Documenting Family History with Blogging

Once you decide you want to share your family history online, you must decide whether you want to microblog or blog. In this article I define microblogging and discuss how it differs from blogging and how you might want to consider using a microblog like Instagram.

I have almost fifteen years experience in blogging and microblogging formats. In this article I’ll define blogging, the pros and cons of blogging and describe how I use a blog to document and discuss my family history

What is a Blog?

A blog (shortening of “weblog”) is an online journal or informational website displaying information in the reverse chronological order, with latest posts appearing first. It is a platform where a writer or even a group of writers share their views on an individual subject.

That’s the technical definition. But for everyday purposes I define a blog as reverse chronological diary where a writer can post words, images, videos and audio files.

Because a writer can post a variety of different media, blogging has many more options to display information and thus differs from microblogging in several ways.

Blogging allows you to dive deeply into your family history. If you want to write several paragraphs about your family, even several thousand words,  you can.

If you have audio interviews of a family member you can upload that file and embed it in a blog post. And here’s the cool thing. People can listen to that audio file right on your blog.

If you have video of your family you can also upload that video and people can watch it on your blog.

Microblogging is a lot like speed dating. Quick and fast. You like each other or not.

Blogging can be a slow dinner where you spend time getting to know one another.

Why Not to Blog

If you want to focus primarily on photos and a few sentences of text, then having a blog is overkill. Stick with Facebook or Instagram.

If you only want to post a few times a month, then a blog is again probably too much. Sure people have started blogs and stopped posting after three or four entries. But I believe there isn’t any point to a blog if you can’t/won’t commit to creating content a few times a week for at least a year.

For short posts, particularly visual ones, microblogging sites like Instagram work best. You can upload an image from your phone, type in a few hashtags, hit submit and you’re done.

To do that with a blog takes too much time, frankly.

Why to Blog

For all the reasons I listed above, the ability to write lengthier pieces, upload video and audio and multiple photos makes blogging a strong contender for documenting your family history online.

I also think blogging can be fun and personally illuminating. Once you commit to blogging about your family, you begin to think about them much more intentionally. For example, I hadn’t realized how difficult my grandmother’s life was growing up until I started thinking about writing a blog post about her life.

You can connect with other genealogy bloggers, who are really awesome.

You can create something online you can be proud of.

I don’t think blogging and microblogging are opposed to one another. Each does certain things better than the other. I microblog my family history at Instagram at I also blog here about my family history.

My grandmother, father, Scottie the dog and my grandparent’s 1955 Oldsmobile 88. Shot at Maroon Lake, elevation 9585 feet. The Maroon Bells, Aspen, Colorado are behind them.

I use the Instagram account to connect with other family historians and people interested in found photography by sharing a photo and writing some sentences about the image, like I did with this single photo about my grandparents Oldsmobile 88. 

I use this blog for longer pieces with more detail that contain several photos. In this piece I included the same photo to write about the different Oldsmobiles my family owned.

Blogging offers you the opportunity to share a considerable amount of information about your family in a variety of media. If you can commit to doing it, I think you’ll find it very rewarding.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions using the contact form.

Good luck!

Jay Sennett

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