My name is Jessica Feinstein. I have been passionate about family history as far back as I can remember. My fatherís mother Rose used to tell me stories about her family, and I drew up family trees on rolls of computer print-out paper (this was in the 1970s!).

Rose gave me her parentsí wedding invitation from 1899 and this wonderful photo of them taken in the same year.

I started collecting funeral cards, old passports, telegrams, newspaper cuttings, old school reports, and anything I could find that would help me build up a better understanding of my familyís history.

On my motherís side, I was given a treasure trove of letters written by her parents and other family members, and suitcases full of old photos.

I looked after everything I was given as well as I knew how at the time, by sticky-taping documents into notebooks (do not do this yourself!) and using photograph albums that left horrible sticky marks on everything.

I did not think about finding any more records that would take the story back to previous generations until the Internet came along and a cousin introduced me to a wonderful website where you can build your family tree and share it with your relatives. From that moment on, I became seriously addicted. I set up my own site in 2008, signed up for subscriptions to well-known genealogy websites, and spent every waking moment checking the details I thought I knew, excitedly emailing family members with each new discovery, and building up my tree.

But this was all just a hobby until I was offered the chance to teach a course for beginners, and I realized that I had a lot of experience that I could share, including how not to do it! I am still learning, and love how each class I teach, each question I am asked, and each family I learn about introduces me to new challenges. And of course there are new records being digitized all the time, so there is always something new to discover and get excited about.

In addition to teaching, I am a member of several family history societies and volunteer in my local library, showing people how to use the family history resources available. I love being presented with new challenges and I read widely and subscribe to many blogs and newsletters to keep up to date with developments in genealogy.

I am the editor of The Journal of Genealogy and Family History, an open-access peer-reviewed journal, and also the editor of Shemot, the journal of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. This work allows me to combine my experience and knowledge of publishing and supporting authors with my love of genealogy.

My first family tree made in 1979

One of my first family trees

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Roseís parents wedding invitation from 1899

Roseís parents' wedding invitation from 1899

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  • Roseís parents (1899)
  • My motherís grandmother
  • Rose's parents (1899)

  • My motherís grandmother

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