Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tuesday's Tip: Why (Genealogy) Blog?

I wrote an article for the WMGS newsletter, Michigana, to share my blogging experience and reasons why one should create a blog (Vol. 58, No. 1, Jan/Feb/March 2012). I have tweaked it a bit to add as this post:

First off, the word “blog” is a shortened term for “weblog.” According to Wikipedia, a blog is a personal journal published on the internet consisting of entries (typically called posts) that are usually displayed in reverse chronological order so the most recent post appears first. The word “blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog. Blogs can be specific to a subject, such as genealogy, which is what this is all about.

Basically, there are three reasons why you should create a genealogy blog: the past, the present and the future.

You should create a blog because of the voices in your blood. Author GG Vandagriff wrote an aptly titled book, Voices in Your Blood: Discovering Your Identity Through Family History. In this book, she writes, “Every name on your pedigree tells a different story. You have thousands of stories in you. What are they?” GG even has a blog of her own at http://www.ggvandagriff.com/blog/

Helen Hinchliff, Ph.D., wrote in her forward on Henry Z. Jones, Jr.’s book Psychic Roots that “It appears that untold numbers of ancestors have asked to be understood and to have their stories told, fully and accurately.” Who will tell their story?

Family stories need to be told for the present generation. I’ve been writing stories for years—not only stories of my family but also about my research experience. Family stories have been handed down to the current generation in one form or the other for thousands of years. Some of us remember hearing stories while sitting on the front porch with elderly relatives. Blogs are certainly not front porches, but they can be the equivalent of one, especially in a time when family is often geographically far-flung.

“As genealogists we are passionate about the past but we also need to be equally passionate about the present. By writing up the present we leave behind a trail for our own descendants.”  Gena Philibert Ortega at http://philibertfamily.blogspot.com/

A blog is also a good place to record your thoughts on a particular research problem. You probably have a family puzzle that you go over again and again. You may even share your ideas on this particular problem with other researchers again and again. I’ve had many people contact me and mention that they heard my ancestor Samuel Watts (died ca. 1812 in Halifax County, Virginia) was from England. I finally posted information on my blog that details my thoughts on this possibility. Now I can direct folks with that same question to my blog instead of having to re-write my explanation each time. Sometimes I even have to direct myself to my blog in order to refresh my memory, so I don’t have to keep going around the same mountain in terms of research about what is known and not known so far.

Greta Koehl mentions in her blog at http://gretabog.blogspot.com/ about the “fabulous social aspects and cousin connections” of genealogy. Using a blog to connect with other bloggers is also a social enhancement to the sometimes isolated world of researching the past. Fellow bloggers can always relate to your wanting to do the happy dance at finding a long-lost relative after ten years of research--something that sometimes leaves your family shaking their heads in wonder at you. Fellow bloggers can provide advice on ways to break through a research brick wall and also encouragement when everything you’ve tried has met without success. Most everyone would agree that Geneabloggers (a term coined to describe bloggers who blog about genealogy) are a great bunch of people.

Those interested in the past are also interested in the preservation of it. Most of us who have been doing this family history stuff long tend to accumulate things such as old photographs and other memorabilia. Uploading to your blog scanned copies of old photographs or pictures of memorabilia helps to preserve these items for future generations. What a cost-effective way of sharing as well.

Consider blogging as a new medium with which to work in. In this digital age, there is always new medium. I can remember 45rpm records, eight-track and cassette tapes. These ways of recording are all becoming obsolete. Even VCRs are starting to fall by the wayside to be replaced by DVDs and heaven knows what next. Future generations will not know what to do with an old record and will eventually not have access to technology that will unlock the media embedded in such. Blogging is another step towards the future of accessible technology. Granted, based on our knowledge of history, we can predict it will not be the final step. But just as we have transferred reel-to-reel home movies to VCR tapes and now to DVD, this will ensure that we will be able to update our material and make it available for those inevitable future technological advances.  

A blog could be the beginnings of that book you’ve always wanted to write – saved for posterity before it even becomes a book. There are several bloggers I know that blog for the writing experience, for the basis of a future book. Yvette Porter Moore blogs about her research for a future book at http://www.thecullyfamily.com.  Even if you never get around to publishing, years from now a descendant will be delighted to stumble across the work that you have made available on your blog.

“We may think writing about ourselves is boring or egotistical but stop and think how excited your descendants would be to find a journal or dairy that their great great grandmother (you) wrote.”
Lorine McGinnis Schulze at http://olivetreegenealogy.blogspot.com/

It begins with you

Just like the start of your ancestor or pedigree chart, it begins with you. You are the link between yesterday’s past, today’s present & tomorrow’s future. A bridge, if you will, to span the generation gap(s). And just as every individual is unique and every family is unique, your reasons for doing a blog will be unique as well. Your blog will reflect who are you and where you come from. Don’t think there’s no reason to add another blog to the web world, there is no other blog like the one you will create and it deserves to be out there. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for quoting from my blog, Gena's Genealogy. I strongly believe that while we need to share the stories of the past we need to document the present. Afterall, someday we will be someone's ancestor. I love how you have articulated that with this article.--Gena