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Larchmonter Creates Family Stories Site

jill-at-desk-with-kids is now a do-it-yourself website

Larchmont resident Jill Sarkozi grew up in Tennessee, but learned some surprising facts about her family tree.

“Well, I thought I was a southern gal – although I’ve been in Westchester –Larchmont – for nearly 20 years. And I was very surprised through a genealogy project to discover that my Atlanta grandparents actually lived in Larchmont when they first got married! That really shocked me!”

But then there was more – my maiden name is Purdy and when I went to the Rye Historical Society with my genealogist’s report they directed me to the Purdy Family Gravesite, not far from Purdy Avenue in Rye — and I found myself standing on my great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather’s grave! It was incredible!”

Sarkozi’s fascination with family history led her to join the Board of the Larchmont Historical Society and ultimately to create a new do-it-yourself website called where people can capture their family stories and save them, privately, for the next

Unlike which isn’t free and which provides facts about previous generations, is free and provides tools for jotting down your own stories, telling them to your  children, and playing story games for when your family has gatherings.  In fact, Sarkozi says, besides understanding your history, this type of storytelling can have important therapeutic effects for upcoming generations.

“Scientists at Emory University have found that the more family stories kids know about — their parents stories, their grandparents stories, stories they’d have to be told –– the higher their self-esteem was and the more successfully their family functioned. Kids who know family stories understand that families have ups and downs — they also realize that they’re part of something bigger than themselves.”

A 2013 article by Bruce Feiler in the New York Times  describes research by scientists who used a list of 20 Questions – what they called The “Do You Know?” scale. They found that the single best predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness was whether they knew family stories. Some of the questions were: ” Do you know where your grandparents grew up? Do you know where your mom and dad went to high school? Do you know where your parents met? Do you know an illness or something really terrible that happened in your family? Do you know the story of your birth?

You can find a link to the “Do You Know” questions at


Joyce Newman
Joyce Newman
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.
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