Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The World of Genealogy Blogs

(Many of the following comments were first published as the Editor’s Comments in the February 2016 issue of Relatively Speaking, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Genealogical Society.)

I subscribe to dozens of genealogy-related blogs. Some posts arrive daily, others less frequently. They run the gamut from information about updates to commercial database websites to opinion pieces from other writers and researchers. Over the years they have proven to be a major resource for me — for information and for people involved in family history research. Some of those I read daily are shown along the right side of this blogsite.

Now I know that there other social media that are consuming the attention of people, with respect to genealogy as well with other personal activities. James Tanner pointed out the declining traffic on many blogs in a post last March, Updated Thoughts on Genealogy Blogging and Pi Day.
Notwithstanding the focus on other online sources, I have made, and continue to make many direct contacts with genealogists through their blogs. We have consulted together on the latest methodology, where new information might be found or just about general subjects of common interest. Some have helped me understand new techniques, such as DNA, or suggested where to go to find specific information about people, places or events. Several have written articles for me in the family history journals I have edited.

I am probably also one of the anachronisms James talks about in his post – I know my children certainly think so – but I cannot get excited about or find the time to be part of the daily, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WeChat or myriad other social media communication methods.

Discover Genealogy is my own blog and I try to post something weekly. I have also contributed to The Pharos Blog on occasion as well. Writing blog posts allows me to put ideas together, practice my writing skills (always a challenge) and seek opinions from others.

Blog subjects can be divided into several categories: those primarily containing news items; stories about the bloggers’ families; geographic-specific information; specialty subjects related to family history; opinions by experts on a variety of topics; or a combination of any of the above. The subject matter really is endless.

I have found blogs that are just collections of family stories mainly meant for members of those families. They are written as a way to preserve information about the writer/researcher’s ancestors and to disseminate it to other relatives. While they are not necessarily intended for public consumption many are nevertheless very entertaining and informative about events and places. They can also be great places to learn new techniques in searching.

Some posts come from commercial sites which have databases of varying types. They comment on what new lists are available online or which ones might have been updated.

Most posts are not of direct interest to my family tree but every once in a while I see some new data that is relevant to my research and I take a look. Often I find information about freebies, either special prices on access to data or where information can be downloaded for nothing.

Blog posts are easy to sign up to receive and just as easy to unsubscribe from if they do not prove to be of value. You can receive many posts directly in your email inbox and read them at your leisure. You can also comment back to most of the bloggers or ask questions of them right on their blogsites.

Most of us do not have the time to keep up with all the news and developments that come out of the genealogy world. Reading blogs offers a way to learn about: new databases or additions to existing ones; new research techniques; meetings, conferences or webinars; email lists or other ways in which family historians can directly communicate with each other; and who knowledgeable people are for different parts of the world or for various specialty subjects.

From the blog posts we can often link to various webpages or publications that might be helpful to our own research. Each one is like a whole new newsletter. I have to say many are much better ways of communicating specific types of ideas or information than local newsletters or journals.

A comprehensive list of over 3,000 genealogy-related blogs can be found at GeneaBloggers.
A few bloggers highlight what they think have been the best of recent blog posts. I peruse these lists very closely and almost always find at least one worth reading. Often a post will lead me to sign up for ongoing posts in a new blogsite. Among those who regularly list the week’s best blogs is Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings. He also lists the “pick posts” of other bloggers, those posts thought of as most worth reading. Randy’s most recent summary can be found at Best of the Genea-Blogs - 28 August to 3 September 2016.

Since you are reading this post, you are obviously tuned into genealogy blogs. You might even read many more than I do. If you know of people who have not discovered this resource, let them know they should have a look at blogs. They will thank you for pointing out sites that were of interest and helpful to them.

Some of the blogs of note by Canadians like me include:
·         Gail Dever – Genealogy a la carte
·         Elizabeth Lapointe – Genealogy Canada
·         John D. Reid – Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections
·         Lorine McGinnis Schulze – Olive Tree Genealogy Blog       

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy in several family history society journals. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated.