May I Introduce to You . . . Dara McGivern

Come meet genealogy blogger Dara McGivern, author of the Black Raven Genealogy blog, in this interview by Gini Webb at GeneaBloggers.

I have the great pleasure of introducing you to, Dara McGivern and her blog, Black Raven Genealogy, described as, “. . . Black Raven Genealogy is an Irish family history blog, created to share discoveries made while researching my ancestors.  ‘Black Raven’ is the name of the house in Co. Dublin where I grew up. It has been home to our family since at least the 1850s. The cottage was probably named after a prize greyhound belonging to my great-grandfather and, as such, seemed a fitting name for a blog about my genealogy.”

How Dara Got Started in Genealogy

“Unlike so many other GeneaBloggers, I am a relative newcomer to the genealogy world and only started researching my family tree in the summer of 2011. My first blog post Welcome to Black Raven Genealogy sets out how my interest was initially sparked. Not being one to do anything by half-measures, I immediately signed up for a three year course in Genealogy at University College Dublin and graduated this year.  It became clear early on that family history is more than the bare bones of genealogy’s dates, places and relationships and, while an amateur genealogist, like me, may well create an accurate, extended family pedigree, they will not be able to contextualise the results without an adequate grasp of relevant social and economic history. For this reason, in 2013, I also obtained an MA in History of Family from the University of Limerick.

Over the past few years, I have traced a number of my paternal and maternal lines back to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Dublin, and so far have identified only one pair of potential fifth great-grandparents. Unless the family was titled or belonged to the landed-gentry class, this is about as far back as many of us with Irish ancestors can go. Irish genealogy is renowned for its challenges, making it occasionally infuriating, but nevertheless, extremely rewarding and I’m now completely hooked. Out of necessity, we use some fairly unusual record sets, adding an extra flavour to the research. For example, I am eagerly awaiting Findmypast’s release of our local court’s Dog Licence Register, which will hopefully reference my elusive great-grandfather, Michael Byrne, and his fore-mentioned famous greyhound. Just maybe, this register will contain the clue that will help me locate his origins. Wouldn’t that be something to write about!”

Dara’s Thoughts on Blogging

“Last September, with my MA dissertation out of the way, there was more time to spend on genealogy research. Some of the information being uncovered about our ancestors was amazing and I wanted to share it with my extended family. Blogging seemed the ideal medium and my family was very encouraging. Even those with no huge interest in their family history dip in and out occasionally. I love the interaction it generates when a story catches their imagination. And then there are the ‘new’ cousins that I hoped to encounter – thus far, half a dozen genealogy cousins have contacted me, all as a result of this blog. Not bad for my first year!  Some just wanted to say ‘hi’, some provided the clue that helped to solve a family mystery and others shared a wealth of family memorabilia and photos with me. Priceless!”

Dara’s Tips for New Bloggers

“Join GeneaBloggers! Soon after my first post, my uncle Colm commented that he thought I was very brave, saying it took a lot of effort and commitment to make a blog successful. Brave? I knew nothing about blogging and the thought of ‘failure’ hadn’t even occurred to me. I had absolutely no idea if I was on the right path or not and had never expected that anyone unrelated to my family would ever want to read my posts. Then, I discovered GeneaBloggers.  This led to a myriad of other genealogy blogs and bloggers, each providing example and know-how, not to mention a ready flow of engaging stories. Blogging is so much more fun when someone, in addition to family, reads your posts, so it was great to become part of this community. I appreciate everyone that comments on my blog and I’m most grateful to my friend Ellie from Ellie’s Ancestors for offering so many words of encouragement and support, especially during my early blogging days. It is wonderful to hear from others who share my enthusiasm for family history.”

Dara’s Favorite Blog Posts

“My personal favourite may well have been one that I wrote earlier this year, entitled ‘Some truth in our family lore’. It was fascinating to see how events occurring nearly 150 years ago shaped the stories still told in our family today, particularly as they occurred more than 10,000 miles from Dublin. I wrote this post while still high with excitement from having finally found my third great-grandfather, John Radcliffe, who had vanished in the 1850s. Phyllis, my new friend and third cousin, read my post lamenting his disappearance and decided to help. She located John’s death record in Victoria, Australia, thus opening up a whole new avenue for further research. My first cousin, Aileen, then obtained the register of his burial and a photograph of his gravesite. Another unforeseen perquisite of blogging is having someone help with the research!”

Dara’s Favorite Ancestors

“Undoubtedly, every family historian would struggle to answer this question, or the answer they gave might vary over time. Currently, I am drawn to my Dad’s maternal grandmother, born Mary Agnes Donovan, probably in Dublin in the 1850s.  Following Mary Agnes’s ancestral trail has been exceptionally enjoyable, peppered as it was with just enough hints to maintain a search, but with the occasional breakthroughs as reward. I wrote about identifying her in two posts entitled ‘Finding Lena’s mother’ Part 1 and Part 2 and am now plugging away at trying to prove her maternal lineage.  Mary Agnes was supposedly a talented pianist and was said to have played piano accompaniment in the silent movies and in Dublin’s Abbey Theatre. Someday, it would be great to find documentary evidence of this and maybe even a photograph of the lady herself.”

What Dara Loves Most About Genealogy

“Like many others, what I love most about genealogy is the detective work, starting with what little is known, searching for further clues, evaluating all the information and finally, hopefully, finding that piece of corroborating evidence that either makes or breaks the case.”

An Additional Message from Dara

“Thank you for inviting me to participate in the ‘May I Introduce to You’ series and the opportunity to ‘meet’ other GeneaBloggers. Céad míle fáilte or, one hundred thousand welcomes, to everyone that drops by ‘Black Raven’ to say hello.”

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Please take a moment to head on over to Dara’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Dara, it’s great to have you here!

© 2015, copyright Gini Webb. All rights reserved.

Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her grandchildren! Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.

May I Introduce to You . . . Jenny Lanctot

Come meet genealogy blogger Jenny Lanctot, author of the Are My Roots Showing? blog, in this interview by Gini Webb at GeneaBloggers.

I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Jenny Lanctot and her blog, Are My Roots Showing?, described as, “. . . Basically, it’s a place where I can tell the stories of my ancestors and provide hints and tips about stuff I learn along the way.”

A Little About Jenny

“I was born in Portland, Oregon and spent my formative years (age 5 to adulthood) in Atlanta, Georgia.  I currently live and work as a paralegal in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  I’m slowly (emphasis on slow) working toward getting my genealogy certification.”

How Jenny Got Started in Genealogy

Jenny has been researching and doing genealogy on and off since about 1985-86, but researching in earnest for about the past five or six years.

“My grandfather (who was adopted at age 4) started working on his family history when he was trying to find out who his biological parents were.  I’m pretty sure I caught the bug from him.  He passed away in 1990 and I inherited all of his research.  And no, we still haven’t found his biological parents.”

Jenny’s Thoughts on Blogging

“I’ve been blogging for almost 4 years now.  I love to write, and the blog provided a vehicle for my writing and allowed me to tell the stories of my ancestors.  Plus, I’m a huge fan of instant gratification, so the idea of being able to publish my work ‘in the now’ is perfect for the impatient side of me.”

Jenny’s Tips for New Bloggers

“Don’t be afraid to change things up.  Your blog is your own and it doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s.  But the most important tip is to BE YOU.  If you aren’t authentic, how will anyone believe anything you have to say?”

Jenny’s Favorite Blog Post

“It’s probably surprising that it isn’t a post about an ancestor or any fancy research methodology.  Instead, it is a how-to post for a concept that was so simple I was almost embarrassed to write about it, but then I thought … I can’t be the only one who has this problem.  I was right.  People are still looking at it almost every day.  It reminds me that we’re all human and we’ve all ‘been there.’  This Might Be a New Record.”

Jenny’s Time with the Ancestors

“Not as much as I like (I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard THAT before!). It’s easier to find time now that I’ve completely given up personal hygiene and housekeeping on the weekends.  I try to do some bits here and there during the week too, but this pesky full-time job keeps tiring me out and I’m just not very motivated by the end of the day.  But one day, I’ll remember to buy that lottery ticket . . .”

Jenny’s Favorite Ancestor

“It would be easier to tell you which one annoys me the most.  But if I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be Eliza Bourke Lanctot.  She was a strong, independent woman during the early 1900’s when women just weren’t supposed to be.  After her husband died, she became the first female hotel proprietor in Armour, South Dakota.  She went against the grain; marched to her own drum.  I like to think I inherited a little of that tenacity.  (Now maybe she’ll reveal where the heck she was born).”

How Genealogy Has Improved Jenny’s Life

“I definitely feel more in touch with my family who came before me, and I want to know more.  I want to know everything!  Our family wasn’t very close when I was growing up, and the research leading to the stories (or scandals!) has really started to bring us together more.  It also keeps me busy, so I stay out of trouble most of the time.”

What Jenny Loves Most About Genealogy

“My favorite part of researching my family history is finding out who my ancestors were.  Not just when and where they lived, married, and died, but trying to figure out WHY they did certain things or made certain decisions; what sort of things they did when they weren’t busy with their occupation. I enjoy making them real, not just statistics on a piece of paper.”

Jenny’s Genealogy Bucket List

“To identify and visit all the places my ancestors lived, especially in Europe.  I would love to be able to walk in their footsteps just for a moment.”

Jenny’s Time Capsule Message

“Talk to your family before it’s too late, then write everything down (and cite your sources the first time)!  I’m sure I’m not the only genealogist who wishes she had a nickel for every missed opportunity to really talk to a relative who is no longer with us.  When I think of all the stories that I’ve missed because I waited too long, it just breaks my heart into a million pieces.”

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Please take a moment to head on over to Jenny’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Jenny, it’s great to have you here!

© 2014, copyright Gini Webb. All rights reserved.

Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her grandchildren! Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.

May I Introduce to You . . . Janice Trumbell

Janice Trumbell

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Janice (Guthrie) Trumbell and her blog, The Guthrie, McCoy, Misson & Showalter Families blog, described as, “. . .  The blog is my online home! It is my space where I share what I have learned about my family, not only the history but also the documents and photos. The blog also provides a way to connect with others researching the same family lines.”

A Little About Janice

“I was born in Toledo, Ohio. I am the mother of two children, three grandchildren and one great grandchild. I live in a small town in southern Iowa with my husband and our fur babies. When I’m not doing family research, I love to garden and read suspense novels.”

How Janice Got Started in Genealogy

“In my senior year of school, I was given the assignment to prepare a pedigree chart for one of my classes. During my research, I found I had very little information to work with. My parents divorced when I was very young so I had only my birth certificate for my father’s information. My grandmother had already passed so I didn’t have a lot on her side either, only what my grandfather could remember. So my chart was pretty incomplete. This was the spark that started the flame to find out all I could about my ancestors.”

How long has Janice been doing genealogy? “It seems forever! I have not had access to a large library so all my research is via snail mail. I received my first computer around 1995 and that is what opened the gates for me.  It provided the outlet to connect with others and find new cousins, in addition to the resources to all the distant locations and histories.”

Janice’s Thoughts on Blogging

“Originally, the blog was basically for me. I am not a writer and didn’t think others would be interested in my family. I had a large collection of very old photos, stories and documents and wanted a place to store my treasures. This was the beginning of the blog in September of 2010. However, over the years, I have added other items that were of interest to me too.”

Janice’s Tips for New Bloggers

“Don’t wait, just start! Look at other blogs for ideas.  Pay attention to their color schemes, layout, etc., make notes of what you like and don’t like.  Think about what you want to say and do with your blog. Pick a name and URL that will be easy for others to find you. Your blog will evolve as you become more comfortable using it.”

Janice’s Favorite Blog Posts

“I have several favorite posts but I love my grandfather’s journal!  I lived with my grandparents as a child, so every time I read his words I can almost hear his voice. His childhood was so sad and difficult but in spite of it, he was a loving husband, father and grandfather. The journal is actually a seven page hand written letter describing his life from childhood to adulthood written to his children.”

Janice’s Time with the Ancestors

“I’m retired so most every day is spent working on family history in one form or another. My days are not spent just on researching but also include updating my database and scanning documents and photos into my computer. Many times I spend all day on genealogy but there are periods where I may have only an hour an then there are times I just walk away from it all. Sometimes, I need to clear my head and get a new perspective.”

Janice’s Favorite Ancestors

“This is a tough question. At first, I had picked two women because I know very little about them and they have become a challenge. However, when I think about my family, I really can’t pick just one. I have a grandfather who was a religious artist from Belgium. I have a long line of ministers in my history. The women had large families and worked hard to take care of them and most had farms to work too. Their lives were not easy so each person is special to me! How do you pick just one?”

How Genealogy Has Improved Janice’s Life

“Ever since my high school years, I have had this burning desire to know more about my family.  Maybe it’s because I knew almost nothing about my father. I have learned so much about my family and ancestors. The genealogy has given me a glimpse into their lives and has eliminated the many blanks in my first pedigree!  I now have a better understanding of who I am because of the research and I am so thankful for it.”

What Janice Loves Most About Genealogy

“I love the challenge! Finding that one clue, that will solve a puzzle and bring everything together. There always seems to be one piece that is still missing. So the hunt continues!”

Janice’s Genealogy Bucket List

“Seeing my elderly parents’ health decline has made me realize that I need to preserve my years of work. As I complete one task, I find more to do, but this is a start: Finish my research, as least as much as I can.

  • Post all notes, documents, histories and photos to the blog.
  • Donate my genealogy reference books to Allen County Public Library. I have already sent two boxes.
  • To have all photos digitized. This is almost complete!
  • Send my completed info to genealogy societies where my ancestors lived.”

Janice’s Time Capsule Message

“I have regretted many times, not asking questions while my grandparents were still living. Once you lose the older generation, the stories and history are lost too! You can never get this back. Take time to know your family. Ask questions of your grandparents, aunts and uncles while they are alive. Record the stories, family recipes and histories.

I am in awe when I think how strong our ancestors were to survive the hardships, illness, and losses that many of them lived through for us to be here now. It saddens me that so many young people today have no idea who their great grandparents were and to be honest, it seems they don’t care.

We are all here because of the older generations. It is not just about us. It is about all those who came before us too! Without the ancestors we would not be here!”

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Please take a moment to head on over to Janice’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Janice, it’s great to have you here!

© 2014, copyright Gini Webb. All rights reserved.

Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her grandchildren! Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.