Jim Yarin and 248 AncestorsI started 248 Ancestors in 2012 to formally establish myself as a professional genealogist after many years of helping others to discover their family history. I have over 25 years of experience researching family histories.
While the techniques for locating records have changed over the years in many ways, some things essential to genealogical research have not. Name changes and naming traditions, geographic movement and immigration patterns, and sniffing out spelling and indexing mistakes have not changed. Those are the detailed skills borne of experience that allow me to break through brick walls unlike other researchers.
Working closely with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and his production team I uncovered the Jewish ancestors of Barbara Walters and Robert Downey Jr. for the PBS genealogy TV show, "Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr." As Professor Gates explained on the show, Barbara Walters was unlike any other guest he ever had because she challenged him to find something new about her roots. Walters' had her genealogy done already, by professional researchers, and they had purported to find her roots. But they were wrong. It was my research that allowed Dr. Gates to meet Ms. Walters' challenge and deliver an astounding and personally rewarding result for the network news legend. I am writing up the story in deatail which you will be able to read HERE.
I attribute my fascination with genealogy to two factors. One, my father's early death and the void created by a missing connection with that side of my family. Two, I have by nature plenty of intellectual curiousity and enjoy analyzing problems, as evident from my fascination with puzzles and curiousities from a young age. From kid lit about ghosts, to mystery novels, like a lot of kids, I enjoyed reading books to solve mysteries (The Hardy Boys was one of my early favorites). This turned into an enthusiasm for all kinds of challenging puzzles. Enjoying math, I dipped into math puzzles for a numbner of years and enjoyed -- and still enjoy -- word puzzles of all kinds. Genealogy is the best kind of puzzle because it has all the elements of any word puzzle or mathematical puzzle, with the extra benefit of having real life meaning and adding to the historical record.
From my legal career I learned how to manage enormous amounts of data. My work in complex litigation involved managing databases which often exceeded a million documents and tens of millions of pages of information. Finding the right documents requires advanced organizational and search skills, the same skills needed for genealogicial research.
My family history research began by researching my own roots. That research transitioned into a one-name study based on one of my ancestor's family names, Efron (and variations such as Effron and Ephron). I became involved in local genealogy societies, and started a newsletter for the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston. I also worked for a time at the venerable New England Historic Genealogical Society. I have spoken at genealogy conferences and synagogues, sharing my knowledge and enthusiasm with newbies and experienced researchers alike.