Many individuals can spout off the origin of their last name or share their ancestry back to their grandparents and great-grandparents. But what about all of the in between?
Kim Richardson, an Oxford resident pursuing her certification in genealogy, aims to provide these answers for the generations and cultures that shaped many current families and modern societies.
“I think most people want to know where they came from,” said Richardson. “I think it gives them a foundation and a sense of who they are.”
Richardson, who has about one year left until her certification is complete, currently serves as one of six genealogists in Mississippi and is on the path to becoming one of only three certified genealogists in the state. She is currently the only genealogist in Oxford under the Association of Professional Genealogists.
Richardson first gained interest in the business through her own family. Her grandmother sparked an initial interest in family history through her stories of the past. Richardson’s great aunt is the one who gave Richardson her first taste of the research aspect.
“My great aunt had asked me if I could figure out what happened to her uncle who was listed as missing in action in WWII,” said Richardson. “So seeing that and the results of that time and research kind of got me hooked.”
Richardson then began taking courses and working toward her certification. One of her current clients, Richard Crisler, lives Kentucky and contacted Kim to find out more about his ancestors in the Mississippi Delta.
“The sense of substance which learning about my family gives to my life is why I wanted to learn more about my history,” said Crisler. “Kim enabled me to investigate the history of one of my ancestors in a part of the country inaccessible to me because of the cost of reaching it and because travel to the locale would be inadvisable due to my advanced age.”
Crisler first contacted Richardson through another Mississippi genealogist, Clarise Soper, CG℠ of Heidelberg. Soper has served as a mentor for Richardson throughout her journey in the field.
“When Kim first contacted me, her goal was to become a board-certified genealogist,” said Soper. “Our relationship has evolved as she sharpened her skills from novice to professional. I view our relationship now as colleagues rather than a mentorship.”
After completing several courses of extensive study in genealogy, Richardson decided to take her business one step further by establishing Southern Heritage Genealogy. She currently offers a wide range of services, including record lookups, full family histories, preservation of heirlooms and artifacts, digitizing photographs and letters, and anything else within the genealogical realm.
Throughout their experiences with her, Soper and Crisler both have high hopes for the future of Richardson’s business.
“Kim has all the resources needed to continue to grow her business: knowledge, skill, and a passion for genealogy,” said Soper. “I have referred clients to her and will continue to do so.”
Richardson claims that it is easier to research areas if you are in or around the areas, making Mississippi her primary location for research. She finds a large amount of information from the Genealogy Room at the Lafayette County and Oxford Public Library.
“The Genealogy Room at the library is phenomenal,” said Richardson. “It is a private collection that belongs to the local Historical and Genealogical Society and it is housed at the library at the courtesy of the library. It’s a great resource here in Oxford.”
Richardson’s business and research are only at the beginning of a future filled with unburying the past.
For more information on Southern Heritage Genealogy, visit www.southerheritagegenealogy.com or follow Southern Heritage Genealogy on Facebook.
Victoria Mekus is enrolled in Meek School of Journalism and New media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.