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We just returned from an amazing couple of days in St. George, Utah, where we attended the Family History Expo last Friday and Saturday. As one of a small cadre of “Bloggers of Honor,” I spent much of my time Tweeting and taking notes, but I also made it a point to get to know a little more about my fellow geneabloggers. Let me tell you – I’m in pretty great company.
The Friday night banquet offered me a good opportunity. Themed The Wizards of Blogz,** banquet attendees heard from a handful of bloggers who spoke on the amazing family history resources to be found via social networking – there has never been a better time to be researching the past.
“Where else [besides the Internet] can you reach 50,000 people in a few seconds?” Arlene Eakle (Arlene Eakle’s Genealogy Blog) reminded us of the days when folks would post a surname in the hometown newspaper and wait, just hoping someone would find it and take the time to reply. Now, finding long lost cousins often takes nothing more than setting up a Facebook page dedicated to that surname, and boom! Tons of distant relatives are out there, ready and waiting to help, and hoping you can help them. It is no hyperbole to say that the Internet has changed the face of genealogy forever.
Our Master of Ceremonies, Jean Wilcox Hibbin (Circle Mending) entertained us with altered renditions of Oz classics and told us all about the care and feeding of a genealogy blog. I have an affinity for Jean because, though she is a dedicated genealogist, her passion is preserving music, and I love that. We all record the data for one reason or another, but when we keep the music and the stories and the images alive, we save the heartbeat of our people to pass along. There is something pure and beautiful in that.
Blogger AC Ivory (Find My Ancestors) also spoke. In a crowd where even I end up on the younger end of the age spectrum, AC is a baby. But he’s savvy about genealogy and media, and he offered solid advice and encouragement to family historians about how to get started blogging and tweeting. (If you want to follow Family History Expo blogger comments on Twitter, just do a search for the #fhexpo hashtag.)
During the dinner, I had a lot of fun sitting with Gena Ortega (of World Vital Records and Gena’s Genealogy Blog). She attended dinner with her two boys, and between them and Scott, at least a gallon of pink Kool-aid was consumed! Among her many responsibilities, Gena maintains GenealogyWise, a site she described in her remarks to the banquet crowd as “Facebook for genealogy.” That intrigued me, so one of the first things I did when I got home was join and set up a page for Photoloom. The site is very easy to use, and a nice alternative for family historians who want to avoid the Farmville/Mafia/Pirate crowd (which, by the way, you will only understand if you are already involved with the Farmville/Mafie/Pirate crowd). One of the cool features of GenealogyWise is its Chat Room, where you can ask questions, visit with fellow family historians, or attend a scheduled chats on a variety of topics and hosted by experts in the field. This Sunday I'm planning to attend a chat hosted by Jean that will focus on breaking into the genealogy lecture circuit. (Click here or on the sidebar to join the Photoloom group on GenealogyWise.)
One final blogger I wanted to be sure to mention is Denise Levenick, of Family Curator. What a nice lady! Like me, she's a writer in her real life, and "slips on a hat and veil and may be found writing classic tales of romance and suspense as Miss Penelope Dreadful" (for the Shades of the Departed online photography magazine.) The focus of Family Curator dovetails nicely with Above the Trees, so if you are reading us, you may want to check it out. I’m hoping to persuade Denise to write a guest blog for us.
That’s it for today. In the coming weeks, I’ll be making some big announcements about new Photoloom features and affiliates, adding a couple more installments to follow up the St. George Expo (On the Vender Floor; Class Notes), and gearing up for our first National Genealogical Conference, which at the end of April in Salt Lake City.
** The banquet couldn’t have been a more suitably themed – by the time we arrived in St. George, Holly Hansen and her crew at Family History Expos had survived a doozy of a twister – a fatal server failure that brought their website and email to a screeching halt just a week before the event. And yet, Holly emerged from the storm pressed, polished, ready for a world filled with interesting characters and face new challenges.