Wednesday, March 21, 2018

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

While at RootsTech waiting in a line, someone recognized me and asked this question.  I know I've answered this question before, but I think my answers may have changed.

The answer is complex - 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.  I may have written about their ancestor.  They may have information about an ancestor or relative that I don't have.  

2)  It keeps my 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 with the transcribed text to my RootsMagic database.  I collect the Amanuensis Monday posts on my Amanuensis Monday Posts page, thinking that they might help another researcher.  I now have 420 Amanuensis Monday posts, many of them transcriptions of probate and land records that no other researcher has transcribed.

**  For Tombstone Tuesday, I post a photograph of a gravestone that I've taken (or been given permission to post), and tell something about the life of that person.  I don't do these very often any more because I ran out of ancestral gravestone photographs.  There are only 56 Tombstone Tuesday posts.

**  For Tuesday's Tip, I try to provide a tip about online genealogy resources that might help another researcher.  I kind of ran out of good ideas several years ago.  There are 174 posts about Tuesday's Tip.

**  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 500 of them.

**  For Treasure Chest Thursday, I post a digital image of a record of interest, then transcribe or extract 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.  I have expanded this to Treasure Chest Tuesday where I'm posting a digital image of a record of interest from my wife's family.  There are 496 posts in this category, which includes Tuesday and Thursday posts.

**  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) helps me focus each week on a specific person, to search for more records for the person, add notes, media and source citations as required to the person, and to make it a more complete and intelligible report.  I am now through the 5th great-grandparents and am working on the 6th great-grandparents.  Since starting this in 2014, I now have 218 biographies in a common format, and am up to #297 in my Ahnentafel.  

**  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 9th great-grandmothers.  I have 438 Surname Saturday posts, and am running out of surnames.

**  For Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (SNGF), I try to provide a question or challenge for other bloggers and readers to answer with their own blog post or a comment.  The questions are about all aspects of genealogy - family stories, Facebook memes, genealogy software, fun things, research questions, etc.  There are now 466 SNGF posts.

**  For Best of the Genea-Blogs on Sunday, I try to find the most important (in my judgment) genealogy-related blog posts from the previous week for my busy readers and colleagues to check out.  I also list other Best Of genealogy blog posts each week because those folks deserve recognition also.  There are now 551 Best of the Genea-Blogs posts.

** Then there are the occasional Dear Randy posts answering questions from readers and society colleagues, the nearly weekly "Seavers in the News" posts, the twice weekly Genealogy News Bytes posts,  the weekly Ancestry, FamilySearch and Findmypast online database posts, and more!  

3)  I try to be a good example as a researcher.  Displaying different record types, crafting source citations, analyzing information, and writing about it may help other researchers do similar tasks.  Of course, some of it may be a bad example to others - poorly crafted source citations, missing critical details, etc.

4)  It's blog fodder.  I can always count on the daily themes like these to help me overcome blogger's writer block.  I believe that a genealogy blog should be written daily in order to maintain reader interest.

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!

7)  What other questions do my readers and society colleagues have for me to answer?  I like doing them because they are different from the daily theme posts and touch on "why" and "how" rather than my own family research.  Email me, or comment on this post, with questions.


Copyright (c) 2018, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.  Share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest using the icons below.  Or contact me by email at


Unknown said...

I have been following you for a while, and while I don't think (so far) that we have any relatives in common, I still am interested and inspired by all you do and post.

My one question... How do you find the time to research, live life, and do all those posts?!

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

I am constantly in awe of all you achieve and share Randy. Keep it up...posterity is calling.