Alumni Stories: English Major Finds a High-Diver in Her Family Tree

Lindsey Gillespie graduated with an English Major in 2010. She is currently a librarian for the Rover Tobacco Control Library here at UC Davis. We asked her four questions about her work, her time at Davis English, and her current hobby: genealogy. 
 
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1. You’ve described yourself to us a "bit of a genealogy nerd" who is mapping out her family tree. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Have you uncovered any surprises?
 
Strahl_high_dive.pngGenealogy is often viewed as a slow or boring hobby but it can actually be a bit of a rush! Recently, I was able to solve a mystery involving my maternal great-great-grandfather. My great-grandfather was adopted as a child, and so little to nothing was known about his biological parents. All that I had to go off of was a last name and a story that had been passed down through the family. Family lore said that his father had been a high diver in a traveling circus, who died tragically while performing a high dive, and whose wife died shortly after of a broken heart. 
 
After extensive research, I was able to confirm that a portion of the story was true. His father was in fact a world renowned circus high diver at the turn of the 20th century. However, he didn’t die tragically in a high diving accident and his wife didn’t die of a broken heart. Sadly, it appears that the couple separated months after my great-grandfather’s birth and he was adopted by a neighbor family soon after. It’s amazing how family stories can change over the years. Whether the story was changed to protect his son or became muddled as it was passed down, we will never know. 
2. Did this passion for genealogy influence your decision to major in English and/or pursue library science?
 
Research has always been a passion of mine. As an English major, one of my favorite parts about writing a term paper was doing the research for it. Sometimes, I think I enjoyed that more than the writing itself!  There is nothing I like more than falling down the “research rabbit hole” and sifting through all of the information down there. 
 
As book lover, I’ve also always had a special place in my heart for libraries. Working at one seemed like a perfect fit. Once I knew that Library Science was an option, it seemed like a natural next step in my education. 
 

3. What do you like most about your job?
 


I get to help people with their information needs every day. Whether that’s finding an article or assisting them with their research, I am helping them sort through the deluge of information out there. In today’s “post-truth” world of Google and fake news, people need librarians more than ever. 

 
4. It’s been a few years since you were a student at Davis and so we wonder: What English courses have stayed with you? And why?
 
The first English class that I ever walked into at Davis was Vanessa Rapatz’s ENL 10A. Professor Rapatz was one of the most approachable professors that I encountered at Davis and her lectures were really fun. I had a lot of “a-ha” moments in her class and it convinced me that I made the right choice when picking my major. 
 
I also have a soft spot for Children’s Literature (ENL 180).  It’s always a fun to ruin a non-English major’s perception of fairy tales.