Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Making your way online today takes everything you've got.

Taking the time to share our worries, sure does help a lot.

Wouldn't you like to blog away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

You wanna go where people know,
people are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows
your name.

I began blogging at a time when nobody knew your name much less your URL. The "legitimate" (I use this term advisedly) genealogy community had not encountered our online band of blogging family historians, and when they did, they didn't know what to make of us. I think they still don't, but they're trying.
Found in The American Genealogist via the Slovak Yankee. ". . .The Fellows of the American Society of Genealogists had decided quite a few years ago that digital/online publications did not qualify as permanent contributions to the field. At this year's meeting, much was said on both sides of the question: 'Online publication is becoming increasingly common and increasingly excellent, but it remains fluid and its permanence is uncertain.'" Emphasis added. So my friends, it isn't the work, it's the ebb and flow of the internet that sets us apart.
Something else that sets us apart is the Family Tree 40 nominations for our work online. They're out and seeing my blogs listed make me feel like such a fraud. This is my, if they only knew moment. If they only knew I'm blogging in my jammies in a tiny crowded office in Preston (whoever heard of it), Washington. OK, Myrt, you know where I am. I'm cleaning up after sick dogs, an ancient cat, and a justifiably put upon husband. Who the heck am I? I ask myself this all the time.

Do I really deserve special recognition for talking with my friends around the world everyday? For dishing those delicious family secrets? For analyzing those mystery photographs I love so much? For sharing the sheer joy of a new find, tool or technique with people whose eyes don't roll back in their heads when I talk.

I would, correction, I HAVE blogged without accolades for years. And still I am happy.

I've learned in some of the most embarrassing ways not to take myself too seriously. Remember this little ditty after I went to Jamboree:
A woman attending a conference struck up a conversation with me. She explained that she was a blogger and asked who I was. I told her I was the footnoteMaven. "Oh, I love your site," she said. "I find so much good stuff in your databases." That hiss you hear is hot air leaving the over inflated head of the footnoteMaven, sometimes mistaken for
Now, please don't think I'm being ungrateful. I am grateful that someone found pleasure in what I do and nominated me. That you stopped by and congratulated me. Thank you, really, thank you.

Naturally, when the list comes out I look for my name, but I am being honest when I say I am far more pained than proud that certain people are missing from that list. People for whom I'm not good enough to clean their keyboards. I am a realist. I know everyone can't be there. We select forty from this list. Forty from several thousand. So, I rejoice in those that have been nominated. Nomination being the real winners list.

So, I'm not going to give you the Miss America response to who the heck am I. My blogging will not end world hunger or bring about world peace. It is what it is, and I love doing it. And if I had to ask for a vote I feel it would defeat the purpose of what I do and why I do it.

So, I ask you to stop by, to read and hopefully to enjoy. Stop by and jaw. Sip your tea, have your morning coffee with me. I will be honored.

Perhaps it's time some of us were delisted.


Blogger Susan Petersen said...

Wonderful and insightful post, fM. You are one of the bloggers who deserves to be on the list. What bothered me about some of the blogs that made it to the finals is that they did not meet the minimum criteria that was listed for nominations (specifically: posting four blogs per month for the past three months). There were a couple blogs on the nomination list that had fewer than 10 posts in the past year. Once I saw that, this contest lost all credibility for me. something is going on behind the scenes that we don't know about. As I said in my Facebook message, I don't need a magazine to tell me what the best blogs are. We blog readers (and blog writers) already know who they are. You are definitely one of the best and don't need a popularity contest by a magazine to make that determination.

December 15, 2010 at 3:02 AM  
Blogger Lidian said...

It is always such a pleasure to be able to visit with you and so many others, Maven, and learn from you, and enjoy all the wonderful research and writing that you share with us.

Without the internet lots of us (and I'm definitely in this category) would be isolated - not only from genealogist friends but the the sense of not being able to share one's own work. I know that I would never have written a quarter of the things I have without the sense of community and of writing for an audience, whatever its size. And for that I am beyond grateful, because I dreamed of doing it for so long, and never did. Never could, sitting over a notebook, pre-internet, far away from my ancestral NYC.

What I mean to say is that I agree with you, and am honored to be in your company and that of so many others :)

December 15, 2010 at 5:06 AM  
Anonymous Donner - What's Past is Prologue said...


Most people still don't know your ;-)

Give yourself some credit. I found your blog before I was but a blogling, and you provided me with intelligent discussion, creative writing, and wit. Then you had the audacity to provide me with friendship - sight unseen and voice unheard. So don't even think about unlisting yourself, girlfriend, or I'm coming out to Preston myself. Whereever the hell that is!

You don't need accolades because you're the type of writer that does it just for you. But, you deserve every accolade you get.


December 15, 2010 at 5:45 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

First person we must blog for:


The rest is gravy!

And, friendship!

December 15, 2010 at 8:31 AM  
Blogger Cynthia Shenette said...

Dear footnoteMaven,

Carol's answer was short and sweet, but right on.

As a newbie I've spent the last year "finding myself" as a blogger. I have a fairly good idea of what I am and what I am not. What's important? To write a good story. For that I have to be true to myself, true to my subject, and to do my best. Not that the kudos aren't nice, but in the long run the other stuff is what's really important. Oh, I've met a lot of really nice bloggers too.

December 15, 2010 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger Kerry Scott said...

For me, the real reward of blogging is the the people. I didn't know any genealogists when I started. Now I have lots of genealogical friends. For a stay-at-home mom in frigid Wisconsin, that's more valuable than any award.

December 15, 2010 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger Greta Koehl said...

Right arm! The best things about blogging are the friendship, the learning, and the support. The talent I have seen demonstrated recently in Jasia's fabulous 100th COG and in many Advent Calendar posts - AND in a number of posts on top of that - is cultivated and encouraged in our blogging community, and it extends well beyond the FT 40 nominations. I, too, was disappointed that two of my nominations did not make the list, one supposedly for not meeting the minimum number of posts (but if Susan is right, then that shoots that argument down) and the other for I cannot imagine what reason. All awards have a few glaring absences and nominations that make you shake your head, and I guess there's no reason FT 40 should be an exception. What's more important is that we have the "nurturers" and founding members such as you, Randy, Jasia, Thomas and, when he was still here, Terry Thornton who literally encourage - give courage to - new writers in discovering their talents. I have saved all of the encouraging e-mails that you, Terry, and other kind genealogy bloggers have sent me, and they are worth more than gold or any awards to me.

December 15, 2010 at 5:03 PM  
Blogger Lori Thornton said...

Loved this creative post!

December 15, 2010 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

There's two things here. The first is what the Fellows want, that is, scholarly genealogy, which is not really being done on the net. Despite your eponymous blog, I never actually see a footnote in your writing. This is not to say that your blog isn't wonderful. But it is not scholarly compiled genealogy. And I don't find any blog that fulfills that criteria (mine came closest).

Have you ever wondered why none of the 50 fellows have blogs? or websites? There's two sides to all stories, but as someone who has tried (and failed) to up people's use of footnotes, sources, and scholarship on online genealogy, it is largely because the online genealogical community is quite nasty. Tell someone to cite a source properly and you'd think you told them their mother was a working girl. Geneabloggers want fun. They want comaraderie. They think scholarly genealogy is stuffy.

Several months ago I posted that bloggers should set an example. This was picked up by Thomas MacEntee who ran it as a discussion. It was universally panned as an idea.

So, partly it is the ebb and flow of the net, but it is also largely the lack of substance. This is for compiled genealogy--Not gravestones, not pictures, not the sort of stuff you do (and do well), but the sort of genealogy that can help others with their research. It is what I've always said genealogy is: proving relationships. It is the difference between genealogy and family history.

I always envisioned a place where people could post articles and ask for critiques and perhaps ask for help with different lines. Such a place does not exist. 99% of online genealogists want and do not give. It is the nature of the beast.

So, if I could change the rules and allow 100 fellows instead of 50, I would certainly look to someone like you as a force on the net, but you still have done the basics: A compiled, well-sourced, well-footnoted genealogy of a family for three generations in all lines. Now if that's not your thing--great. We all can't be good at the same thing, but then don't disparage the scholarly genealogists. And that's exactly what 99% of the online bloggers and genealogists do.

December 15, 2010 at 6:25 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Martin -

You may find this hard to believe, but I really do enjoy hearing from you.

As a Magna Cum Laude graduate of my law school (with one International and two national awards), an extern in my State's Supreme Court, and an LL.M. Candidate, I do understand the difference between scholarly and girls just want to have fun.

Also, I graduated from the University of Washington nine month certificate program in Genealogy and Family History. Still, I don't consider myself a genealogist. I am a family historian, a teller of tales if you will. My family wants the stories and that's what I collect for them. I like creative non-fiction, and I think that probably gives you a rash. I'm not in this for money or prestige. I'm here for the pure love of what I am doing.

Here at footnoteMaven, I play with graphics, tell tales, and thoroughly enjoy myself. Scholarly articles of the caliber for publication do not appear here.

Now Shades, that's a different story. That's my serious side. This past week I did a photograph analysis and included sources:

Still not publication worthy, but you will have no problem finding where I came from. And many families have had the benefit of my research and found old photographs through me.

If every post was a scholarly writing, I would have only two or three posts a year (as I do understand scholarly research and I have been published), and I'd have no fun. I would imagine the fellows don't have blogs because they're busy doing scholarly research and writing. So I'm a bit of a hybrid. A little of this, a little of that. I am so pleased to see you do not begrudge me my fun.

From the day I joined the blogging community I have been disparaged to my face and in writing for having a blog, by a segment of our population. I have never disparaged anyone for not having a blog or for wanting to do scholarly research. I have encouraged it both in the real world and online.

I poke good fun at stuff shirts as well as cookie cutter bloggers. I harbor no animus for anyone.

I'm going to offer a suggestion, God help me. I like what you envisioned. It has great merit. But, you can't sit around waiting for someone else to do the heavy lifting. If this is what you envisioned, Martin. Do it! You have all the skills. Fill that niche in the online world that builds a better genealogy mousetrap.

I would love to continue this conversation, and I don't want you to think I'm blowing you off, but I have a family emergency that will require all my time and energy for several days.

Also, thank you for letting me know that my super little email graphic wasn't showing up. Blogger has been giving me fits.

Merry Christmas! -fM

P.S. And Martin, do I detect that you might be warming to me? Just a little?

December 15, 2010 at 8:03 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

As I will be gone for a few days, I wanted to make sure I stopped by and thanked you all for your kind comments.

What you said means a great deal to me. We live, we learn. We pass on the benefit of our experiences and we would probably still be blogging if they shut off our internet.

Terry was so good at recognizing talent and promoting it. Greta, to think that you might have saved one of my emails, well, I'm gobsmacked.

So you see, I wanna go where people know, people are all the same, I wanna go where everybody knows
my eponymous blog's name.

And all I want for Christmas online is to see Cow Hampshire pop up in my blog reader and find Janice Brown writing her heart out.


December 15, 2010 at 9:35 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

Merry Christmas to you too and I hope the emergency turns out well.

December 16, 2010 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Lisa Wallen Logsdon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 17, 2010 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger Lisa Wallen Logsdon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 17, 2010 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger Kathy Reed said...

I've learned so much from the comments to this post. I consider my blog to be family history based on our family's genealogy. I agree with the Maven that I do this as a creative outlet that goes beyond sourced documents -- it's telling the story in a way my family will actually read it. At the same time, I, too, have submitted sourced articles for publication. I see them as two completely separate undertakings, each having their value.

I only recently started reading other people's blogs, and I must say that yours is one of my favorites.

December 17, 2010 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger DearMYRTLE said...

Yes, DearfM, Ol' Myrt here sure knows where you live and loves the blogging you do.

Once a student from my beginning genealogy class returned after a summer of research with three notebooks filled with photos, vital records and write-ups he printed out on his 9-pin printer.

He asked me to make a book out of it and pretty it up for publication.

What he wanted was for me to type everything into an early version of PAF (Personal Ancestral File) and to print a camera- ready copy on our school's laser printer. He thought pedigree charts and family group sheets were " the way" to go.

What that would have missed were the anecdotal accounts about his mother pulling them around snow- packed streets of the neighborhood with ropes tied to her car's bumper, and the fact that he had printed all his recollections of his mother on yellow paper because it was her favorite color.

While we certainly must cite sources, we cannot forget to tell the story. Few, if any, of my family members could wade through an issue of NGSQ and be anything more than overwhelmed.

We cannot drop Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained on a newbie's lap or they would give up before they started doing their family history.

Think then how many family stories printed on yellow paper would never see the light of day?

When I began my blog (in the days before it was called a blog), I too realized if I

December 26, 2010 at 7:52 AM  

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