I published the first Organize Your Family History post on June 14, 2012. I can’t believe it’s already been five years. In past blogiversary posts, I’ve cited some statistics about the blog but I figure that that has to be pretty boring to anybody but me. (I’m still tracking the data in a spreadsheet, so feel free to email me if you would like to know stats about numbers of posts, comments, and pageviews.)
I will say that the blog readership continues to grow and I’m on track to hit 150,000 pageviews in 2017, which is about 50 percent more than 2015 & 2016. I’m really thrilled about. that Comments are up, too–thank you so much to all of you who comment. I really enjoy the interaction.
Instead of spouting statistics on this blogiversary post, I thought I’d write a little about how I’ve evolved as a genealogy researcher over the last five years. The great thing about having a blog is that your history is at your disposal. So here’s my evolution as a genealogist over the last five years, as documented on this blog:
- I’m almost completely paperless. On August 12, 2012, I wrote, “I’m a paper person. I know I could (and perhaps should) save documents, like census images, as pdfs and just organize them on my computer. But I really like printing them out and keeping them in files. So that’s what I do.” Wow. Nowadays I almost never print anything out and the documents are beautifully organized on my computer. I’ve developed an awesome digital workflow that works really well for me. And I’ve even coauthored (with scanning guru Brooks Duncan) The Paperless Genealogy Guide. What a difference five years makes.
- I now understand that researching away from my desk can be really beneficial. Five years ago, all my research was done online, from my desk. And that was great. But now I’ve gone on some great research trips, both library trips and cemetery trips. (I need to start doing courthouse trips!) They enhance my research so much. Trips that take me to where my ancestors lived make me feel closer to them. I can’t wait to go on my next one.
- I’m finally keeping a research log. In 2012 I wrote about keeping a research log. I had the best of intentions, but it didn’t stick. At least once a year, I would resolve to try again. And I would fail. At the end of 2016, I set a goal of creating a genealogy research log habit in 2017 and I set up a Facebook group for those who also want to create the habit, Genealogy Research Loggers. (Feel free to join us; it’s a pretty quiet group.) I’m proud to say that almost halfway through the year, the habit feels engrained. Part of my success is the simplicity of the log I keep. But it’s doing its job of keeping me focused and helping me remember what I’ve researched and where I am in my research. It’s very rewarding.
- I’m researching more frequently. Thanks to the 30 x 30 challenges I started in 2015 (in which I challenge myself and my readers to do 30 minutes of genealogy research each day for 30 days), I’m getting a lot more research done. And since I have a research log in which I write next steps, I don’t have the barrier of deciding what to work on when I sit down to start a research session. The result is more frequent researching, though the sessions may be shorter. It keeps my head in the game and keeps genealogy top of mind.
- I’m more focused. One of the challenges I find with genealogy research is that as the family tree grows, there are so many opportunities to explore new things (or shiny objects). At the beginning of 2014, I created a scheme in which I would focus on one family line (that is the ancestors of one grandparent) each quarter. That helped me maintain some focus. In 2017, I decided I would spend the whole year focused on one line, my paternal grandfather’s line. I imagine that might sound boring to some, but I love it! It happens that my grandfather’s grandfather has a Civil War pension file that is rich with information and offers lots of clues to explore. (I’m making progress on transcribing that pension file…I’m on document 107 of 138.) I’m not the least bored with limiting my research to this one family line this year. I love the focus.
- I went from a conference attendee to a conference speaker! I love conferences, especially genealogy conferences. Since 2013, I’ve been to a dozen genealogy conferences, ranging from smaller local or regional conferences to RootsTech, which draws some 10,000 to 20,000 attendees. This year I was thrilled to be a presenter at RootsTech. I co-presented, with Brooks Duncan (my Paperless Genealogy Guide co-writer), a session called Go Paperless: Streamline and Digitize Your Research. I’d like to speak at other genealogy conferences in coming years. (Feel free to suggest topics you think would be good to hear from me!)
Bloggers are really fortunate in that reading blog archives can bring to mind long-forgotten memories. I’ve enjoyed putting together this post to remind me how far I’ve come in the last five years. I want to thank you for reading the blog and give thanks those of you who comment and especially those I’ve met in person. This blog has enhanced my life and I’m very grateful!