A Day In The Life Of A Genealogist


Nancy Rokos

In progress is the Schroeder-Donlan family tree, that Eric Schubert, 16, of Medford Lakes, is currently working on,

Photo & Story taken with permission from the Burlington County Times, story originally published April 26th, 2017.

It began about five years ago when Eric Schubert was 11 and a bout of pneumonia forced him to stay at home for about three weeks. His mother, Lisa Schubert, recalled the time. “I was a mother trying to keep a sick child from being bored,” she said. Schubert introduced her son to Ancestry.com. Eric never looked back. The experience launched an interest in genealogy that persisted and led him to start his own company, ES Genealogy, and research family histories for more than 100 local families. Eric, who turned 16 this week, possesses the right qualities to support his passion. “It encompasses what he loves – history and research,” his mother said. “Eric is known as the genealogy kid,” added Schubert, who acknowledged that she has always been interested in her own family history. “Eric found out more about our family than I ever knew,” she said, noting that he had solved a family mystery that ended up with the discovery of previously unknown relatives in Pennsylvania. A sophomore at Shawnee High School, where he is involved with the photography club and the newspaper, Eric also admires entrepreneurs. Running a business at his young age has revealed a skill set that serves him well.

Research and organizing and labeling documents are at the heart of what he does. “I print everything out, incorporating charts and diagrams,” he said. “If I can’t find something, I tell why I can’t find it.” The teen compares the process to telling a story. At the end of a project, he collects all the material and puts in together in a scrapbook, which he presents to his client. “Sometimes, it’s very emotional and they are lose to tears,” he said. “I love to feel that I have helped people.” Some clients want extra copies, he said. One woman ordered eight. Business always picks up in advance of holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Christmas and Thanksgiving, when people give the research results to family members as gifts. Draft cards, census records, and naturalization papers are among essential online tools.

While his computer is invaluable, Eric often relies on old-fashioned mail to achieve the results he is looking for. “There are some documents that can only be obtained by writing a letter requesting them,” he said. According to the teenager, determination, resilience, and patience are essential qualities for his work. Eric spends an average of an hour a day on his projects, fitting them into his busy student life and an after-school job as a file clerk for a local engineering firm. Most research is carried out on a computer in his bedroom, where he enjoys a view of Lake Wabissi and its tranquil waters.