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The Connected Genealogist A Genealogy Blog Primer* *Everything You Wanted to Know About Genealogy Blogs but Were Afraid to Ask!

This introduction to the world of genealogy blogs – as seen by GeneaBloggers ( – has been a long time in the making. While genealogy blogs have been around for years, it is only within the past few years that bloggers have begun to become aware of their fellow genealogy bloggers and have interacted with each other especially through the use of social media. This primer seeks to highlight questions most often asked by those who might want to either begin using genealogy blogs to supplement their own research or to start their own genealogy blog. Hopefully this guide will provide some answers or at least a means of further researching those questions. Table of Contents


Why should I have a genealogy blog?..............................................................3 What types of genealogy blogs are there?........................................................4 How can I easily read all the great posts from genealogy blogs?...................14 Do I have what it takes to create and maintain a genealogy blog?.................15 Do I need lots of technical knowledge to run a genealogy blog?....................16 Should I be worried about privacy?.................................................................17 What are the copyright issues involved?.........................................................18 How do I make sure my genealogy blog thrives and grows?..........................19 How do I participate in the genealogy blogging community?..........................20 So how do I get started?.................................................................................22 Copyright Information......................................................................................23


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Why should I have a genealogy blog? Those of us who have genealogy blogs are more likely to rephrase the question as "Why shouldn't I have a genealogy blog?" since many of us could not imagine pursuing our own genealogy research without one. If you were to ask any person currently blogging about either their own genealogy or the genealogy industry, you would probably hear the following: • Research: there are many instances of genealogists breaking down brick walls simply by posting information in their genealogy blog and having a search engine like Google pick it up for others to find. There are similar stories from researchers who read genealogy blogs: they find information about ancestors which was previously unavailable via databases, archives, etc. • Sharing with family: for some, their family can't understand the research data in a genealogy database or notebooks. Genealogists can present family history information in small snippets on their genealogy blogs. • Connecting with family: many people have located cousins simply because of a genealogy blog. Some are cousins related going back eight or nine generations through a common ancestor. Others are first or second cousins about whom there was no information until they found the genealogy blog and tracked the author down. • Writing: having a genealogy blog helps improve your writing style and it helps put dates, facts and figures into a readable format. • Marketing: genealogy companies and genealogical societies leverage the social media power of blogs to publicize products and events. • Connecting with genealogists: many have found new ways of connecting with fellow genealogists through their genealogy blogs. Some of us are newly retired and are looking to build upon our genealogy hobby. Others are limited – either due to geographical isolation or physical limitations - in the opportunities to connect with other genealogists in person. • Blogging as an outlet: some of us are looking for a creative outlet due to either stressful job situations or family events which have brought about pain and turmoil. • Giving back: some genealogy blogs are set up to "give back" to the larger genealogy community in the form of education and research.

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What types of genealogy blogs are there? Listed below are representative blogs for each of the major genealogy blog types. Entries are listed alphabetically and do not show a preference in any way. The attempt is to select a variety of blogs based on format, writing style, and blogging platform. To really appreciate the vast amount of genealogy blogs available, please review the entire list of over 1,200 genealogy blogs at GeneaBloggers ( • Individual Family History. The most popular type of genealogy blog and the most personal. Everyone has their favorites among this blog type especially since the family history stories can be very personal and written to warm the heart. o 100 Years In America o Apple's Tree o Bluebonnet Country Genealogy o Creative Gene o Ernie's Journeys o GenBlog o Grace and Glory o Greta's Genealogy Bog o kinexxions o Little Bytes of Life o Orations of OMcHodoy o Smoky Mountain Family Historian


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o Steve's Genealogy Blog o The Cheek That Doth Not Fade o Transylvanian Dutch o Two Sides of the Ocean o We Tree o West In New England o What's Past Is Prologue • Genealogy Industry. Focused on the latest news in the genealogy and family history industry and are not affiliated with any one product or vendor. These blogs do more than simply run press releases from companies; they often provide valuable reviews of books and software as well as give an inside peek to the goings on major genealogy-related corporations and websites. o Genealogy o AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors o Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter o DearMyrtle o Genea-musings o GenealogyBlog o Genealogy Insider o Gtownma's Genealogy A Genealogy Blog Primer Š2010, copyright High-Definition Genealogy (HTTP://HIDEFGEN.COM)


o Paula's Genealogical Eclectica o Renee's Genealogy Blog o Roots Television – Megan's Roots World o The Ancestry Insider • Genealogy Vendors. Many vendors of genealogy-related products and websites will set up a blog in order to market their product and send out news about new versions or improvements. o Ancestry blog o Footnote blog o Geni blog o Legacy News o MyHeritage blog o Roots Magic blog • Genealogical and Historical Societies. A blog seems to be a perfect match for non-profit organizations including genealogical and historical societies. Some blogs are very straight-forward with posting of meeting minutes, upcoming events and news. Others offer newsletter access and even their own databases of information. o California Genealogical Society and Library o Chula Vista Genealogy Café o Grey County Historical Society Blog


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o Illinois State Genealogical Society Blog o Indiana Genealogical Society Blog o Itawamba History Review o MoSGA Messenger • Genealogy Conferences. Set up to publicize and market an upcoming major event such as a conference or a series of expos. For the most part these events are planned a year or more in advance. o Family History Expos Genealogy Blog o Federation of Genealogical Societies conference blog o National Genealogical Society conference blog o Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree • Education and Certification. Some bloggers detail their own path to earning genealogy certification credits or attending educational seminars or provide genealogy education services. o Geneapprentice o The Educated Genealogist o Teach Genealogy • Archives and Libraries. Many libraries and other research facilities have created blogs in order to disseminate news about their collections as well as upcoming events. o Glenview Public Library (Illinois) A Genealogy Blog Primer ©2010, copyright High-Definition Genealogy (HTTP://HIDEFGEN.COM)


o Library of Congress blog o NARAtions – The Blog of the United States National Archive o Spokane Public Library blog o The Newberry Library (Chicago) • Research. Created strictly to provide research data to other genealogists, to track the process of indexing research materials or to even track one's own research activities. o Family Bibles (highlights bibles for sale on eBay) o Genealogy Roots blog o Lowville Obituaries o Olive Tree Genealogy Blog o Online City, County and Rural Directories o The Geneaholic o Toronto 1861 • Technology. The use of technology has not only vastly expanded the ability of genealogists to work from the comfort of their home, but it has also brought forth an entire array of choices from websites, databases, software and even computers themselves. Not only do genealogists need resources to figure out how to use specific technologies, but they need critical reviews of products and a heads-up as to what new technologies are coming down the pike. o Bootcamp for GeneaBloggers o Computer Tips & Tutorials 8|Page

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o Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter o Family Matters o Family Oral History Using Digital Tools o MacGenealogist o Rainy Day Genealogy Readings o Tamura Jones o Think Genealogy • Ethnicity. Focused around specific ethnic groups and the genealogy of those families including African-American genealogy, French-Canadian genealogy, Irish genealogy, German genealogy and more. o A Canadian Family (Acadian/French-Canadian) o Al's Polish-American Genealogy Research (Polish) o Black Nashville Genealogy & History (African-American) o Find Your Folks (African-American) o Hispanic Genealogy (Hispanic – in Spanish) o Looking4Ancestors (Canadian) o Olive Tree Genealogy Blog (Canadian and Dutch) o Our Georgia Roots (African-American) o Scottish Genealogy Blog (Scotland) A Genealogy Blog Primer ©2010, copyright High-Definition Genealogy (HTTP://HIDEFGEN.COM)


o Small-leaved Shamrock (Irish) o Taneya's Genealogy Blog (African-American) o Trace Your Dutch Roots (Dutch) o Tracing The Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog (Jewish) • Geography. Many blogs are dedicated to a variety of ancestors from a specific location such as Ireland, Canada or even on a more local or state level. o All Things Quebec o CanadaGenealogy, or 'Jane's Your Aunt' o Colorado Reflections o Genealogy Canada o Janet The Researcher o Louisiana Genealogy Blog o Nebraska Roots and Ramblings o St. Vincent Memories • One Place Study. The concept of "one place study" or "one name study" is popular in the UK and involves detailing every aspect of the history of one town or village. o Winging It

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• Surnames. A common type of genealogy blog is one devoted to a specific surname group. Sometimes this type of blog is tied in with DNA testing and research for that specific group. o A Worthington Weblog o Berry Family DNA blog o Corel Cousins o iPentimento Genealogy and History o Jake Fletcher's Genealogy Project o McGinnis History o Raeburn Family Odyssey o Zalewski Family Genealogy • Family Reunions. Help prepare other family members for upcoming reunions. A blog can help you communicate plans for the event and to gather needed information for the family tree. o Rush Reunion Benedicta, Maine • Diaries. Reproduce diary transcriptions with one blog post for each day in the diary. Most of these blogs also include a helpful "who's who" post so that you can keep track of names of people and places. o Dear Annie o Grandma's Diary o Granny's Genealogy

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o One Pilot’s War o Soldier’s Mail • Cemeteries. While some may see it as a quirky obsession, there are many genealogists who also have a healthy fascination with graveyards and they blog about that obsession and their activities to help preserve those cemeteries! o Association of Graveyard Rabbits o Cemeteries and Cemetery Symbols o Cemetery Explorers o Granite In My Blood o My Tombstone Collection • Photos and Charts. At some point most genealogists need to deal with all those family pictures or they need to create charts to show off their research. Blogs in this category range from discussions of photography genres (including Victorian post-mortem photos and ladies with glasses) to identifying orphan photos. o The Chart Chick o Dead Fred's Relatively Speaking o footnoteMaven o Photo Detective o Photo Sleuth o Shades of the Departed o Who Will Tell Their Story? 12 | P a g e

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• Crafts. It's only natural that scrapbookers are also genealogists – or is it the other way around? Many people involved with genealogy decide to put their creative talents to use and produce items for family members including quilts, scrap books and more. o Creative Genealogy o Ethnic Scrapbooking o GeneaScraps o Scrap Your Roots • Humor. Even when you pursue something as passionately as genealogy, you need a blog to remind you not to always take it so seriously. o A Couple of Bubbles Off Center o The Genealogue o The Virtual Dime Museum o Uphill Both Ways • Writing Your Family History. Translating your family history and research efforts into written narrative is a skill, and these blogs try to teach that skill to their readers. o Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories o Family History Writing o The Accidental Genealogist o The Family Curator

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How can I easily read all the great posts from genealogy blogs? Most genealogy bloggers leverage the power of blog readers and aggregators such as Google Reader ( or Bloglines ( to help them sort through the hundreds of new posts each day. It is virtually impossible – and impractical – to bookmark and visit each and every genealogy blog in existence let along your favorite ones!

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Do I have what it takes to create and maintain a genealogy blog? You probably had the same thoughts when you started researching your family history, right? Did you have self-doubts and wonder if you had the skills to find your roots? Starting a genealogy blog is like starting to research your family's history for the first time. Gather some information, set down some goals, and also make some notes about how to achieve those goals. Using the links in this primer and leveraging the resources at GeneaBloggers ( is a good start. Once you get started with your genealogy blog, you will find many fellow bloggers willing to answer your questions and help out. You would be surprised at how many of today's most popular genealogy bloggers got their start by simply reaching out to other genealogy bloggers and asking questions or asking for assistance. And if you are worried that you can't commit to posting to your blog on a regular basis, don't worry. It is your genealogy blog and you set the schedule and the tone for your blog. You can post as little or as often as you'd like. And if you are stumped for blog post ideas, the genealogy blogging community has made it easy with Daily Blogging Themes such as Tombstone Tuesday ( and Wordless Wednesday (

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Do I need lots of technical knowledge to run a genealogy blog? It is very easy to get started with blogging and in fact, most blog platforms such as Blogger ( or WordPress ( can have you publishing your first post in about five minutes! Most new bloggers tend to keep the look and feel of their blog simple. Many will only explore new features and formats after they've seen them appear on the blogs of fellow bloggers and will often ask, "how did you do that?" You will find that genealogy blogs run the gamut in appearance from very plain, simple and streamlined to chock-full of badges, widgets, and other fun items. You'll also find that as you get more involved with the genealogy blogging community, they tend to be a helpful bunch and there are many fellow bloggers with different types of technical knowledge who are willing to help. Becoming a member of GeneaBloggers ( (it's free!) by submitting your new blog to the GeneaBloggers blog list helps as well ( GeneaBloggers can then help publicize your new blog, you'll find new followers and also gain access to our technical resources such as the Bootcamp for GeneaBloggers blog ( with lots of "how to's" on widgets, formatting, templates and more!

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Should I be worried about privacy? You should always be concerned about privacy when using the Internet especially when creating a blog or website which might contain personal information. Every day you hear stories from friends or relatives and on the news about people having their identity stolen or falling victim to various scams on the Internet. What you need to understand is that there are simple ways to approach your Internet use sensibly. You wouldn't leave home without locking your door, right? You wouldn't go to a strange place if you felt unsafe, right? Use your good judgment, rely upon your "gut instincts" and when in doubt ask a fellow genealogy blogger or do your research. While a blog might look very public and give the appearance of everything being "out in the open," did you realize that some blogs can be set to private? And access only given to the friends and family members you designate? Did you also know that some bloggers decide to remain anonymous or create a "web persona" similar to a pen name? Investigate all the ways in which you can still maintain your privacy and the privacy of your family members yet still have a public space where you can share your genealogy research and write about your ancestors. Here are some tips: • Decide if you want a public or private blog. It is possible to create a private blog and then make it public but much more difficult to begin publicly and then make a blog private. • Consider a semi-public blog where there is a private section which can only be accessed by family members or others who have the login and password credentials. • Before you create your blog, if you want to create a web persona, think about a name and an identity you want to use. See if an account name has already been "taken" at major website such as Google (, Facebook (, etc. Use a site like ( Then create an e-mail account using Google mail ( or one of the many, free on-line e-mail services.

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What are the copyright issues involved? Bloggers and potential bloggers would be wise to fully understand the basics of copyright law especially as it pertains to the concept of "fair use." Becoming educated on copyright law as it pertains to blogging is easy if you know where to look: • GeneaBloggers has developed a Resources on Blog Copyright and Theft page ( which lists close to 40 free resources to learn more about copyright and how to protect your intellectual property. •

Stanford University has produced an excellent educational website called Copyright & Fair Use ( which gives a good overview of how copyright law works, what exactly is meant by "fair use" and more. Many bloggers rely upon this website to get a better understanding of what should and should not be reproduced on a blog.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has produced an excellent Bloggers' Legal Guide ( which also discusses some do's and don'ts of copyright law.

• A great resource within the geneablogging community is Craig Manson's blog GeneaBlogie ( Besides being a most excellent spot to learn more about his family's history, Craig has closely tracked various copyright issues ( as they pertain to quoting and using published materials on a blog.

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How do I make sure my genealogy blog thrives and grows? Creating a blog is much like starting a garden: you will get out of it what you put into it. Some bloggers are happy to only post every so often and they may find that they don't get many followers or comments on their posts. Others will post several times a week or even several times a day and also make sure they follow other bloggers and comment on blog posts. Basically you get a return based on your level of investment. But there really is no pressure to meet a "minimum" level of participation. Some genealogy bloggers have become very adept at marketing their blogs and their blog posts including developing a "brand." The technology available that allows you to market your blog (and all or most of it is free) is amazing. Genealogy bloggers are all over social media sites such as Facebook (, Twitter ( and others. Some good examples of genealogy blogs whose creators have built a “brand”: • DearMyrtle • Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter • footnoteMaven • Genea-musings There really is no limit as to how far you can go with a genealogy blog. In fact, if you check several of the more well-known genealogy bloggers, you will see that they maintain not just one genealogy blog, but several and some even have their own websites and domain names! A select few have managed to turn genealogy blogging into a business or at least an all-consuming pastime!

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How do I participate in the genealogy blogging community? • Comments. The most important thing you can do in order to participate in the genealogy blogging community and to get your own blog noticed is to place comments on posts by other bloggers. When you make a comment, even as simple as saying, "Hello" or "I really enjoyed your post," you not only recognize other bloggers but you create a link back to your own blog and profile on the Internet. Very often others who read comments will be curious as to who you are and will check out your blog. • Carnivals. A blog carnival is an organized on-line event in which bloggers create blog posts around a specific subject. Most genealogy-related carnivals accept posts from blogs as long as they are in keeping with the theme or subject matter and are submitted by the set deadline. The carnival host will create a "round up" posting listing all the posts submitted by other bloggers, sometimes with descriptions. Participating in a carnival is a great way to get a new blog noticed and to not only gain new readers and followers but also to create links back to your blog. o A Festival of Postcards o Carnival of Genealogy %20Genealogy o Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture o Graveyard Rabbits Carnival o Smile for the Camera • Daily Blogging Themes. Similar to a carnival but it has a looser organization and usually does not involve a summary or "roll-up" post on another blog. Genealogy bloggers like these themes because it means one less idea you need to come up with for a blog post! Daily Blogging Themes are scheduled on a weekly basis, publicized by GeneaBloggers ( and focus on specific topics: o Sentimental Sunday involves posting about a sentimental story or memory about an ancestor, or maybe even a family tradition that touches you. 20 | P a g e

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o Madness Monday is a dual-purpose theme: participants post about an ancestor the may have had a mental illness or some other affliction or an ancestor that drives the blog owner mad because they can't be located or key information about them is missing. o Tombstone Tuesday is one of the simpler themes and involves posting a photo of the gravestone of one of your ancestors. You can choose to add a comment or back story or not. o Wordless Wednesday is a theme whose popularity is not just limited to genealogy blogs but can be found across the Internet in blogs of all types. A photo is posted with only credit information (title, date, location and who owns the photo).

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Now how do I get started? Take it slow and step-by-step: • Find the genealogy blogs that interest you and read up on their posts. Make notes on the blog’s format, the author's writing style, the type of content etc. Use these blogs as a stylistic basis for your own genealogy blog. • Some resources for locating genealogy blogs: o GeneaBloggers o Genealogy Blog Finder o Google Blog Search •

Download the free cheat sheets for blogging at GeneaBloggers (

Select your blogging platform – the site that will host your blog and help you create posts and manage your blog. The most popular are Blogger (, WordPress ( and TypePad ( Create your blog and review the basic default settings including privacy and access.

• Create your first post. It should be an introductory post about you, your blog, your family history. Then congratulate yourself on getting started! •

Visit GeneaBloggers and get your blog listed ( on its blog roll.

• Go visit those genealogy blogs that inspired you and either send the author an email thanking them or post a comment along with a link to your new blog. • Get involved in the genealogy blogging community by commenting on other blog posts and participating in carnivals. • Never be afraid to ask questions of your fellow genealogy bloggers: they all started out in the same place you just did. These successful genealogy bloggers are proof that learning to blog is a process and not an overnight one. Reaping the success and rewards of a great genealogy blog takes time and cultivation of your genealogy blog.

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Copyright Information This guide and an accompanying presentation in PowerPoint is available for free to genealogical societies. Please contact the author, Thomas MacEntee, at for more information.

A Genealogy Blog Primer Š2010, copyright High-Definition Genealogy (HTTP://HIDEFGEN.COM)

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A Genealogy Blog Primer  

Everything you ever wanted to know about genealogy blogs but were afraid to ask. A resource for genealogists and genealogical societies.