According to genealogist and family historian, Karen Batchelor, there’s nothing that gets you headed off in a new direction faster than a big, hairy, audacious New Year’s resolution! What began as her own resolution in 1976 to celebrate the birth of her son and the United States bicentennial turned into a lifelong passion. No, let’s call it what it is – a lifelong obsession with genealogy.
Ever curious descendant and and yes sometimes, unexpected skeleton in the family closet, Karen’s genealogy research has uncovered a heritage that includes Puritans and patriots, slaves and slaveowners, ancestors from Germany, England and Scotland and an early American witch – or two!
In the beginning, Karen’s genealogy goals were simple – learn all she could about her great and great -great grandparents and then share that family history with her son. After all, it was his birth that made her realize that most of what she knew of her family history was from stories told occasionally at the dinner table.
What started as a simple genealogy project took a surprising turn that led to Karen becoming the first acknowledged African American member of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in October, 1977.
Since then, Karen has celebrated the discovery of each new ancestor on her family tree, regardless of their race and background. Here on Extreme Ancestry, she shares names, dates, places – and oh so much more about the strong men and women from generations past, whose survival through the “good, bad and ugly” made it possible for her to be here writing this blog.
Like all genealogists, Karen sometimes gets stuck at a brick wall. On those days, she draws strength from the ancestors and these words:
In her work life, Karen has practiced law and been in government relations. Now she is a certified professional coach helping clients make room in life for what they are passionate about and that often includes a deeper look at family history.
Over the years, Karen has been featured on the front page of the New York Times, on Good Morning America, in the Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press, Redbook Magazine, Jet Magazine and many other publications around the country and abroad. In July, 2013, she was featured as the final question on the popular television game show, Jeopardy.
Karen is well known for sharing her love of genealogy with others through keynote presentations. And she’s excited to be putting the finishing touches on her online course to help family history newbies get started with confidence. It will debut in early 2014. In the meantime, if you’re looking for Karen – she’s probably hot on the trail of an ancestor, long dead but not forgotten if she has anything to do with it.
Constantly inspired by her family, past and present, Karen is the proud mother of her now adult son and grandmother to her first grandchild who was born in 2013.
A new generation begins…
For more on Karen’s evolution as a genealogist, you’ll enjoy these posts:
While you’re here on Extreme Ancestry: