The 13 best family history blogs

By Guest, 9 May 2019 - 10:08am

Thousands of family historians share the benefits of their experience using blogs and Twitter, says Jonathan Scott

Family history blogger working on laptop
Fundraising for an orphanage in East London in the 1920s (Credit: Getty Images)

If you’re passionate about family history, blogging can be a great way to connect with fellow fans.

Read the full version of this article and much more expert family history advice in Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine June 2019

From sharing personal stories and finding distant cousins, to discussing family history news and debates, family history blogs have something for everyone.

 

1. BritishGENES

Children's Homes

I’ve recommended regular WDYTYA? Magazine contributor Chris Paton’s blog many times in the past. It remains my pick of the bunch for the simple reason that it shares news in a clear and concise way. There are press releases, interviews, opinion pieces, outside contributions and reviews.

While it’s particularly strong in his specialist areas of Scottish and Irish research, the focus is definitely British. The balance between news, opinion and self-promotion is well judged.

 

2. Canada Anglo-Celtic Connections

Anglo-Celtic Connections

Launched in 2006 and still going strong, this Ottawa-based blog clocks up about 900 entries a year. A few minutes’ browsing and I guarantee you will come across a project or resource you haven’t heard of before. While the perspective is from a Canada-based researcher, it is full of material centred on the UK and Ireland.
 

3. The National Archives

The National Archives blog

I’ve chosen TNA as a stand-in for all archival blogs. Obviously, these vary a great deal, but it’s always worth seeing what local or national repositories have to offer. They frequently include ‘Document of the Month’ articles, case studies of unusual sources, and behind-the-scenes features on volunteer projects.

TNA’s is rather more grandstanding, with entries that can be browsed by ‘Records and research’, ‘Behind the scenes’, ‘Technology and innovation’ and ‘Archives and archivists’. I’d also recommend the Media page, which has an expanding catalogue of audio and video, including instructional ‘webinars’.

 

4. Debbie Kennett's Twitter Feed

Debbie Kennett Twitter

You don’t hear the term so often any more, but Twitter can be described as a micro-blogging platform. Since DNA testing is such a complex area, I recommend you follow the Twitter feed of another regular WDYTYA Magazine? scribe, Debbie Kennett, as an example of how useful the platform can be.

She is an honorary research associate in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London, author of DNA and Social Networking, and runs three large international DNA projects. Her feed is full of news, articles and information about genetic genealogy. If you prefer your blogs regular-sized, there's an up-to-date list of DNA blogs on Feedspot.
 

5. John Grenham - Irish Roots

John Grenham Irish Roots

“Anyone working in genealogy is regularly asked ‘How did you first get involved?’, which I translate as ‘How the hell did you get into this mess?’”

This gives you a flavour of professional genealogist John Grenham’s output, where he serves up articles, reminiscences and news updates.

One recent entry touched on his painstaking 18-month project to correct transcription errors in the Irish census. Examples included “panty boy”, “alien apprentice”, and “publican and flasher” which became “publican and flesher”. Grenham has a gift for expressing thoughts in a dry yet very readable way.
 

6. Expert's choice: The Chiddicks Family TreeChiddicks Family Tree

Chosen by Hilary Gadsby, genealogy blogger and administrator of GeneaBloggers

"Blogs can be a great source of niche family history information, as convincingly demonstrated by The Chiddicks Family Tree.

"Paul Chiddicks started his blog in 2017 to share information about his own family tree, promote interest in his hobby, and find people who have similar interests. Many family historians who blog, both hobbyists and professionals, started for these very same reasons.

"His interest in military topics makes The Chiddicks Family Tree a high-quality resource for those whose ancestors also served in the armed forces. A nice addition is the inclusion of photographs both historic and recent to help illustrate his posts.

"As with many blogs, The Chiddicks Family Tree has evolved gradually during its existence, and now includes subject matter that Paul may not have expected when he wrote his first post. For example, he discussed DNA testing in several posts last year. Tackling the subject from the viewpoint of most hobbyist family historians, he explains in simple terms his thought process and his own experience of testing. With so many people in the UK now taking DNA tests, readers may well find his posts useful.

"Also, Paul has developed a passion for connecting with others and encouraging family historians to share their own stories. He is happy to open up a topic for discussion, and interacts with those who leave comments.

"Along with more than 3,300 others, Paul has registered with GeneaBloggers and acknowledges the work of other researchers. This helps to create an environment of collaboration and connection within the genealogy blogging community.

"If you have your own insights or resources that you’d like to share with others, then perhaps Paul’s site will inspire you to launch your own blog. "

 

Go further

7. Blogger

Blogger, owned by Google, provides an excellent free platform to start your own family history blog.

8. Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

The grandaddy of genealogical writing from the pre-blog age, Dick Eastman’s daily dose comes in a variety of free and paid-for formats.

9. FamilySearch

There’s so much news from FamilySearch that it’s easy to get lost in the blizzard. For that reason, the official blog is well worth a bookmark, although it can be a bit saccharine.

10. GeneaBloggers

This community of genealogy writers spotlights helpful resources, supports new recruits, provides daily inspirational prompts, and promotes advertising-free blogging.

11. Genea-Musings

San Diego-based blogging behemoth Randy Seaver shares research tips and techniques, news and commentary.

12. Irish Genealogy News

This excellent resource is created by journalist, family historian and author of The Family Tree Irish Genealogy Guide Claire Santry, who is also on Twitter.

13. Wordpress

A very popular service, WordPress makes it easy to create a blog that will be hosted on the company’s own servers.

 

 

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