It has been a few weeks since I blogged anything – but I have been tremendously busy with the passing of my “old” life and the emergence of my “new” one. As new life patterns and ways of being unfold, one of the few things that remains constant is my passion for family history and helping others unravel theirs. I genuinely and thoroughly enjoy each family history project I work on. I become immersed in the lives of the ancestors, and how those lives impact a client’s modern family.
I have traced families from Canada and America back to France, Russia, Germany, England, Ireland, Scotland, and the Netherlands. I have followed the footsteps of a Huguenot family that traveled from France, to the Netherlands, to South Africa, and finally to their home in Zimbabwe. I took a genealogy voyage with a family that left France and moved to Acadia in the early 1600s, and then later down the road were expelled to France, immigrated to Louisiana, went back to Acadia, and then ventured on to California in the 1980s. I watched one brave family over their lifetime move back and forth between Ireland, the United States, and Scotland, all the while struggling to survive and keep their family intact.
I find myself reflecting on how one historical event, even one that is seemingly insignificant, impacts our lives today. Each time I have a new family to research I feel enriched by the experience – knowing I have gained some insight and found some hidden gems of information. That is what this blog is about, hidden gems. Hidden gems in the form of blogs.
When searching for the “best kept secret” genealogy blogs, I found that there were many gems out there and therefore had to set some selection criteria. The criteria I decided on were that the blog had to: 1. Contain present relevant information, 2. Be well organized, 3. Provide easy access to information via labels and archives, 4. Offer useful links, 5. Have limited advertisements, 6. Be user friendly, 7. Have a design that did not distract the reader from the text, and 8. Not appear on any existing “Top 10” blog list I had previously seen.
I had no idea when I selected the criteria that it would be difficult to find blogs that met them all. I browsed through more than 50 blogs to come up with this list of five. Because I selected blogs with little or no advertising, the ones I found tended to be personal, specialty blogs. I believe that each reader will find one or more blogs below that they will refer to time and again.
I am not sure if this counts as one or two blogs, because Joe Beine Genealogy Roots Blog has two sites, and I feel that I cannot include one without the other — they are like a matched set. Genealogy Roots Blog is for “finding online genealogy databases, records and resources.” Though most of his sources are American, Joe also has some Canadian and European source links, as well. Additionally included are occasional tidbits of personal stories, genealogy news, and other useful information and tips. This blog will definitely help you with your genealogy research!
Joe’s second site is titled Cemeteries and Cemetery Symbols. This was the first time I visited this site, and I learned a lot about cemetery symbols. Thanks to Joe, the next time I go to a cemetery it will be with “new eyes” and an appreciation for cemetery art and symbols. An understanding of the symbolism helps place a family in their socio-historical context and can be a clue to their ethnic heritage.
Brian Sheffey’s Genealogy Adventures blog addresses genealogical topics related to African American families; however, you don’t have to be a family historian or an African American to appreciate this blog. Post titles such as “I’m white, your family is black. We can’t be related!”, “Passing for white: ancestors who jumped the color line,” and “Crockett Sheffey – Buffalo Soldier” draw readers of all colors and walks of life to his blog. Brian’s thoughtful postings provide adventures into both genealogy and the social fabric of a nation. Brian proves that “strangers can sometimes be connected in surprising ways.”
Malo Family Genealogy
Since I also blog for the Malo Family Genealogy site, my opinion may be somewhat biased, but I do think this is a blog that Malo family descendants and those doing French Canadian and French American genealogy should not miss. This blog tracks the branches of the Malo and associated families that emigrated from Quebec to New England in the 1800s. Besides covering many French Canadian families, it has videos of historic events in Quebec and a solid set of links to genealogical resources in Canada, the United States, and in France. The site has a translation function so the reader can view the blog in French or English. Included are valuable documents that relate to the blog posting. It is the only blog I found that traces the extended family from an original ancestor in the 1600s, following all the lines of immigration of the extended family into a particular region of another country up to modern times.
Genealogy New Zealand
Though I have no New Zealand links, I found it hard to leave the Genealogy New Zealand blog behind and move on to the next one. I liked the simplicity of Lyn Dear’s writing. Click on any label or archived posting and something informative and interesting comes up that usually includes pictures or documents to complement the text. The posting are generally short, but provided useful information on a given topic. After reading so many blogs, I was glad not to have to wade through a lot of text before the writer got to the point.
Besides engaging in Lyn’s personal stories about her genealogy adventures, I found myself immersed in the development of the blog (and Lyn’s genealogical perspective) from an exploration into personal family history, to a passion for New Zealand genealogy and history. I felt compelled to go visit her companion Facebook site to see if it was as absorbing as the blog, and it was. Site members share information and help one another break through their brick walls. This is a must-see blog and Facebook site for those with genealogy links to New Zealand.
Czech Genealogy for Beginners
Czech Genealogy for Beginners is an amazing blog by Blanka Lednicka is a treasure for those researching Czechoslovakian roots, particularly for those who have ancestors in Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. No language barriers here as Blanka uses impeccable English. Furthermore, her blog has several dictionaries that will assist in interpreting Czechoslovakian genealogical documents. The blogger keeps her postings interesting by sharing not only information, but her personal joys related to family research. Blanka also addresses barriers she has run into and how she overcame them. To keep you coming back for more, she has something I have not seen on other blogs, a list of future blogs she will be posting. Blanka is also on twitter so giver her a “shout out” and let her know how much you appreciate her blog – even if you have no Czech roots.
Well I hope you enjoyed this long-awaited blog.
For help with researching your family tree, speak to a professional genealogist today.