If there is one thing that we know about our fellow human beings, it’s that we are all different.
We all have different likes, dislikes, hobbies, occupations, physical traits, religious and political beliefs. The list is pretty limitless….
You might think genealogists have all one thing in common: finding their ancestors. That might be true but what you may often see is that genealogists have their own research methods, goals or they might be looking for something very specific in their family’s past which could possibly be something you’d find weird or never thought of yourself.
In this blog, I interviewed two well-known genealogy bloggers; Mary Kircher Roddy and Lara Diamond with the intent to give you a comparison of just how diverse genealogy research and blogging can be.
Mary Kircher Roddy
Blog Title: Searching for Stories
Blog URL: MKRGenealogy.com
Specialties: Spreadsheets, Newspapers, Genealogy Lectures
Mary has been a genealogist since 2000. She became interested genealogy from a friend who was always bugging her to do genealogy but always claimed she was too busy.
Her husband was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to teach in Ireland during his sabbatical. It was during this trip where she decided to research her Irish heritage and genealogy.
Mary started her blog shortly after SLIG in 2016. She was inspired by Judy Russell’s talk at the SLIG banquet, “Suffer the Little Children”. She already knew that she should have a blog to increase her genealogy “reach” but she wasn’t sure what to write about. Judy Russell’s talk really gave her the ideas that she needed to start her blogging journey.
As a blogger, Mary’s inspiration comes from her research, lectures and questions she sees people asking on Facebook. On Sundays, she publishes blogs relative to her research. On Tuesdays, she publishes blogs on genealogy research tips. For tips, she uses things that she talks about in her lectures. Sometimes the tips are the jumping off point for a lecture and sometimes the lecture is a jumping off point for the tips.
Mary uses social media, mainly Facebook, to get a lot of her lecture and blog ideas. She looks at the group pages such as Genealogy Just Ask! or Genealogy Help Me where she sees people struggling with how-tos. Either she knows what the solution is or she knows that there IS a solution and she will find that solution and use that as a teaching tool to help others.
One thing that Mary has learned from writing and publishing a blog is to try to be disciplined and get things written or ideas jotted down. Some days she is better about remembering that lesson than others.
Feedback from Her Readers
Mary wrote about her brother’s death on April 17, 2016, in the blog “Remembering Mark” which really struck people. She was inspired to write that post from Peggy Lauritzen who talked about her son’s death.
Sometimes we have things that are considered “taboo” and certainly things that older generations would not normally talk about. However, everyone has various issues in their family – alcoholism, drug abuse, and homosexuality – and sweeping them under the rug helps no one. We need to talk about it. Mary believes that people appreciated her willingness to talk about it.
Who Was Rilla?
Another post which she received a lot of feedback on was “Who Was Rilla?” on Oct 2, 2016. In that post, she wrote about the inventory of the estate of her 3rd great grandfather, Jeremiah Gee, a Virginian who enslaved people. She stated that she had a difficult time writing and publishing it, not so much because she was embarrassed about her family history – it is what it is. She can no more accept credit for the good things her ancestors did than she should be blamed for bad choices they made – but she was concerned that maybe she would talk about it in the wrong way or use the wrong words or somehow offend someone. However, she believes that people appreciated that she was willing to talk and provide an example of something that is so important to do – when we have the names of the enslaved people in our family records, we need to make those available so descendants of those enslaved people can break through the pre-1870 brick wall.
Blog Title: Lara’s Jewnealogy
Blog URL: https://larasgenealogy.blogspot.com
Specialties: Jewish, Eastern European
Lara has been a genealogist for about 25 years. She started in middle school, took some time off during college and has been obsessively doing research for about 10 years.
Lara thought that genealogy was really cool and started doing video interviews with her grandparents and then her cousins. After she returned to her research after college, she was surprised at the resources that were available online and at libraries.
She started her blog 3½ years ago as a way to write out the research that she was doing. This helped her answer additional questions and sort through the where and why. Her relatives could care less about her genealogy research but liked reading the short stories and the things that she was interested in.
Lara gets her inspiration and focus from whatever she is working on at the time. She often calls attention to underutilized websites and other places to look for research.
She finds that blogging is a great way to get thoughts on paper and get other people interested in the research that she is doing.
In using social media for her blog, she finds it very impactful when sharing her articles. Social media is a great place for people to ask basic questions and get feedback. Most Facebook groups are great and full of people who are giving of their time to help others who may just be starting with genealogy. Areas of expertise differ from person to person so when someone might be an expert in one thing, someone else isn’t and it’s helpful to meet those people.
Lara finds that writing her blog always makes her question and investigate the work that she has done. She actually has relatives who have found her because of the blog and they had photos and items that she didn’t and wouldn’t have found otherwise.
Feedback from Her Readers
One of Lara’s specialties is with Jewish family history. Lara explains that a lot of people appreciate learning about specific and unknown resources that they can use to find all sorts of great information.
For example, she wrote the blog ”Fold3’s Holocaust Collection” that contains information on how to look up and use data from the holocaust that includes concentration camp intake forms. These forms hold information that was asked to people as they entered the camp and contain signatures of each person. Several people had found their grandparents using this records collection. For some of these people, this may be all they have of those relatives.
In your genealogy research, do you read blogs written by fellow genealogists? Do you look at these blogs for inspiration, motivation or advice on a new technique or innovation?
What are some of your favorite genealogy blogs to read? Tell us in the comments!