About Sherlock Combs
My father presented me with the Complete Sherlock Holmes when I was eight. Those stories sparked my interest in solving mysteries, and I’ve been doing that ever since, in science, in medicine, and in genealogy.
I began researching my family history when genealogy research required going to the Family History Library in person, and hand scrolling microfilm. The first time I recognized my great-grandfather’s family on the 1900 census, I burst into tears. I am a lifelong learner, and have attended dozens of local, regional, national, and international genealogy conferences, both as student and speaker. I have done archival research in Chicago, New York, Salt Lake City, Washington DC, and Israel.
Although I specialize in researching those with Eastern European Jewish ancestry, my clients have diverse backgrounds, including those with roots in colonial America. I speak, read, and write Russian and French, and have transliterated thousands of 19th century Russian language census, business directory, and vital records entries for online databases over the last 20 years.
Through my personal research I have acquired a substantial personal collection of late 19th and early 20th century family photographs, some of which were taken by my ancestors — who were professional photographers both in Russia and the United States. I studied costume design in college (and on my own) and worked as a costumer/assistant designer for the Portland Opera Company. My knowledge of fashion helps me determine when and where your family photographs may have been taken.
Before starting Sherlock Combs Genealogy, I was an epidemiologist and medical writer. My knowledge of health and medicine enables me to understand the importance of family health history and to interpret the significance of DNA test results.
Although I have spoken professionally about medicine since 1995, I only started sharing my genealogy expertise on the platform in 2012. That year, I presented “Interpreting 19th Century Russian Documents” to my local society and to the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Society’s annual conference in Paris, France. In 2013 I repeated that talk at IAJGS in Boston, and presented a webinar for the Southern California Genealogical Association.
My genealogical writing has appeared in RootsKey, the newsletter of the Jewish Genealogical Society – LA. My other writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the L.A. Jewish Journal, Reed magazine, and in medical trade magazines. I am a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Genealogical Speakers Guild, The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois, and the JGSLA.