Conversation is Key to Family History

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There have been a lot of changes and improvements in the way we research our family history.  I’m in a unique position as a podcaster to see those changes almost on a daily basis. 

Less than a decade ago podcasts were just a gleam in Adam Curry’s eye.  Now I can discuss my passion for genealogy, share research tips, and bring experts in the field to listeners in more than 80 countries around the world from my home office through my genealogy podcast.  It's a great feeling to be talking to thousands of listeners who are as passionate about family history as I am.

The Genealogy Gems Podcast is more than a show – it’s a conversation. And the more we as family historians talk to each other the more our family trees can grow and reach new heights.

Cranking the microfilm reader can lead to records, but connections over the World Wide Web can lead to long lost distant counsins, family bibles, old cabinet card photographs and grafting to the family trees of other reseachers you may never meet in person.

Methods for making those high tech connections are also reaching new heights.  Looking back over the three years since I began the podcast I’m amazed at how the conversation has expanded to:


Not only can genealogists listen to the show through the app, but they can converse with me through the Email the Show feature, which is how I received the following note:

“Just downloaded this app on my iPhone. I love it!  I'm only on episode 3 but what I've heard so far has been a great help.

In episode 2 you talked about asking for letters and journals. Well have I a story for you!  I was recently contacted by a lady through asking me how I was related to three individuals. I looked on my tree and told her that who she was asking about was my husband's great grandfather's sister and children. She responded with telling me that she had purchased a bundle of letters at a garage sale with these people's names and asked if she could mail them to me.

About 4 days later we received these precious letters that the two sons had written to their mother during WW II.  We are sharing them right now with my husbands mother who remebers her great aunt with much admiration!

I will be using your tip to transcribe these letters as soon as I get a chance to sit down and do it!  Just thought you would be interested.


As a genealogist I am most definitely interested! It keeps me motivated in my research to hear stories like Michelle's.  And it’s exciting to facilitate further conversation by posting it on this blog. We all have something to share, and we all have something more to learn! (Share your inspiring story of genealogical  discovery by leaving a comment on this blog and join in the conversation!)

And speaking of blogs, blogging about your family history is a wonderful way to expand the conversation about your research.  Post blog pages about your family tree and they will show up in the search results of others who are looking for information and connections to the same family.  And as any genealogist will tell you, writing about your findings helps you not only document what you’ve found, but also helps you identify the gaps where more information is needed.

To learn more about how to set up a family history blog, watch my four part video series called How to Blog Your Family History.


Do all these virtual conversations online mean that we can do our research strictly from home now?  The resounding answer is “No!”  Sometimes you have to purge the PJs and hit the road.  If you’ve ever watch CSI or Forensic Files then you know that really good detectives visit the scene of the crime in person.  There are things that can only be detected walking the ground, and seeing the neighborhood and terrain.  

The well rounded genealogist also regularly visits archives and libraries in person.  Top Tip: Don’t be shy!  Long time genealogist Irene Johnson who spent 15 years working at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City can recall countless times where genealogists sat next to each other at computer stations at the library only to discover they were researching the same family lines.  She encourages a healthy dose of nosiness. “Ask others what they are working on, and don’t forget to ask the staff for help.  That’s why they are there!”

Whether virtual or in person, conversation and connection is key to genealogical success.

Read more from Lisa Louise Cook at Genealogy Gems.