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About Me

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My full name is Sarah Ann Van Deventer Kirby. Kirby is my birth surname.

Genealogical Experience

My genealogical interest began early and evolved naturally. I had a fortunate childhood in which both sides of my
family socialized closely. I grew up knowing not only my first cousins, but my second cousins as well. As part of this socialization, family stories were frequently told. My paternal grandmother also thought it was important that I meet all of the relatives still in the area where she lived – this included 3rd cousins, and even more distant relatives. She told stories of her own relatives as well as my grandfather’s. Would that I had recorded those stories. Sigh.

Both my mother and my paternal grandmother were antique collectors. In addition to dragging me to every antique
shop they could find, they educated me on the “old stuff” – what it was used for, when it was used, and what was
going on in the country during that time. My folks also thought it important to visit museums and historical sites on all vacations. Stopping to read historical markers was mandatory. As a result, I began to develop an interest in
American history. A nascent genealogical bug was planted in my mid-teens when my grandfather found the book “The Van Deventer Family” (which names him), and called his research “done!” Many years later, I began to wonder what else was out there besides the book excerpts I had and whether I could document the truth (or error) behind the family stories I did remember.

Real research began ca. 1994 with a goal of compiling all my lines “back to when they crossed the Pond” (i.e., the
Atlantic). I’ve been fortunate enough to find several surname histories that tie directly into my line plus one
transcription of church marriage records that took one line back 150 years! After “collecting names,” my focus is now on documenting all my ancesters with primary source records. I’ve even dabbled in research “across the Pond,” having begun to document my Kirby and Hutchinson ancestors (the two most recent immigrant lines).
I began marketing my lectures in 2007 and took my first research client in late 2008. While I’ve taught various
subjects both formally and informally nearly all my life, I am still looking for my first genealogical teaching opportunity.


  • Association of Professional Genealogists (since 2005)
  • National Genealogical Society (since 2005)
  • Genealogical Speakers Guild (since 2008)
  • GENEALIB-L, A Discussion List for Librarians Serving Genealogists (since 2003)
  • New England Historic Genealogical Society (since 1998)
  • New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (since 2003)
  • Illinois State Genealogical Society (since 2008)
  • Lake County Illinois Genealogical Society (since 2000)
  • Detroit Society for Genealogical Research (since 2006)

Publications – Genealogy

  • Apr-Jun 2007 Abraham Lincoln and the Case of the Acrimonious Neighbors. Lake County (Illinois) Genealogical Society Quarterly 27(4):2-3.
  • Oct-Dec 2007 Going Beyond the Begats – Where to Look for Biographical Information. Lake County (Illinois) Genealogical Society Quarterly 28(2):5-6.
  • Dec 2001 Copyright for Genealogists. Self-Published

Publications – Library

  • Oct 2006 How to Find Resources Without Using Subscription Services. Information Outlook 10(10):23-31.
  • Win 2004 Mold Resources. ERMD Newsletter 10(3):8-9.


  • Jan 2007 Appointed to APG’s Publication Advisory Committee
  • 2000-2002 LCIGS Board Member at Large


  • BS Engineering – Aerospace
  • MA Education – Teaching College Project Management
  • MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science)
  • Grad Cert – Biblical and Theological Studies
  • PLCGS (Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies) – concentration Genealogical Librarianship

page last updated: 16 Apr 2012

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1 comment

  1. Martylou Plinski

    I need to locate a genealogist to do research at the Newberry Library regarding my grandfather’s employment application and service record with the Pullman Company (Railroad sleeping car company). He retired about 1930.

    I also need research in Illinois to locate proof of birth in 1867 in or near East St. Louis, IL..

    Please advise.

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