NEW CANAAN, Conn. — Kathleen Tesluk believes that a love of genealogy is innate.
“If you’re going to be a genealogist, you know when you’re born,” said Tesluk, a New Canaan resident. “I think it chooses you.”
That doesn’t mean it’s too late to start. Tesluk says that everyone has a story to discover about their family.
But Tesluk knew at an early age that she would enjoy combing through documents and piecing together genealogical puzzles. When she was just 12, she conducted her first family history interview with her grandfather.
In high school, Tesluk said her mother drove her from Washington, D.C. — where they lived at the time — to North Carolina so she could conduct genealogy research in a courthouse. Tesluk still relishes the time spent in rooms full of records.
“There’s something about the smell in a courthouse,” she said. “It’s wonderful.”
Tesluk is the genealogist for the New Canaan chapter of the Hannah Benedict Carter Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Her main position is confirming genealogical records of potential members.
But, on her own, she follows her lifelong passion by researching her own family history. She now has new tools that weren’t available in the past. Documents that were once only found in a courthouse or library are now available online.
“This is really an exciting time to be in genealogy,” she said, speaking about technology such as programs that can covert historical documents to text or DNA tests that may reveal information on a person’s heritage.
Tesluk said she has great luck with the DNA tests. She discovered, for example, that her great-grandfather was from Ireland of English descent, but he did not live in England as previously believed.
She said her family was blown away by the results and called the technology a “game changer” in genealogical research.
Tesluk, who formerly worked with databases throughout her career, said researching her family is like solving a gigantic, complicated Sudoku puzzle or even a ”giant detective story,” she said.
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