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How can blogging help your family history?

  Blogging

 

I entered the blogging world well before it had entered the mainstream lexicon. Back then, I only had a vague idea of what blogs were and certainly no idea as to their usefulness as a tool in our  social network. For me, it was a way to demonstrate to myself and my teachers, what I had done as a product. As a senior in high school, we were required to complete a year-long independent project and I set out to learn about my family history and the world of genealogy. At the same time, I learned about the world of blogging and would like to offer some reasons blogging about your family history can enhance your overall experience in genealogy, no matter what level of involvement in the field you decide to take.

Blogging allows you to tell your story in your way 

I’m always impressed by the diversity of blogs I encounter and can truly say that having a blog can make family history a lot more fun. It allows you to be creative and to bring the stories of your ancestors to life. Often times, genealogy blogs are focused around one’s family tree or themes like technology or study projects related to a historical community. One of my favorite parts of posting is to add pictures of ancestors, historical buildings, and more as an aid for blogging about events in my ancestor’s lives or to capture my reflections on experiences like research trips.   

Bring your own perspective to the table

I wouldn’t say it’s permissible to be opinionated to the point of being offensive, but it is valuable, if not equally important to  share how you perceive the events and decisions of your ancestors.  After finding a clue, you might realize that it relates to something you heard from relative long ago. Research skills and knowledge are essential, but equally important is allowing our minds to open up and think about the research in a new, perhaps more person way.

World map showing breakdown of visitors to my blog by country.  "Stats for 2016 < Travelogues of a Genealogist," Wordpress.com. Accessed 20 Jan 2016.
World map showing breakdown of visitors to my blog by country. "Stats for 2016 < Travelogues of a Genealogist," Wordpress.com. Accessed 20 Jan 2016.

 

Having a web presence brings in great connections, distant cousins, and more

It’s always a treat when a relative you never knew before writes to you with new genealogical evidence to corroborate with yours. That’s happened quite a few times over the years because having my blog allowed them to connect with me. I’ve received e-mails from cousins living California to Galway, Ireland and more. By keeping a blog about certain lines of your family that you are pursuing, there is likely someone out there researching the same line. Bloggers can tag their posts with different subjects such as locations and surnames which can help blogs reach the desired audience based on their content Admittedly, I do feel bad when individuals researching Fletcher e-mail me. My connection to Fletcher resulted in a paternal name change by my grandfather, so I have nothing to offer.

Better your research process and your skills

You can use your blog to document your research process. In my own blog, I devote posts to clues or several clues found simultaneously in a case study. I then talk about the sources, their origin and purpose, and then I talk about how does the source corroborate with other evidence I have previously collected. As I blog consistently about my ancestors, I simultaneously am creating the backbone of content like articles and presentations.   

Turn your blog into a book; save the stories for future generations

I knew that after seven years of posting on my genealogy blog, I’d be devastated to lose all that information. All blog hosts offer a backup service, but you might also consider having your blog turned into a book. The process is quite simple if you convert your blog into a pdf. Blog2print.com offers this conversion for a small charge. To print the actual book, I placed my order through lulu.com for the same price. Having a print copy of my book, I have re-purposed my blog as a reference source on my bookshelf so I can utilize in ongoing case studies for my own family. It also offers a new way to share my work with other family members.

If you haven’t already started blogging about your family history, consider trying it. The most popular hosts are Blogger and WordPress, both of which are free. Blogging is very accessible and can be done at your leisure, but you find yourself posting more than you thought.  Blogs are an invaluable asset for genealogical research!

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Jake Fletcher is a genealogist and blogger. Jake has been researching and writing about genealogy since 2008 on his research blog Travelogues of a Genealogist. He currently volunteers as a research assistant at the National Archives in Waltham, Massachusetts and is Vice President of the New England Association of Professional Genealogists (NEAPG). 

 

  

 

Comments

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Very informative. I love blogging and seeing other peoples work and all the perspectives. Great Piece.

Those are the reasons that I blog. Great example is hearing from a cousin last evening who contacted me because of a recent blog post. Turns out the couple I blogged about are her great grandparents. We are now exchanging emails which include photos and information.
This is certainly not the first time in the past couple of years that I've been contacted by others connected to my ancestors.
Blogging is a wonderful way to share and has made me a better researcher.

Blogging is a great way to tell the stories especially to cousins far away, and to connect to new ones. My blog allowed me to connect with a distant collateral cousin who allowed me to purchase from him a letter written by my ancestor who served in the Revolutionary War!

Great piece! I've found blogging a great way to track down cousins. I recently discovered my gg-grandfather's sister did have children (contrary to family story). Within 3 weeks of blogging the story, her descendants made contact!

The other thing I like, which you haven't mentioned, is that it gives me absolute control of what I put up on the net about my family. Unlike online family trees I don't have to put up all the information about a branch and it reduces the risk of accidentally putting up info on living people.

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