When the annual A to Z Challenge begins on April 1, 2020, Molly’s Canopy will participate for the third time in the month-long blogging marathon. My theme this year is Endwell: My Elementary Years — where my genealogy journey germinated.
This year, during the Coronavirus quarantine, I’m going back to my childhood to explore how my interest in family, ancestors and heritage germinated once my family moved from our Altamont, N.Y. farmhouse to the suburbs circa 1957 — rolling out the next chapter of my own story from A to Z at one letter per day (minus a few Sundays) throughout April.
My inspiration: Genealogy bloggers who wrote about their own lives during previous challenges.
The rationale: We spend so much time searching for our ancestors and telling their stories that we forget to tell our own. As family historians we owe it to posterity to include ourselves in the mix.
The urgency: No one is sure how the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will unfold in the U.S., so there is no time to waste in getting these stories out there.
Leaving an ancestral diary
Have you ever wished your ancestors had left letters or a diary — some tangible record in their own voice? I know I have, and I don’t want to be guilty of the same omission. So I intend to tell the next part of my own story during this year’s #AtoZChallenge.
My plan is to blog about life in Endwell, N.Y., the Broome County suburb I moved to at age seven with my parents and my two younger brothers. Along the way, I’ll examine how my elementary years germinated my heritage quest.
Time: The late 1950s and early 1960s.
Setting: A small upstate New York suburban community.
Backdrop: Malverne Road, a dead end street one block from the Susquehanna River and packed with more than 50 children during the Baby Boom years.
Players: Me; my immediate and extended family; some of my ancestors; and neighbors, friends, classmates and visitors.
Please take a seat and get comfortable. On April 1 the curtain rises on Endwell: My Elementary Years. See you then!
Sepia Saturday 467: Today is the Fifth Blogiversaryof 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.
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 details 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 bloggershere.