Category: Writing for Genealogy

Home! In Maine.

Finally! I have taken a long hiatus after a surgery and the move to Maine but I’m back now. 

We moved to Maine last July and now that the daffodils are peeking their heads up, we are all coming out of the winter hibernation. So many things shut down during the winter that sometimes doing research is a bit iffy – especially if the weather turns. I’ve only gotten stuck once this year – on top of a ridge of hardened snow on a slippery road. Not too bad for this southerner but still….

I’m presently looking at my business and the accompanying websites to decide which direction I want to go. I cannot give up my web business as it still is our principal income beyond social security but with the move comes changes. I’m still putting the updated info online but at least finally have new business cards. I got my first Maine web design job recently – making me feel like we really are here!

In the meantime don’t hesitate to contact me about genealogy or compiling your family history!

And the Work Proceeds…

I’ve been incredibly busy since my return from New England while trying to incorporate all the new “stuff” I found and figured out while I was gone. I’ve got several blog posts planned – just haven’t had time to write them!

I’ve gotten some parts of the book pinned down and having decided on a structure (which still may change before publication), I now have a partial table of contents that I can release for those who are interested.

Since I’m formatting and typesetting as I write, the decisions are being made on the fly but I believe I’ve created an arrangement that will allow me to deliver the genealogical information in a format that will be easier to follow than traditional genealogies. After all, what I want is something that folks can read – while not having to figure out where in the world they are at the same time. (I haven’t had readers to test this out yet – and I will need readers before it goes to print. If you are interested, please contact me.)

In general each of James’ children get one chapter. Some of their children get their own chaper. There are two chapters that tell some great stories about two Mainers who went south, one to Virginia and one to Florida. I also give strong weight and a chapter to my third great-grandfather and the families of us second and third cousins, the ones I found during this journey.

The table of contents are in a PDF format so you can download it or read it online.  You can view the Wilson book table of contents here.

New England Here I Come

I'm heading to Boston and Maine in by the end of this month to do on-the-ground research for my Wilson book. Trying to prepare for this trip is turning out to be a race against time – unexpected for sure!

Though I'll be there for weeks, I will need to spend my time doing research and not writing it all up. In order to know what to research, however, I have to have done research and writing to find out what to research. Of course, it turns out that I have less time now to devote to that than I have had in the past. My web business is booming and I'm staying busier than I thought possible right now. Timing is everything and as usual life forces driving that timing just aren't cooperating!

So making lists and doing what I can before I leave. I spent a wonderful afternoon with a very distant cousin recently. Now when I talk about distant cousins, I'm really talking distant!  He's my 7th cousin once removed, a descendant of Edward Paul Dyer of Maine and Virginia. We met up in the mountains at Graves Mountain Lodge, visited a local cemetery and his old "homeplace", a cabin still standing next to a noisy babbling brook up next to the Shenandoah Park boundary. 

anderson_cabinWhat I found was that it was easy to get captivated by simply the "ambience" of the location. It's gorgeous up there but not only that, I fell under the spell of history, imagining what it would be like to be living in that cabin without electricity or plumbing back in the 1860s like Edward Dyer or the 1940s/1950s like when Roy lived there. It's hard to describe how I felt and as I pulled out my phone to take a picture, I said, "I've got to capture this." 

Thus the pics you see here. The closeup of the cabin combined with the long view with the mountain backdrop may help you see what I mean. It certainly helps to remind me that the human story behind a family genealogy has so much more to it than just dates and family facts. 


This is why I'm heading to New England  – to put myself in that same place these people walked and lived, to get a feel for what it's really like. So I'm going to be looking for cemeteries, photographing graves, digging through old records, talking to cousins and soaking up that which is New England.

 Genealogists aren't required to do that. Writers doing genealogy are. 

I also must remember to not get caught up in all of that and not get that research done. Hmm, gee, well, I guess I won't mind having to go back again later!

Scholarly Writing on the Web

I have an English degree. I have written a grammar book. I taught English for many years. I have been a web developer since 2000. I have written blog posts for almost that long. And, oh boy, this blog is a challenge.

The most important thing a genealogist can do is document. I'll say it again: the most important thing a genealogist can do is document.

So that means footnotes. No problem. I had to do a brush up on footnotes and the like because it's been a really long time since I had to obey style guides. And then it gets even trickier. There are recommendations; there are requirements – possibly differing requirements – by associations, certification boards, the Chicago Manual of Style. It's all enough to make one dizzy. 

I've bought books and laminated cheatsheets from Amazon but I'm planning on certification from The Board of Certification of Genealogists. They recommend Chicago Manual of Style as well as a book that was just published last year – after I bought several others – and a book that costs $60 bucks in print but free edition exists online as an entire website.

So mastering the basics was what I did in the first 100 hours of the Wilson project. Writing required keeping one or more of the resources on hand at all times. Then there are footnotes online.

I can find literally reams of resource material for genealogy, for citing online resources, but most genealogists aren't writing for the web. Newsletters and magazines are still in print (yes!!) but when posted online, they are in the PDF format. Most folks aren't blogging and giving away info for free. (Note to self: don't tell all!)

There has to be a balance of HTML, readability, navigation and proper citations online. Now that's complicated. I found several pages, blogs, question and answer forums that addressed this. As usual, everyone on the internet has an opinion.

So in the end I've decided to follow the format of Of course, due to the complicated nature of WikiPedia's style sheets, not all info was accessible. So I experimented; I got irritated. WordPress balked. The WP editor didn't do it the way I wanted. So back to old style, creating HTML and pasting it into the editor in admin.

I really hate it when I cannot bend a javascript editor to my will. Alas, Xinha, I miss you! Geez, even the website for it is gone. So goes the way of the internet. They come and they go.

Now back to your regularly sheduled program…

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