This is my 101st post. To mark the occasion (it’s an achievement of sorts) I thought I’d take the time to look back on my blogging career so far. Here I look, rather selfishly, at what genealogy blogging has done for me.
I started the blog back in February, after nearly a year of thinking about it. Having gone into it not knowing what to expect or what I hoped to get out of it, I’ve found it incredibly rewarding.
One thing that I was looking for was to engage with genealogists nearer my own age. Though it still seems that we young genealogists are a rare species, I have come across a few (Niall, Katelyn, Elisse, Elyse, Lianne, Jess and Tina) and I want to thank them all: you’ve made being a twenty-something genealogist a much less lonely pursuit! I’m sure there are still others I haven’t discovered yet, so if you’re out there get in touch – we can start a little club!
Blogging has helped me to engage more with the genealogy community as a whole. There are some great blogs out there that I really enjoy reading – too many to list here. I’ve begun using Twitter, which has been a revelation. I particularly like the real-time tweeting as breakthroughs are made and mysteries are solved. I’m also engaging with genealogists both pro and amateur around the world on LinkedIn and enjoying some of the thought-provoking discussions on genealogical etiquette, problem solving and methodology. Genealogy can be a rather solitary activity, so it’s nice to be able to share the joy and the frustration with like-minded people of all ages.
I’ve found that blogging really helps me with my research too. As I encounter a problem or an interesting story to discuss, and begin to formulate a blogpost about it, I find that it crystallises in my mind where there are gaps, where things need verifying or elaborating, and how I can take it further. I’ve talked before about how I have found writing a narrative about my genealogy useful, but it never occurred to me that blogging would magnify that further, because of course it’s not just for you but for the rest of the world. By opening up your research to closer scrutiny from the blogging community, you force yourself to be a more detailed, more meticulous and more critical of yourself. I have made errors on my blog, but I accept that and I try to correct them where possible. Also, the input from readers has been really useful as well, and I’m so grateful for that.
Perhaps the most rewarding part of my genealogy blogging is that I’ve found that my real-life friends have read it and shown an interest. Weirdly, though genealogy is a big part of my life, it’s not something I’ve talked about much to them, because I thought they wouldn’t be interested or that they would think it was really geeky – which it probably is, and I’ve never really been ‘cool’ so no one should be surprised!
Actually, what I’ve found is some of my friends have said they have found it really interesting. Then they often launch off into their own family stories – usually prefaced by ‘my mum/dad/grandpa/etc. did their family tree and...’ A few people have even asked me to look things up for them, or how they should go about finding certain people. I even succeeded in getting my boyfriend interested briefly. It has made me realise that a lot of people are actually interested in their family’s past, they’re just not that interested in researching it themselves at this point in their lives.
The most common questions I get asked also reflect this: ‘Where do you find the time?’ and ‘how do you know where to start?’
My responses: I find the time from the same place as you find time for zumba/golf/hockey/photography/the gym etc. and knowing where to start comes easy when it’s something you’re really interested in – you just teach yourself. After all, I wouldn’t have a clue where to start at the gym even! And that’s the key I think: I love genealogy, and blogging about it just adds a whole new dimension. Perhaps it’s a bit like having a single running machine at home and then going to a huge gym with all the bells and whistles?
Anyway, thank you all. It has been 100 posts of genealogical joy, and here’s to many more!