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Computer GenealogyI have been thinking about how to respond to Jasia’s call for posts about writing the family history for the Carnival of Genealogy. In some ways, I do feel like I began a discussion of writing the family history in a recent post about blogging family history. However, I noticed that in that post, I mainly celebrated the fact that the Internet made it possible to access and share information so quickly and that I was enjoying other genealogy blogs.

Jasia asks genealogy bloggers whether they have tried to write the family history. I suppose I would argue that the purpose of this blog is just that. It isn’t linear, however, because I write about several families, and I basically post stories about people and events that interest me at the moment. Therefore, I don’t have a family history that starts out “The Huff family originated in Tennessee… blah, blah, blah.” Instead, I have a hodge podge of documents, letters, photographs, and accompanying stories.

It didn’t occur to me to use a blog to publish this sort of thing until April 2005, which was when this particular blog was born. When I started blogging about genealogy, I could find few other genealogy blogs. Now there are countless genealogy blogs. I think blogging is a great platform for publishing the family history because I can share it with a lot of people in a short period of time and it’s relatively inexpensive. In fact, there are many blogging sites that are free. I happen to own my own domain, but my fees are small. However, I think that sharing the family history this way — even in its non-linear fashion — has allowed me to make connections that would have been impossible otherwise.

When Jasia asked the question, it seemed clear to me that she meant publishing the family history in a book. Genealogy is something that’s fluid — it’s never done. I created a book with my genealogy software for my grandfather, but I imagine I have since discovered countless errors and learned many new things. His book is probably close to obsolete. With a blog, however, I can update and make changes easily, and the history can grow in an organic fashion. I think blogging is an exciting and powerful medium for sharing the family history. It allows me to quickly disseminate new information and expound on what I already knew. If readers want to, they can print and bind the posts I write so that they have a hard copy. I can also get immediate feedback about errors so that I can make corrections. As most genealogists know, once an error creeps its way in, sometimes it can take years to correct. One of the things I like about blogging the family history is that I am not pressured to make it complete. Instead, I can publish what and when I like, and others can read it instantly.

I think blogging also makes it easy to connect with distant relatives and others I might never meet. I have found reading about techniques others use and learning their family stories to be fascinating. My distant cousin Joe Bowling, whom I was only able to find in this age of computer genealogy, recently paraphrased Alex Haley in an e-mail that he sent me: when an older person dies it is just like a library burning. I have to say that the wealth of information I have learned about my family from others bears this out. I suppose that’s one reason why I feel the need to share what I learn here. Maybe others, like me, will find those stories interesting. But even if they didn’t, I would still write. I do this because I love learning about it, and I think I would still feel driven to share it if no one else but me read it.

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4 Responses to “Blogging Family History, Part 2”

  1. Jasia says:

    Hi Dana!
    Your family history blog is absolutely wonderful! I think it is a perfect example of old meets new (history meets technology). This post is exactly what I was hoping to get in my call for submissions on this subject for the next Carnival of Genealogy. I can appreciate the traditional way of doing things but I applaud those who dare to be different and blaze new trails. Bravo Dana! I will enjoy featuring you in the next edition of the Carnival.

  2. [...] The article Blogging Family History explains why a blog is a good tool for genealogy. [...]

  3. Amanda says:

    Hi. Im not in the Huff family but my brother is. And the reason I am here today is because in my house hold we talk about our history alot. But seeing that he is the only Huff and not a Mills. Only half the stuf is true for him. I just wanted to make him feel better and figure out where he came from. If you have further information please contact me at posergrl310523@yahoo.com , I hope to here from you soon.
    Manda

  4. Glenn Paul says:

    Hi Dana,
    My name is Glenn Paul and i came across you’re web site where you wrote about Johnson Franklin
    Cunningham. I am interested in his wife Mary A.F. Anthony as she may be my gt gt gt grandmothers sister.
    This would explain your’e question about him being executor on so many wills. Most of them were relatives of his wife.
    Do you have any information on his wife? I am also related to the Huff families of Oglethorpe Co., Ga.
    Would be glad to share family data.Think you do a terrific job on you’re geneolgy site.

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