Family history leads her to a living sister she didn’t know she had

Judith Needham

Through doing family history, Judith Needham of Orem, Utah, and originally from Oregon, discovered a living sister she didn’t know she had.

“My mother joined the church in 1958,” Judith says. “As soon as she joined, she just went gung ho into family history. Because she was a new convert, there was tons of research to do. It was back in the days when you had to do everything the hard way, struggling with microfilm, etc. I grew up with genealogy and got hooked on it as I helped her—she asked me to do the typing.

“My mother died in 2001. When I was going through her stuff, I found this piece of paper in jewelry box, just a little scrap of paper, and it said ‘baby girl, Feb. 28, 1939.’ I had no idea what it meant, so I asked my brothers. They were all quite a bit older than me, and they knew she had had a baby born out of wedlock at that time, and adopted it out. They all wanted to try to find the girl, their half sister, but I didn't want to do anything about it.”

As it turned out, she didn’t have to. “Just this last year, about February, I was looking on Ancestry.com and I realized I needed download a GEDCOM file to Ancestry. So I did that. And it was probably a month later that I got this email through Ancestry. It said, ‘I want to get in contact with you. I believe my mother is your sister.’” Judith wrote back, "Give me your phone number and I'll call you." And she did. “I said, tell me what this is all about. She said, ‘My mother was born in Astoria, Oregon, on Feb. 28, 1939. We have a copy of the birth certificate with [your mother's] name on it.’"

Despite her earlier reservations, Judith says she was “absolutely thrilled that they had reached me. They had been looking for us for years. But until that file with my mother's name in it was put on Ancestry, they could not find us. Since then I have gone to Oregon and met Barbara, my half sister. We've gotten to know and love each other. And I think my mother is up there making this happen. I think she is thrilled, and understands more now, and doesn't feel shame anymore.”

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