I have been a genealogist off and on since 1969 when my grandfather's cousin, Opal Hanson published the civil war diaries and letters of Oliver S Robinson a great great grand uncle of mine who was killed at Vicksburg during the American civil war. Opal included what she knew about the genealogy of our family when she published the book. I began corresponding with her and I even helped a little in the research for her subsequent book The Family History and Genealogy of Sarah and Munson Robinson.
Genealogy research has changed a lot since 1969. For instance when I used to search for my family in the census records I would request the microfilm from the library and then when it came in I would sit at a microfilm reader and search. When I found the family of interest I would copy down what I found. For instance when I searched for and found the Joseph Erb family (my great great grandfather) in the 1880 census in Story County Iowa I created the following extract.
Today when I searching for the family I can just go to the 1880 census on line, search, and there the family is.
I have recently been listening to genealogy podcasts like Family History – Genealogy Made Easy by Lisa Louise Cooke. In a recent podcast she recommended a site called Lost Cousins. Lost Cousins is so cool. The premise is that if you can specifically identify your ancestors then you can find distant cousins who have also done the same. If you think about it, it is difficult to specifically identify ancestors. What Lost Cousins does is use the exact census page number and the exact census spelling of the name to specify allow you to claim an ancestor.
So I registered that Joseph Erb is on page 343 of the 1880 census and I identified him as a my ancestor. Lost cousins then tells me if anyone else has claimed Joseph as an ancestor. In the case of Joseph no one has. But in the case of another ancestor, Joseph Armitage, I did find a distant cousin who is also researching the family.
Finding all my ancestors in the 1880 U.S. census and in the 1881 Canadian census was really fun. Maybe it is the history geek in me but I love doing historical research and the fact that I was able to find 1880 census entries for 26 ancestors including all but 3 of my Great Great Grandparents was really exciting.
Lost Cousins is a British company. Their web site is http://lostcousins.com. Usually registering your ancestors is free but connecting with your cousins requires pay an annual fee of less than $20. But between Christmas and New Years Lost cousins is completely free!!
As I start getting back into family history research I think I am going to create a new blog that you will be able to access
from the bar across the top of the page. It will include bios of my
ancestors that people can find if they do a Google search for one of my
ancestor's names (something genealogists do a lot). My current thinking
is to not include these family history posts as a part of this blog
because family history may be very interesting to the person whose
family it is but it is almost always supremely uninteresting to