As a nation of immigrants, identifying immigrant ancestors is a worthy goal for most Americans interested in family history. The publication of Roots in 1976 launched a genealogy tidal way. 1 Of the millions caught by the wave, Dennis VanderWerff’s pursuit of his family’s history spans forty years.
Just as Haley began with what he knew about his family, VanderWerff began with what he know about his. “Grandfather Crook came from England,” he was told as a child. The gamut of his research covers traditional documentary research through DNA testing. One side of his family has deep roots in Colonial America and New England. The other side is characterized by unknown paternity and brick walls.
A Ph.D. in library science, VanderWerff is a skilled researcher. His genealogical education includes course work at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. He has completed courses in the National Genealogical Society’s American Genealogical Studies program and at the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research. Currently, he participates in the Professional Genealogy Study Program.
VanderWerff is a member of a variety of professional organizations including the National Genealogical Society, Association of Professional Genealogists, and the Genealogical Speakers Guild. He teaches courses and facilitates workshops in genealogy, writing family history, and speaks at local and regional genealogy meetings.