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Blogging Family History

Posted in Genealogy and History

Artwork © Christina Martinez Byvik, San Diego Union-TribuneWhen I first started this blog a little more than a year ago, I thought it might eventually be a nice way for me to communicate what I am learning about my family history with the rest of the family. I think it has been that. I have been thrilled with the connections I’ve made with cousins, distant and otherwise. I naturally assumed not a single other soul might be interested in anything I would write here. It occurred to me that blogging family history might be a lonely prospect. Few would read or comment on what I wrote.

This may in fact be true, but I have found myself reading the genealogy blogs of others, and I find their musings interesting in spite of the fact that they’re telling their own family histories. Genealogy has been online for some years. However, as Cyndi Howells of Cyndi’s List noted, “Blogs for publishing your personal genealogical research are a relatively new concept” (Blogs for Genealogy). I think she is probably right about this, and I will be interested to see how others apply this technology to researching their family histories, which is why, I suppose, I have started scoping out other family history blogs.

I’m not sure I feel I have anything more to offer in the way of tips for those conducting research, and even though I like to read general genealogy blogs, I don’t really care to write about genealogy news (like the Genealogue). I prefer just to focus on my own family. It is amazing what we are able to do with family history research that wasn’t possible even five years ago.

It struck me one day that a blog could accomplish the same things as any other kind of genealogy website, but it would also be easier to add new content. I decided some time ago to compartmentalize my varied interests into different blogs instead of keeping them all on one eclectic blog. The result is that I don’t post as often on any one blog as a lot of bloggers do, but I probably post something on one of them at least every day.

I have been told more than once that at my current age of 34, I am somewhat young to be interested in genealogy. I do think it is a hobby that most people equate with retirees. It is true that I probably don’t have the time and resources to devote to the hobby that someone with grown children has. However, I was captured by the bug when I saw a chart created by my grandfather’s cousin, Lee Elder, which chronicled descendants of Amos Blakey Cunningham and Stella Ophelia Bowling, as well as listing Amos Cunningham’s ancestry through his grandfather William Cunningham. It never occurred to me before I saw the chart that I had ancestors. I know that sounds really strange, but I don’t think that most people really think about all the people that make up the tapestry of their family history. As I began to learn more about these names on a page, they became living, breathing people, and I was really fascinated by the minutest details of their lives. Sometimes I find myself wondering if they’d be proud of me.

I found a poem on Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings yesterday that really captures why genealogists do what they do.

By Leo Anthony Dolan

The history of a family is not dead
it lies in wait for someone to awaken it.
To shine a light on what was done and said
to keep on trying ’til the pieces fit.

For in this search for those who came before me
I’ve found a vibrant, lively, loving set of people
and as they take their rightful spot upon the tree
it’s almost like a bell was tolling in the steeple.

The bell keeps tolling for each one of them
who lived in times both near and times afar
A happy sound it is, quite like an anthem
that says “We live, we speak, remember who we are.”

I will remember you as family of my own.
Indeed, from you, my own life has been made,
my eyes, my nose, my very size was known,
in centuries past the plans for me were laid.

Who knows where finally this search will lead me,
this quest to know of those who went before.
Suffice to say I’ve found a long lost family
and hope they will be honored ever more.

I think that pretty well sums up how I have felt as I have learned about my family.

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  1. […] I 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. […]

    August 24, 2006
  2. Lynn Reid Yarrows
    Lynn Reid Yarrows

    Hi Dana,My Great Grand Father was James Huff ,his parents were Barara W.Anthony & William B.Huff.Her parents were Micajah &Rebecca Williams.Micajah’s parents were Joseph Anthony & Elizabeth Clark & her parents were Penelope Johnson & Christopher Clark.I would love to find someone who has pictures of any of my family. I live in Grantville,Georgia…Thanks for your time…..Lynn

    April 18, 2007

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