The Genlighten Blog

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Featured Provider: cornandcotton


Stephanie Pitcher Fishman (cornandcotton) is a freelance editor, writer, and genealogical researcher who specializes in Midwestern and Southeastern United States family history with an emphasis on Ohio and Georgia research. A member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors, her offerings on Genlighten include document retrieval and full-service research.

How did you get started doing genealogy research?
My journey into family history started when I was looking for an activity to do with my maternal grandmother. Little did I know that she was in the beginning stages of dementia. It not only created memories that I would cherish, but it saved names and places that we may have lost with her a few years later. The project that started as a time killer in 1999 grew into a life’s passion.

How have you developed your research skills?
I’m currently completing two long-term genealogical education projects. I’m a member of the ProGen 15 study group. I am also a student of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. I’ll be completing both ProGen 15 and my Certificate in Genealogical Studies – American Records in 2013. Additionally, I love attending online webinars, local and national conferences, and talk about genealogy with peers and colleagues any chance I can get!

Do you have a genealogy superpower? If so, what is it?
I’d like to think that I’m an Ohio story whisperer. I love finding out the little tidbits about our ancestors’ daily lives, and Ohio’s history just fascinates me. My favorite was discovering that three generations of women in my family were present during a major Temperance Movement march in their home county. It’s the social history and stories that make our ancestors come back to life!

Describe a challenging research problem you’re proud of having solved.
I have a case of an illegitimate child that is my major brick wall in my family. Unfortunately, I can’t claim that it is solved, but I can say that I will be proud when it is! I have been working on this brickwall for several years, and my great-aunt has worked on it for several decades! We are determined to locate the father one day.

Tell us a favorite story about one of your ancestors.
Picking a favorite story is like picking a favorite child! I am blessed with a heritage of interesting family stories, and I look forward to discovering more. My maternal line is rooted in the South while my paternal line is rooted in the North. Interestingly enough, many times when I discover one Confederate Soldier I find a counterpart from my paternal line that fought for the Union in the same battle. One Georgia ancestor ended up being buried in the Camp Chase Union prison camp cemetery only minutes from my home in Ohio. This discovery was one of my favorites.

What’s the most unique record source that you access for research?
Ohio has a rich religious history. I enjoy looking into our Quaker record collections at various repositories. Reading meeting minutes may seem tedious to some, but I love the glimpse it gives us into their lives.

What’s a must-visit repository for visitors doing research in your area?
The Ohio Historical Society Archives and Library is not to be missed. It holds a majority of the State Library of Ohio collection now as well as materials ranging from city directories to military records (and everything in between!) Their microfilm collection is fantastic, and the archivists have such a passion for not only local/state history but family history as well. Just don’t forget to pack light because there are restrictions on what you can bring into the archives. Be sure to check the website for information before your visit.

What tools do you use to create reports and images for clients?
I love using various software programs and apps to create digital images and reports so that access isn’t hindered by mail transport. By working digitally I am also able to help my clients keep their costs down when possible.

What advice would you give for breaking through a 
brick wall?
Create a timeline! Place your family in time and space via timeline. There are many hidden clues that can pop out to us when we realize that they resided in an area during a major event or could have been present when another relative was active in a community. Timeline analysis can help us see clues that we might miss in our regular reading of our collected information.

What hobbies do you pursue when you’re not doing research?
I’m a homeschool mom, so my hobbies these days revolve around anything that interests my family! We love to geocache, craft, and sew. Winters in Ohio can be pretty gloomy, so I retreat into handicrafts such as sewing, knitting, crochet, and quilting. I love fabric as much as I love family stories!

Anything else you’d like to share?
A Russian proverb states, “You live as long as you are remembered.” Through researching our family history we are putting memories to names and allowing our ancestors to live on. Never stop hunting your family’s stories!

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