Why Blogging Your Family History Works

While handing out blogging beads at the OGS Conference last year a few people asked me what the beads meant. Some didn’t know what a blog was and after I explained it the next question was why write a blog.


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When I started writing the Passionate Genealogist blog in 2010 I jumped into an unknown entity and just started writing. It was scary at first but it soon became engaging and fun. During the last six years I have written several stories relating to my own family and some local history research. When you write stories about your family history this can be called “cousin bait” by genealogy bloggers. It is a bit like the movie “Field of Dreams” when they say “if you built it they will come” well if you write your family story they will come.

One such story was on my Great Grand Uncle Richard Fenton Toomey. His father moved to Australia in the 1880s and the family joined him in the 1890s. Mrs. Toomey didn’t like it so the children went back but the eldest son Mark stayed. Eventually the other two sons, Walter and Richard, returned to Australia.

Lucky for me a friend of mine lives near where Richard Fenton Toomey had his home in Australia. When we first started writing (we were/are still penpals) she told me that there was a place near her called Toomey Lookout and there was a Toomey Road and Toomey Walk. You can read more about this story here.

“Richard Fenton Toomey – Lest We Forget” was written to remember his service as an ANZAC. Soon I got a few comments on the blog. One from a person who is not related but who knows the area very well. He went on a search to find the house. Another person contacted me and she had a photo of Richard Fenton Toomey in Heliopolis on the morning of 26 April 1916.

This story was first posted in November 2011 and the last comment with new information was posted last fall.

I have written some local history stories about people from my town. The first was an all-consuming part of my life for nearly 10 years, Lady Diana Taylour. I wrote about her and my research to find out more about her life. The other was Richard Shaw Wood who lived in Oakville in the late 1860s early 1870s. Both of these posts have had comments from people connected to them.




This is why family history blogging is a good idea and sometimes called “cousin bait.” It may be that the people who end up helping you are not related but just as interested in the story as you. So expand your horizon and start blogging about your family history.

© 2016 Blair Archival Research – All Rights Reserved

Creating a Family Heirloom

Do you remember the excitement of finding your ancestor’s signature for the first time?

In 1988 Dublin celebrated its Millennium and my mother’s family decided to have a reunion at Christmas time. This was planned well in advanced and we decided to attend.

I had found an article in Canadian Living magazine that was about a neighbour who owned a needlecraft shop in town. She had been married for 35 years and every Christmas had put a tablecloth out for visitors to sign instead of a guest book. She would provide a pencil and they would have to sign it larger than usual. In January she would embroider the signatures so they would be a permanent reminder of the visitors and the good times.

This would be perfect for the family reunion in 1988. It was held on New Year’s Eve and we had a large party. Cousins came from as far away as Australia and we had four generations present. It was the descendants of my mother’s paternal grandparents plus a few from her maternal line. One cousin who is a photographer took a group shot and then did family groups and they were put in an album and each family got one.

The meal was pot luck so everyone brought their specialty. A yule log was put in the fire so it didn’t have to be attended quite as often. In the family there were people who wrote plays, stories and poems. One of the plays written by my grandfather was presented. Stories and poems were read. Memories were shared and created.

I decided to bring a white sheet with me instead of a table cloth. I brought soft pencils and pencil sharpeners and told everyone to do what they wanted. We have a very creative family so there was lots of drawings as well as sayings and signatures. Only the littlest attendee didn’t contribute. We lost one family member early in the New Year and a few more since so this has become a family heirloom.


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Instead of just embroidering the names and leaving it at that I wrote a description of the event and the date around the signatures and embroidered that as well. This way someone who sees it 50 years later will know what it is.

There are probably going to be a few family reunions or gatherings this summer. This could be a way of creating your own family heirloom.

©2015 – Blair Archival Research