Friday, May 8, 2009

Blogging Prompt #18: Blog Showcase – Part 2

Here are some more genealogy blogs that I love to read: again, presented in no particular order.

West in New England – Bill West’s blog is not only a fine place to read about genealogy, but it’s also one of the best humor blogs in the genea-blogging world. Moreover, Bill excels at what is probably the single most difficult type of humor to get right: whimsy. And wry – he’s got that down, too. Definitions for randomly generated security words. The now immutable connection between flutaphones and genealogy (“A Flutaphone Lullaby – 49 Genealogical Uses for a Flutaphone” - instead of linking this one, I'll recommend going to his blog and searching on "flutaphone," since the list extends for a number of posts). Ideas for getting more genealogy content on television. And darned good articles on local history (“Local History – the North Abington Riot”) and genealogy. And I read all those articles all the way to the end. Because you never know when he just might be kidding.

Consanguinity – In addition to checking Genea-Bloggers and Genealogy Blog Finder to find new genealogy blogs to read, I also check out the followers and commenters on the blogs I follow. This was how I discovered Consanguinity, and I knew right away I had to notify Genea-Bloggers of this scoop (one of the few times I found a new blog before they did). Some blog authors take a while to find their “voice,” but Pattie Browning’s authorial voice was immediately apparent. She writes about her ancestors with empathy, making them “come alive on the page” and she writes about her research in a sort of stream-of-consciousness style, only more elegantly; the questions she asks herself, the thorny problems she encounters, and even the mistakes she makes and lessons she learns from them. Among the many “juicy reads” on Consanguinity, I recommend the “Browning Series” posts: starting with "Wordless Wednesday – The Writing’s on the Wall” (a novel way to introduce a series!), “The Browning Series – Part Three,” “Browning v. Beck – Pt. 1,” and “Browning v. Beck – Pt. 2.” The blog is visually interesting and has many original touches. I also like that she has “The Two Families of Samuel Browning” at the bottom of the page; that’s a good way to advertise areas of strong research interest. (Note to self – steal that idea.)

Genea-Musings - Randy Seaver is one of the merry Pied Pipers of Genea-Blogdom and his influence can be seen all over. His Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (SNGF) is a not-to-be-missed event, with the added value of getting readers to sharpen their research and technical skills. Wordles are everywhere. (Except on my blog – I proved to be a miserable technical failure in getting mine to display on Greta’s Genealogy Bog, despite many attempts.) See his recent post on the results of his latest SNGF poll in “Top Ten Genealogy Sites – from my readers.” (Added at the last minute, as I visited Randy's blog to get the links: You must read "Walter (2000-2008.") In addition to all the humor and fun on Genea-Musings, however, there is some serious investigative reporting: Randy goes beyond the latest press releases and rumors to find the true story. In the case of genealogy software, he’ll try it himself. New features or databases on the websites of the major genealogy content providers? He’ll dig into them and see how easy they are to use or how searchable, accessible, and thorough the information is. If Randy attends a genealogy event, we get the scoop. Genea-Musings: Be there or be square.

Ernie’s Journeys – I think of Ernie as the dean of the Genea-Bloggers. I love all “my blogs,” but Ernie’s is one of my absolute favorites and one of the first I check for new stories. There are a number of reasons for this, one being that Ernie’s wonderful personality shines through in the conversational writing style. In addition, there are several things that Ernie and I have in common. One is the similarity of our “home” geographic areas (Kansas and Texas) and the ethnic make-up of those areas – Volga Deutsch for Kansas and Bohemian and German for Texas. Another common factor is language: During World War II Ernie served as a German interpreter on occasion, and I work as a translator. One of my favorite articles is “Hanging on to the old German phrases.” Ernie’s description of his German-speaking mother on the telephone with her cronies sounded just like the Bohemian ladies back in Texas. Other stories which skillfully evoked the feel of days gone by were “Railroad Hoboes in the 1930s” and “Whatever happened to the Doodlebug?” I could recommend more must-reads, but would just wind up listing all of the articles in the blog. One of the areas where so many of us family historians end up behind the curve is in recording our own memories and experiences. Fortunately, we have a great example to follow in Ernie’s Journeys. (And we miss him and hope he can return to his blog soon, but get completely well first, Ernie!)

kinexxions – For some reason, I think of Becky Wiseman’s kinexxions as a gathering place, not just a blog. Even though Becky does not seem to have geographical areas of research in common with me, her blog is always a “must check.” This is where you can absorb the ethos of the genea-blogging culture: sharing. Sharing our genealogy research ups and downs, our happy dances and brick walls, and all the starts and stops that life forces us to make. Who else could get the gen-community on the bandwagon for her “Adventures in Scanning”? (“Guess What Is (Nearly) Finished!!!”) On April 1st of this year I discovered that Becky can do deadpan wickly well: she totally had me going with “The Best Genealogy Present – Ever” – and I knew it was April Fool’s Day, with an April Fool’s-themed genealogy carnival to boot! There’s lots of good reading in kinexxions – Becky can do both quantity and quality.

Genealogy Fun – I think for all of us, “genealogy” and “fun” are definitely words that go together, and it is nice to see a blog that recognizes this right up front! But Harriet also does “serious” well. One of the most touching posts I read in the “Uncle, Uncle” Carnival of Genealogy was her tribute to her Uncle Eugene Douglas Kelley, and she almost didn’t submit it! Another touching article was her description of her family’s experience in the “March Blizzard?” (of ’93). I have also learned some things from Harriet, such as what a dogwood winter is and the fact that there used to be a town called Thurber in Texas (it’s a ghost town now). So, if you want some fun with a touch of serious and educational, drop in at Genealogy Fun (and I almost forgot, check out Aunt Betty and her “not straight” legs).

Heritage Happens – OK, folks, don’t nominate me for “Madness Monday,” but I have a confession to make: I talk to Cheryl Palmer’s blog, Heritage Happens. “Oh, yeah, you got that right.” “Um-hmm” (nodding my head up and down). For so long I knew the author of this blog only as “Msteri.” Some readers interpreted that to mean “Ms. Teri”; I thought it was an exotic name that sounded like “mystery.” Like the other readers, I was really curious to know who this person was. It was so easy to like and enjoy the personality that shone through the writing, but there was no name or face to go with it. We readers were not disappointed when “The Big Reveal” finally came. I really love the research tips on Cheryl’s blog; however, one of my favorite posts was on a personal subject: “I Even Shocked Myself Yesterday, Among Others.” The courage and the positive philosophy were a total inspiration. When I come home from work too tired to do genealogy but need a “dose,” I just get some vicarious joy by reading Heritage Happens: “Yep, yep, you go, girl, that’s the way.”

You Go Genealogy Girls – Speaking of “you go, girl” and vicarious experiences, these ladies are my idols! At the same time, I’m jealous. Very jealous. However, I’m grateful for the opportunity for a little vicarious genealogy-on-the-go. Li’l Red, Ruby and Cheri’s trusty little car, is a character in its (her?) own right. Essential equipment for trips includes maps and jelly beans. (I just love the mental image of the You Go Genealogy Girls (YGGG for short) arriving at their destination with a sugar high.) As a matter of fact, this blog is strong on visual imagery, especially the humorous kind: one of the YGGG hot-footing it out of a cemetery when a snake makes its presence known (“SSSSNAKES IN THE GRASS!”), the possibility of getting crushed by those big moving bookshelves some libraries have to save space (“Cause of Death … Squeezed by Genealogy Books”), and many more. The YGGG don’t just give advice and descriptions of a brilliant genealogist making brilliant discoveries by employing her brilliant sleuthing skills; they offer up funny stories of “genealogy gone wrong” (despite excellent preparation and good intentions). I hope the YGGG come to visit a genealogy event in my area (Washington, D.C. has lots of great resources and attractions, and the Fairfax Genealogical Society is a great group!) And don’t forget the jelly beans!

Jessica’s Genejournal – Jessica is one of two young college students who have genealogy blogs, and I imagine I am not the only “old fogey” who is absolutely thrilled to see this. Despite her youth, Jessica has been blogging since 2007, so she is one of our more experienced bloggers, and she even hosts genealogy carnivals. Moreover, from one of her introductory posts, it appears that she has been doing genealogy since 2003 or 2004, so she is also more experienced in genealogy than I am! Despite her experience, I was surprised to read Item #7 in her list “Ten Signs You’re Addicted to Genealogy”: “You can remember what a first cousin five times removed is but you can’t remember what you need to buy at the grocery store.” Jessica, you’re too young to be getting forgetful, no matter how obsessed with genealogy you are! I like Jessica’s enthusiasm, the fact that she makes a regular practice of asking questions of the genea-community (good idea – another benefit that can be derived from our blogs), and her “coming soon” feature – another good idea that I’d like to st… adopt. I had originally intended to highlight another article from her blog, but just today I read a very thought-provoking post: “My Thoughts on the IGI and LDS Rite, Baptism of the Dead, Controversy.” Jessica’s Genejournal is a place where the old fogeys can learn a thing or three from the young whipper-snappers.

Grace and Glory – Becky Jamison’s Grace and Glory gets the big picture about why we do genealogy. Her love and respect for her family and her faith in God shine through everything she does; it is every bit as important to cherish and preserve the present as it is to remember the past. Becky’s blog page is a feast for the eyes and has a number of interesting features. I love that it has a Russian proverb at the top and the “suggested posts” feature at the bottom is very handy. Becky does not shy away from making this a very personal blog (see her “Blogging Philosophy” on Gramma’s Place), and that is a big part of her blog's appeal. She shares her thoughts and reflections, and there’s lots of humor as well (wonder where she got that…). For the author of Grace and Glory, there is something to be learned every day and in every experience; see “Things I Learned While Driving My Dad to the Doctor.” Grace and Glory is enrichment in the very best sense of the word.

More later.


  1. Greta,
    Thanks for the award, and the kid words!

  2. Greta, thank you for spotlighting my blog! I'm flattered by your comments. You're doing a great job writing the reviews. The joy you get in reading these blogs really comes through. Very nice!

  3. I have to add my thanks to those of the others above me. I'm so glad you enjoy my little corner of the internet. Feel free to "steal" any ideas that you need -- that's what genealogy is all about. Sharing!

  4. Thanks to you guys for providing so much enjoyment and knowledge in your blogs!