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The Accidental Archivist

Family history, modern genetics and well-kept secrets collide as I am drawn into a search for a stranger's birth father hidden somewhere in my own family tree. The search leads to dusty archives, clues hidden in plain sight, and the cutting edge of commercial genetic testing.

Fifty-something Kathleen used 23andme to identify her biological mother, who is rumored to have a child with a priest. Kathleen believes that her father is Angie's great-uncle Ed, a beloved monsignor. Angie's genealogy and medical backgrounds balk at this conclusion. Couldn't it be one of the other seven priests in the family?

Despite initial reluctance, she is drawn full force into the mystery. Angie visits archives around Wisconsin, creating dossiers on the potential priest fathers. Kathleen discovers articles online with tantalizing clues hidden in plain sight. Angie's geneticist sister applies modern techniques to unravel this complex case of genetic genealogy. After a year, Angie determines that a distant relative is Kathleen's and Henry's father.


They work together to sketch out their biological parents' story, one wound up in expectations, disappointments, and secrets hidden in plain sight. As they arrive at answers, new questions continue to surface and each struggles to craft a narrative that answers them fully. Ultimately, they create a new definition of family and celebrate it with all of its amazing twists and turns.

2022, Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC

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