Are you ready to start a genealogy blog (or improve one you already write)? Here’s a quick Q&A for you, prompted by questions by Genealogy Gems Premium member Kevin:
Q: “I am ready to start writing a blog but my typing is slow. Is there a dictation app (iOS) or software (Windows) that I could use to dictate my first drafts of my blog posts?
A: If you go to www.genealogygems.com and scroll down and enter “Dragon software” into the Amazon box and click “Go” it will pull up a great dictation program that might be just what you are looking for. (Using our Amazon box supports the free podcast – thank you!)
Q: Which blog site do you use and why did you select it?
A: I use Word Press for my website and blog. They have a free version at wordpress.com. Google also has Blogger which is free. I have a free series of videos on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel about how to set it up. They are a few years old, but will give you the basic idea.
Q: Do you compose your blog posts directly on your site or do you type them in Word or some other word processing program then cut and paste them into your blog?
A: It’s best to compose them directly into a new post on Word Press or Blogger. Cutting and pasting out of Word will likely carry over unwanted formatting which can cause headaches.
Listen to the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke. It’s a great series for learning the research ropes and well as refreshing your skills.
Ready to get inspired and tutored on genealogy blogging? Check out my FREE podcast series on how to start a genealogy blog. Click here to reach my Family History Made Easy podcast landing page, then start with episode 38 and continue through episode 42. You’ll learn step-by-step how-tos and you’ll be introduced to some inspiring blogs that WORK. We often hear about success stories from listeners who started a blog after hearing these episodes. (We’d love to hear YOUR success story, too!)
The FREE Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast series teaches genealogy for beginners with step-by-step, hands-on help at a friendly pace!
“Which podcast is best for beginning genealogists?” This question recently came from our reader and listener, Beverly.
It cued me to remind everyone about my FREE Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast! I created it for beginners to help them get started in a fun and easy way, and for more advanced researchers who want to brush up on their family history research skills in a step-by-step fashion.
Are you new to podcasts?
A podcast is like an online, on-demand radio show. You can listen whenever and wherever you want because they are recorded! Here’s a link to frequently asked questions about podcasts.
Get My Free Podcast – Perfect for Beginners!
To access the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast:
1. Go to www.genealogygems.com
2. Hover your mouse over Podcast
3. Click on Family History: Genealogy Made Easy
4. Click the link for episode 1 entitled Getting Started (episodes are in numerical order.)
5. Click Play Now and then click the play button to listen on your computer.
6. You can also subscribe through iTunes here.
Get More Podcast Episodes, and Our App!
After you get started, enjoy the back episodes of the free Genealogy Gems Podcast for tons of additional ideas and strategies. The easiest way to listen is through the Genealogy Gems app available for Apple, Android and Windows.
More Gems: Genealogy for Beginners
We really want you to see Genealogy Gems as your guide through the fun and fascinating world of family history. That means in addition to our podcasts, we write loads of how-to articles just for you. To get instant access to all of our blog posts just right for beginners, click ARTICLES in the menu and select any article. On every article page there is a Categories menu. Click the down arrow, and click Beginner. On your screen you will see all of our Beginner articles in chronological order starting with the most recent.
4 Beginning Genealogy Answers to Get You Started
6 Sources That May Name Your Ancestors’ Parents
Try These Two Powerful Tools for Finding Genealogy Records Online: Google and FamilySearch Wiki
There’s a story behind every census record. In fact, there are as many stories as there are names on each census page. This is true not just for people being enumerated, but also for the census-takers themselves.
A female census taker interviews a mother and child for the 1950 US Census. Image courtesy of the US Census Bureau, found at Flickr Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/uscensusbureau/5020542240/in/photostream/.
I was reminded of this by Joanne, author of the Researching Relatives blog. She wrote in response to a blog post I wrote about a census taker a few months ago:
“Thank you for inspiring me with one of your posts from October. I never paid attention to the census takers until I read your post, and then I went back and looked at some random pages and found two female census enumerators.”
Of course I went right to her blog. She says she looked through random census entries about her relatives without finding anything special. Then, “In the 1930 census, the enumerator was Anna M. Allen and, in 1940, it was Bessie Dorgan. I’m guessing that female census takers weren’t that unusual, but it still caught me by surprise. So like Lisa, I wanted to find out more.” She put her research skills to work and learned more about these women and their roles as providers for their family. Click here to read more about her discovery.
Do you blog about your family history? Have you ever blogged about a discovery made in response to a tip you got from Genealogy Gems? I’d love to hear about it! Learn more about blogging your family history in my FREE Family History Made Easy podcast, episodes 38-42. Learn how-tos and get inspired by the stories of others who are sharing their family history discoveries online!
Scrivener software may be just what you need to write up your family history writing. Genealogist Lisa Alzo shares 4 steps for getting started.
What is the Scrivener Software Program?
Scrivener is a software program that offers templates for screenplays, fiction, and non-fiction manuscripts. After composing a text, you can export it for final formatting to a standard word processor or desktop publishing software.
Scrivener is much more than a word processor. Thanks to the wide range of interfaces and features it offers, it is valued as a project management tool for writers.
It’s little wonder that Scrivener has grown in popularity with family historians who want to tell their ancestors’ stories. Genealogical information can become unwieldy at times. Scrivener makes it much easier to organize your material and write.
At RootsTech 2016, Lisa Alzo introduced Scrivener to fascinated audiences in the Genealogy Gems demo theater in the Exhibit Hall. I invited her to follow up by sharing Scrivener for genealogy with you, too. Here’s what she has to say.
“It is no secret that I am an avid user of Scrivener, a multifaceted word processor and project management tool. I have been using this program for all of my personal and professional writing projects since 2011.
Here are four steps to get up and running with Scrivener so you can use it to organize and write your family history:
1. Download Scrivener
Scrivener is produced by Literature and Latte and is available for purchase for use on Mac ($45) and Windows ($40). (Pricing as of the writing of this article.) There is also a 30-day free trial available.
Double click the Scrivener “S” icon on your desktop to open the program.
Before you start your first project, take a few minutes to review the Scrivener manual for your and watch the helpful interactive tutorials.
2. Start your first project
Go to File and New Project.
The New Window allows you to choose from different project templates.
I highly recommend starting with the “Blank,” which is the most basic and creates a simple project layout you can build upon and customize later.
The “Save As” box appears for you to give your project a name (e.g. Alzo Family History) and tell Scrivener where you would like to save your project (e.g. a desktop folder, or you if you are a Dropbox user you can easily save your projects there so that you can easily access them from another computer or laptop). You will not be able to continue until you save your project.
TIP: Start small!
Begin with a smaller project like an ancestor profile or blog post rather than attempting to write a 200-page family history book your first time in.
3. Plot, plan, and outline away!
Whether you are a visual writer who likes to storyboard, or if you prefer text outlines, you can use Scrivener your way. When you start a new blank project, you will be see the “Binder” (located on the left-hand side), which is the source list showing all documents in the project.
By default you’ll see three folders:
The “Draft” board (called “Manuscript” in other Scrivener templates) is the main space where you type your text (you can compile everything in that folder for printing or export as one long document later on).
The Research folder is where you can store notes, PDF files, images, etc. (not included in your final compiled document). The Trash folder holds any deleted documents until you empty. You will have one Untitled Document showing.
Simply add a title and then start typing. You can move sections around by dragging and dropping.
Click the green plus sign (+) icon to add files or folders.
Scrivener also lets you import files that you already have prepared in Microsoft Word or text based formats.
As you work, Scrivener allow to easily “toggle” between its key modes:
- Corkboard (where you can summarize on “virtual index cards” the key points you want to cover—the virtual cards can easily be arranged in any order you like);
- Outline (use it if you prefer to control the structure of your work; and
- Scrivenings (this mode temporarily combines individual documents into a single text, allowing you to view some or all documents in a folder as though they were all part of one long text).
- There is another pane called the “Inspector” that offers additional features to help you manage your project.
4. Finalize your project
The true power of Scrivener resides in its “Compile” feature. (Compile is just a fancy term for exporting your project into any number of final formats—print, eBook, Kindle, PDF, etc.). With Compile you specify what Scrivener does/does not include, and how it should look. Mastering Compile takes some practice, so you should refer to the Scrivener tutorials and forums for guidance.
Want even more Scrivener secrets? Pick up a copy of my Scrivener for Genealogists QuickSheet (available for both Mac and Windows versions). Visit my website to watch the free video “Storyboard Your Family History with Scrivener” and to sign up for my Accidental Genealogist Newsletter.”
Thanks for the post, Lisa Alzo! I’d love to hear from you if Scrivener works for you.
More Gems on Writing Family History
WHY and HOW to Start a Family History Blog
7 Prompts to Help You Write Your Family History
Easy Project to Write Your Family History: Publish a Q&A
Have you ever had a case of a missing birth record, in a time and place where you know there should be one? It’s so frustrating! Recently Michelle shared her missing birth record dilemma on our Genealogy Gems Facebook page:
“I am having a problem with my grandfather’s birth certificate. Everyone in the family says he was born in Tupelo, MS yet when I requested his BC they did not locate it. I am unsure where to even start looking. I have not been able to locate them on the 1930 Census either. He was born in 1921. Any suggestions on how I can narrow my search for his birth certificate would be helpful.”
Without knowing the specifics of her family, and without knowing the Tupelo area or Mississippi records well, it’s hard to give the perfect answer. But here are some ideas worth considering:
- In that time and place, many births were still home births with midwives in attendance. By this date, midwives were required to record the birth record but it’s possible this one was missed or filed later (so it might not show up in order, if the record is chronological by date of filing).
- If your grandfather had any known African-American ancestry at all, his birth might be recorded in a separate place (“colored register”).
- It’s a long shot for someone born this late in time, but ask whether his birth appears in the delayed birth records collection. (I’m not sure, for this locale, whether that was kept at the county level or not.) Click here to hear a free Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast episode on birth records and delayed birth records.
- I would also look to neighboring counties and towns. It’s possible he was born outside of Tupelo and the family just remembers that as being the nearest city.
- If you can’t find the family in the 1930 census, that’s a red flag that perhaps they didn’t live there at the time. (Browse the census pages to be sure, instead of just relying on the index to search the name.)
- Finally, I would definitely call the local genealogical society and ask their volunteers this question! They may know of additional records that exist, or a reason he might not be there.
Learn more about family history sleuthing strategies like these in the free Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast, which takes listeners step-by-step into the world of genealogy research. It’s great for a “true” beginner and for anyone who could use a refresher on any or all of the topics we cover.