Genealogy

Most people get interested in family history later in life, but I was born nostalgic.  When I was twelve, a chance connection introduced me to the field of genealogy, which showed me a more constructive way to engage with my family’s past than driving my grandparents crazy with questions.

Over the next couple of decades I traced my ancestors back to Hungary, Ukraine, and Belarus, but as when I was a child, I remain primarily fascinated by the process of becoming American, especially the trade-offs in assimilating.  For the past six years I have been reconstructing the now-defunct Jewish community of Homestead, PA, which my Hungarian great-grandfather and other recent immigrants helped to found in the early 1890s.  This project received press coverage nation-wide, and I presented some of my findings at the Library of Congress.

I combined this passion with my professional expertise in technology to launch Treelines.com, collaborative storytelling software for family historians and their relatives.  Unlike typical genealogy software which focuses on names, dates, and facts, Treelines helps families make meaning out of this raw data by connecting it together into the stories of peoples’ lives.  It won me the 2013 RootsTech Developer Challenge, and Mashable selected it as one of their favorite tools for building an online family scrapbook.

“Welcome to the new genealogy metaphor… This is the type of innovation that I came to RootsTech to find.”
The In-Depth Genealogist

“I love your positioning — I truly believe you are hitting an important nerve that is missing for many in our field (and beyond).”
—Yuval Ben Galim, Executive VP of R&D and Operations at MyHeritage

(more site reviews)

I serve on the Board of Directors and Board of Governors for JewishGen, the Board of Directors for the Philadelphia Jewish Archive Center, the advisory committee for the Rauh Jewish Archives, the Board of Advisors for the New York Family History School, and the Board of Advisors for A.J. Jacobs’ Global Family Reunion.

Appearances

I speak around the country at gatherings ranging from national conferences to local society meetings on a variety of family history-related topics.  Please click here to see my previous experience and upcoming schedule.  If you’d like for me to come to your group or event, please reach out!

Thoughts

"Telling Family Stories," The NY Researcher, Summer 2013

“Telling Family Stories,” The New York Researcher, Summer 2013

For more on my perspective on genealogy, here are some relevant articles I’ve written.

More from the Treelines blog. »

Published elsewhere