Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Eight on the Eighth
Today, it's May 8, 2019. Eight years ago on this same day, I clicked the "publish" button on my first blog post here at A Family Tapestry. My intention was to share my genealogical research journey with anyone who cared to join me—with hopes, of course, to stumble upon a few distant cousins in the process. More than that, though, I needed a place to share the decades of fascinating family discoveries I had collected. Even more so, a place to share the journey, itself—the experiences of both success and disappointment while continuing to pursue the story of generations of family.
Along the way with those successes and disappointments, I recognized not just the value of learning by doing, but also the value of learning by observing the mistakes of others. I researched as I wrote; I had no clue, ahead of time, whether the research direction I chose would actually lead to a real answer. If something didn't work for me, it still could be helpful to share that observation with others. That's when I saw myself serving as what I call "the genealogical guinea pig." I'd try anything, as long as it sounded like it might work. After all, what do we have to lose when pounding our heads against those research brick walls?
While that was the process underlying the creation of those daily blog posts, the content also opened my eyes to a necessary element: that we, in pursuit of our family history, serve as preservers of the history of the common man. While there may be some of us who descend from kings and monumental figures of history, most of us find ourselves telling the stories of lives of much lesser significance. Unlike the broad sweep of macro history, ours is the telling of a micro-history. And thus, in the daily process of blogging these past eight years, I've also come to see myself as a biographer of insignificant lives.
Not that I say that disparagingly; these are stories which also must be preserved. We can learn much about the ambience of the moment by absorbing the impressions preserved by the friends, associates and neighbors of ancestors whom only we would care to follow. The mosaic of their stories blend with the combined discoveries opened to us in our modern era with tools that enable research prowess inconceivable in prior generations.
Even in the past eight years in which I've shared these 2,923 posts, so much has changed. The readers who once added to the nearly 700,000 page views clocked since May 8, 2011, may no longer linger over my documented research struggles—though I still recall them fondly for their encouragement through comments and suggestions, and their own contributions as they created their own blogs.
The genea-blogging community has always been a collegial community; we thrive on each other's input. As much as I hope I have encouraged others, there are many bloggers along the way whose influence has shaped my own work. To these mentors, trailblazers, and blogging peers I owe much over the past eight years. May those for whom blogging represented a season in their life continue to hold for us a place of warm remembrance, and may those who remain, tapping away furiously, hunched over their keyboards, continue to work in this same cooperative spirit.