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Christina Applegate

When you begin any family tree, you start with what you know and then work backwards in time. Christina Applegate didn’t want to go far, just back to her father, Bob’s, mother. Neither of them had known her, but Christina had her father’s birth certificate, which gave us information about his mother’s maiden name, date of birth, and where she was living when Bob was born. With this information, we were ready to check the 1940 and 1930 census records at Ancestry.com. Here we found Lavina Shaw living with her parents in Trenton, New Jersey. We learned that Lavina was named after her mother and that her father, Ovid, was working as a carpenter in 1930.

Looking at the family in 1940, they had fallen on hard times with both Ovid and 18-year-old Lavina out of work.



These census records provided the foundation we needed to start looking for birth, marriage and death records for all members of the family.

Learn how your own family survived the Great Depression by comparing their answers in the 1930 and 1940 census records at Ancestry.com.

Learn more about Christina’s journey or watch the full episode on TLC.com.

Research Manager on Project:

Joseph B. Shumway

Project Hours:

287 Hours

Joseph discovered the thrill of genealogy at a young age. At 14 he began volunteering at his local Family History Center, and by 16, he was teaching classes and lecturing on various family history topics. He was presented the Young Historian of the Year Award for his efforts.

He has served as a British Reference Consultant at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is an active lecturer. He has also made multiple television appearances on such shows as CBS This Morning, CNN's Starting Point, and Who Do You Think You Are?