Marietta Britt lives in Suburban Chicago with her daughter and two parrots. She graduated from Johnson and Wales University in Providence Rhode Island with a BS degree in Hospitality Management. Marietta has spent many years in the field of Telecommunication including sales, programming, support and project management for a major U.S. Retailer. In addition to her technical skills, she as most recently spent time as Vice President of Business Control and Compliance for a major international bank.
Both Marietta's immediate paternal and maternal families hail from North Western Tennessee with ancestors from Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina. She began her family research as a result of the need to “meet” two women in her family. That need has morphed into a real passion for knowing more about her roots and helping others to do the same.
Marietta spends upwards of 5 hours a day on research, development and education. She is a member of the Bloomingdale Illinois Library Genealogy Club where she fields many research questions from her fellow members.
Marietta loves spending time with her daughter and taking her back and forth to gymnastics practices and meets. She feels that teaching her daughter about her family history is a major pillar in her daughter's development and her responsibility to keep her ancestors memories alive for future generations.
Go In-Depth with Marietta:
What is my most eye opening ancestor story?
My most eye opening ancestor story is one about my paternal grandmother. When I began my research, I didn't fully consider that each family has its own secrets created to preserve a person's memory. My grandmother died in 1939, 9 months after my dad was born. The explanation of her death that everyone was told was complications from pneumonia. Since she was one of the reasons I began this process, I quickly dove into the records. I so proudly began collecting and printing everything I could find. First census documents, then birth and marriage records; then one day, I discovered her death certificate. Being so proud of my research, I quickly gathered my documents and showed them to my dad before reading the details. When my dad reviewed the cause of death for my grandmother, he discovered that what they were told was not the true reason for her death. My heart sank, as there was a sense of tragedy and sorrow that went along with these few words. It was at the only moment in my research that I wished had never discovered.
What is the most creative way I have shared my ancestor stories?
My most creative method for sharing my ancestors story was not something I did directly, but through my mother. As with most people who have a passion, you will talk about that subject to anyone who will or who pretend to listen.
I call my mother several times a day, she lives about 200 miles away from us. Our conversations are frequent but at times really quick. We talk about how our day is progressing and I update her on the many precocious actions of my beautiful daughter. As I make discoveries, I will quickly share it with her with sheer delight. For some reason, this subject doesn't seem as interesting to her as it is to me and my Aunt Doll, my mother's older sister.
Just recently, one side of our family held a family reunion. Since the reunion was short notice for me and school had just started, I fought the temptation to remove my daughter from school and take the 8 hour trip. To my surprise, Mom asked if I could print up some of my research to bring along on her trip. I quickly began printing documents and gave her a short lesson on how to read them. I thought my mother would do a couple of follow-ups for me and that would be all. Boy oh boy did I get a real surprise.
A day after the formal dinner held at all our reunions I was told an amazing story. My mother, who I didn't think listened to what I had to share, at the spur of the moment, got up and shared a great deal of the info I had given to her. Aunt Doll toll me that she beamed a parental pride and spoke as if she had a mastery our family history. It was then I knew that the many conversation we had, the many kernels left on the trail by my family and my passion to understand did transfer to her. She was listening to me after all.
What are your feelings about adding non-blood related lines into your research?
Family is defined by people in different ways. So when you begin your research, you will have to make decide if you will include non-blood related lines in your research. The word connection is a part of my definition of family. For me, it's a connection of genetics and relationship. What genetic connections do I share with the people who share the same ancestors? How we are connected to each other and what aided in the development of who we are? Why is my skin tone the shade it is. Why did I grow to 5' 8” tall or why do I have freckles or why did my grandfather have gray eyes?? My research is concentrated on genetic connections because its the genetics that I can depend upon when the paper trail disappears. and it answers the questions that started me on this journey.
I would never exclude someone from my tree if they were treated as family but not genetically connected to the family. If you think of a person as family, they should be included however, I would limit my research to that person and not dig into their ancestors. One would need to document the relationship for future generations. The worst thing you could do is send future generations down the wrong family tree because we did not fully detail our research and decision to include those not in the blood line.
Marietta's Reprint Policy:
You have permission to reprint articles that have been written by Jennifer Alford appearing on The In-Depth Genealogist, except any articles published in Going In-Depth, according to the following requirements are met:
- The article must be reprinted in full with no changes.
- You must include the following bio with links for each article reprinted.
- You must link back to the original article through the statement included below.
Marietta Britt is a Genealogist focusing on African American Family history and the author of Nurturing Your African American Tree. Each quarterly article will explore roadblocks uniquely created by American history and possible solutions to breaking through those walls.