I became interested in pursuing genealogy and family history at the age of 12 when a school project asked me to find as much as possible out from parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles about my family history and then to link it to American history. (Thank you, Miss Davis!) As is so usual, finding out threw up more questions than answers, where great aunts said, "I think it was spelled this way," and my surviving great grandmother told me her husband's grandfather had to change his name because of war with Russia, but she wasn't sure why, or what he was called before. Thankfully, over the last 50+ years I've been able to answer those questions, but each time I find an answer another question pops up. Why did this or that ancestor leave Europe and head for north America? Who went with them? What did they do for a living? Who's the child nobody mentioned after it was born? What happened to it?
Now I find myself chipping away at brick walls, helping out those researching the same or similar surnames in hopes of uncovering that mystery woman (I have at least two in my father's line) and otherwise just enjoying the fun of the chase and the flush of success when something is found or a link is finally made.
My other life? I studied at University of Southern California and the University of California Berkeley, exiting with a BA in English Language & Literature with a minor in Linguistics (a long time ago now), and went on to not quite finish an MA in 16th - 17th Century English literature. As I needed money (don't we all), I started working part-time during my MA study, and ended up as a female pioneer in computing, starting with a class in Fortran IV in 1964 and going on to full-time work in the area in 1968. I didn't finish the MA because computing became more interesting. I worked in the USA (California and New York) and in England for a wide variety of companies in a variety of fields ranging from front-of-house theatre (Music Center Operating Company in LA), an airline, an oil company (Iraq Petroleum Co., for my sins), on Wall Street, in electronics, in oil exploration, and in aerospace. I eventually got tired of being on-call all the time, and took up a post as lecturer (= asst. prof.) in computer science at the Open University in the UK. I continued there for the next 23 years as senior lecturer (= assoc. prof.), head of postgraduate studies and head of the computing department. As well as computing I've taught introductory engineering, mathematics (not very well; it's not my forté), project management and womens studies (women and science and technology). Along the way I completed an MSc in digital communications technology at University College, London because I got tired of trying to explain how I could teach computing without having a computing degree. My initial research area was in the area of problem determination in complex systems; later I worked in the area human-computer interaction and examined success factors in post-graduate study in technical areas.
I took early retirement in 2005 to help bring up my husband's grandson, who needed new parents after the early death of his mother. My husband is emeritus professor of modern European history at University College London, and has taught me a healthy respect for sources and care in evaluating them. He asks interesting questions like: "At the end of the American Civil War, how did the government go about, paying discharging and dispersing such a large citizen-army?"
My work, but also my interests, enabled me to travel a lot: around the USA, Canada, Mexico, the Middle East, Europe, western and southeast Asia, north and east Africa and Australia, but for the last 15 years I've been bringing up our boy, pursuing my hobby (obsession) and volunteering for Guide Dogs for the Blind as a sighted guide.
Entirely German, primarily from Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) and West Prussia. My maternal grandmother together with her mother and siblings left Niedersachsen for America, travelling via Antwerp on the Red Star Line in the spring of 1892. They landed at Ellis Island early in May that year. Her father had travelled the year before. My maternal grandfather's parents were both from West Prussia (Posen area) and left Germany shortly after they married in 1872, travelling to Wisconsin first, then Minnesota where they settled (and many cousins remain). All their children -- 9 sons and 1 daughter -- were born in America.
My father's family were more mixed.
My father's mother's family were entirely Swedish. His mother, and her mother, were born in the United States, but his maternal grandfather came from Sweden in 1879 (and all his brothers, his sister and his parents followed in the next few years) and settled in Minnesota. They form a long line of Swedish indentured soldiers, going back to the late 1600s. His maternal grandmother's father's family came from Halland in Sweden, where they were members of what one might call the middle classes: many were priests or vicars of the Swedish Lutheran church, some were Army officers, and some managers of large estates. His maternal grandmother's mother's family were from humbler origins, farmers of the peasant classes from Kronoberg län.
My father's father's family -- his paternal grandmother was from Ireland and left (so the story goes) with her mother and siblings after the death of her father in around the early 1850s. Of her reported nine siblings, I've been able to trace four in the United States, all in western Ohio. My dad's paternal grandfather comes from a line stretching straight back to the Great Migration of the 1620s - 1640s with one or two additions from a bit later. They originally settled in Massachusetts, in both the Bay and Plymouth colonies, but over the next hundred years began moving westwards into Connecticut and thence into New York and on to Ohio.
On 15 Sep 2019 at 23:52 GMT Pip Sheppard wrote:
WikiTree’s Appreciation Team
PS: You have the most fascinating biography.
On 6 Aug 2019 at 00:02 GMT Nicole Duchesne wrote:
|Laurie (Smith) Keller is a Wonderful WikiTreer.|
On 7 Jun 2019 at 15:55 GMT Pip Sheppard wrote:
Congratulations on making more than 1,000 contributions to WikiTree for the Month of May. We all appreciate your efforts to make our Shared Tree the best it can be. Keep up the great work and THANK YOU!
WikiTree Appreciation Team
On 8 Feb 2019 at 18:56 GMT N Gauthier wrote:
On 8 Feb 2019 at 17:05 GMT N Gauthier wrote:
On 2 Feb 2019 at 23:40 GMT Jodi Tryon wrote:
On 25 Nov 2018 at 13:50 GMT Andrew Simpier wrote:
I wanted to say hello and thank you for helping on our family tree regarding my Gibbs family. All your help is appreciated. Jeremiah Gibbs is the focus as nobody knows really who his parents would of been although his military docs show leads I’ve followed. I come through his son Samuel Gibbs and Amy Babcock the brother of Samuel is John Young Gibbs his middle name “Young” per family was given to him by Jeremiah having a friend with last name young. I have much info on my Gibbs family and all the help is so much appreciated. Kindest regards
On 17 Mar 2018 at 12:59 GMT Michael Maranda wrote:
On 23 Jan 2018 at 17:37 GMT Susie MacLeod wrote:
Just a friendly reminder that voting for the WikiTreer Awards 2018 is open. If you haven’t already voted, click here to vote now. Voting closes at 11:59PM GMT on Sunday, 28th January. The exciting awards show will be live cast on Saturday, February 10th, 8PM GMT. Hope you can join us as we celebrate all the incredible contributions made this year.
On 9 Jan 2018 at 17:38 GMT Marie Chantigny wrote:
then we might have a big mess:) Thanks for helping out..Keep in touch..M. Not sure that I am in that lineage....