Second anniversary of my blog – sharing and learning in community with other genies around the world.

The world is your family tree oyster with blogging. Edited image from Office Clip Art.Today is my second anniversary of blog-writing. It’s been a fascinating journey and one which has taken me on a different path from what I originally anticipated. When I began I wanted to share information on “my” Dorfprozelten immigrants, try to attract anyone with Broadford or East Clare ancestry and share some of my family history research and a little bit about living in the Top End of Australia. I was totally naive about genealogy blogging and didn’t even know Geneabloggers existed or how many genealogy bloggers were out there sharing their research, skills and knowledge.

My first year was a “toe in the water” year as I was still working full-time, unsure about my posts, and not devoting much time to the blog. After finishing work this time last year I ramped up my blog presence and thanks to people like Geneabloggers came to realise just how many fascinating blogs were being written. Tips from other bloggers like Geniaus and then RootsTech 2011 also expanded my techno skills in this area. In those early days, comments from fellow bloggers like Carole Riley inspired me to keep writing and let me know I wasn’t writing into a vacuum.

After two years, I’ve found that it’s the comments from fellow bloggers that I value most of all and so I also make an effort to comment on the various blogs I read. I’m not sure Google Reader is such a good idea because I now have a long list of blogs I look at in varying detail and some I read faithfully every post. :-)

My most popular single post has been my Dorfprozelten page about the immigrants from that small village on the River Main in Bavaria, Germany. It’s been a great meeting place for people with ancestors from there, and there’ve been wonderful times when I’ve felt a bit like a match-maker connecting linked families. A big bonus! I’m considering splitting this theme off into a separate blog in 2012 and adding more of my research.

I’d love to have heard more from people with ancestors from anywhere in East Clare (from the Limerick/Tipperary border across to Ennis) and especially Broadford, but this hasn’t been as productive as the Dorfprozelten page.

This year I’ve participated in the series designed by Amy Coffin, 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History as well as the Geneabloggers Advent Calendar of Memories. The topics have made me dredge my memory for things that have been mentally filed away for years, so it’s been a great opportunity to revisit them and document the history. My main motivation for posting on these topics has been to leave my own history for my children and descendants so I will be combining these posts into book form (Olive Tree Genealogy has some tips here). It’s also been great fun to do some of the geneamemes that have come through…inspires me to think about what I might do differently, what skills to add to my repertoire and consider which things I want to include vs which I don’t. I also had a crack at a geneameme myself, Beyond the Internet, with the goal of highlighting just how much genealogy information is still off-line and what can be found there.

A while ago I posted on Open Thread Thursday about The Benefits of Blog reading and Why I blog, based on my experiences over the past two years. It’s been a great journey and I’ve gained so much from being part of the online genealogy community – even more valuable to me as I live away from many of the resources and learning opportunities others take for granted.

To all my followers and occasional readers, a HUGE thank you! You have become my online community and it’s your visits and especially your comments that make blogging so interesting and keep up my enthusiasm levels. I look forward to “speaking” with you again in 2012.

Open Thread Thursday: the benefits of blog reading and why I blog

The world is your family tree oyster with blogging. Edited image from Office Clip Art.

The world is your family tree oyster with blogging. Edited image from Office Clip Art.

Thomas McEntee of Geneabloggers fame has raised the question of why we blog and why so few family historians/genealogists follow one or more blogs. A recent survey by the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston revealed that blog reading and engagement is followed by less than 40% of genealogy researchers.

There are a couple of reasons why people might not engage with blogging and the obvious ones seem to me to be:

  1. Don’t know how: there are great suggestions from Lynn Palermo at The Armchair Genealogist on getting engaged with the online genealogy community.
  2. Don’t know they’re out there and what benefits they will hold. It’s up to bloggers to promote these benefits within our own societies, communities and networks: write a story for our magazines, send a note to go out with the society flyers.
  3. Don’t want to write a blog: you can follow one without actually writing one.
  4. Time: so many things compete for our time but as family historians we’re an obsessive bunch: once we know what we can gain from following blogs we’re likely to “make” time.

Why do I blog and what’s in it for me?

Why I blog

The reasons for this have changed since I began blogging nearly 2 years ago. I’d been thinking of starting up a family history web page for a number of years, but couldn’t get on top of the process and was ambivalent about disclosing all my research details on the web. Blogging seemed a great compromise and it has proven to be more rewarding than I anticipated.

1.      Sharing research findings or “getting it out there”.

This remains my key goal for the blog. It’s a way of crystallising my thoughts and actually documenting what I’ve found, though I’m still selective on what I choose to publish. I try not to always make it specific to my family but include some element which might be useful to other researchers. It’s a form of “show & tell”: these records helped me, they may help you.

We nearly all say we’re going to write up our family stories. This is a bite-sized way of doing so, and then you can always put your posts together and publish it either in the public domain, or just for family.

2.      Making family history connections

By having my family research on the web, it increases the chances that someone who is connected to my families will make contact. Of course much of this depends on using keywords and tags to maximise the search outcomes. Funnily enough my most successful page is that on the emigrants from Dorfprozelten to Australia…the joys of an unusual place name. As a by-product it means that I’ve been able to connect families who are related…some days I feel a bit like Yenta the matchmaker from Fiddler on the Roof ;-) Hence the importance of leaving comments so other relatives know you’re out there, whether you choose to blog or not.

3.     Learning

This has been one of the unexpected outcomes of blogging. Once I learned about Geneabloggers, it opened my eyes to the wider geneablogger community. I use Google Reader to stream all my favourite blogs into one location. I’ve learned so much about new research and writing strategies and innovative technologies through my blog reading, not to mention the as-it-happens release of world-wide genealogy information. With the proliferation of data online these days, having lots of watchers makes a huge difference…a bit like many hands etc or two minds being better than one.

4.      Community

This has been the completely unexpected benefit of blogging. Not only do I get to learn about people’s lives through the 52 weeks of personal genealogy and history series, but I learn more about family history and how it’s done around the world as well as the progression into researching our families’ communities. Bloggers are doing great things with transcribing community information, writing about family diaries etc. Through comments and reading their blogs I now feel part of a community which goes vastly beyond my geographical boundaries. It’s why I make time in my week (not always every day) to read the blogs, and comment regularly on them. Love it!

These are the highlights of what I get from blogging, I hope I’ve tempted you to dabble in the blogosphere and see what you think. I’d be interested to hear from newcomers to the blogging world.