Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dear Randy: Why Do You Write About Your Personal Research?

I get email, and sometimes it's about what I write on this blog on a weekly basis.  I appreciate the email, and the questions or comments are usually cogent and flattering.

The person asking this question thought that I was "clogging up" my blog with all of the "personal research" blog topics - the Amanuensis Monday, Wordless Wednesday, Treasure Chest Thursday, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and Surname Saturday posts.  She wasn't overly interested in them, and rarely read them, and they clogged up her email in-box.

The answer is very simple - I write these "personal research" blog posts for all of these reasons:

1)  It's "cousin bait" - someone (a cousin) may use a search engine to see if anyone knows something about their ancestor.  

2)  It keeps me focus on my ancestral research:

**  For Amanuensis Monday, I transcribe a record I've found for an ancestor.  I then add the Event that the record supports, a source citation, a media item, and an Event Note to my RootsMagic database.  I collect the Amanuensis Monday posts on my Amanuensis Monday Posts page, thinking that they might help another researcher.


**  For Wordless Wednesday, I post a family photograph from my own family, and my parents family, and my cousins family, and describe the persons, the setting, the subject.  I may add my own memory about the people, the setting or the photograph.  I add the photograph to my digital photo file folders for the families in the photograph.  If my family members want to see my family photos, I have over 300 of them.

**  For Treasure Chest Thursday, I post a digital image of a record of interest, then transcribe or abstract it, and analyze it.  I then add the Event that the record supports, a source citation, a media item and an Event Note to my RootsMagic database.

**  For 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on Friday, I write a biography, in a narrative report form, of an ancestor, consisting of the events of the ancestor's life, the notes about the ancestor in a life sketch format, and the source citations that support the facts and notes provided.  Doing this in a logical sequence (I chose to do it by Ahnentafel number starting with #8, my paternal great-grandfather) helped me focus each week on that person, search for more records, add notes, media and source citations as required, to make it an intelligible report.  I am now through the 3rd great-grandparents and will now work on the 4th great-grandparents.

**  For Surname Saturday, I focus on one ancestral family line.  Again, this is "cousin bait" of sorts, but it often shows me that I need to do more research on the line.  I try to offer published reference information to help researchers find records for the family line if they are interested.  At present, I've worked my way down to the 8th great-grandmothers.

3)  I try to be a good example as a researcher.  By displaying different record types, crafting source citations, analyzing information, and writing about it may help other researchers do similar tasks.

4)  It's blog fodder.  I can always count on the daily themes like these to help me overcome blogger's block.

5)  It's my blog - I can write what I want to and when I want to.  

6)  Doing these posts each week really focuses me on my research - it "advances the ball" toward the goal of a complete and well-sourced database on my ancestral families.  The playing field is very long...I don't see the finish line!

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2015/01/dear-randy-why-do-you-write-about-your.html

Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver




22 comments:

Lynn said...

Randy - I totally agree with you and must add that looking at someone else's research and thought-process can be helpful for hints and ideas of what I should do in my own research. The e-mailer should perhaps just look at the blog when she wants to and not get it as a feed ... it is YOUR blog!

Linda Stufflebean said...

Randy, I agree with #1,2,3,4,5, and 6!! It is your blog and it is excellent reading. A reader who says your posts are clogging up their email has the option to unsubscribe.

I also agree with Lynn and her comment about getting hints from others' research to help in one's own research.

Joe Lowry said...

I concur with the other comments, Randy. I have a blog of my own and I actually read yours for ideas on how to best share my family history. I do many fewer 'how-to' posts and many more family research posts. I consider your blog to be an excellent example to help with citations, themes, and formatting. Thanks for everything you do!

Dana Leeds said...

This is a very helpful post! I love how you explained that you use each of these weekly topics to add things to your tree. That is something I'm really not good at! I'm going to consider doing this myself. Even if I only did it with one item a week, I'd have 52 more sources on my tree!

Travis LeMaster said...

Randy - I'm glad that you share your research and echo the other comments- your blog posts give me ideas for my blog and research.

tnashsycamore said...

Thanks for posting your personal research. It is inspiring and insiteful. If they don't like it then they should unsubscribe!

Melinda Brown Baker said...

Randy, Genea-Musings is informative and inspirational to other bloggers. Please don't change a thing. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

Diane Gould Hall said...

I agree with all the previous posts. Don't change a thing. People have options and perhaps the complainee should exercise hers and unsubscribe.
Your personal posts are helpful and inspiring.

The Relative Detective said...

Great blog article on why you do what you do and how you stay on track. I have been instructed and inspired. Your weekly topic explanation was especially insightful.
Thank you!

Jana Last said...

Randy,

I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2015/01/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-january-30.html

Have a great weekend!

TK said...

Jeez, Randy, you got a lotta nerve, writing YOUR blog YOUR way... no wonder you've only had 2,520,896 page views...

Miriam J. Robbins said...

Hi, Randy,

Just wanted to let you know this post was highlighted in my Friday Finds and Follows: 30 January 2015 post on my genealogy blog, AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors.

Best,

Miriam

Tina Sansone said...

Please never change!

Nancy Hurley said...

I already thought your posts were helpful for ideas on how to be a better researcher. Now that you've laid out this detailed explanation of your process I think I'll go back over my own blog posts and use your technique to get more value by posting them on my Roots Magic database. I'm thinking that the stories could even be included in my notes. So logical. Why didnt I already do this?!
Thanks again Randy.
Nancy Hurley

Nancy Hurley said...

I already thought your posts were helpful for ideas on how to be a better researcher. Now that you've laid out this detailed explanation of your process I think I'll go back over my own blog posts and use your technique to get more value by posting them on my Roots Magic database. I'm thinking that the stories could even be included in my notes. So logical. Why didnt I already do this?!
Thanks again Randy.
Nancy Hurley

Dona said...

I absolutely agree with the other comments about your posts being very educational and great examples of the various types of records. If the original reader can't see the value in these posts, she's not learning what she needs to know, and is being short-sighted. Keep up the great work!

Jacqi Stevens said...

Oh, keep it up, Randy! Yes, the focus helps, and the cousin bait aspect is icing on the cake. But I also believe in the "guinea pig" approach to genealogy blogging: even though your readers may not be researching the exact same family line as you are posting about, they get to see you in action (as the "guinea pig," the fish in the fish bowl, or whatever you prefer to call it), examine your thought processes, and extrapolate anything that might be usefully applied to their own research challenges.

Yes, sometimes that means a reader may briefly scan through one of your posts. There is such a thing as a delete button, as well. But a blogger will never be able to accurately predict what topic will be a winner with 100% of his readers--if there even is such a possibility.

For my vote, I say: keep on keeping on. I, for one, appreciate what you are doing.

Janice Harshbarger said...

I love #5, especially! My blog is my blog, done to my level of professionalism (very low) but done because no one else in our families is doing any research at all. You told your reader in a very nice way to "Take a hike", and I like both the sentiment and the way you expressed it.

Jody Clark Jones said...

I tend to be a reader and not a poster (lurker?), but I dare say there are a lot more readers like me who not only enjoy your post, but read it as an educational opportunity.

americansaga said...

I started my blog to have a place to share my finds with my mom my brothers and cousins. I had no idea I'd find far distant cousins in the process. I love that perk.

Jo Henn said...

Well, that person was quite rude. I learn from your blogs, I thought that (& enjoyment) was the purpose of reading blogs. I enjoy your family pictures and such too. And, as I've told my Dad, if we turn out to be related to anyone in Massachusetts, I pray that person is also related to you and you've posted about them because you do exhaustive research, and you're nice!

Tad Callin said...

I actually started my own personal research blog in October *BECAUSE* I enjoyed reading Randy's personal research so much. It's something I've wanted to do for a while, and I find that sitting down to tell a story each week forces me to focus not only on what I know and getting the facts straight, but also making it interesting (I hope) to a broader audience.

But I love the answer "cousin bait" because that's really the heart and soul of what I'm doing!

Keep on rocking, Randy!

(And if you care to take a look, I'm at Mightier Acorns.)