Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Putting Our Ancestors into Historical Context for Fun

We hear it time and time again...put your ancestor into their historical context. Learn about the area they lived and what was going on in their world at that time. Having that frame of reference is helpful to researchers in many ways. A researcher can gain clues as to where to look and not to look for their ancestor and why. Additionally, it helps us to form an appreciation for our ancestors lives. Knowing the historical context can also bring fun and  excitement to your research...which can get a little tedious now and then.

I've been following #ripperlive on Twitter these last few months. One of my Twitter friends, Gavin, posts tweets detailing the murders committed around the Whitechapel area of London in 1888 and the investigation of such. Some of the posts are very intense (and gruesome) it's almost like watching a soap opera unfold with Jack The Ripper as the star.

So, just imagine my excitement when I found my GGGrandfather, Henry Brimson, in the 1841 English census living in Whitechapel! I immediately hit Twitter with an "OMG my ancestor was in Whitechapel! #ripperlive" or something to that effect. What ensued was a chase with three of my Twitter friends (@gavmr, @archivalbiz and @susmithjosephy) to decipher the name of the street Henry lived on in Whitechapel, trying figuring out where it was physcially located and determine if there was anything still there today. It was fun, it was exciting and it really was genealogical research!

My excitement did dim as I realized that Henry died in 1848 and his family moved to the US in 1850. That meant my ancestors were not around at the time Jack was on his reign of terror in that area. Just as my excitement started to dim though I also felt a profound sense of relief. Since Henry died in 1848 there was no way HE could BE Jack the Ripper either!!! While I would love to find an exciting ancestor...The Ripper is not who I have in mind. :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

The GHLL's October Blogger of the Month

The Genealogy and History Links Library's October Blogger of the Month is Deb Ruth, one of my Twitter "favs".

Be sure to check out her blog Adventures in Genealogy as well as her guest post in the GHLL newsletter Branching Out.

Thank you for your support, Deb!

Musings On A Munday What Could An Author Do


MC900384040 Let’s say a genealogist authors a book on a subject related to genealogy research. The book is a how-to book, not a case study. What does the author want the reader to do with the book?

  1. Buy it
  2. Read it
  3. Recommend it
  4. Talk about it
  5. Hire author to speak about it

More could be added to the list, but this seems like a good top five list of what an author would want. Now I wonder what the author could do to increase the number of times these five things happen? Obviously advertising in various ways online and offline are options. Also, depending on whether you self-published or hired a publisher your options would vary.

For the sake of this musing, let’s assume that you are an author that has self-published a book and you have limited advertising dollars. What could you do to increase the opportunities of 1-5 happening? What if 6 & 7 were added to the list?

  1. Buy It
  2. Read it
  3. Recommend it
  4. Talk about it
  5. Hire author to speak about it
  6. Market book to small genealogy libraries to use as a book club topic
  7. Market book to small genealogy societies to use as a monthly meeting topic

The first objection I can see to this is “but that will limit the authors opportunity to present the book themselves, either in person or in a webinar format.” Potentially that could interfere with speaking engagements, however, there are a number of small libraries and societies that will simply never hire the author due to lack of funds. Does the author simply write that audience off? That, to me, looks like a missed opportunity.

What if the author actively encouraged the use of their book in this fashion? What if on the back flap of the book they added to the standard about me information?

  • Contact Me
  • Visit my website
  • Read my blog
  • Buy these other books
  • Book me to speak
  • Purchase learning guide for libraries and societies

What would be in the learning guide? Copyright details should be front and center, with something like: “You can talk about my book all you want while giving me all the credit for the ideas but don’t you dare copy pages and distribute them. “If your audience would like to purchase a book of their own, here is a coupon for 10% off.” The author could then list key points they feel are highlights in each chapter and maybe explain in detail any concepts that are particularly difficult. It wouldn’t have to be a long, lengthy study guide. The point is to get the library or society to contact you and pay you for permission to present your book.

I could go on and on with this entire topic, getting into co-branding, ambassadors etc. but I won’t do that here. My point is the fact that this isn’t a “potential” missed opportunity, it “is” a missed opportunity. Why? Because I will bet that somebody, somewhere is doing exactly what I’m suggesting, using somebody else’s book to teach a class. Can you as an author police all the uses of your works? No, you can’t, so look at this as another option in controlling your brand, mitigating missed opportunities and expanding your audience.

I’m interested to hear if some authors are doing this or have tried and it simply didn’t work.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bold Ambitions for The Genealogy Event

The Genealogy Event & Bridget Bray 09/05 by janeewilcox | Blog Talk Radio

Jane Wilcox interviewed Bridget Bray from The Genealogy Event in her September 5th, 2012 episode of the forget-me-not hour. The Genealogy Event will be held October 26-27, 2012 in New York City.

Bridget has an interesting story of how she came to be interested in genealogy and how she tapped into her background in the exhibiting industry to make this event happen. Be sure to listen to how she differentiates between an event and a conference.

For this first year Bridget is projecting 1,500 attendees for the event! Is that simply bold ambition or is she turning the genealogy conference on its ear, doing something radically different and focusing on engagement?

Last month Thomas MacEntee posted "Can We Get Real About Genealogy Conference Attendance Numbers?" If you view the comments you will see many stating the need for a change in how genealogy conferences are structured. Bridget's model is different from what we have come to expect, is this what the we are after? It will be interesting to see the outcome and I certainly hope the event is a success.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Genealogy Speed Dating as a Focus Group

Listen to internet radio with mysociety on Blog Talk Radio

I am an avid podcast listener, I've blogged about this before. Not only do I listen to podcasts in the genealogy genre, I listen to podcasts on various subjects. After a time you start to feel like you know the podcaster. You will also find that there are some you like more than others and some you can not tolerate at all. I now have my "must listen" to list as well as my "listen to until the must list publishes another podcast" list.

On my must listen to list is FGS Radio - My Society presented by the Federation of Genealogy Societies. No, I am not a society or a board member of any society. I am your average "Jane Genealogist" that has a mind that never shuts down and constantly wants new input. I've blogged about this as well, I enjoy the learning process of genealogy as much as the doing process.

FGS Radio is marketed toward helping genealogy societies better themselves. And...let's be honest here...some of them really need the help! While I do enjoy all of the FGS Radio episodes, some of them tend to speak to me louder than others and the latest podcast is one of them.

In this episode Randy Whited talks with John Sabol on the topic of Roundtable Programs and John coined the phrase "Speed Dating for Genealogists". I love it! What has captured my attention so fully with this episode is the possibility of engagement. Yes, genealogists love to attend lectures and apply what they have learned but we also love to talk about our process, success and failures. What better place than at a table full of like-minded individuals?

Not only do I think this is a great idea for societies but for libraries as well. How many times has your local library system presented "Beginning Genealogy - Let's Get Started"? Too many times, if you ask me, but people still attend even if they are not beginners. Why? Because they want to be with like-minded people even if they are talking about the same topic over and over again.

The real gem of this interview is the opportunity for societies and libraries to use these roundtables as focus groups. This is where you will hear directly from your members and patrons what it is they are interested in. Then you can drop Genealogy 101 to just once a year and add programs that are truly sought after.

Thank you to Randy and John for an entertaining interview and to the FGS for continually publishing quality podcasts.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Branching Out October 1st

The GHLL site has been proud to host such a wonderful group of guest authors in our Branching Out newsletter during 2012. As with the first nine installments, October's newsletter is from another talented Geneablogger, Jennifer Shoer at The Scrappy Genealogist.

Be sure to read "Would Pooh Have Made a Good Genealogist?" It provides a creative analogy of what we do in genealogy.