Gena P. Ortega

Expert Author

Gena Philibert Ortega holds a Master's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (Psychology and Women's Studies) and a Master's degree in Religion. Presenting on various subjects involving genealogy, Gena has spoken to groups throughout California and in Utah as well as virtually to audiences in the United States and Europe. Gena is the author of hundreds of articles published in genealogy newsletters and magazines. Her writings can also be found on her blogs, Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. She is the author of the books, Putting the Pieces Together and the Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra (Arcadia Publishing, 2007). Gena serves as Vice-President for the Southern California Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists.

What are your specific genealogical interests?

Interests include researching women's lives and the material culture they left behind in the form of diaries/journals, signature quilts and community cookbooks (also known as church cookbooks or fundraising cookbooks).

What got you into genealogy?

As a child, I was the kind of kid that liked to listen in on the adult's conversations, so much the better when they started talking about the "good old days." I was fascinated by stories my maternal grandmother told me about her life and the lives of her ancestors. It was from those conversations that I knew that I wanted to delve into my family history. While I asked questions of my family as a child and teenager, it was as a college student that I became serious about researching my family history.

Most surprising genealogical find:

I was probably most surprised recently to find my paternal 4th great-grandmother mentioned in a newly published Texas history book. I was able to find this information through a search on Google Books. Although I knew this great-grandmother was divorced, most of the court paperwork was missing when I traveled to the courthouse about 8 years ago. This newly published book includes information from documents that I had been told were missing. It's a good example of how sometimes you don't find information as quickly as you would like.

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

I'm more interested in researching everyday people and the social history of their era than famous or infamous people. Everyday people are far more interesting!

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