Faces of NextGen: Meet Joseph Haines

Joseph Haines, 35, Ohio

What five words would you use to describe yourself? Five words I would use to describe myself would be wise, witty, loyal, passionate, & prudent.

 Why genealogy? Why genealogy? Wow, that is the toughest easy question I’ve ever had to answer. And I only say it’s tough to answer because there are so many excellent reasons why genealogy is extraordinary. But for me, I find it fascinating how genealogy connects the past to the future in a very interpersonal way via the present actions of us genealogists.

 What’s the coolest discovery you’ve made? The coolest discovery I’ve made involved DNA testing. Prior to getting mine done, I had hit a brick wall as far as the identity of the father of one of my great-grandmothers. No father was listed on her birth certificate and the wrong person was listed as her father on her death certificate. However, a Social Security Claims Index gave me yet another name that I could not confirm anything about. Fast forward years later to me uploading my raw DNA to GEDMATCH, and my closest match shared the same surname as the man listed on that S.S. Claims Index. I knew I was on to something. Sure enough, I eventually discovered that the man listed was indeed her father. Contacts through GEDMATCH put me in contact with a granddaughter of his that was born from different relationship. She is now in her late 70’s and has provided a wealth of information about my 2nd great-grandfather and his lineage. And if it wasn’t for DNA testing, I may have never met this 1st cousin, 2x removed to obtain any of this information.

What are you working on this week? This week I am working on accurately naming the file names of over 4000 family photos I have recently scanned. I know, it doesn’t sound very exciting, but it has to be done. And when I’m not working on that, I am working on writing material for a blog I plan to launch soon.

What’s the number one secret to your success in genealogy? The number one secret to my success in genealogy is my desire to learn as much as I can about the subject. My mind is a sponge when it comes to genealogy-related topics. And no matter how far I end up going down a genealogy career path, I’ll always be a student because there will always be something new to learn.

 What superpower would you want to help you uncover your family history? I’ve tried to come up with a “not so obvious” answer to this question, but let’s get real. It would have to be the ability to travel through time. However, I’ve seen Back to the Future enough times to know that I could only observe and not interact. You know, that whole space-time continuum thing can get pretty messy if you interfere with history. Although, it would be a little difficult to not drop a couple anonymous tips to certain fire departments regarding impending courthouse fires!!!

 What are we most likely to find you doing when you’re not researching family history? When I’m not researching family history, I’m learning about it. Whether it be podcasts, books, webinars, etc…I’m always learning. And genealogy is my life. But that’s ok. Because that is the life I want!


The NextGen Genealogy Network is made up of young genealogists with diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Faces of NextGen showcases a different member of our community each month. If you would like to be considered for an upcoming feature, simply complete our questionnaire and submit a selfie.

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