Spotlight on JoAnne Haugen, AG®, Forensic Genealogist

JoAnne Haugen, AG
My hometown is The Dalles, Oregon located on the Columbia River on the historic Oregon Trail.  In our neighborhood was a pioneer cemetery.  At an early age I became fascinated with the headstones in that cemetery and the whole Oregon Trail story.  As a very young mother, the Institute of Religion at the University of Idaho offered a series on genealogical research and provided free babysitting.    I immediately signed up and it began a lifetime of research, beginning with letters to my living grandparents, great-aunts and cousins.

My husband’s career took him to Washington, D.C. where I had the fabulous opportunity to research at the National Archives, Library of Congress, The Daughters of the American Revolution’s Library and The Library of Virginia.

After my husband’s retirement, moving back to Oregon State and building our own home, I was approached in 2000 to do professional research for The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.  We were asked to find living members of servicemen whose remains had not yet been accounted for.  The purpose being to supply family resource samples of mitochondrial DNA and YDNA for possible remains identification.

I loved the research, and I loved hearing the stories from the families, and most of all I loved feeling I was using my skills to serve my country.  After doing this for several years, the contract required accreditation or certification or a professional genealogy degree.  I looked into my options and chose accreditation.  This was long before on-line courses were available.  I purchased the books used for a BYU class to help prepare students for the accreditation process and spent a year studying and preparing. I was first accredited in Mid-South Research in July 2005.

After becoming an Accredited Genealogist, I had my own website for 10 years and did client work.  I found over time that my non-Army cases were mostly from the Pacific Northwest.  I now specialize in Pacific States Research and was accredited as such in February of 2014.  Oregon made a survey in the 1990’s of every kind of record held by county governments and their exact location.  I have made incredible finds for my clients in unusual places.  So much is available on-line today, but nothing beats searching in the courthouses, museums and storage places for unique original records.

I consider myself a Forensic Genealogist and besides working with the US Army and US Air Force, I have held contract with the Oregon Department of State Lands for 8 years to find heirs of persons who die intestate.  My goal as a genealogist is to document everything and be just as accurate as possible.  In my line of work, I cannot make mistakes because too much is at stake.  I have had cases from World War I down to Vietnam.  Last week one of “my men” was buried at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington.  He was a World War II P-47 pilot who went down in Germany in 1945 just three weeks before the war was over.  This is why I will continue to do the research just as long as I am physically able.

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