About


Head shot January 30 2016

Hi, I’m Julie. I’m a family historian with 20 years of experience in researching my family’s origins in Poland, Germany, the U.S. and Canada. I’m a native of Western New York, and I hold a bachelor of arts degree in biological sciences from the State University of New York at Buffalo. I received my master of arts in endocrinology from the University of California, Berkeley, but I’ve been a stay-at-home mom to my four children for many years.

I first became interested in genealogy shortly after I was married, nearly 30 years ago. My paternal aunt, Carol Roberts Fischer, had already been researching my dad’s side of the family for some time, so I decided to start off with investigating my Mom’s Polish ancestry. Aunt Carol was very encouraging, and offered to get me a copy of the marriage certificate for my great-grandparents, John Zazycki and Veronica Grzesiak, on one of her research trips to the Erie County courthouse in Buffalo, New York, since she was making regular trips there, while my husband and I were living in California at the time. I still remember the feeling of awe as I held the photocopy of that marriage record in my hand and stared at the names of John and Veronica’s parents—names that were previously unknown to me, or to anyone else in my family, as far as I knew. And yet these were the names of some of my great-great-grandparents, people who had lived, worked, loved, cried, dreamed, prayed, hoped, and laughed, and whose DNA lives on in me. From that moment, I was hooked.

I enjoy sharing research strategies and resources via genealogy lectures and webinars, which I’ve given for Polish genealogical societies nationally and regionally, as well as for local genealogical societies and library groups. Upcoming lectures are featured in the sidebar on the right. I’m an active member of a number of genealogy groups on Facebook, and I administer a few of them as well, including Poland & Genealogy, the Galicia Family History Group, and Genealogical Translations. I’m always happy to connect with fellow family historians, especially those researching the same surnames or  geographic regions, so if you’ve enjoyed this blog or have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to drop me a line. Please note that I am not presently accepting clients for genealogical research.

I started this blog as a another way of sharing my passion for genealogy research with extended family members, genealogy friends, and anyone else who is interested in following along. The blog’s title, From Shepherds and Shoemakers, is a tribute to some of my ancestors who were engaged in those occupations. Many of us family historians seek to understand who we are by understanding where we came from, and what kind of people our ancestors were.  I come “from shepherds and shoemakers,” but also from farmers, potters, tailors, teamsters, architects, factory workers, laborers, soldiers, and others.  As I develop this blog I hope to introduce you to them, and to provide some strategies and resources you might employ in your search for your own ancestors.