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Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Blogging for family history

There is a really amazing amount of family history available on the Internet and more of it is now in the form of personal Websites known as blogs. These mostly free Websites have an amazing range of content, but focusing on those relating to family history gives us a totally new perspective. In the not too distant past, if we wanted to share our family's story, we were mostly limited to producing self-published books. Unfortunately, the cost usually meant the only a few dozen or so were published. A few were given to libraries and the rest went on our relatives' shelves where they were mostly forgotten. Later, if we were lucky, a rare book dealer might have one or two copies of the book for sale at a tremendously inflated price.

Having worked in a Family History Library for years, from first-hand experience, I know that very few of the patrons even bother to check to see if there is a surname book about their ancestors and even when they are shown a book, they are only mildly interested. All of this research was locked up and mostly unavailable to those who were truly interested.

All of this has now changed dramatically. Because of the vast search engines on the Internet, such as Google, Yahoo and others, finding information about a specific individual is now entirely possible, even if it is in an obscure blog that no one reads. Google has a specific search for blogs, usually located under a tab identified as "more" on the Google menu. A quick blog search on genealogy and "family history" returned 449,341 sites. A search on "genealogy" alone, returned 87,700,000 sites. A blog search on one of my own family names returned 220,000 sites on that one name. Obviously, I need to be more specific, but the point is that there is an amazing amount of information available.

Maybe you should consider joining the throngs of people sharing their family history. Be careful, however, blogging can be one of those activities that can become addictive and start eating up all of your time. If you would like to see what it takes to get started, you might look at some, or all, of the following:

Read this book: Stauffer, Todd. How to Do Everything with Your Web 2.0 Blog. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

Look at these Websites:

Google's Blogger -- probably the easiest way to get started in blogging.
Intel's Typepad -- claims to be the world's premier blogging service.
Wordpress -- Very popular.
ExpressionEngine -- claims to be the most flexible.

There are a lot more and I am sure that everyone has their own favorite. You might start by reading Wikipedia's article on blogging.

Good luck (you will need it).

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