Monday, April 25, 2011

Valerie Elkins

In response to my invitation to submit a profile to GeniMates Valerie replied " I am always thrilled when someone takes an interest in a rather small niche of genealogical research."

Valerie, I am sure that readers of the blog will be most interested in your 'niche' as I was when I stumbled across it last week. Your blog is unique and a wonderful resource.

Thank you for sharing your profile with us.

Date 22 April 2011
Name Valerie Elkins
Hometown Grantsville UT, USA

Are you a Hobbyist or Professional Genealogist? Professional

What is your day job? Genealogist

How long have you been chasing ancestors? Since I was 12

How did you get hooked on genealogy? My mother was doing some genealogy research and I became fascinated by the names on my family tree and use to imagine their stories. I wrote letters to distant relations asking for information. I still have those letters!

What, if any, formal or informal studies have you undertaken that are relevant to genealogical research? I have been doing genealogy for over 20 years. I was a volunteer research consultant for the Family History Library where I assisted Japanese patrons. I am member of Progen Study group and am working toward BCG Certification. I currently teach other Family History Consultants research skills and train them in how to assist people getting started in genealogy research.

What are your areas of Expertise in Genealogy? I help people of Japanese ancestry who live outside of Japan find their ancestors and find their heritage back in Japan. There are no online records to search for records. The Japanese are very privacy conscious and do not allow it. In order to obtain the records you have to speak and write Japanese and prove your lineage first to obtain the right to access them. Then once you receive the records you have to be able to read Japanese characters that are no longer in use today. I know many 3rd, 4th, 4th generation Japanese, who no longer speak the language and are hindered in their efforts to find the ancestors they long to connect with. I love being able to help them do that.

Please outline your involvement in Genealogy Societies and Groups. I am a member of the UGA (Utah Genealogical Association) where I serve on the Publicity Committee. A member of the FGS (Federation of Genealogical Societies) and serve on the Marketing and Publicity Committee. Also member of the following:
APG Association of Professional Genealogists
NGS National Genealogical Society
ISFHWE International Society of Family History Writers and Editors
GSG Genealogical Speakers Guild

What are the lands of your ancestors? My ancestors were among the earliest to arrive in America. Before that they came from England, Germany, Scotland, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Norway.

What Family Names are you Researching? Mossman (some came to Australia I am told), Rohrer/Rorer, Halvorsen, Elkins,Beck, Cole, Brown, Greenwade, Alfrey.

Who is your favourite ancestor? Why? That is a tough question, as they all begin to grow on you once you know their story. But, I would have to say my great, great, great grandmother Clara Rohrer Mossman. She was half American Indian and half American mixture of French, Swiss, English and Scottish. I grew up being told she was an Indian Princess. Disappointed when I learned there was no such thing, but the truth is far more fascinating.She left at age 16 to go the the Hawaiian Territory as an Episcopalian missionary. She taught Hawaiian children to read and sing. She married an Englishman and left a wonderful legacy.

What ancestral city or town would you like to visit? Why? I would love to go to Edinburgh Scotland. The Mossman home is there and later was home to the Reformer John Knox. The home is a museum and has the family motto still carved on the walls. I would like to see that.

What is your favourite resource for genealogy? I love to help most people find something when they are first getting started. But, my favorite resource is the source I find something I am looking for in it! Automatically hits my favorite list!

Do you keep your genealogy files on paper? Yes
Do you keep your genealogy files on a computer? Yes

What genealogy software do you use to record your family tree?  I still my PAF sometimes (because of the Japanese version) and Roots Magic.

Do you have your tree posted on the internet? Yes
If Yes What is the URL?

What Social Networking Sites do you use for genealogy? Ancestry, Facebook, GenealogyWise, Geni, LinkedIn, Twitter

Do you have a blog? Several
What are your blogs' URLs? ;

What are your Other Hobbies, Activities, Interests? I love to combine my love of family history in other areas like scrapbooking, home decor and even cooking. I love to read historical fiction and am writing a novel and a book on how to do Japanese Genealogy.

What is your favourite lesiure time activity apart from genealogy? I love to discover the skills, the food of my ancestors. I am learning to cook their foods, I am studying their language and try to find new ways to immerse my heritage into my family life.

What is your favourite (non genealogy) book? Anything by Jane Austen

What is your personal philosophy in a few words ? This says it better than I could and what I aspire to: "I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.
I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children.
I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden.
I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived."
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley

If you have anything else to share please add it below. 

I believe there is a healing power in searching for our ancestors. Knowing who we are, where we came from and what our ancestors overcame is vital to better understanding ourselves. I had the privilege to reunite a mother and daughter, 50 years after the mother had to give her up to be adopted in the US. Helping the daughter reconnect with her mother and heritage in Japan completely changed her life. I saw the healing first hand and have experienced it in my own life as I discover not just the names, but the stories. By remembering our ancestors, honoring their stories - we stand on their shoulders and become more, we become stronger, and if we learn from them we become wiser.


  1. Valerie, I was brought up in Mosman, NSW, Australia. It's a real small world out there.

  2. Jill thank you so much for the profile!
    Rosemary, I have long heard of the Australian Mossman connection and would love to explore that further. I know they were sea captains and seafaring folk, one set went to Hawaii and another to Australia. Thanks again.

  3. Please do not trust Valerie Elkins when it comes to Japanese Genealogy. She will string you along, tell you her team is working on it and never produce even one iota of research. Be careful,