When Elizabeth Lee received a box of her grandparents’ old papers and photos, she combined them with historical research and turned them into a book that traces her family’s roots through several generations and across continents. Today, along with her sister, Lorrie Walker, she aims to create this type of archival book for other families.

The sisters recently started Daughters of Jacob Genealogy to help Jewish families preserve their family’s history, combining genealogical research and cultural historical research. They gather information from the family, such as stories, quotes, holiday celebrations and photos, and weave them together with the family’s  historical context and bind them in a printed, archival book. 

Photo courtesy of Daughters of Jacob

The idea to do this for others came from a conversation between Dr. Gary Smith, a stake president of the church in Queen Creek, and Rabbi Michael Beyo, the CEO of the East Valley JCC. Beyo mentioned to Smith that he wanted to learn more about his own family’s history and Smith referred him to Lee, who has done extensive research on her family. She offered to create a family history book for him and his wife then Walker jumped in to assist her and that’s where the sisters’ fascination with Jewish genealogy began.

Walker says that Jewish genealogy is “a whole new adventure for us and we’re loving it.”

Photo courtesy of Daughters of Jacob

Lee, who lives locally, and Walker, who lives in Utah, will give a presentation on their family history books during the March 15 Klezmer Fest at the East Valley JCC. Their presentation, “Preserving Your Family’s History,” starts at 1:15 p.m. For more information about the Klezmer Fest and to purchase tickets to the event, click here

It was Beyo who suggested the name “Daughters of Jacob” once the sisters, both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, started brainstorming a name for their new endeavor. So far Daughters of Jacob completed a book for Beyo, his wife and for Hadassah Baldinger, EVJCC assistant CEO, whose parents are Holocaust survivors.  

The process involves two kinds of research: genealogical research, such as where ancestors were from, and research about the places that includes a history of the towns or areas where they lived. Throughout the process, the client family maintains complete control of all of their genealogical information. Lee finds historical photos from the time family members were there – including exact addresses if that information is available. 

Prices start at about $750, which includes an initial interview, cultural research, making the book and a copy of the book. Prices vary, depending on the genealogical research that needs to be done. 

Walker calls it a privilege “to be trusted to do this. It is a sacred thing to us.”

To learn more, visit daughtersofjacobgen.com.

Photo courtesy of Daughters of Jacob