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Introducing “My Ancestors” page

16 Jan

Those of you who are reading my blog posts through Google Reader or some other feed reader my have missed the fact that I have added a new page to my blog.

This new static page is entitled My Ancestors and can be accessed from the link at the top of my blog. It list the names of 120 of my direct ancestors, those of my great-grandparents, my 2x great-grandparents, my 3x great-grandparents and my 4x great-grandparents.

I have been meaning to put up this page for a while (admittedly it has been available for several weeks already), partly to get the names of all my direct ancestors out on the internet, but also to act as an index to my various Ancestral Profile posts.

You will notice that the majority of my ancestors don’t have dates associated with them yet and that is my next job, to add some more detailed information to each person, at least dates but hopefully also places.

I am fortunate that many of the surnames in my family tree are quite unusual and most of them are from Sussex, but it still needs a little more detail to make it easier to find out if we are related.

Overcoming my blogging challenges – Part 2

22 Oct

I must confess to being quite excited about my new plans for this blog, not that there is going to be any major changes, just that I am going to try and be a little bit more organised so that I am blogging more efficiently, thus making more time for actual research.

There will be some new daily blogging themes, although they are not really new, more a case that I haven’t used them on a regular basis before. The intention is that I will know what sort of post I am supposed to be writing on each day, but there is lots of scope within each theme for plenty of variety.

There is also plenty of scope to allow me to make a whole week’s posts based on a particular subject, such as a place or a person. Also I will occasionally do away with the themes altogether for "special occasions", like genealogy conferences or Remembrance Day.

In essence what I am saying is that although I am setting myself some guidelines, they are not hard and fast rules, so expect things to change. That is assuming of course that I can stick to my plans, which is by no means guaranteed, and it goes without saying that I will probably have switched everything round within a couple of weeks anyway.

Now the only thing I have to sort out is the crazy idea that I should turn my current obsession with the parish of West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex into a one-place study. One part of me says "go for it, it would be a great subject for a one-place study", but the more practical part of me says "when are you ever going to find time to fit that in as well?"

I just can’t get the idea out of my head at the moment and I am already mentally making plans, but I know it is just not practical at the moment, but more ideas still keep coming, the more I try and suppress them the more they demand to be brought to life. I need to be strong for now and not give in to them, but I think I will have to eventually.

Overcoming my blogging challenges

20 Oct

These last couple of weeks I have really been struggling to keep up my daily blogging routine. So far I have managed to achieve my unwritten goal of putting out at least one blog post each day, but some days it has been a real struggle. Why am I telling you this? Well, there are several reasons (one of which is to give me something to write about) but mainly the hope is that acknowledging the problem will help me deal with it in some way.

I know this is not the first time I have struggled to post every day and I am sure it will not be the last. I think time is probably the biggest issue here. I have lots of things I want to write about, but most of them seem to be things that will take more research than I really have time for. I want my posts to be more detailed, but that takes up lots more time.

I know there are lots of great blogging themes over at GeneaBloggers and I seem to have fallen out of the habit of using them, but perhaps I should. They are a great way to inspire ideas and generate content. I also have some regular themes of my own, Picture Postcard Parade and Personal Genealogy Update are two of my regular ones.

I think what is needed is a more regular schedule, perhaps not a calendar as such, but just a weekly list, so that I know in advance what I should be writing about on a particular day. What the actual themes are, and how many of the GeneaBloggers themes I use still needs to be worked out, but I think now is the time I got more organised.

I do like the fact that I seem to have a "West Dean" theme running through many of my posts at the moment, if I could manage to do that every week then that would be good, but I think that would probably take too much effort and at times would leave me struggling to find something to fit rather than whatever came naturally.

I will almost certainly allow myself to break out of the routine from time to time, so that I can focus on a particular topic for a week. For example, I have several postcards on a particular subject that I would like to showcase, but dragging it out over several weeks doesn’t make sense, neither does cramming them all together into one really long post.

Having written about my blogging challenges and describing the probable solution, I now feel a lot more positive about the whole subject. It is amazing how getting things off your chest can help, I now feel ready to go out and conquer the blogosphere, well maybe not, but at least I might be able to stop worrying.

BBC buzz likes me

22 Sep

I don’t worry a great deal about the number of visitors my blog gets, I don’t go out of my way to market the blog, but I do keep an eye on my stats, just to make sure that people are still reading my blog and I am not wasting my time.

Last year I encountered an increase in visitors when Who Do You Think You Are? was being broadcast on BBC One last year, and this year was much the same. When I wrote about each episode my number of visitors jumped. I haven’t done the maths, but I would say the number of visitors probably doubled, which for my little blog is not a huge number, but still quite pleasing.

I certainly wasn’t expecting what happened yesterday, which turned out to be the best day ever for the number of visitors to my blog. I knew something was up when I checked my stats in the morning and saw that the number of visitors before about 7.30am was more than the usual pre-WDYTYA? daily totals. The numbers continued to rise throughout they day, and as you can see from the graph below the total ended around four or five times the average.

Stats graph

The reason for this was BBC buzz, which had automatically found my blog posts about WDYTYA? and was displaying links to them alongside the programme information on the BBC website. It appears to be a new feature, and it apparently likes my blog posts.

If I was a professional blogger I would have done something to take advantage of all this new traffic, and I might have done if I wasn’t at work, but it has been a real eye-opener, and makes me think about what I could achieve in terms of visitors if I really put my mind to it.

Pillar boxes weren’t just painted red

3 Jun

Along with the red telephone box, one of the most iconic images of England is the red post box, or more correctly the pillar box (but then I am not an expert on these things).

Post box

Whilst red is the traditional colour (like the one above at Sayers Common, West Sussex) they do come in a range of shapes, sizes and colours. Whilst I am not an expert, they do interest me, especially when I think what might have passed through the little rectangular slot over the years.

The British Postal Museum and Archive blog today included a fascinating post by Assistant Curator Julian Stray which describes the restoration process of an unusual blue pillar box, which was designed specifically for posting airmail in the 1930s.

It is really fascinating to watch the restoration process through a series of photos, through to the photo of the finished article on display at the Guildhall Art Gallery in London. The post describes the amount of thought and effort that went into restoring and conserving this pillar box, from matching the paint colour to locating the correct collection plate (displaying the collection times) to go on the front of the box.

It is a truly wonderful example of the hard work and consideration that goes on behind the scenes in museums around the country and around the globe. I really must try and get to the next open day at the British Postal Museum Store.

Thank you MyHeritage

12 May

I am incredibly proud to say that my blog has made it into the Top 100 Genealogy Sites as chosen by MyHeritage.com.

Top genealogy site awards

In accepting this award I would like to thank MyHeritage and all the readers of my blog, especially those who have left comments or got in touch, which has encouraged me to keep blogging.

I can see that I am in good company in the Top 100, a great cross-section of the genealogy blogosphere, well done to you all.

Ancestor Approved Award

12 Apr

I have often wondered what my ancestors would make of my efforts to trace their lives and document it on this blog. I don’t think they would have been so keen having their dirty laundry aired in public, and I am sure they would probably be surprised that I had so much spare time on my hands.

Anyway I digress. According to three of my fellow bloggers, Jenny at Blame Grandma, Evelyn at A Canadian Family and Marian at Climbing My Family Tree my blog is Ancestor Approved. Thank you all for the honour.

ANCESTOR APPROVED

Now I am supposed to list ten things I have learned about any of my ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlightened me, and also pass the award to ten other bloggers who I feel are doing their ancestors proud.

Rather than duplicate the award, I won’t be passing it on, most (if not all) of the blogs I follow have already received the award anyway. It goes without saying that anyone who blogs about their ancestors is doing their ancestors proud.

To be honest I am finding it hard to list ten things that have surprised, humbled or enlightened about specific ancestors, so I have gone for a generic answer instead.

Surprised – that my ancestors actually had interesting lives. When I started researching I never thought I would find anything interesting that happened in my family tree. Sometimes I am right and it is the apparent normality that is interesting, but normally they have done something that has been interesting, it just takes some time to find out what it was.

Humbled – that my ancestors put me to shame with what they had to live through and cope with (such as two World Wars, high infant mortality and disease) and what they lived without (such as electricity, mains water and the National Health Service). I know it is a cliché but we really don’t know we are born.

Enlightened – by the lives of all my ancestors. Family history research is more than just names, dates and places. It is about what happened to your ancestors, what they did for a living, the battles they fought, and everything else that they experienced. My ancestors have lead me into learning about all sorts of subjects that I would never encountered without them.

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