Blogging your family history

Blogs from those family historians participating in tonight’s chat

Jennifer – family history blog, one place study blog, fitness blog

Maggie – a kiwi in search of her ancestral tribes

Maggie – first post about her genealogical resolutions in 2011

Jill – her jottings

Pauleen – family in Australia and links to other blogs with migration stories

Sharn – anecdotes and tips, convict research, jottings

Jane – Memories – thoughts- musings – findings

Jane – Warts and all -post about herself

Alex – an Australian family historian recording her research for prosperity

Brooke – writer and family historian

Hilary – family ancestors and cousins

Paul – his school years part 1

Liz – blog about local history run by a library

Debbie – new blogger

Geneabloggers tribe – prompts for writing posts

Genealogy blog party – add post link relating to topic of party

Sue Adams including photo analysis and digitization

Also check out the blogs linked here on the sidebar of this blog

What is a blog?

General information about blogging platforms – pros and cons

Using WordPress – two versions .com is free or .org is self hosted

I use WordPress because it was easy to set up and use. I didn’t try any other platforms. Their app is really great and easy to use. My only complaint is that I don’t like their new block editor.

Yes, I’m still using the classic editor, really need to get to grips with the block editor!

I don’t like it either although slowly adjusting (as with Trove upgrade) Biggest problem has been in trying to edit some pre-existing pages (rather than posts) Layout got garbled and I have been unable to ungarble it

What is a block editor and how does it work pls.

Anyone know how to copy the whole post as you are writing it? I can only copy a block at a time.

I use with @elemntor page builder and a growing collection of plugins!

I use self-hosted WordPress. I think it’s important to have your own domain, so you’re not depending on other companies’ business decisions and build your brand on your own turf. Plus, WP is full-featured and affordable.

Free version is exactly that but the downside is your viewers are plagued by adverts within your posts, the upgrade should only be an option that you choose to upgrade, it’s not forced #ANZAncestryTime there are higher levels than what I pay but these would be for business users

I use WordPress, self-hosted as it gives me more freedom to tinker away. I love the WordPress community and support out there. You can always start with a free WordPress-hosted blog, and move to self-hosting later if you wanted.

I use WordPress but the paid version. Started off with the free version until I was established, the pain with this is the adverts, I pay £36 a year and this removes the adverts and allows access to some better themes etc

I host on my own site using WordPress dot org. It does cost more however has hundreds of plug ins that give more functionality. Top 3 @yoast SEO, @akismet Anti-spam and a broken link checker.

Using Blogger – if you have a gmail account then you already have a blog allocated to you

I use Blogger. It’s not as pretty or professional looking as WordPress but I’m all for user-friendly platforms and Blogger fits the bill in this regard.

I use Blogger Alex as it was more user friendly when I began 12 years ago and I wasn’t a technology minded as I have now become. I like the ability to be creative with its look too

while I like the clean look of some WordPress templates which I use for three blogs over 7 years I find the Blogger platform I have used since 2006 for multiple blogs more friendly, flexible and totally free

I agree with @geniaus about using Blogger because of the simple-to-modify templates and the #Free cost. I want to spend my time blogging, not learning new technology 😉

Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay

Getting help and courses or manuals

A course on personal blogging using Edublogs and WordPress…

Manual for wordpress https://…

Support if using google’s blogger setup…

Another tip for #genealogy bloggers – Learn the lingo. A blog is the publication (like a book or magazine) and a post is like an article a magazine or a chapter in a book

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Why blog and essential elements for writing posts

Essential elements depends on who you are writing for but using categories and tags help navigate the blog posts. I began blogging in 2007 while teaching using edublogs which is a version of wordpress

Try to use more than just writing and photos, add interviews using soundcloud etc or make slideshows on a topic

Excellent points Sue! Mix it up. Oral history interviews is a brilliant suggestion and yes, slideshows can be very effective as the SAG Friday afternoons have proved.

Tools that can be embedded in blog posts or sidebars… not only for Edublogs

Initially I started blogging after I retired in 2008. I still wanted to blog and realised that blogging about #genealogy would let give me plenty of content for posts.

I’ve just had my 10th blogiversary. When I first started I had no idea what I was doing or why but I thought it might be a good idea. I loved reading genealogy blogs

Don’t forget to write about yourself on your blog. One day your descendants may be researching YOU

I have actually done that, split my life into parts and have written about my childhood years up until I left school so far

Janet Few – suggested writing about your life in Census time which was a pretty neat meme I thought

That’s a pretty good way to do it, not many people actually feel comfortable writing about themselves, me included, it’s not the easiest thing to do but so important!

writing about a childhood theme can offer perspectives on “then and now” even when no descendants are involved.

I started blogging because I wanted to reach new clients but also because I wanted to make connections with others (cousins and wider #genealogy community)

I started a website/blog to have somewhere to put my writing about family history. I started it about 2 years ago (link in bio 😉 Essential elements: 1. Entertaining stories 2. Easy to navigate/search

started blogging this year as I was inspired by others blogging about their research. I had Facebook group setup for family members but not everyone was on it but the blog provided info in nicer relatable format. And share with wider community and friends

I think family history blogs can be whatever interests the author, be it story telling, research tips or letting others know what is new or happening in the family history community. A blog has to be for whatever purpose the author chooses for it

One of the recommendations often given to beginners is about “writing for yourself”. To enjoy it you must like your blog genre

this is such an important point. It’s a bonus if other people read the blog. You really have to enjoy the writing/composing/process itself.

First thing I check out on a blog is the page about the author – credentials, reason for blogging etc Also important to have good navigation on your blog. Maybe have list of other bloggers you follow on your sidebar

A #Genealogy blog is like a first draft of #FamilyHistory. When I actually write an ancestor bio, I check my blog to see what I said about that person and which visuals I used, plus which links I included. Gives me a head start in writing for the family!

I started my blog because I wanted to tell the stories of my ancestors and share those stories with distant cousins, I was never going to write a book, so this was the next best option

Blogging is a great way to record stories and unlike a book you can go back and edit or easily write a sequel

That’s a great point Sharn, never thought of it like that, a book will@always be finished, whereas our research and family trees never will

I have posted updates on some of mine and it is easy to link the 2 posts

eBook about ideas for post writing and improving your audience etc

Blogging to share family stories and like @geniaus I wanted to continue blogging after retirement so started a new one for sharing #familyhistory and having decided I’d never get around to a book, blog is best

I started blogging to help me focus my research and encourage me to write up what I’d found. Essential elements: readable and accessible content. That’s it. There’s a lot more you can add, but I think that’s what it’s all about really.

It wasn’t long after I started blogging that I realised I would never have time to write that book about my ancestors. So my blog became the place to tell the stories so that they weren’t lost forever

Essential elements for #genealogy blogs : intelligent, impeccable, inspiring, illustrated, individual.

Blogging essential elements: 1. Don’t worry about getting it perfect. You get better with practice. 2. Write in your own voice / be genuine. 3. Understand your audience. 4. Pick a platform that works for mobiles. 5. Finding time for #blogging. And so on

Essential elements are engaging writing, good pictures/design to attract attention or be visually appealing, solid research quoting verifiable sources, good advice, and connected.

Do you stick to a strict word count when you blog?

If the post is very long, either needs cutting down for clarity or splitting over 2 or more posts. Series of related posts can be linked with tags and encourage readers to come back for more

I have 16 in draft form 🤪🤪 they all won’t make the cut though

I decided I’d write what the story needed rather than try to cut it short. It becomes my reference record for the future. If some are too long, so be it.

athree23 / Pixabay

Important when setting up theme etc that it is responsive to all browsers and phones etc.

My blog using Edublogs Navigation across top but also other ways to search on sidebar

I had blogged with a Tasmanian Devil toy while I travelled during my long service holidays but seriously began the family history blogging in 2014 when doing the UTAS Diploma of family history

I think it’s important to share a little about who’s writing the blog so the reader knows who’s talking to them and gets credibility. Content is then king and every blogger will have their own voice. Citing sources also validates content.

I have an “About Me” on my blogs Jennifer. Though it possibly needs updating now.

Just thought of another essential for bloggers. Don’t be anonymous. Let your readers know who you in an About me page or widget.

This is a fun tool to use to incorporate into an appropriate blog post

I write mainly for myself and family so my focus for narratives is predominantly informational. The blog is public on the off chance something may useful to someone. If it is, you are very welcome! If not then I feel better for having written it down

When you need some ideas and stimulation the Challenges are good to look at such as

I started to write for my family. They were happy to read stories about their grandparents/great-grandparents. They are less interested in more distant ancestors. Now, I hope to attract distant cousins too, to share knowledge and research ideas. I now also write for myself, to record my research. Blogging has become part of my research methodology.

I love the geneablogging themes, used them a lot when I first started out, a great way to get inspired. Wordless Wednesdays are a favourite!

I decided to write a genealogy blog to publish my ancestors’ stories & hopefully find cousins. My blogging is split across 2 websites (own family history & #OnePlaceStudy). Time is a big issue for me. Not enough of it!

Another app is the WordPress app for mobile devices. Great for answered comments. You can blog while away and no need to take a computer although I find a full sized keyboard easier for typing.

I have a contact page on my site. I’ve had a few messages through that. (My blog post comments play up a bit on Squarespace, so luckily I’ve got the contact page.)

I am not a traditional family history blogger and blog less than I used to but a blog is a great source to host your write ups and obviously share with others

I find blogging has its peaks and troughs (in terms of ability/desire to post) but it is there and you can always go back to it.

Writing can help you sort out your research – what is missing, strategies for moving forward and more – but indeed also time and motivation

Liz this is such an important point. The process of writing down your research forces you to stand back and evaluate it and your process. Thanks for reminding us of that.

I was studying computer science and was trying to learn how to build a website. I chose genealogy as my topic because that was my hobby (now profession). That was in 1993. Initially it was a links collection, turned into a blog in 2005.

trevoykellyphotography / Pixabay

Benefits of blogging

Blogging has delivered a cornucopia of benefits : friends, fun, family connections, fans; education, energy, enrichment, opportunities, overseas travel

I have found blogs so useful for keeping me in touch with the international community and about conference presentations that I may have missed.

Benefits: Feel good moment when a reader said: ‘I must say for the first time this article brought life to names in my family tree and for that I thank you.’

Let’s not concentrate on the past when blogging. We #genealogy bloggers should also be sharing our stories and thoughts for future generations. My feeble attempt is here I hope it’s of interest to my descendants.

Writing often helps us see the gaps in our research, encourages us to explore other aspects of history (social, local, medical etc) & to see connections between people, places, events.

I also use social media to share about my blog posts. @travelgenee on twitter, facebook, pinterest and instagram. Plus @canva to create images for the blog and social media.

excellent point Fran! They all feed each other, no?

Yes, birds of a feather. I also share across social media platforms and enjoy reading what you have to say when you post. GeneaBloggers FB page is another way to discover new #Genealogy blogs and meet genies.

I’ve only blogged about one line of my family who are part of a major research/biography project. It’s brought a few unknown cousins out of the woodwork. Great to connect with them. Gold in that some had photos

I’m constantly amazed at the previously unknown cousins who contact me. I’ve done quite a few collaborations over the years with cousins from afar who I met through my blog

My #Genealogy blog has been excellent #CousinBait, attracting more than a dozen cousins to get in touch over the years. Don’t forget to have a mechanism on the blog for readers to contact you!

What will your next blog post be about? My next few posts will be about: A convict ancestor & his London family Marriage laws in colonial NSW Favourite podcasts for a family historian

So good to plan ahead – and schedule posts too

I’d love to be in that situation. Usually, I like to write a weekly post, though often only make it only by the skin of my teeth, and sometimes not at all

great ideas. I must create a list so I get motivated rather than faffing thinking what to write, run out of time and  don’t then blog!

Ideas come to me as I research my family history. When I find something interesting I want to write about it

No calendar for me either. When I have an idea I start a draft or if I have time write it then and there.Sometimes I schedule ahead or post immediately. A calendar would put too much pressure on me.

Just had a contact today from a person who found a surname in my Important to add email contact for those who do not want to comment. Make commenting easy! #ANZAncestryTime I use email icon generator to avoid email spam bots

Friendships made with other bloggers, readers and previously unknown cousins was so unexpected to me when I first started blogging

Remember that #genealogy blogging isn’t just about family stories. Genealogists use blogs to share news, post reviews, discuss issues, seek help, share announcements and more. Let’s not be narrow when we talk about blogging for #genealogy

I have found blogs so useful for keeping me in touch with the international community and about conference presentations that I may have missed

This is what my blog became so I removed the family posts to another blog

I love reading blogs that share genie news and announcements. Along with family stories of course

Does anyone else download their blog posts to a Blog to Print format? I’ve been doing it with mine and think it’s worthwhile. Belt and braces 😉

I find the most interesting ancestors often have no descendants, perhaps more time to do other things! Plenty of Genies out here to read blog instalments if you do get going with your life history!

Also the best bit about research takes one to different parts of the world. Blogging about a cousin from abroad or moved around the globe shows how small the world really is..

it is very important to own your own content. This is why I cannot recommend sites like Wix or Weebly. A social media policy to consider what you publish on sites like FB, who can join in, expected behaviours, etc can get you thinking before an issue happens

Create an account on a blog reader to subscribe to all the blogs you like to follow such as

I would advise any new blogger to read as many different blogs as you can then read even more! List what you like, what you dislike, from a visual perspective and a written one! Research counts as we know, write what you want, how you want

Excellent advice Paul and what I myself did when I started and there are far more blogs around now than all those years ago. Follow other blogs too

Remember your audience is small in the beginning. Mainly supportive friends and family so mistakes are forgiven.

Whatever you do try not to “waffle” if a post is longer than it needs to be people stop reading before they get to the end and may miss things

My top tip is to go read other family or local history blogs. What do you like about each one? What do you not like? Then think about what content you’d like to share, and who you’re writing for.

Weekly prompts from Julie Goucher – Book of Me

Share your posts via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles to find your family and community

WordPress offers videos and webinars about blogging. Societies offer classes from time to time. Lots of great bloggers out there eg The Legal Genealogist. Geneabloggers Tribe for tips and topics. Sepia Saturday themes

there’s lots – Geneabloggers for a start which provides lots of prompts. Sepia Saturday is a great prompter as well as is the AtoZ challenge. Free photo sites eg Pixabay and Facebook groups e.g. Australian Local & Family History Bloggers.

a blog allows larger stories that are always accessible. I would still have the FB group as some people really like it so you can give notifications of things on the blog, have discussions when working together, etc. They can compliment each other.

Connection to a wider genealogy community, sharing of stories, information, collaboration, help, friendship, plus it’s my family history preserved and ready to share with family anywhere in the world

Book recommendation from Jennifer for memoir writing

Although this is an important point. Keep it focused. Don’t moan about your poor customer service experience with a utility company on your genealogy blog! I have a Medium blog for anything else I need to express online

main benefit so far being able to share info with everyone and family members they felt more connected as it was more personal to them.

Revitalising your blog is a good idea. Every so often I give mine a new look.

One of the main benefits of blogging is connecting with distant cousins and other researchers. And also, it helps clarify my thoughts and research processes – I often sit down to write a blog post and then go off down a rabbit hole following a lead!

Decide who your audience is – who are you writing for? and what your intention is – what do you want to achieve with your blog? – It can be for whoever you want it to be for. It can be whatever you want it to be.

Feel more connected to the genealogy community as a whole, met so many new friends from blogging, not just genie friends, find it therapeutic, not found as many cousins as I had hoped, if I am honest and it’s FUN

while people mentioned in a blog post may be indirectly connected to my family, some of my stories have helped others with their family history

pixelcreatures / Pixabay


Adding photos where you might not know the people or place or event, can allow your readers to take part on the blog by leaving comments.

And I think responding to comments is so important to acknowledge our readership.

You can build up a network, make great connections and, importantly, you’re not just talking to yourself. Yes, they can be time consuming to respond to, but worth it for interaction.

I haven’t enabled them on mine but am going to be expanding my content & offerings soon, so will consider then

If you want to build a community then comments are important. However you do need good anti-spam plugins or you will have so many comments that require managing, dumping and waste time.

Comments are essential as Fran says, I have met some genuinely wonderful people by just engaging with their comments, some really good friends now

Connecting with other bloggers has been a huge benefit. Being a Rootstech Ambassador through blogging has been wonderful too

I used to try and comment on every post I read. I felt if someone bothered to write it I could comment. Now if often fail as sometimes WordPress does not like me logging in and I loose the comment or cannot leave it. Frustrating

If leaving a comment, highlight and copy before you hit the submit button. Easy then if comment doesn’t go through first time

I’ve found spam only appears on older posts and most valid comments are on new posts. So my set-up allows comments on posts written in last 10 days to post automatically. & Spam is more easily managed.

I usually end my post with a question so my readers can comment as well

I find it very frustrating to read an interesting blog and not be able to comment. I don’t think it encourages people to read your work

Something to remember 

I blog when I can. Sometimes I’m prolific and other times I don’t have time to write at all. I don’t think it matters as long as you enjoy it.

Tips from Carmel

  • Use simple language
  • Add sub headings
  • Break up text with paragraphs, bullet points, lists, images
  • Compress images so blog post loads quickly
  • spell check
  • About page
  • Make it easy to comment
  • Subscription options
  • No pop ups
  • Search friendly
  • Respond to comments

Reminder from Fran: I’m happy to do the GDPR for everyone. I had a privacy policy on my work & personal blogs years ago before they became common practice. I like it simple, open and transparent. So many policies are technical and legal claptrap now days

Readers: Do you have a family history blog? If yes leave a comment and include the URL so we can visit and read your posts.


Cousin collaboration

Part of the discussion was whether this should be called Cousin Bait as originally mentioned and on the question slides or perhaps a better title was Cousin Collaboration. You can see what I decided by the title of the post. But some answers still use the word bait.

fernandoalmeida / Pixabay

How do you share your family history online? ie blogging, trees, social media?

Also share with immediate family via email as many are older and this is their only online “place”. I have created separate email folders and labels, gmail is good for that – I used to forward emails to Evernote but have dropped back to basic now Evernote’s price has skyrocketed

Yes … agree re gmail … I also make use of folders and labels to organise family history emails from cousins and research contacts etc.

I mainly use blogging for sharing my family history online. I do have an online tree on Ancestry and some other subscription sites. I need to get better at using Facebook I think.

I also print off hard copies of any biographical narratives … they are available to immediate family via a folder on my bookshelf

Does anyone find they get much contact via online trees, either through paid sites or their own? (Other than when DNA is involved)

I get quite a few messages via Ancestry. Most are in response to DNA connections but some are tree related … I do quite a lot of descendant research so have lots of collateral lines in my trees … that helps to prompt tree related messages

I get quite a lot of messages on Ancestry. Not all who contact me are actually related but some have ended up being amazing collaborations! Betsy first found me on Ancestry. Look where that took me!

Just remembered I made some cousin contacts through a local history group on Facebook

I am trying to put my research in as many online places as possible. I am writing biographies on WikiTree and copying them to FamilySearch. I have trees on all the big sites.

I have done the same. Pretty much anywhere my tree can go you’ll find it. I don’t get much interaction anywhere but Ancestry but I live in hope

I’ve had some wonderful people contact me with offers of photos of my grandparents siblings – oooooo!!

I’ve (slowly) come to the realisation that trawling the trees for the cousins themselves (not their data) is a great way to find them and connect. Need to get moving with more of that!

Share my research mainly through blogging then emails once a connection has been made via tree on Ancestry etc

ISDiva / Pixabay

Do you have an intended audience when you share your family history online? Are you looking to collaborate with others?

Sharing my family history online is about telling our stories for future generations, and to encourage older generations to tell their stories.

Encouraging older generations to tell their stories so less history is lost is a great outcome. Takes effort,

We need to write down our own personal memories too so that they become written remembered stories for our descendants

Years ago there was a blogging challenge called The Book of Me. Doing that I recorded much of my childhood experiences. We all need to leave our own for the future

I tend to write mainly for myself (to organise my evidence, thoughts etc. and find the gaps in my research) and for my immediate family so I tend to fly under the radar with my blog

ooh an intended audience…that is such a good question. Well in an ideal world I do try to cite my sources thinking that other family historians would be pretty cranky if I didn’t. But I am hoping to catch cousins too.

I’m a bit naughty when it comes to sources in my blog. I do list these sometimes however it makes the blog post less visually appealing and added work so will go for a “contact me for more info” plus if they are really interested they might contact me

I make use of lots of endnotes

Google alerts are quite useful

I’ve been thinking about audience for the blog lately – some good points here…

@geneastories has lots of good advice about family history story telling (in addition to the linked post above)

My intended audience is mixed. I want to preserve the stories for my family and retain via Pandora. It’s also a way to record my discoveries as a kind of research library

Am finding LivingDNA is getting better with replies to messages and then having to work out how related

I have had an uptake in messages from LivingDNA recently and have been able to connect some by cross referencing to other databases but some are only on LivingDNA and not very forthcoming with detail. Hopefully, it will get easier once trees are added!-?

In the early days of researching I drove for almost two hours to meet up with a cousin who found me through the blog. I gave her all my information and never heard from her again. Learned my lesson then and there

Sometimes it can be very frustrating. I’m talking to a 3C at the mo. (DNA) I’ve connected her to her Irish family, who she did not know, and shared everything with her back to her GGGs. And, she has one birth cert that I’d like, but no…

Ack, that’s disappointing. 🙁 (Which reminds me, I must share some birth certs I ordered recently with a 4th cousin LOL)

I have found my blog is great for non family history contacts. This is because they can Google a name or place and find you if you are fortunate. Even if they are not interested in family history some send a note with a few helpful details.

I mostly share family history information online with the intent to find people related to me. My blog posts are both to record stories and research but I do see them as cousin bait. Tags ensure they are easily found by subject, places, surnames etc

I also wonder about menus and categories. Having a navigation that attracts readers to go deeper takes thought and planning.

I use surnames for categories but I also have a menu for my posts when researching my hard to find Irish great great grandmother

I want to share what I know already and also learn from others. I had huge gaps of knowledge a decade ago and have learnt SO much from wider family members about my ancestors. Always looking to collaborate, as there are still a few mysteries to solve.

My intended audience is just whoever comes after me. I don’t have children and don’t know anybody in the family who would be interested in it, so want to make my research available for the future generations.

Collaboration is best when you can share and exchange with like-minded people. Collaboration doesn’t just flow in one direction.

Not sure if all understand how collaboration works and want information however do not share back

I guess we who have benefited have to model the behaviour we want in others (can you tell I’m staying with my 3yr old grandson just now)

As long as I can catch the cousins then the sharing usually follows!

In the past I have been contacted by people who are only interested in what they can get from me. At first I sent the info and heard nothing more from them. I much prefer collaboration

Intended audience includes (un)known descendants and their collateral lines (latest was the son in law of someone). I’m always willing to collaborate but for the moment, it’s mostly one way as I help with Irish records

I dont write for a specific audience but I do have some followers from UTAS family history who often add comments. Also have some cousins who follow and add info

The audience I target is twofold. Anyone interested in family history that can learn from my experiences and descendants of ancestors. The best contacts are ones with photos. You have to love a photo of a person you have not seen before.

LoboStudioHamburg / Pixabay

What do you consider is your best source of Cousin Collaboration? ie blogs, trees, social media?

hmmm well over the years it has been online trees followed by my blog but I suspect if I used Facebook more I might get more bites.

I find twitter achieves more blog hits. Probably because more people follow me on Twitter. Also more regular posting on Twitter. Smaller FB audience and a lack of posting does not help

Don’t forget … It is another avenue for engaging with others in family history research and doesn’t track you like fb does

The best responses I’ve had have been via my blog, especially when I was posting regularly. I think DNA + online trees have also been a good source of contacts from relatives.

The best thing I’ve found with DNA is the cousins who I “know” who help me separate one line from another. Getting specific people to test helps. I’m amazed how the random DNA inheritance will link one person and not others.

Agree, especially when a tree includes collateral lines in it and enables you to better support inquirers to understand where they connect

family trees with a broad base – that is, engage in descendant research to build down the collateral lines.

Undoubtedly, my best source of cousin bait is my blog. We also stay in touch far longer, as they may follow me. They occasionally email comments, and I’m often in their mind if they come across any new family stories, questions or photos. I love it!

My blog is by far the best source of cousin bait for me too Dara. I can’t quite believe the collaboration and information that has come out of blogging

Yes, on a couple of lines I have a long-term collaborator – and it’s so much extra fun to research those lines

I don’t seem to have much luck with this. Maybe I have too few close cousins. I have been in contact with quite distant cousins. Some are interested, many not.

Wherever you put your information there needs to be enough to “reel them in” too little and they move on

By FAR my best source of cousin bait is blogging. But also Twitter. I have put requests for information on Twitter and its amazing how quickly I get results.

I once asked if anyone knew a particular person and within half a day, the granddaughter of the person had contacted me. She gave me photos and information about the house I was researching in return for a copy of the history

For me it’s blogging for sure. Blog posts are out there forever and I’ve been contacted sometimes years after a post is published

Blogging, emails and family reunions are my best sources

the best source for cousin bait is somewhere that will show up in a search engine and free to access so @WikiTreers is my first choice to get someone found

So far has been the most useful for me. No new cousins have responded on social media, but many have through Ancestry and later through email.

my greatest number of contacts has come through the blog and a few from facebook Aus. bloggers group

Free-Photos / Pixabay


What cousin connections or great finds have you made through sharing information online?

The producers of Coast Australia found my convict blog where I had written about my g g g uncle on Norfolk island. Next thing I was researching for them and flown to NI to appear on the episode with Neil Oliver

Forget the cousins! If I knew blogging could get me a meeting with Neil Oliver I’d have been working my little typing fingers down to the bone. Ooh, that voice…

I went to NZ for a holiday, visited a town where some relatives lived, took photos of some photos they showed me, put on blog with question about who were these people. Have had many comments so I can now name the people in photos

Marvellous photos and ephemera from rediscovered cousins in New Zealand, Australia, England and Ireland which aid research on both my paternal and maternal lines. Some people are incredibly generous

I am constantly amazed at people’s generosity Tara when it comes to sharing family history.

What I found was that the diaspora tended to cherish those mementos far more than those who stayed behind

Very true Tara. My grandmother born in Ireland seemed more attached to her mementos than the relatives back home. I guess her way of staying attached.

My very best cousin connection was my dear 3rd cousin Betsy in Chicago. Our g grandparents were sister and brother. She became one of my closest friends and we solved family mysteries together. Since her death this year I have felt quite alone

Have just managed to take husband’s family back one more generation due to an online contact thru Ancestry. We exchanged many emails and documents etc before making the decision it was the correct family

DNA has led me to make connections with quite a few people – mostly we have not yet found our link. They are now friends even though we have not and probably never will meet in person.

Some fab connections, including distant cousin with well-researched family history for a side of the family I had been wondering about. Most memorably, contact from a descendant of a “lost” sibling of my 2x great grandmother, and the research she shared.

My Irish and Bavarian blogs have drawn in people who are descendants of those I’ve written about.

which demonstrates the importance of place I think

I have connected with a number of cousins from 2nd cousins to further afield due to trees, blog, Facebook

I wrote a blog about my husband’s MacDonalds of Ord. A man commented that his g grandfather had been the gardener at Ord house and on a trip to NZ picked up two seeds for a palm. One went to Kew gardens and one to Ord House. The palm at Kew died

I’ve made good friends as well as cousins through blogging. Found unexpected indirect links to genimates. Gained information I’d never have known about.

I was in touch with a cousin who I collaborated with and visited in England many years ago and lost touch. He was much older than me and I was worried he had passed away. He contacted me through the blog this week. I was so happy to hear from him

my great finds have come through someone sharing thru My Heritage and another thru internet stalking followed by letter writing – found the American connection & photographs of my GG grandmother’s brother – the closest I’ll ever get to what she looks like

Blogs mentioned:

Jane – her own thoughts

Sharn – Sharing her thinking about her conclusion

Hilary – Sharing her stories and research

Readers: How do you make connections for collaborating with other family members?

Apps for family history

Thoroughly enjoyable chat tonight with #ANZAncestryTime – apps to make life easier when doing family history.

JESHOOTS-com / Pixabay

Share apps for photos, digital images, storage, scanning etc: favourites, alternatives, features, tips, value.

I only use the software on my computer for my work. I scan with Karapa on my ancient scanner, take photos with my Oppo phone or Panasonic camera, and organise with FastStone Image Viewer. Used to use Picasa

I used to so love Picasa and mourn its absence greatly. Reckon I lost a lot of photos in the transition.

#photomyne @Photomyne has been my personal favourite. It does it all and is still an expanding app.

the best app I use is…

I need something to organise my photos! For creating images, I’ve used Canva, for charts LucidChart, and SnagIt for annotating screenshots. Image editing I use GraphicConverter

Lots of Google, Adobe and Microsoft apps can be used for all sorts of #familyhistory tasks Google Keep and Microsoft Office Lens a couple of current favourites. Microsoft Office Lens Another scanner, documents, cards, photos to pdf etc.etc

Apps for kids recommended by common sense media…

For photo scanning, Google Photoscan I found to be quite useful. Storing… Google Photos hands down.

My FH source images and photos also automatically connect to Dropbox via my Reunion desktop software and the Reunion Touch app on the iPad. Means the images are viewable on the road via the app.

Unsplash for free images and Pic Collage for making collages of images

To store my photos I use Photos from Apple. They are synced through the cloud to other devices so available when out and about. For my sources images I store them in a file connected to my tree on my computer.

Pixabay images are searched when writing my blog summaries. includes the image credit automatically

I mainly use Canva, Pixabay, Pic Collage, Unsplash and Shutterstock for blog images

a freeware alternative to Photoshop that I discovered at a SLQ workshop years ago is GIMP. I use Google Photos and Dropbox mostly for image management and sharing.

I use Flickr on my ipad to collect all my photos and group in albums

photos: Flickr from archives and for some of my own. Shutterstock for paid images for presentations or blog; Pixabayfor free images. Canva for graphics; pic collage for collages.

For scanning I mostly use my iPhone with the Scannable app from Evernote. It straightens up the page to a rectangle even if you take the image on an odd angle. Only for iPhones and iPads available at the Apple app store

dapple-designers / Pixabay

Apps for place research, eg mapping, cemeteries, etc. AND/OR: recording or writing family history, note-taking, presentations, blogging etc.

Use my Firefox browser for working on websites, often up to 20 tabs open, and my MS Pro at the same time if I need to have information up while I’m working on @WikiTreers profiles.

Glad to read that I am not the only one with loads of tabs open. I can go to multiple windows with groups of tabs open in each one.

use LibreOffice for writing reports, preparing spreadsheets, etc. I have my many trees in Legacy. I manage my thousands of files with ZTreeWin. I backup with ToolKit. I email through Thunderbird.

between #Evernote @evernote my camera and map widgets, I am good to go! My PDF app stores my research notes. (Yellow highlights reminds me what I still need to locate, when I am on my fieldtrips.).

Hmm… place research – Google Maps and Google MyMaps. I tend to create presentations and everything on my PC. I don’t like doing those things on phones/tablets.

I agree Daniel. I don’t use a phone for much. I use my large keyboard and my large touchscreen to work. A phone is too small except reading FaceBook, emails, etc.

Am back using Scrivener for writing blog posts, assignments, research reports, etc. So useful being able to pull in resources, and split screen handy for transcribing documents. Have GenMap for mapping data, put Windows VM on my Mac especially to run it.

Scrivener’s great! I think I am finally over my footnote formatting disaster that occurred during my studies – took me a year to recover from that LO

oh yes footnotes can be the bane of your life if you haven’t got the right program or know how to use it properly.

I have used google MyMaps to create some family maps. Here is an example. Can attached a story and images accessible by clicking the numbers or side panel. Usually good but can go a bit wonky.…

have used Soundcloud and voicememos for interviews and then added to my blog

I’ve used wavepad to record oral history interviews and it worked quite well.

Audacity is free and open source and easy to use (I use it to edit my podcast episodes for THB and my own…) Not sure about Soundcloud

The WordPress App really is great. When I was in Spain, I posted every day for 6 weeks and managed comments, all through the app.

I did an oral history via my Evernote app once and this recorded clearly with no extra mics. For note writing I use the notes app on the iPad. Blogging apps: WordPress Apps that links back to my blogs on the server. Lets you manage comments too.

I use WordPress App for my blog, Billion Graves and Find A Grave for cemeteries

mozlase__ / Pixabay

Apps for storing FH research, data, research and your tree. Preferences and why? Multiple choices? Which simplify (or assist) collaboration and sharing?

I use multiple folders on my D drive with subfolders which I can access through ZTreeWin to store photos, certificates, notes. spreadsheets, etc. Backupped to two PHDs. I exchange information through email or Messenger. My work is on @WikiTreers

mentioned in A2 with my camera and PDF widgets/apps, as long as I remember to update/ upload my notes, is all I need

I use Reunion to store my tree offline, but have other apps to produce reports and charts. Excel for data, Scrivener for project work. Endless notebooks that I need to index/transcribe at some point <- need an app for that!

try out using voice to text for all these note books. I have given up typing tonight and are actually saying my posts.

I use the ReunionTouch app on my iPad lots including when I need to check out a birthday coming up as I can never remember them. For transcribing try testing out voice to text options. Double tap fn key the Mac to start, once on in sys pref.

Have also used animoto to create slideshows with and without background music

I have been a long time user of Family Tree Maker but am now trying to switch to Family Historian. I want to make more use of/give SVG Family Tree generator a good workout for creating family tree graphics on my blog. I love Coggle for mind-mapping.

Thanks for bringing up mind mapping Alex. It’s a great tool. I used to use it constantly but not so much lately. For no reason. Just…time!

I have used for mind mapping especially with DNA matches and creating thruline type chart

storing info: notes Evernote, Google docs and sheets, desktop Word, Excel and Powerpoint and online in MyHeritage, Ancestry and FamilySearch Google stuff set to offline too so can be all backed up to 2 external hard drives. family heritage albums in Flickr

Office programs extensively. Evernote is backup of FH emails. Google docs for photos; Dropbox for presentations etc and ready access; OneDrive similarly for access

I have the @Ancestry app. It connects to one of my trees so reflected changes made on the web or synced from Family Tree Maker. You can log into other trees I think.

Yes you can access multiple trees but it is a bit problematic if you want to frequently move between trees

I really like the Ancestry App. It’s great to always have my tree on my phone wherever I go.

Trees on iPad only with ReunionTouch. @FamilySearch App, @MyHeritage, @Ancestry on iPhone as well. I do frequently use a web browser on my iPad for consistency the interface with desktop use. Apps though are better on a phone being mobile responsive.

ds_30 / Pixabay


Apps for anything and everything: learning, time keeping, mind mapping, charts, etc. The ones you cannot do without and why.

Zotero for keeping track of useful resources and the Chrome extension Zotero Connector that grabs the details with one click.

Spreadsheets for pretty much everything – Research logs, Timelines, BDM certificates. Genome Mate Pro for DNA matches, DNA Painter

Librarything for books owned. Easy to scan in bar code. I use GoodReads for the books read. This applies to both FH and general reading though LT is more for my reference library.

Books owned are in a large spreadsheet arranged in the order they are on the shelves by bookcase and room. Couldn’t find them otherwise as I have moved several times – know where they were in the last house

Libib for tracking my genealogy/history books, so I don’t buy a book I already have.

If I could only pick one app then the one I would pick is more of an extension for Firefox. It’s called web developer and it’s the first thing I download whenever I get a new computer and set up Firefox.

I confess to still using pen and paper to keep myself organized and when I get frustrated at not getting through my To Do list, I use my own version of the Pomodoro technique, allocating 1/2 an hour to each task just to make some progress on them.

Ah, I have the FocusTime app to use that technique. I find it helps, mostly 😉

You work 25 minutes on a task, then have 5 min break. Can help if you have trouble focussing, or easily distracted. Can be annoying if you get stuck into something, and then “have” to stop. So sometimes I don’t 😉 Customisable, can change time settings

If using wordpress, here is how to embed some media…

For language translation I’ve used Reverso app. Feedly to monitor blog posts by others, voice memos when travelling or otherwise as a reminder. Facebook to stay in touch with genimates and FH & DNA groups.

Spreadsheets. I could not survive without them. All my data goes into them. I have some with 50 years of data. Ask a question, I go to a spreadsheet. Maybe I should start writing about the information.

yes I love doing timelines for ancestors on Spreadsheets. Makes it much easier.

DNA matches from every site I’m on. The ones above 20cM mainly but I do put up others that I am looking at. BDMs too

I keep virtually everything on Google Drive – spreadsheets, slideshows, documents, photos etc Can then be accessed on any computer world wide or on ipad or laptop

Great comments:

Time seems to be the issue that challenges most family historians in many areas of their research. It’s my biggest challenge. But retirement is coming in a few weeks so things will change

Yes where is that time expansion app we’ve all been looking for?????

Blog posts:

Carmel always has great posts. Here is one for apps for family history tasks.

Readers: Do you have a favourite app you use when researching or travelling?