Blogs and Genealogy

by Carolyn L. Barkley

Hi! My name is Carolyn and I write blogs. Since 2008, when this blog first began to appear, I have written  a weekly article. Sometimes they are written easily in the middle of sunny Sunday afternoons, a glass of wine (or two) on my
desk; sometimes my muse approaches late on Monday evening; more often she appears at 5:30 a.m. on the day the article is due. About every two months, I wrack my brain in order to create the list of topics for the upcoming eight
weeks. Needless to say, this latter task becomes more challenging as time passes. Have I written about this topic before? Will anyone be interested in the topic? Do I know anything about the topic? My friends are resigned to the
fact that I will pick their brains for topic ideas when we meet at conferences.

If I have made the writing process sound onerous, please be assured that it is not. Each week I can enjoy an opportunity to share my thoughts, my research, and always, to learn more about a specific topic. While the registration process to submit comments through this blog is imperfect, readers often contact me via my personal email to share their comments on an article. In this fashion, I have “met” several individuals who have ties to a family I’ve used as an example, and have shared their information with me. Thank you to all of you who have shared that you are regular readers.

More importantly, however, writing a weekly blog has offered me a deep appreciation for the time and effort of other genealogical bloggers, particularly those who write several posts per week. Their efforts provide rich, although informal, mentoring and life-long learning opportunities.

In March 2011, I wrote an article entitled “Blog Sites Not to Miss.” After reviewing it, I thought I would summarize some of its information, and then share with you a few additional blogs that I have discovered and now read regularly.

Your most difficult task may be to discover what genealogical blogs exist. Genealogical Blog Finder is one of the best sites offering lists of current genealogical blogs. It now tracks 1,784 blogs categorized into a long list of topics: genealogy news; personal research; localities; tips, resources and reviews; technology; specific nationalities, ethnicities or religions; genetics; podcasts; libraries; associations and societies; queries, professional genealogists, cemeteries; and many more. I recommend that you browse through some of the other categories as well. Once you identify a specific blog, you can then subscribe to its RSS feed. In the past, you have been able to suggest a blog to be added to this site, but they are no longer offering this service. GeneaBloggers also arranges genealogy blogs into categories. Its categories, however, are more specific than those on Genealogical Blog Finder, and include categories for individual states and countries, as well as such well-defined areas as genealogy vendors, recipes and tools, humor, DNA genealogy, forensic genealogy, diaries, and many more. GeneaBloggers provides access to approximately 2,500 different blogs and also offers helpful resources for bloggers.

Now that I’ve joined the ranks of webinar attendees, GeneaWebinars is proving to be a very important blog, and one I consult regularly. Many webinar opportunities exist, but I found that I was learning of them only at the last minute – or even after the fact – when someone mentioned them on Facebook. Now, by checking the GeneaWebinars blog at least once per week, I can learn about upcoming webinars, register for them, and then link them to my Outlook calendar. What a concept! When I checked this site prior to writing this description, I was able to review a list of eleven webinars between today (11 May) and 22 June. Please note: I immediately stopped writing this article long enough to register for an upcoming webinar, and will probably sign up for a couple more after I can check my calendar more closely. This site is a must if you are interested in free, convenient continuing education, accessible from the comfort of your own home.

I have recently begun to read some new (at least to me) blogs. One of these blogs is The Legal Genealogist, written by lawyer and genealogist Judy G. Russell. Her blog features daily postings and her topics are varied – sometimes personal observations or reminiscences, sometimes strictly informative. Recent topics include opinions on the continued attacks on the SSDI, and the terms of use of the Ellis Island website (a must reading for all users of that site). Judy also recently presented a webinar on copyright for genealogists, one of the best lectures I have heard in a long time. Regardless of the topic, you will always learn something new from this well-written blog.

Another blog newly added to my regular reading list is Meldon J. Wolfgang’s Mnemosyne’s Magic Mirror. Pondering over this title, I finally had to look up the reference. It turns out to be a lovely title for a genealogical blog as Mnemosyne was the Greek goddess of memory, as well as the mother of the muses. How fitting! Mel’s topics are eclectic in nature, but never fail to entertain and inform. The current topic (5 May) is “Kentucky Derby 2012: From Pedigree Charts to a Family Connection.” Other recent topics include such interesting topics as “Archives? Who Needs All That Old Stuff? A Look at Our Northern Neighbors?;” and the intriguingly titled and entertaining “Triple-Washed Veggies, Old Erie Canal Style.”

A blog that sounds more narrow in scope, but that is actually quite inclusive, is Massachusetts Meanderings and More written by “Bonnie” who lives, of all places for a blogger about Massachusetts, in Washington State. In looking at her March 20, 2012 posting (this blog has an “occasional” posting schedule) of an article about the side of her family that migrated from Canada to Washington State, I was delighted to find a link to The Barclays of Pine River, concerning the “lives of George and Amarilla Barclay,” that I will definitely find time to read soon. Another article, written in April 2011, concerns Springfield (Massachusetts) Cemetery, where several of my ancestors are buried, and a July 2011 article is a review of a book for which I did the layout and indexing, Abel Goss of Lower Waterford, by David Philip Goss (Otter Bay Books, 2011). I have enjoyed the several connections that I have found with the topics of such articles.

Two final blogs of interest, both occasional in their postings, are Craig R. Scott’s As Craig Sees It, in which he writes about a variety of topics such as recent posts on “My Favorite NARA Record Group” (RG 217, Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury), and “Genealogical Theories: I am Collecting Them,” and Stump Craig, a more active site at which you can post a research question and get very useful methodologies and comments (sometimes funny) to help you resolve your particular problem. This latter blog is a great opportunity to learn from an expert.

Blogs are a continual source of information about resources, families, institutions, cemeteries and more. Every time I read one, I discover something of value which either adds to my understanding of genealogy or history in general, or which applies specifically to my ancestral families and locations. Sometimes blog articles make me smile at a well-written turn of phrase or an entertaining observation or treatment of a topic. Others make me think or reexamine my understanding of a topic. Genealogical blogs are worth every minute that I spend reading them and I am inspired by them. I hope you will be too!


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