Creating A Family History Blog; copy of an article for my local Family History Society newsletter

As I previously mentioned in a “Names of Interest update“, I have written an article about creating AFamilyHistoryBlog for my local Family History Society’s newsletter. The Spring 2016 newsletter featuring my article has just been published, and I’m copying the article to the blog for others to read. The article is (in part) edited from the text on my Intro/Welcome page.

Here it is;

CREATING A FAMILY HISTORY BLOG
by Matt Walker

pic-of-Matt-for-blog-5I’m in my 30’s and have always been interested in my family history. Over perhaps 15 years or so I have been gathering together a lot of research, trees, etc, done by many other people, and have from time to time done research of my own, to verify that done by others, and to add to it where I can.

In January 2014, I was looking back through some of my own family history notes, and through some very old family documents, and I thought that it would be a great idea to create a website about my family history. I have created several blog based websites in recent years, both for myself and for community groups/projects that I’m involved with. So I knew that it would be technically easy for me to setup the basic website.

A “blog” is a “web-log”; a kind of on-line journal. There are several services that will allow anyone with an e-mail to create a free blog, with space to “post” your journal entries, and the ability to create static web pages; e.g. a personal profile, or a welcome page. Among blogger-logo-ithe popular services is wordpress-logoBlogger”, owned by Google – if you already have a Google account for e-mail or YouTube, then you can easy start a “Blogger” blog. Another great service is “WordPress.com”.

My primary motivation for creating a website is to share more widely the details of these old family documents (dating back as far as the early 1700’s). My concern is that if these documents are held in just one small part of the family, then how will other people in the wider family (with a shared ancestry and a shared interest in documents about their ancestors) get to know or hear about such documents, or about the family details that they can contain – details like evidence for family relationships which may be difficult to demonstrate purely from other available records. These documents and the details they contain could remain unknown to many people who would be interested in researching these family histories.

IMG_7620-edBy creating a website I can share scanned images and transcriptions of these family documents for others to find on-line, helping them with their family research, and demonstrating the sources of my information – which sometimes lead me to conclusions that differ from those of others on-line who often appear to have relied only on records like parish registers!

I began my blog as a private, password protected site, because I wanted to build up some content and play with the layout and format before showing it to other people. With blogging services you can often choose and change between a large range of site design “templates”, which you can then customise to varying extents. I also wanted to consult my close family about it before going more public. So it’s only after about 2 years that I’m ready to make my website more public. Blog-screen-shot-2

I deliberately chose a generic name for my site; “A Family History Blog”, because my intention is to include material about all the different branches of my family tree. Other people might be focused on a particular branch or surname, so might wish to use that name in their blog’s title. I was fortunate to get the name I had thought of. You could try to register a variety of different website names and find them all to be taken already! So you’ll probably need something very original!

I hope that my website can become a very collaborative one, with some of my relatives adding details of the information that they have, and the research that they’ve done into our shared ancestors. It is possible with most blogging services to add multiple authors/accounts to a blog, allowing each one to add articles/“posts” to the site, while one account remains overall administrator.

I would advise anyone else thinking of starting their own family history website to think about what your aims are for doing so. This will help to inform what services you use, and the style, layout and content of your site. Also have a look at the numerous other personal family history websites that are out there. As I began my site, I discovered GeneaBloggers-logowww.GeneaBloggers.com which has a list of over 3,000 genealogy and family history-related blogs. It’s well worth looking through some of these to get a sense of the kind of site that you could create. In due course I plan to submit my site for addition to the GeneaBloggers list.

Please have a look at my blog. I would welcome the thoughts/comments of more experienced family history researchers about my site and approach. I would also be happy to speak in my local area, to individuals or small groups, to advise about the practical/technical side of how you can create your own family history website.

You can see my blog at; https://afamilyhistoryblog.wordpress.com

e-mail; [please use the Contact Page of this website]

Matt Walker.

Useful resources;

Blogging services (just a few of many);

Genealogy and Family History blogging;

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