Martin Fischer

Expert Author

Martin Fischer is in transition from more than 30 years as a journalist at the Chicago Tribune. While he continues to seek full-time employment, he is using his experience as an enthusiastic amateur genealogist to embark on a new career as a professional freelance genealogist, researcher, editor, writer and web designer. He is available to conduct family history projects including but not limited to searching online databases; corresponding with government archives of birth, marriage and death records; building family trees; editing memoirs; writing family history narratives; and creating genealogical web sites.

Martin is a tech savvy baby boomer with experience using Family Tree Maker genealogical software as well as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel; FrontPage, Express Web and Dreamweaver web designing software; Publisher and InDesign publishing software and more. As a long-time copy editor at the Chicago Tribune, he became known as a defender of correct grammar, punctuation and spelling and an advocate of accuracy, clarity and readability. He applies the same diligence to genealogical projects and freelance editing.

Although his professional life has been in newspaper journalism, his master's degree from the University of Chicago is in sociology and his bachelor's degree from Washington University in St. Louis is in political science.

He is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Editorial Freelancers Association, the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois and the St. Louis Genealogical Society.

Favorite Genealogy Quote

"Genealogy is more than names and dates on a chart....For me genealogy is a spiritual pilgrimage."—Arthur Kurzweil

What are your specific genealogical interests?

My areas of specialization include but are not limited to the St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo., and Chicago and Cook County, Ill., areas; the Midwestern U.S.; emigration and immigration; finding heirs and other relatives; federal records and naturalization; the Holocaust and other Jewish topics.

What got you into genealogy?

I was intrigued and curious about my parents' very different family histories. On my father's side, my great-grandparents emigrated from Germany to St. Louis, Mo., in 1865, making me a third-generation American. But my mother was born in Pinsk, Poland, in 1921 and lived in Havana, Cuba, from 1928 to 1942, until she immigrated to St. Louis.

Most surprising genealogical find:

My paternal grandfather's sister died in 1938 of a gunshot wound in the abdomen, and her adult daughter was charged with first-degree murder. The daughter was found not guilty after a surprise witness surfaced during the trial who testified that she had seen a man running from the house about the time of the shooting.

If you could find the family history of any historical great, who would it be and why?

Martha Gellhorn, who was born in St. Louis, became a prominent war correspondent, travel writer and novelist and was married to Ernest Hemingway from 1940 to 1945. One of my great-great-grandmothers was named Rosalia Gelhorn. My 92-year-old aunt believes that Rosalia was related to Martha Gellhorn's father's line, but we have not been able to link the two families.

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