About Me

Making contact with a distant ancestor!
The Smithsonian's Human Origins Exhibit, DC
To call my family history work a "hobby" would be to do it a disservice.  Developing a broader understanding of my own family history and expanding my knowledge has long been a passion, and I'm pleased to share this experience with you.

As you'll see in an early post, my first real exposure to the mysteries of family history was in 1990, when my grandmother gathered together various people from our family to address an eighty year old family mystery.  I had been exposed to family heritage before (I was raised to know that I was from Colonial New England stock and that both parents could trace their way back to just after the Mayflower), but this was the first time I realized how interesting it could be.  

Then, six years later, in 1996, my cousin (second cousin once-removed) John Baxter Black, gave me a copy of his family history, honoring two of his grandparents, one of whom was my great-grandmother's sister. This meant that half the history he recounted applied directly to my own heritage.  He brought my ancestors to life in a way I'd never thought possible - they became real people to me rather than names and dates on a chart.

A few years after that exposure, I joined the New England Historic and Genealogical Society and ancestry.com - and I threw myself into genealogical research!  I quickly found that it wasn't just a question of going to a library once to look at their published histories and then going on-line and linking to other trees.  There is so much more to genealogical research - bad information, good information, stories, documents, etc.  I made a lot of mistakes, fell for a lot bad information and replicated some of it in (and later purged it from) my own records.

I have had, since 1990, more than 25 years in this, with missteps and successes, all of which have made me a better researcher.  Besides learning right from wrong in the genealogical world, I've learned how to draw up charts that are readable, understandable, accurate and, most of all, clearly show the relationship I want to highlight in that specific drawing.  They can show descent from (or tangential relationship with) famous people, consanguinity among my ancestors (my parents were distant cousins in six different ways that we know of), adopted / related charts and any other complex relationship that the genealogical universe can send me.

It was recently pointed out to me that I had helped a number of people with their own family research knowledge base and that I might be able to expand my reach through a blog - this is the result of that realization.

If you have feedback or questions, please use the contact form to the right.

Happy hunting!


My "Official Bio": Daniel Woodruff grew up in rural Fletcher, Vermont and urban San Francisco, California, during which time he spent summers with relatives in Maine and Rhode Island.  A graduate of Occidental College in Los Angeles, he has since lived in Rhode Island, the New York City metro area, Atlanta, Georgia, which has been his home for almost a quarter century, and now Alexandria, VA in the Washington, DC metro area ("DMV").

He worked in corporate America for 20 years, had his own personal consulting gig for 10 and now works for the Federal Government (for the benefits!).  He works in hospitality program management, marketing, communications project management, and business process improvement. He spends his free time researching his own family history and, now and then, the select histories of others.  The bulk of his origins are in New England and Ohio here in the States. Immigrant ancestors came mainly from England, Ireland and Germany, with a little bit of Dutch and French thrown in way back.

An expert at charting out family connections, his largest chart, a small portion of which can be seen as the page header on this blog, is more than seven feet in length and details 37 generations of his own paternal line.