In March 2017, I published the blog “A Blog About Genealogy Bloggers” to provide insight into genealogy bloggers. Who are they? What do they research? Why do they blog?
As we all know, we are all different in who we are and what we do and this definitely holds true in genealogy.
We all have different likes, dislikes, hobbies, occupations, physical traits, religious and political beliefs, the list is endless….
You might think genealogists have all one thing in common: finding their ancestors. That might be true, but you may often see that genealogists have their own research methods, research goals or may be looking for something very specific in their family’s past which could be something you’d find weird or never thought of yourself.
The first blog about genealogy bloggers proves this with the two stories of bloggers Lara and Mary. They both have their own genealogy goals, research interests and methods.
Now let’s look at a set of two new genealogy bloggers, Dana Leeds and Anne Faulkner, to see what stories they have to tell about their genealogy blogging adventures.
Blog Title: The Enthusiastic Genealogist
Specialties: Researching ancestors in the states of Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Kansas, Ohio, and the countries of Germany and England
Dana Leeds is the blog author of The Enthusiastic Genealogist. 2018 marks her 20th anniversary into genealogy research.
She started in 1998 after she received an invitation to a family reunion. She wasn’t able to attend but the invitation noted that her Great Aunt Beulah would be sharing some of her genealogy work. Dana got in touch with Beulah who sent Dana the family tree which included notes, family stories, and photographs. Dana was hooked.
Dana started her blog in March 2014, almost four years ago. She started her blog to share stories of her ancestors and other relatives. Her first post was about finding a German baptismal record for one of her ancestors. It was from 1616 which is now over 400 years ago.
Dana gets her inspiration primarily from the research that she does. When she comes across something interesting – whether a family story or a great research tip – she wants to share it.
When selecting blog topics, Dana focuses on what she finds interesting and/or helpful. Her hope is that her readers will find the topics interesting and/or helpful, too.
Dana finds it easy to start a blog post and is often excited about something she wants to share and start blogging about it.
Like most writers, she does find it difficult to finish and polish blog posts. In fact, she has dozens of unfinished blog posts which she has started and never got to the point where they are ready to publish! Many non-bloggers may not realize how much time goes into a post. She can often spend 4-8 hours on a single post!
Dana recently started using Facebook and Twitter to let her friends and family know when new posts have been made to her blog. She has found this has really increased her blog traffic and that readers comment on both platforms.
Dana knows that there are some wonderful and helpful genealogy groups on Facebook. One of her favorites is Genealogy Translations. In this group, she has submitted several German records and has received a translation within hours. In fact, it seems like the members compete to see who can transcribe the fastest!
Many of her blog posts are about her ancestors and collateral family members. As she writes, she often finds “holes” in her research. Many times, she will end up discovering new records and/or facts about these family members while writing as the process identifies these holes and seeks to fill them.
Feedback from Her Readers
Dana has been found by quite a few cousins through her blog. In fact, that has been one of the greatest rewards of blogging! Also, she’s had people thank her or ask further questions about certain tips that she’s shared.
One article where she has received the most feedback – both in comments and private messages – is from her post about the NGS course “Guide to Documentation and Source Citation.” She felt that this course was hugely disappointing and frustrating. The people who reached out to her were glad to find out they aren’t the only ones who feel that way!
Example Feedback Comment
“Hello! My name is Amanda and Michael Kline is my 5th Great Grandfather and Nicholas is my 4th. I love all the information that you posted about our family – thank you!”
Blog Title: Ancestor Archeology
Blog URL: http://www.ancestorarchaeology.net
Specialties: Early Orange Co, New York and early Chicago, Illinois research as well as compiling a genealogy of the Faulkner Family of Ulster/Orange Co, New York
Anne Faulkner is the blog author of Ancestor Archeology. She has been doing family history research since the early 1980’s. It was very casual back then – writing letters to relatives, filling in paper charts, compiling news clippings, etc. She became more serious about it when it became easier to research from home, early 2000’s.
I like to butt my head against brick walls?
When asked why she became a genealogist, her answer was something a lot of us can relate to. Anne doesn’t believe it was a conscious decision, more like a role she was born to play. Her grandmother got her interested; she had been doing research since the early 1950’s. Anne calls her the Genealogy Queen. Anne was hooked when her son was born and she wanted to learn more about the family lineage. She is now the official family ‘Keeper of Things”.
Anne published her first blog post on September 5th, 2013. She had just come off an intense research year and she was trying to find an outlet to share her research where she would still maintain total control. She had had a few bad experiences with Ancestry (One World Tree) and then Geni. “I originally thought a family tree website would be the solution, but I felt it was too constraining and seemed complicated for a non-techy like me. Blogger was free, super easy to start up, I was already on Gmail, seemed like a no-brainer!”
Anne’s inspiration comes from her own research adventures, mostly. She has a drive, or maybe it’s a push, to tell the stories of those that went before. To find people who were lost to time and remember them. Anne uses a few themes or topics that she continues from week to week. She also reads a lot of genealogy blogs and when she reads a post that particularly resonates with her, she will often use it as a jumping off point to write her own story.
Anne enjoys writing and loves to share her stories with whoever wants to read them. The focus of her blog comes from her own research and experiences. Sometimes it’s a discovery; sometimes it’s a brick wall! She has shared historical and/or genealogical items in her possession and also did a series on the original 1880 hand-drawn family tree that she owns, along with her grandmother’s photo collection.
Anne uses a Facebook page for her genealogy research (Ancestor Archaeology) but with Facebook’s most recent changes, she wonders if she will use it much in the future. She feels that pretty soon the whole page concept may be obsolete. She is the admin for two research groups (Faulkner Surname Researchers Group and Tidewater Virginia Families Genealogy Group). These groups are small and focus on specific areas of research.
Anne is also a member of numerous interest/research groups on Facebook. They are great tools on occasion when she is working something out or needing some advice in an area of research she is not all that familiar with. Otherwise, she doesn’t spend much time with social media.
“The truth is out there!
When Anne was asked what she’s learned from blogging, her answer was “The truth is out there! No, seriously, I have broken more brick walls by writing a blog about a Brick Wall because I dig deep, relook, check sources, and examine microscopically what I am going to present to the ethosphere. It’s different than working on my tree, entering just the facts. Some might disagree, but when I am writing I feel I am presenting more of a flow, an ‘if this’ ‘then that’, a one-person dialog, and I really question everything I am writing. It’s a very good exercise!”
Feedback from Her Readers
Anne can’t say that anyone has thanked her, but she has made a few cousin connections! Her blog series on documenting the 1880 John Fraser Family Tree that she has in her possession has led to the discovery of two more original trees – and more cousins! She gets responses and comments from others who either feel the same frustrations, or offer up a bit of advice, and occasionally she can fill in a blank or two
for herself or another researcher.
In your genealogy research, do you read blogs written by fellow genealogists? Do you look at these blogs for inspiration, motivation or advice on a new technique or innovation?