Meet our Members: Pam Smith

+26 votes
638 views

Hi everyone!

500px-Anderson-35475.jpgIt's time to get to know another one of our wonderful WikiTreers. This week's member is Pam Smith.

Pam became a Wiki Genealogist in February of 2018. She participates in the Unknowns Project and is a Project Coordinator for the Adoption Angels.

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Schmidt, Henry and Ball are the big names in the trees I’m building for my husband and me. Our recent generations are in pretty good shape, so I spend most of my time now working on variations of “unknown.”

What are some of the locations you are researching?

I’m willing to tackle almost any research in Canada or the US… but I have a lot of ties to Kentucky.

When and how did you get interested in genealogy and family history?

I knew nothing about my own family except that my grandma had died in the 1918 flu --- I didn’t even know her name --- and that my mom was adopted. My dad left me one typed page that contained everything he knew about his heritage. My husband’s family, on the other hand, had boxes and boxes of dusty albums and papers that no one wanted to investigate… so, one rainy, bored Sunday afternoon in 2018, we jumped in and quickly became obsessed. We’ve written two books for our families, are completing a third book, and we have officially (I guess!!) become “the family historians.”

Tell us about a brick wall you were able to break down.

My husband had a great uncle who left Sweden to go to Australia to join the gold rush. He was “never heard from again.” But we found an old photo in a family album from a studio in Perth, Australia dated 1914 that was inscribed “from Uncle and Auntie.” Through contacts on WikiTree, we were able to find newspaper accounts of his scandalous and well-publicized divorce in the 1920’s when he deserted his new bride for a preferred life in the wilderness near his gold mine.

What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?

I make dresses for a clinic in Nogales, Arizona that serves children from Mexico, I am always in the middle of two or three books, and I’m delighted to finally spend time with extended family again now that the adults in the family have been vaccinated against Covid.

(interview continues below)

WikiTree profile: Pam Smith
in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)

How long have you been on WikiTree and what do you spend the most time doing?

I joined WikiTree in 2018. 

I’ve been involved with the Unknowns Project for quite a while, and they recently asked me to focus on the profiles (incorrectly?) using variations of “unknown” – unsure, not known, maiden name unknown, etc. I love trying to solve the puzzles; I work on orphans or (try to) coordinate with PMs to reduce the volume of these often-neglected profiles and get them sourced and connected. Most of these profiles are for women; I find that many researchers don’t follow their maternal lines with the same diligence as they do their paternal lines. Records are sometimes scarce, but it breaks my heart that a woman could marry, not even be listed by name on the marriage license or the children’s birth records, and then be buried as Mrs. [insert husband’s name here]. I want to learn who she was, who her family was, and try to re-connect her to her family and her roots.

I also help Adoption Angels as a mentor to new applicants. I’m better at greeting new applicants and getting their data ready for our very-talented Angels than I am at figuring out birth families using DNA tests, but I love being a part of that process. I want adoptees – and other beginners -- to know about their roots if it’s in any way possible!

What brought you to WikiTree?

Google search, I think. It was free, profiles had to be sourced and after working on another site where people sometimes just seem to make up connections, it was refreshing to be connected to researchers who source and especially, who COLLABORATE!! That’s my favorite part of WikiTree!

If you could improve one thing about WikiTree, what would it be?

Two ideas: 1) Limit to three or four generations or 25 names or something similar on a GEDcom (with no “unknowns”). I spend a lot of time cleaning up old GEDcom uploads.

2) I’d like profiles to be opened more recently… once a person is deceased, I wish the profile would open – at least to see, if not to make changes… there are so many private profiles for people born in the 20th century and so many of these could be merged to help other beginners. If you can find a profile and some information about your grandma, you just might get a lot more excited about the rest of your family tree!

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Don’t upload a giant GEDcom. Put in your parents and grandparents one at a time, learn how to find sources, and then see how interested you are and how much more work you are willing to do….and then begin to look for connections.

FYI. Picture is a blue box with a question mark.
Great interview Pam.  So nice to learn more about our members.

12 Answers

+14 votes
Congratulations Pam on being nominated as Wonderful WikiTreer of the week.

You are absolutely right profiles of deacesed people should be open. There is no privacy law against it. At least the should be open after 30 of the death. That is the time frame in germany death records are open.
by Dieter Lewerenz G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+14 votes
Good interview. Nice to get to know Pam.
by Peggy Watkins G2G6 Pilot (163k points)
+10 votes

Pam is the grease that keeps the wheels of Adoption Angels turning smoothly. I'm so honored to work with her. I didn't know that about the dresses you make Pam! I love getting to know our members better.smiley

by Emma MacBeath G2G6 Pilot (763k points)
+9 votes
Good to get to know you better, Pam. I too don't like the gedcom uploads and you are right, they shouldn't go back that far. It's not that hard to make new profiles. Good interview.
by Teddy Odum G2G3 (3.4k points)
+10 votes
Pam - I enjoyed reading your interview.  Its nice to get to know you better! We are so lucky to have you on our Adoption Angels team. Your mentoring skills have helped the entire team be more productive.  Thanks for your helpful suggestions, diligence, and kind care.
by Pamela Culy G2G6 Mach 3 (30.3k points)
+5 votes
Hi Pam,

It is great to get to know you through this Meet the Members! We are 19th cousins 1X removed through MRCA (not so recent) Matilda (Montgomery) Clarell.

Your interview is very interesting and I agree very much with your sentiments regarding GEDcom and all the extensive clean up. I started my Wikitree with Parents, Grandparents, etc. until I started to connect rather than muck up with a very large GEDcom and a lot of junk. It also gave me the opportunity to check sources, etc.

Your kindness and generosity of spirit is evident in the dresses you make for the children in Nogales, as well as your work on Adoption Angels and Unknowns project. Thank you!
by Carol Baldwin G2G6 Pilot (482k points)
+5 votes
Congratulations, Pam, on your meet our members recognition, and thank you for all you do for our tree.  It's great to hear about your activities, here, particularly for the Unknowns project.
by Mark Weinheimer G2G6 Pilot (295k points)
+6 votes
Great interview Pam. Thank you for all the work you are doing on Wikitree and for the Adoption Angels.

Christine
by Mama Kiki Lajeunesse G2G6 Mach 1 (10.9k points)
+4 votes
It starts by saying you are 16 degrees from me?  I don't know about you yet.  Does it also mean we share a common ancestor and the ancestor would be Gideon Lewis's father?  Whom I believe to be Nathaniel Lewis?  If the above is all true, then this is the first real verification that Gideon is one of my ancestors.  Gideon has been a question for years.  This is awesome, thanks.

I disagree with the short gedcoms.  It's via the children we find DNA connections which amount to thousands of entries.
by Jan Van Kort G2G1 (1.3k points)
+6 votes
Great profile Pam and I wholeheartedly agree with the limitations on GEDcoms!!  Keep up the awesome work on the "Unknowns" and "Adoptees"
by Brad Cunningham G2G6 Mach 3 (35.7k points)
+5 votes
Thank you for sharing a bit about you with us all
by Rosalie Neve G2G6 Mach 7 (74.3k points)
+1 vote

Congratulations Pam,

Very good interview so glad your a part of our Wikitree family and big thank you for all you do laugh

by Andrew Simpier G2G6 Pilot (226k points)

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