need" to "dig in the dirt" and "plant things" comes from that genetic code handed down from them.

Lisa also attributes her interest in that "family connection" to the fact that she grew up in a small family, with only one sister and divorced parents. "It's easy to grow up feeling like you're by yourself." she said, "I've always yearned for more bothers and sisters." (I offered her a few of mine, but she declined.)

More on the Lisa Louise Cooke Interview in the next post. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Nice interview with Lisa Louise Cooke. She has given so much to us genealogists. Thanks for some new insights to the lady who encourages us and inspires us to keep climbing our trees.