Fifth Blogiversary: Five benefits of genealogy and family history blogging

Sepia Saturday 467: Today is the Fifth Blogiversary of Molly’s Canopy! Many thanks to my family, readers and fellow bloggers for your support and valuable feedback along the way! Help me celebrate – please leave a comment.

Number 5. Today I am proud and happy that Molly’s Canopy is celebrating its Fifth Blogiversary. Many thanks to my family, readers and fellow bloggers for your support and valuable feedback along the way. Image: Pixabay

Today is the Fifth Blogiversary of Molly’s Canopy — a landmark event I did not envision when I began blogging in 2014 during the Sesquicentennial of the U.S. Civil War.

Five years ago I was writing weekly about my great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull’s experiences as a Union Army soldier — but I hadn’t considered what I would blog about after that first year ended.

Yet that’s when regular blogging began to yield many valuable genealogy and family history benefits. So today — to celebrate the Fifth Blogiversary of Molly’s Canopy — I thought I’d share five benefits of blogging that I’ve discovered along the way.

FIVE BENEFITS OF BLOGGING

1. Blogging gets the writing done. As I researched my ancestors over a couple of decades, I amassed documents and photographs, kept notes, logged dPixabay - Creative Commons - no attribution requiredetails into my genealogy software — and even used this material to write draft narratives about some of them. But I did this in fits and starts as time permitted and not in a regular, disciplined way. That changed after Molly’s Canopy was launched. There’s nothing like having a regular/weekly deadline — even a self-imposed one — to get the writing done. And post-by-post, the writing transforms from an ancestral character sketch to a more detailed life story — and could evolve into the draft of a book-length manuscript. All by writing a few hundred words on a regular/weekly basis.

2. Blogging focuses broader historical research. Genealogists rely on careful documentation — from vital and church records, census reports, land and probate documents and more — to verify the life details of individuals and establish family relationships. But to tell a compelling family narrative requires additional historical research to put ancestors’ lives in context. Regular blogging helps focus this research. Where did ancestors live during the census? What was going on in their town, in the country, in the world? Why did they move there? When and why did they leave? Did they appear in the newspaper? These and other questions cropped up as I was writing blog posts — and a deep dive into history yielded valuable background details that illuminated my ancestors’ lives.

3. Blogging helps get those photos scanned. Like me, most family history researchers have a stash of ancestral photos that need to be digitized. But when to do this? It’s easy to put off the task to “someday” —  that vague deadline way off in the future that somehow never arrives! This is especially true if a family photo collection is large. But blogging can break photo scanning into regular, manageable chunks. The Internet is visual — and blog posts benefit from at least one good photo. A post can also consist of several photos and extended captions. Scanning a few photos for each blog post helps move the digitization forward.

4. Blogging creates social connections. As part of the social media universe, blogs help connect their writers with a wider world of readers — and the valuable feedback they provide. Genealogy research and family history writing are solitary tasks — and it’s easy to feel isolated when you’re working alone. But blogging puts some of that information out in public — where readers, other bloggers and relatives can follow along and leave comments. This is a great way to reach younger, Internet-savvy family members. One more bonus: newfound cousins may get in touch to share their research, photos and ancestral stories — and you can even meet up with them at reunions!

5. Blogging preserves your research for the future. Family trees are invaluable as research tools that organize relationships and documentation in one place. A blog can illuminate that research — allowing a family history writer to breathe life into the documents’ revelations and place ancestors in their historical context. Years of family history blogging will amass a body of interpretive, narrative work as a legacy for future generations — whether the blog is preserved online, turned over to a repository that accepts digital donations, or the posts are printed into a book. And this legacy can be created in a totally manageable way — one blog post at a time.

So on this Fifth Blogiversary I’m glad I launched Molly’s Canopy when I did — and I am grateful to experience these valuable benefits of blogging and more with each new post.

Up next: Annual Spring Break for Molly’s Canopy. May is always a busy month, so I am taking a much-needed blogging break to refresh and recharge. Please stop back when regular blogging resumes in June — and in the meantime, visit my fellow Sepia Saturday bloggers here.

© 2019 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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36 thoughts on “Fifth Blogiversary: Five benefits of genealogy and family history blogging”

  1. I’ve enjoyed reading your blogs for several years, and congratulate you for five of them. I agree completely with your 5 benefits…and a community that bloggers form…though very amorphous. I was on a break when you posted this, and now you are on one. It’s great to know that we can do that, then just resume where we left off. Keep on Blogging.

    1. Thanks, Barb. Breaks are very important — especially for long-term bloggers. I didn’t take one the first couple of years but after my first A to Z Challenge in 2016, I needed a few weeks off. Now regular rest breaks have become part of my blogging life!

  2. Happy Blogiversary! It have enjoyed reading your blog over the past several months and look forward to the next year. Enjoy your break!

  3. Congratulations! I have completely enjoyed your Sepia Sat. posts, and though I know you were sticking to 5 reasons to blog in order to keep with your 5 years blogging, there is a #6 and that’s simply that it’s fun! 🙂

  4. You are absolutely right on the benefits of blogging. Blogging has forced me to slow down and dig deeper. It’s also motivated me to scan many many items.

    1. Thanks for your visit, Daisha. Yes, the slowing down is valuable. Taking a more careful look at documents also sometimes reveals a missed detail that can open an entirely new avenue of ancestral inquiry.

  5. I so agree with you ! I never thought when I began blogging 9 years ago, that I would still be here. But the blogging community has been a great inspiration fir further research and writing, and I would not be without it. I look forward to reading more of your posts in your 6th blogging year.

    1. Thanks, Sue. I continue to draw inspiration from bloggers like you who have been at this longer than I have. Nine years is impressive. I hope to get there one day, too!

  6. Bravo! Your list has exactly the reasons I enjoy blogging too. Blogs like yours have used this novel medium of the 21st century to contribute thousands, maybe millions, of new connections to history that might otherwise have faded away in obscurity. I look forward to many more good stories.

    1. Thanks, Mike. Blogging is the best…and you certainly have contributed to the musical history blogosphere with your many excellent posts drawn from your extensive photo/postcard collection. Look forward to reading more as I enter year 6!

  7. Congratulations on your 5th Blogaversary, Molly. Your blogs paint a picture of our ancestors, their life experiences and places and time periods when they lived. People who were once just names become people that we now feel like we know. Thank you. I love reading your blog.

  8. Well done distant cousin Molly 🙂 Congratulations on your five successful years. You have certainly worked hard at achieving this milestone. I hope you have enjoyed your journey and know many others appreciate the passion of your efforts. Keep it going. I will stay in touch about our family and hopefully share somethings with all of my cousins.

    Sincerely,
    Dave Charbonneau

  9. Hi Molly! Congrats for 5 years of sharing your informative and entertaining family history. Just last week, we met Tim Braden and wife, Michele, for a Baltimore Dempsey lunch. Tim is the grandson of Claire Dempsey Braden ( grand-daughter of William Patrick and Katherine Dempsey ), and regaled us with stories of his very Irish grandmother. So you see, our Dempsey cousins group continues to grow!
    Please do come back to Baltimore for a visit. We would love to see you!

  10. Congratulations Molly! You have done a superb job with your “Canopy!” I just read the 5 benefits of blogging and you have successfully captured the ways that your blog has built upon all of your research. Enjoy the May Break and keep on blogging!

    1. Thanks, Jane. You were there at the beginning! Hard to believe it’s been five years since our wonderful trip to Virginia to watch Arthur’s battles reenacted.

  11. I always enjoy the blogs. They are a welcome respite from the normal business-y stuff that I read (and the many garbage emails that continue to clog my inbox, despite many efforts to unsubscribe from them or block them.)

    See you soon, my friend.

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