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  • Writer's pictureHarry Sassoon

How My Genealogy Journey Started

Updated: Nov 27, 2020

The purpose of this blog is to help people with how to pursue both DNA matches, follow family tree lines, to talk about my genealogy successes and struggles. I would like to begin with how I started...

I have been interested in genealogy from a young age. I first saw a family tree when I was about 6 or 7, when I was devastated that I was not allowed to keep it for myself, which in hindsight I can see was a very good thing! In 2016, the brother of my paternal grandfather, David, published a family-exclusive book mainly featuring pictures. It contained a tree starting from his parents (my great-grandparents) and worked it's way down to all of their great-grandchildren. Only one was married at the time, but now 4 of them are, and the tree is already outdated. I hope to turn his book into a tradition and one day release a second volume perhaps in a decade or two.

On 16th July 2016, David’s brother, my paternal grandfather Victor, sat with me and went through every single photo with me, told me the stories of them and of the people. Two days later on 18th July 2016, he passed away. I felt so fortunate to have spent that time with him and will remember it for the rest of my life. At that time, I had only just begun my genealogy search with roughly 75 people on my tree at that time on all sides. By the end of the year, I had close to 700 people. A couple of days ago, I hit my 2000th person.

A little background of what I knew before I started. My paternal grandfather's parents were Iraqi Jews who came to England in the 1920s. My paternal grandmother's ancestors heritage was a mystery. My maternal grandfather believes he is descended from Italian Rappaport Jews but is more recently of Polish descent. My maternal grandmother was born in Breslau, Germany and came to England as a baby. Her grandmothers were both murdered by Nazis. I shall write about my grandparents in more detail in my next blog post. I also do the research of my step-grandfather, born in Berlin in 1933 as an identical twin.

In late June 2016, I received my first DNA results from MyHeritage. The results were:

- Europe:

  • Ashkenazi Jewish - 57.1%

  • Balkan 17.9%

  • East European 5.8%

- Africa:

  • Sephardic Jewish - North African - 9.9%

- Asian:

  • Mizrahi Jewish - Iranian/Iraqi - 9.3%

Receiving these results, I was not at all surprised and very relieved that I knew in my mind based on what my grandparents had told me that I was on the right path. Thankfully since then I have yet to find any unexpected surprises.

My goals of my research are:

- Ensure no ancestor is forgotten. Add as many names, photos and stories for all of them.

- To share any information with any relative who wishes to find out more about their heritage

- To satisfy my curiosity

My research and questions have caused some friction between myself and certain family members, which was never my intention but some people think that the past is best left buried. I feel an obligation to remember my ancestors, to know where I came from and to continue with my research.

In future posts, I plan to talk about some of the stories of my ancestors, methods I found helpful with my research, new discoveries I continue to make and brick walls I have hit.

Next post: ​1941: Journey Through My Ancestors' Hell.

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