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.
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!
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).