Genealogy does more than find one’s past

Anastasia Harman/Courtesy of Ancestry.com

With a name shrouded in history like “Anastasia”, it seems natural that you’d be interested in genealogy.

Anastasia Harman, the lead family historian for Ancestry.com, has made a living out of it. She’s uncovered such high-profile connections as the familial link between Jane Austen and the newly-wed Princess Catherine Middleton and however distantly, Edward-the-heartthrob from the adolescent vampire series “Twilight” has some links to the real Dracula: Vlad the Impaler. But the most heartwarming of her discoveries revolves around her involvement with the show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”.

Jonah Gomez, 7, has been diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia. Finding a donor that can provide him with the bone marrow he needs proved to be tricky business until Anastasia stepped onto the scene. Utilizing the website’s resources which includes about 6 billion official historical records, she rustled up an additional 100 or so living relatives that could potentially be donors.
Jonah’s story isn’t over. Contacting these individuals could prove just as difficult, but finding so many potential donors will prove to be invaluable. It’s increased his chances of survival significantly.

Typically, though, finding organ or transplant donors isn’t the average use for the website. Usually it’s used to connect people to the instinctive draw to their backgrounds. Anastasia thinks that Alex Haley, author of “Roots”, had it figured out.

“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage- to know who we are and where we have come from.”

That hunger, marrow-deep, provided a boy and his family with the resources necessary to continue his young life.

4 Responses to "Genealogy does more than find one’s past"

  1. Mike   July 9, 2011 at 2:59 am

    Anastia Harman isn’t a genealogist at all, she is a shamelessly self-promoting Ancestry PR manager.
    She did not find any connections to famous people, she embarrassed Ancestry.com by MAKING THEM UP for the press release!
    She has never responded to challenges to provide proof, and respected genealogists have ridiculed her “findings”.
    If she is a genealogist, then I’m a rocket scientist.

    Reply
  2. David Dore   July 31, 2012 at 5:16 am

    If this is the best that Ancestry.com has, they are in sore need of recontruction. This Hack tied the Bunch Clan of Scotland (of the McIntyre’s) to a light skinned slave with the name Bonce. My genetic study says they are WRONG. The first Bunch arrived in Virgina in 1656 as Indentured Servant. He never owned Slaves or Indentured Servants! There is no record of the BUNCH family (of which my wife has cataloged over 9000 persons) ever having Slaves. My wife has been accumulating records over the last 10 years.
    For the record the ‘Bonces’ are part of the ‘Bruce’ family of Scotland.

    Reply
  3. Billy Wayson, Ph.D.   August 2, 2012 at 6:17 am

    Dave is right in questioning the “connections”. We should also question the timing of this release, its source in Salt Lake, and the comments of Willard Romney re the President’s understanding “Anglo-Saxon” heritage. My research on the Quaker Bunch family in Louisa Co., VA has yet to clearly reveal any slave-holding, though fellow communicants at the Camp Creek Meeting House were. Notable is the 1767 resolution at the Friends Annual meeting in Virgina opposing enslavement that was likely prompted by associates of this Monthly Meeting in Louisa. Our culture is very clever at using race, even without the historically hurtful words, now banned from political correctness. Keep digging!

    Reply
  4. Monty Sutherland, Family Historian and Genealogist   February 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Where does it say that Anastasia claims to be a genealogist? I read “lead family historian”. There is a huge difference. I am not professionally associated with Ancestry.com, but do know personally that nothing was “made up” by this group for PR purposes. Anybody can throw a negative spin at anything. With over 40 years of practicing family history and genealogy research I think I have learned a few things about the subject matter. As data connections are only as good as available sources at the time, things can, will and do change. I propose that instead of throwing negative comments over the fence at people who are trying to do their best to do a good thing, we work together to research and connect our families and in the process maintain civility. We will all be the better for it.

    Reply

Leave a Reply