“Why do you care? I mean, it all happened so long ago. Does it really matter,” he asked me.
Rolling my eyes heavenward, I replied, “Of course, it matters. It matters to me.”
“But those things happened. You can’t change them.”
“I know. I don’t want to change them. I want to know what happened.”
“But you can read about the Civil War, the American Revolution, and the Loyalists. You don’t need me to tell you history.”
“You’re right. I don’t need you to tell me about history. I need you to tell me what happened to you and your family. How the events affected you. What happened to your parents? Did you know we’re both Episcopalian? Cuz I think that’s kinda cool. And did any of the family ever talk about Josephus? Why was he a Loyalist? Was the family upset about losing their home in Fairfield, Connecticut, and relocating to Noyen, Quebec? Well, that’s probably a silly question. Of course, they were upset. How could the town run out the Vaughan family like that, especially since Josephus’ father had been the respected town doctor in Fairfield for so many years? Did the family like Noyen? Why did Benjamin come back to America? What musical instrument did you play in the Civil War? How did you and Annie meet? Why were you in New Orleans? But it’s a good thing you were or you wouldn’t have met Annie. And for goodness sakes, what do I call you? Great Great Grandpapa? Daniel? And…”
“Whoa, whoa. Slow down.” He laughed. “That’s a lot of things you want to know. All right. I’ll tell you what I know. But where should I start?”
That’s a good question. Where does one start? It can be hard to start just about anything.
And I think that’s especially true with blogging genealogy.
It’s real easy to get into a linear-way of thinking when it comes to blogging. If you think of it as a line, you might tend to think that it’s a finite line with a beginning, middle, and end, and certainly one can do that. In fact, the idea of a formal beginning hints at an end.
However, not any one blog post is a thesis of sorts for the sum total of your blog. Therefore, your first blog post ~ whether it’s your very first one or a first one back from hiatus ~ does not have to introduce the beginning of your blog or what you intend to do.
I rather like the idea that one should begin as one intends to proceed. To just start with what you plan to continue with.
Try just telling a story. Everyone can relate to a story. Sure, family history is one big story in chronological order, but it’s also made up of smaller stories, or vignettes. Sometimes the story is you trying to find the story. If you think of blogging genealogy as telling the smaller stories, then they don’t necessarily have to be in chronological order. They can be mixed about giving you endless possibilities.
But don’t just tell a story. Tell it with passion. Who doesn’t love to read a story told by someone who is passionate about their story?
With this ‘jumping right in approach’ and telling a story, the possibilities of your start are endless but here’s an idea to get you blogging.
Have an ancestor that’s driving you nuts because they seem to be lost forever in time with nary a record? Write a blog post to them as if they were right there. Vent your frustrations. Ask them your questions directly. What are their answers? In this case, you don’t know the story, but the story you are conveying to your readers is your story about how frustrated you are about trying to find a particular family story. And? How could a cousin not be baited by your ancestor frustration? They’ve probably been just as frustrated by their own research. A laughing and empathetic cousin is most likely to contact you.
What’s the story of your society? How did it come about? Telling the story of your society ~ its purpose ~ might get current members interested again and it might get potential members interested in signing up. Share your mission and your goals. Give them your reason for being, and perhaps that reason for being will inspire them to be a part of that being. But don’t just retell the facts. Do it in story form. And do it with passion. The type of passion that makes it irresistible for them to jump in and join your story. Also? A great idea would be to pull up a story from the history of the area that your society covers. Just don’t forget the passion.
Come across any interesting stories in your research that you can share? Perhaps one that illustrates a particular method of research? Then share that story. Don’t get overly complicated. If you need to break it down into smaller stories and just tell one of them, then do that. However you choose to do it, though, don’t just retell the steps. Your readers can get that anywhere. Put it into story form. And? Do it with passion. Being a professional, you’re use to writing up dry reports for your clients, but on your blog? Unleash your passion. Show [don’t tell] your potential clients why you do what you do. This will make you stand out amongst your competition.
It doesn’t matter where you start. Just start. And try doing it in story form. And? Do it with passion.
“Ah. Annie. Annie O’Brien. Now there’s a story. She was a vision. The first time I saw her was on Royal Street. And when I saw her my world just stopped. Her beautiful long red hair was blowing in the breeze. And when she looked up and saw me – at that exact moment - I just knew…”
“Knew what,” I asked.
“That she was sent just for me.”
[Note: In my little vignette, my questions for my 2nd great grandfather are all based on facts I’ve found in my research. However, me talking to Great Great Granpapa Daniel and him telling me his story of how he met my 2nd great grandmother Annie are just figments of my imagination. I don’t usually, um, hold conversations with my ancestors. Oh, okay, who am I kidding? I do talk out loud to them. They just never talk back. Yet. And? You can do this on your blog too. Just make sure you put a disclaimer on it letting everyone know that’s what you’re doing. Or they’re gonna think you’re crazy. Which may be true, but why let them know that?]
'Wedding Parade on Royal St. in New Orleans' was taken by Caroline Pointer in 2011.