Who would have thought fifteen years ago that there would be so much genealogical information on the Web. At that time, many people didnâ€™t even know about the Internet. However, the explosive growth each year makes genealogical research one of the top uses of the Internet. Now, that certainly doesnâ€™t mean that everything is on the Web. On the contrary, only a small percentage of genealogically- and historically-important documentary evidence has been digitized or even indexed on the Web. We still need to visit libraries, archives, churches, courthouses, and many other repositories in order to access and evaluate the original documents.
One of the most significant developments on the Internet since 1994 has been the online Web Log, more commonly known as a blog. In actuality, a blog is simply a type of Web page that can incorporate any kind of media: text, photographs, graphic art, video clips, sound files (such as MP3s), and may be exclusively audio, such as a podcast. Blogs are often much like a diary or they can be a running account of related information.
A blog is a simple means of communicating using any of a variety of word processor-like software that quickly produce Web page format for your blog. Since youâ€™re reading this article, youâ€™re most likely familiar with the Ancestry 24/7 Family Circle blog.Â You can also keep up with the latest news on Ancestry.com through the Ancestry blog. I personally maintain two blogs each week–the Web page/blog for the Florida Genealogical Society (Tampa) and The Genealogy Guys Podcast.
There are blogs on an abundance of genealogical subjects; you just need to learn where to find them. One of the most interesting genealogy blogs is The Genealogue, by Chris Dunham. Not only are there humorous postings there, there are weekly research challenges that can help sharpen your skills. However, one of the most valuable pieces of content is the Genealogy Blog Finder. You can access the Finder by clicking the link at the top of The Genealogue page or go directly to the site through this link.
The Genealogy Blog Finder is organized in directory style into twenty-eight categories. Click on any category and start exploring the most recent edition of the blog, vlog, podcast, or whatever. You can tell the focus of the blog by looking at the description. You can also tell, by checking the date, the last time it was updated. Some blogs are updated daily, others weekly or monthly, and some have just seemed to stall.
Receiving Updates from Blogs
Almost every blog has a small orange icon beside the name link. These are links that allow you to subscribe to the blog and receive it automatically each time it is updated. There are two easy ways to subscribe. Here are a couple ways you can do this:
Subscribe to a Blog
Go to the blog youâ€™d like to subscribe to and click on the small orange icon. A new window appears that allows you to â€œSubscribe to this feed.â€ Click on the button labeled â€œSubscribe Now.â€ You can add the link to your browserâ€™s Bookmarks or Favorites. Then whenever you like, visit your favorites to see whatâ€™s new.
Subscribe via iGoogle
Another simple way to keep up is through your iGoogle page. Once you have set up a free Google account and have logged, you can customize your page with headlines from your favorite blogs.
To start a free account, go to www.google.com. In the upper right corner youâ€™ll see a link labeled iGoogle. Below the search box you should see, Don’t have an iGoogle page? Get started. Click the link and set up your account.
Once youâ€™re set up, you can add your favorite blogs to your iGoogle page by clicking on Add Stuff in the upper right portion of the screen. On the next page, near the bottom of the left-hand side of the page, click on Add a Feed or Gadget. Now youâ€™ll need to add the URL of the blog.
Go to the blog youâ€™d like to add, and right-click on that same orange button. Select Properties and then copy the URL into the box. Make sure you either leave off the http:// and append it to the end of the one that appears in the box or overwrite the http:// in the box. This will add the feed to your iGoogle page.
If you decide you donâ€™t want to receive the blog any longer, just click the â€˜Xâ€™ button in the upper right corner of the blogâ€™s box.
These are just a couple ways to subscribe to your favorite blog. You may find others that work better on your computer, depending on your operating system, the browser you use, and what version.
Mine the blogs for more educational information and examples of genealogical research. The information you find will be amusing, instructional, surprising, and packed with great ideas. You may even decide to start your own blog to share your own ideas with the rest of the world.
Happy blog mining!
George G. Morgan is the best-selling author of The Official Guide to Ancestry.com and How to Do Everything with Your Genealogy, both of which are available in the Ancestry Store. George and Drew Smith produce The Genealogy Guys Podcast each week. George is also now teaching online genealogical workshops for Pharos Tutors and for the Continuing Education Division of the University of South Florida in Tampa. Visit his company’s website at AhaSeminars.com to view his schedule of upcoming conference vents.Â