Three years ago, I ventured out into the wide, wide world of cyberspace and posted my first welcome message here at A Sense of Family. It’s been a great three years, and I want to take a moment to reflect and thank everyone who reads and subscribes to this blog for making it so rewarding.
In looking back, I’m struck by three things: how fast time goes, how many more resources for genealogy are online today, and how many wonderful people I’ve come to know through blogging. Since I haven’t figured out a way to slow the speeding days, weeks, and months down, I’ll stick to talking about the other two things here.
In the fall of 2010, most of my searches on the FamilySearch website gave results from the Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File, and IGI. I couldn’t have imagined the scope of databases under the FamilySearch umbrella today, or the ease of having so many actual record images at my fingertips 24/7. And that’s just one website. Think of all the expansions at Ancestry and Find My Past in three years’ time. And the rise of new companies that serve the genealogical community—Mocavo, for instance. Not to mention the proliferation of smartphone and tablet apps like BillionGraves (I could barely text on my 2010 cell phone). It seems like everyone—from the federal government to state archives to county offices to local genealogical societies—is making an effort to improve access to historical records online. And the ways to learn about genealogy have exploded, too (think webinars and study groups). I know there are some challenges, such as threats to the Social Security Death Index, but the progress is truly phenomenal when you stop to think about it.
Reading blogs is one way I try to keep up with all that change. Bloggers are generous with sharing information and tips. It helps to hear about other people’s experiences as we navigate the ever-changing landscape of 21st century family history research. Every blog has a voice, and behind that voice is a person. In my experience, the people who write genealogy blogs tend to be passionate, helpful, smart, involved, and genuinely nice people. After reading someone’s posts for a period of months or years, you come to know them a little bit, so when you meet for the first time, there’s a quick bond. You know just what to talk about. I’ve met many fellow bloggers at genealogy conferences and institutes who have become good friends, and I treasure those friendships. There are many others I hope to meet someday.
Mostly, I want to say thank you, readers, for taking precious time out of your days to read my posts. Thanks especially to those who reach out to leave a comment here or contact me by email. It makes my day to know I’ve helped or touched someone. It’s also a thrill to hear from a distantly-related cousin who’s just discovered my blog. Connecting with people regardless of the boundaries of time and space is what it’s all about, after all. That’s the magic that keeps me sharing those stories, reviewing those resources, and talking about those tips.
So please join me in raising a toast to being three!