Genealogy is one of those pursuits that seem, at the outset, to be a nice little hobby, something to pursue in your spare time. What I didn’t know when I started was that in encompasses such a wide variety of information, it is more like Trivial Pursuit (although, don’t get me wrong though, there is nothing trivial about it.) In researching my own family tree I have learned about the Canada Company, the Jesuits in the Northwestern United States, the history of Sleeman’s Brewery, the building of the Kettle Valley Railway and that is just a sampling. And with each of these tracks comes the question of the records. What are they, where are they, who has them, do they even exist? How is one expected to keep on top of this?
Working in the library I have several advantages. I come in contact with lots of genealogists and some are even researching in the areas I am interested in. But more are not so I have to become something of an expert in records relating to subjects that are not necessarily my personal interest (I hesitate to put it that way because once the question is asked of me, it does become my interest. I am a voracious consumer of data and very nosy to boot so I am always interested in a good story that leads me to find out more about something…anything!) So I have had to learn a lot about a lot of different subjects. I also have the advantage of getting first shot at the genealogy magazines that are received in the department. We get a number of very good general genealogy titles as well as publications from genealogical societies in each province. I take a look at them as they come in to check for new titles that might be of interest to our customers and for articles that will help me learn more about any and all aspects of genealogy. (Check our catalogue using the subject search “Genealogy periodicals” to see what we have.)
Not everyone is in my position, however, so how does the average genealogist keep up with what is out there? Well, anyone can borrow the general genealogy magazines from Calgary Public Library. Titles like Internet Genealogy and Family History often include excellent articles on records and techniques. That is a good start. There are also blogs. I find that blogs can be a great source of up-to-date information about events, records, techniques, you name it. For those of you who don’t know what a blog is (although I suppose if you’re reading this, you do) ‘blog’ is short for weblog and it is just a kind of website that is updated frequently and allows (usually) for the reader to communicate with the person writing the blog through comments. You can also subscribe either by having the blog entries delivered to your email or by RSS feed (which I barely understand so won’t even try to explain here – if you’re interested in learning about it here is a link to About.com Genealogy. This explains RSS feeds and how to subscribe to them. http://genealogy.about.com/od/blogs/a/rss.htm
I use a combination of email delivery and Bloglines to keep track of my favourite blogs. And what might those be, you may ask. Well, I always read Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter. This is the gold standard for genealogy blogs. (And Dick Eastman will be coming to Calgary in October for a Family Roots Seminar put on by the Alberta Family Histories Society – click here for information) His blog can be found at http://blog.eogn.com/. He offers a free edition and the Plus edition, for which you have to pay. I receive the free edition and have found that there is more than enough information included. I also read “Genealogy Insider” from Family Tree magazine. They can be found at http://blog.familytreemagazine.com/insider/
Of course I read the Alberta Family Histories Society’s new blog at http://afhs.ab.ca/blog/. This blog is a new project but so far it is great. It has lots of information about happenings in and around Calgary. It also has a “Blog roll” which lists other great genealogy blogs that you may want to visit including the Canada GenWeb blog http://canadagenweb.blogspot.com/which has a great listing of Canada-wide events.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. You can always find great genealogy blogs by visiting the “other blogs” (or whatever it is called) section of your favourite blog. It’s almost as addicting as YouTube! (Although you won’t necessarily find anything as useful as, say Dramatic Chipmunk J)
Use our comment section to suggest your own favourite. I’m always up for suggestions.