Finding and solving gaps in our research.

Remembering that stories are important in family history, not just the birth, death, marriage dates and places. So how do we find information to fill in the gaps in the stories was what was discussed at this #ANZAncestryTime chat.

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How do we identify gaps in our research? Is it important to do so?

I use timelines to work out where I need to look for more info eg school records, employment records etc

If you use good desktop software it may have a way to let you know what is missing

I am currently redoing my database and have queries to help find what is missing.

I have two ways of identifying gaps: (1) is writing up my research which makes clear where I’m missing information. (2) checking against my preferred sources to ensure I’ve included them.

To find gaps in knowledge/evidence about an individual … start writing up what you know about them as a sourced biographical narrative. This soon highlights the gaps which you can then set about trying to fill

Starting with what you know is a great tip Jane @Chapja It’s much easier then to see the gaps

Yes, Jane, I can get on board with this method, because my goal is a story, not a full database.

I like to try to fill in the gaps in my research. Often when traditional family history records leave gaps you can fill them using newspapers. DNA has helped me also

Love me a good timeline! Plus checklists, making sure I’ve covered at least all the basics.

For brickwalls I use mindmaps (from FreeMind) to review and identify what I might have missed

I love creating mind maps. I picked up that tip at Rootstech a few years ago. It’s amazing what can jump out at you as missing

Mindmapping – you could do this with pencil and paper I’ve also used Freemind Mindmaps for preparing museum exhibitions What’s really nice is that you can collapse sections or open then up

Using a research log or prompt sheet can help to identify gaps

To visualise gaps in tree … the DNAPainter ‘Ancestral Trees’ function enables you to visualise tree completeness so you can decide where in your tree you may want to focus next –

I create detailed timelines for individuals and families – it’s a great way of spotting both gaps and connections I hadn’t noticed before. Creating bios for Wikitree also made me go back and look for things I’d missed, so I could tell a coherent story

As Australia doesn’t have its census records available, we have to utilise different record sets and not get caught in the decennial gap trap.

Identifying gaps in our research is important if we’re to gain a full view of the lives of our ancestors. Learning what records are available for place and time, and using them, is critical.

I find using a spreadsheet to set down timelines of each person useful. Columns represent list of possible records they would be in, when I locate I tick it in the column. Records BMD parish records and census.

As with so much in family history, it’s finding what is most intuitive for each of us that helps productivity.

When looking at gaps in our research we need to look at regional, national and world events to see how they affected our families.

Ancestry’s DNA match colour coding and DNA Painter’s chromosome mapping have filled gaps for me

When new records become available work through them to ensure you have not missed someone GRO site helped me

I use timelines. I include place as well as dates. For example, is it possible that my research people were in e.g. New York for 1910 census and then enumerated in England a few months later in 1911? (Yes, it is, but confirming it opened new avenues)

Yeah Sophie’s “negative space” is basically the same idea, although her approach is more colourful. I’d like to be able to do a 3-D version that layers people on top of time/place. Best I can do for that is Visio/process maps

Visio is a lovely little microsoft package – very easy to use. I also use it for presenting smaller family trees – extracts

It was inspiration from the talk given by @ScientistSoph on Negative Space that really started me thinking more about this topic, including mapping events. Read her blog post here.…

timelines are really helpful, as is writing up a person’s life. Often realise I’m missing something crucial.

Interesting how many of us find narratives helpful to identify missing research.

I tag my Legacy trees as I find supporting sources so I know which ones I need to find.

i do a timeline sheet in my Research Log (Excel). I add date in first column then age, event and place for each person in the family with a diff colour for each person. Then i can scroll and see where each family member was on a date.

Different formats for diff research questions, but usually just a table in a Word document – year in one column, date in next, then a text field with whatever info I want to record. I find that little bit of visual organisation just enough to work for me

Ancestry’s DNA match colour coding and DNA Painter’s chromosome mapping have filled gaps for me

Yes … Delay no further! DNAPainter has so many useful tools and functions to help find and fill gaps in our research

I have loved DNA painter since Jonny Perl first introduced it at a RootsTech conference. He is brilliant

something I do with my students often is get them to fill out a blank direct ancestor tree just to see where they’re missing bits.

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Do you use a timeline to identify research gaps? Do you use your genealogy program, Excel or another program?

I use mainly Legacy but sometimes go with spread sheet

Funny you mention it, because I created one today about a great grandfather, using a table in WORD. I’m including citations from the many sources I have found about him. He never seemed to stay in one place for long – trying to put all the pieces together.

Those wanderers can be a lot of work to trace. I have a few of those. Timelines do help to see where they’ve been

I have a bigamist who disappears after he serves time in Victoria. Not found anywhere yet.

I suspect some bigamy with my American born Adams 2xgt gddad too. Disappears from Grafton & NSW. Then emerged close & shared DNA matches descended from Tassie man of same name who appeared in Tassie little after Grafton man disappeared. Same man or close family?

I find that now I am writing up the family histories (part of my downsizing project) I am finding gaps and then I just fill them as I go. If I can

Yes writing narratives is a great way to find gaps in information … it also helps to spot inconsistencies in the information you have too

I can be in the middle of a blog post about an ancestor and realise I have a gap. Then it’s off down a rabbit hole before I finish the blog post. That’s where I am now

Writing is the best way to spot gaps! Writing seems to trigger all sorts of analytical processes in your brain that regular research does not.

Yes, and why it takes me so long to finish a blog post, let alone a research report for myself (loved your presentation on that!)

I found an infant death in Ireland following naming patterns and a gap in the births.

Tracing 19th century Aussie wanderers, it’s helpful to put the gold rushes on the timeline. A ‘missing’ person may have gone to try their luck. Check other colonies.

Good tip Brooke to add to the timeline. Also perhaps expansion of an occupation eg railway construction?

Gold rushes impacted just about everybody’s family – follow the gold. One of mine moved from Sydney to Victorian goldfields then up to the Gympie rushes in Queensland and finally over to the Western Australian gold rush. Over generations and not all moved.

Yes, my West Coast NZ gold rush ancestors all started mining life in Victoria. Most of them left family there, though contact has been mostly lost. I hope to re-establish some one day!

Another one of my mining families ducked across to Reefton for a while then back to Queensland. Have to look both sides of the Tasman

I realised one of mine did when I mapped the births of all his (many) children. Another way of spotting gaps. Map the babies.

This timeline was created for a specific research question: where was she living when she got pregnant with her children who were born out of wedlock? The timeline helped me formulate a hypothesis about the probable father, later confirmed with DNA.

My genealogy program allows you to export any query to a spreadsheet so you can work on it outside the program

Freemind is what I use for MindMaps…

Timeline but also my online tree with Ancestry where I can see on their facts or story what might be missing

Also when I write my biographies I have particular sections of their life to include which means I might need to do more research with newspapers etc to find that info

combination of Excel for checklist and offline family tree program for timeline. This then helps with writing up in more details in a blog.

If I’m looking at a timeline, I will use Excel to analyse what I have and what I’m missing. I always use date, month, year in separate columns. Alternatively I use Word document gaps. I don’t use my genealogy program for this.

my genealogy program is good for seeing gaps in the research plus you can add notes and reminders. I used to have lots of sticky yellow notes but using a program helps keep me focused.

I will write or look for other queries to identify other gaps once I have added census information

While I don’t always use a timeline I do identify gaps as I write up my research. I am using a timeline for my troublesome McSherry family. I also compare my checklist of record sources to see what I might have missed.

I’m constantly using timelines and use Legacy family history software. Occasionally I use excel for timelines

I look at my genealogy software & files for reference, but I create it in MS Word.

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What key facts do you include in your timeline? What records do you use to fill the gaps?

vital records (including addresses/occupations on children’s births), the census, any known migrations.

after looking at all possible records I then look at newspapers and overseas records. Sometimes the ancestor could be a witness or informant in a record.

BDM, children, grave or cremation, residences, any info from Rolls or Census records, newspaper stories

It depends on time period – early 19c Irish ag lab/working class leave very little trace in records so there are often big gaps, especially if they never married/had kids. Newspapers/migration/institutional records may fill gaps but often have to accept gaps

If I could just fill in the gaps in my lots of Irish ancestry I would be very happy. Wills have been useful

If you can find them, if they survive – I’ve yet to find more than a calendar entry and that for only a handful of people. The swines!

So inconsiderate of them! 🙂 I got my English 4GGF’s will. One line sums it up: “to my beloved wife, executor of this will, all my assets” – thanks Grandpa!! 😀

I like to record as many facts as possible in my timelines from cradle to the grave. I also include major events like war, famine, depression, pandemics. These events can trigger ideas for more records to search

If I am trying to find someone who is missing I will search in Newspapers or look for them travelling

Censuses and BDMs are the anchor points. Otherwise it could be anything – church records, entries in the street directory, newspaper reports, appearances as witnesses/registrants on other BDMs, court records – as long as it can be tied to a date

I like to track my ancestors’ locations, and kin, where possible to get a full picture of their lives. For immigrant ancestors I also want their immigration records – where available.

At the moment I’m including day, month, year, event, location, notes and citation. I’ve used newspaper articles, police records/gazettes, BMD certificates, electoral rolls. The guy I am researching went interstate and overseas enough to confuse us all!

Birth, Deaths Marriages, other key events in the life of the person. Also historical events at a certain time, for context

Trove is great for filling gaps we didn’t know we had – totally unexpected events and activities. I like to use Education, land, occupation, military records, immigration, clubs/societies inter alia.

I include every event for which I know a time and place for that ancestor. So vital events, military service, prison time, births of children, etc.

My excel sheet columns include for the names such First & Mid Name, Last Name, Full Name then vital record dates. The ID for the person. I split the dates to a columns for date, month and year. Finally the columns for the specific data I’m working with

vital records (including addresses/occupations on children’s births), the census, any known migrations

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Can you give examples where you or others have successfully plugged research gaps?

One thing that timelines can hide is contradictory activities. eg An ancestor is recorded being in one place for his child’s birth, & having a business. a legal case showed he was also working on the gold fields a distance away: there were regular coaches.

lots of those for my Dickson family. Currently working on Rev Dr David Dickson’s children A few more than in official bios

I used timelines to disprove a family legend (two men) but extending the FAN (family, associates, neighbours) research actually demonstrated there was a foundation for the legend – multiple timelines.

another TL piece: sometimes, not often, RC priests recorded both birth and baptismal dates. RC baptisms usually took place ASAP but there was a 6 week gap. Made me look more closely at godparents. They’d travelled quite a distance, another chink in brickwall

I used timelines to disprove a family legend (two men) but extending the FAN (family, associates, neighbours) research actually demonstrated there was a foundation for the legend – multiple timelines.

Our genimate @luvviealex wrote recently about her life in 12 censuses. It made me think more closely about my own presence in the records and how I wish I’d been able to see my parents’ and grandparents’ census returns.

Tried this today in a timeline but discovered it left out great chunks of our lives even our overseas postings, seems we were always in Aus. Made me think of ancestors gaps

Exactly! I don’t want to share all the nitty gritty but I think it can help highlight the challenge for the next couple of generations while privacy rules apply.

How cool! I have never been enumerated in a census in my life. The Netherlands stopped taking them in 1971 since we have a continuous population registration and they know where we live. 👀

Using DNA Trove BDMs to help adoptees to find their bio families and Collins Leeds method too

My longest running project is the collection of Electoral Data from NZers in my tree. Add another cousin to my tree creates gaps for Electoral Roll entries. Having such a large collection of addresses helps with a diverse range of other research questions

Trying to find out what happened to a woman from when she returned to Scotland in 1868 until her death. For that time period looked at censuses, deaths in her family & mapped them in time & space. Found her. Went to live with her son in England & she died there.

Timelines have been very useful me to find out where ancestors were fighting during WW1. I start with enlistment date and place and then do a timeline of their war service

I hadn’t thought do to a wartime timeline. what a great idea @SharnWhite I intend to do it

It helps to know what battles to research Jennifer and what war diaries to look for

It is always worth looking to see if there were births before a marriage one turned up this week not a relative but the person they married was

I have been trying to find out how a man in Bathurst met a woman in Hill End and how she had 4 children to him. There were no family connections between the places. Today I found on Trove his license to drive a coach from Bathurst to Hill End.  Yes unfortunately he never married her. I must do a timeline to see if his coach trips coincide with the births! I expect they did

Doing a timeline of where members of a family were in census records helped me to find a missing person

I find researching between the census records for missing children has turned up a few who died young

using census records – when I can’t find them I try all variants – Price was indexed as Grice – sometimes gaps are caused by indexing errors, bad handwriting or human error

Or search by a family member with the most distinctive first name. That worked for me.

All of my ancestors start in UK. When they emigrated to New Zealand, I found them passenger lists and rest of the information in the newspapers, even when they then moved to North America, especially the journalist ancestor, which was the subject of my blog

I’ve set up web pages with blog post sections for all my ancestral lines- sometimes cousins read these and make suggestions that I’ve missed something or drawn a wrong conclusion

My ancestors lived in a place in the Netherlands that kept mill tax records in 1700s that listed everyone in the household. I used these to see when children entered the household and prove that one child was baptized under a different name than used later.

I’m using a spreadsheet of every single event I can find for my McSherry family in the hope of breaking down my mysteries. Very clear for a 25 year block, then nada.

Timelines + checklists = winner!

Blog posts relating to the topic

Kerrie Anne – using mindmaps,

Alex – my life in censuses,

Legacy – mindmaps webinar,

Sue – examples of biographies written,

Readers: How do you find the gaps in your research? How do you find the info to fill those gaps?

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 😉

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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.

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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.

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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.


Are you attending Rootstech online conference?

This year of COVID has made many changes to our lifestyle especially face to face in person events like conferences.  Every couple of years I would attend the ISTE conference in America (International Society for Technology in Education). Often over 20,000 people heading to talks, workshops, poster events, expo hall or just sitting around conversing. I was usually there presenting a poster session on the student blogging challenge I ran for 10 years before and after retiring from teaching.

Sue Waters and myself at ISTE

But I have had experience of online conferences. Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon run an online Global Education Conference each year for a week. They use Blackboard Collaborate (or they did when I last went to a conference with them). Sessions are on 24/7 and each room has a moderator to help the presenter. Sessions are recorded and archived. Some sessions would have no attendees except the presenter and moderator but it was still recorded. I was a moderator at this conference and would hear some great sessions from people related somehow to education in their country. Lucy and Steve are from America so they would look after the time slots during daylight hours there and Anne Mirtschin and I would look after the slots during daylight hours in Australia. As I was retired, I would stay up until about midnight our time, head to bed, then start again about 9am our time. It was an exhausting week but well worth it.

Rootstech this year is also totally online. As well as having a main stage where the sessions will be streamed live, they will also have prerecorded sessions to view at your own pace. All sessions will be available for a year and if you join the Rootstech Connect via Family Search, then you will be able to create a playlist of those sessions you want to view.

Just click on the picture below and it will open to 17 different posts explaining Rootstech

What to do if you want to take part in Rootstech conference?

Here is the main Rootstech page where you register for the event. While there, scroll down to see the keynote speakers or to find out who will be on the mainstage each day and also a list of the other sessions available.

But how can you connect people attending the conference?

Once you are registered for the conference, create a free account at Family Search and start building your tree. This is a world wide tree and will connect with other information added by the users of family search. You will be able to add or correct information if needed.

When you log into family search, you will see a banner at the top of the screen “Join relatives at Rootstech”, click on that and you will see how many of your relatives are at the conference. The more people you have added to your tree, the more chance you will see relatives. At the moment, I have two relatives at the conference but I hope more by the time it actually starts.

Readers: What is your experience of face to face or online conferences? What are the pros and cons of both?