No matter who is blamed for this venture (and I think it is a tie between Jill Ball and Julie Goucher), I think Worldwide Genealogy is going to be an interesting and fun addition to the blogging world! Many of the writers have blogs or websites and, while some of us are not as dedicated or prolific as others, we will all be adding something different to the mix. That said, let’s get the introductions out the way.
My name is Tessa Keough and I have been “doing” genealogy for the past eight years. The two biggest changes I have seen during the past eight years have been technology and global connections.
My interest in genealogy started after seeing a very rough draft of a pedigree chart put together by a cousin and shared at a family reunion. Being a bit of an A-type personality and noticing several blanks or questionable connections, I simply had to start reviewing the underlying database and finding those missing people. In an effort to be organized and efficient with my genealogy from the outset, I attended the Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy in January 2007. Imagine my surprise when I asked the question “can we do this paperless (because I travel a bit)” and was met with eye-rolling and much laughter. As I remember there were only two people in that course who were taking notes via laptops (I remember feeling distinctly out of place – younger than the cohort and using my laptop). I have since been to three additional SLIG conferences. Now you would be out of place if you did not use a laptop, tablet or smartphone. What a difference a few years makes, especially in technology!
In an effort to figure out my paternal line and not having the benefit of all those lovely documents, photographs and family trees that other families seem to have (and yes, I am jealous of those of you who have such a wealth of information), I found several excellent websites for learning more about my grandfather’s homeland and had the opportunity to travel to, and do some research in, Newfoundland. Still struggling to determine which individuals in the small communities we might be related to (and how), I stumbled upon the concepts of one-name studies and one-place studies. Because both the surname (Keough) and the place (Plate Cove East, Newfoundland) were small enough in terms of numbers, and the idea of combining methodical research and interacting with others doing that same type of study, I decided to work on both a one-name study and a one-place study. Because I cannot leave well enough alone and it is important that we help each other in the genealogy community, I also helped set up the Legacy Virtual Users’ Group on Google+ (a community that hosts monthly hangouts and shares tips and suggestions) for those who use Legacy Family Tree as their genealogy database.
From my studies, my attendance at conferences and seminars, and the LVUG Community as well as from being a member of the Guild of One-Name Studies and the Society for One-Place Studies, I have met (both online and in person) genealogists and family historians from around the world. With the introduction of Google+ (my preferred social media hub) and the ability to “hangout” on a one-on-one basis or in a monthly hangout (either private or on-air), I have had the opportunity to learn about so many aspects of research, analysis, writing, technology and organization. I find the ability to chat with individuals from Australia, England, Spain, Ireland, Canada and all parts of the USA – all from the comfort of my own living room with a cup (or three) of coffee – a real treat. Whether we are researching in online databases, checking the collections of libraries or archives before we visit in person, contacting someone in another country via email or a Google+ chat, listening to a genealogy podcast while walking, attending a webinar, or engaging in a genchat or a hangout-on-air – the availability and benefit of global connections in the past few years has been amazing (and oftentimes free).
If you are just starting out in genealogy – what a great time to begin - the technology and the ability to interact on an international basis (and do so in real time) is wonderful. For those who have been at this for a few years, I am sure you will agree that we are witnessing some amazing advances.
But no matter how technology and accessibility may change (sometimes by leaps and bounds), many things remain the same. We still need to have a focus, research, cite, analyze, write, and share our family history – whether that is of our direct line families, our extended families, all those who share a selected surname, or all those who share a particular place.
It is a great time to be “doing” genealogy and I hope you will join us in this venture – either by reading and commenting on our posts, adding your name to the list of writers and sharing a bit of your genealogy knowledge with the rest of us, or by suggesting a question or topic for future blog posts here on Worldwide Genealogy. Why not join us!