Friday, November 1, 2013

Serendipity in a Little Booklet

Public Archives of Nova ScotiaAnn Amadori lives in Virginia but her grandmother came from Nova Scotia. Ann’s cousin had visited Halifax and found a wonderful library where she thought there might be more information about the family. For most of the 1980s Ann tried to convince her family that Nova Scotia was a fun vacation destination. (Sound familiar?) It was a hard sell to her daughters in their late teens and early twenties who had no interest in genealogy.

Finally in 1990 she convinced them to make the long, two and a half day drive. The last day of the visit, they dropped her off at the library in the morning. She had until 4:00pm before they would pick her up. By 3:45 she had exhausted everything she could think of checking but had had no success.

She returned to the area in front of the librarian’s desk to wait for her family. With nothing to do, on a whim she started to browse the materials on the counter. There she found a little booklet containing advertisements from people looking for genealogical information. One caught her eye. Tom Murray was looking for information about descendants of Daniel Murray. Daniel Murray and Barbara McDonald were the names of her great grandparents! Could it be her Daniel Murray?

Her family arrived and they returned to the hotel room. There she called the man. He was delighted and she learned it was her Murray family! Better yet, the man had put together a family history of the Murrays. He sent her a copy and it filled in many gaps in her genealogy.

Big things came from one little booklet, picked up on a whim at the end of a non-productive research trip, two and a half days away from home.

Sources: Two e-mails from Ann Amadori, Virginia, ([e-mail addresses for private use]), to the Ancestry Insider, (, dated 7 August 2008 and 12 October 2013, both titled “Serendipity”; privately held by the Ancestry Insider.


  1. As a professional librarian/archivist who helps genealogists, I would encourage all family historians to actively engage with the staff where they are doing their research work. It's been my experience that genealogical serendipity is more likely to happen after a 3-5 minute general conversation with library staff than just browsing through the "stuff" on the reference desk. Doing so can make the researcher's visit often much more rewarding.

  2. That's the Public Archives of Nova Scotia, much more than a "library".

    The Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia is full of people who will gladly help anyone with Nova Scotia ancestry.


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