What’s Past is Prologue is ten years old! Or, as my nieces and nephews proudly say when they reach the same milestone – double digits! So how to celebrate a decade of blogging (well, most of a decade…I’ve slacked off in old age)? With a top ten list, of course. I’m often asked to speak in work at retirements, and my comedy of choice is always a top ten. This one is actually serious though, because I really have experienced so many wonderful things as a result of blogging. And so I present…
Top Ten Things I’ve Learned in Ten Years of Blogging
1-Cousins are out there! I come from a “small” family, but other generations weren’t as small as my own. I’ve “found” and met so many cousins as a result of blogging here. Second, third, fourth…even sixth cousins! Cousins from each of my grandparents’ lines, from all over the United States and all over the world. I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet several of my newfound family face to face, and I’ve gotten to know the rest online.
2-Writing is a solo endeavour, but it’s infinitely more fun as part of a blogging community. I began blogging after stumbling upon several other really great genealogy blogs. I didn’t know these people, and we had never met. Yet when I began my own blog, I was welcomed into a community of fellow genea-bloggers. While it began as a virtual community, I’ve been able to meet many at genealogy conferences and become “live” friends. Their humor, talent, and comeraderie means a lot to me!
3-Blogging is like a time capsule, because if you do it long enough you realize just how much has changed since you began. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have imagined using DNA to find cousins and solve mysteries. While some records were online back then (unlike when I first began my research), I wouldn’t have dreamed just how many would become available, including many vital records from Poland online for free
4-Yes, Virginia, other people do actually read your blog. Even the most modest blogger has to get excited to see comments on their blog. People are reading what I wrote! The most gratifying lesson wasn’t necessarily that others were reading what I wrote, but that they were actually helped by what I wrote. I was occasionally able to introduce readers to new resources, and I enjoyed hearing about their success stories via comments.
5-Ask, and you shall receive. Blogging is a great forum for finding solutions to your genealogical problems. I received help and advice from readers! From photo restoration to photo facial comparison to record look-ups or suggestions, I’ve gotten a lot of tips and pointers along the way.
6-Telling their stories matters. Through this forum, I was able to tell stories – stories about my direct and collateral ancestors, and even my own story at times. In telling their stories, they are not forgotten.
7-Blogging is a great motivation to get organized. It actually forced me to organize my research so that I could turn the facts and figures into a story or add graphics and photos.
8-This blog serves as a documentation of my own genea-journey. As I look back at older posts, I’m amazed at the number of holes I filled in and walls I broke down in the last ten years. The missing sister? I learned her married name. Photos of my great-grandmother? Found! Trying to solve the mysteries of my Miller family? Completed (though not yet fully written about)! Filling in the details on my “sweet sixteen”? Check! (I’ve updated it twice over the years, but the last one – linked in the question – still isn’t the most up-to-date!)
9-Blogging helped me improve my writing. Well, it helped me practice my writing on a regular basis at least in the blog’s early years. And practicing anything will always make you better and more comfortable.
10-Through this blog, I was able to flex my creative muscles. I need creativity in my life. While writing about genealogy doesn’t seem all that creative since it’s mostly facts and figures, the creativity came through in trying to tell the stories or come up with a story to fit a theme. From the Carnival of Genealogy (I really miss it!) to 52 Ancestors (incomplete, but fun) to the A-Z Family History Challenge, my writing muscles got a creative workout and I loved the challenge! I also got to share my humor in many ways, and I was happy to learn I can actually make others laugh with my writing.
Thanks for reading and journeying along with me over the last decade. What does the future hold? Well, after all, what’s past is prologue! The biggest change I’ve made in ten years (other than not posting on a regular basis) is that — finally, after ten years — I changed the design and layout last night. I’m still getting used to the new look, but it’s time for a change. Here’s to the next ten – or more! Sto lat!