May I Introduce to You . . . Steven J. Hanley

Come meet blogger Steven J. Hanley of The Psychogenealogist blog as interviewed by Jana Last at GeneaBloggers!

May I Introduce to You . . . Steven J. Hanley

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Steven J. Hanley, Ph.D. and his blog, The Psychogenealogist, described as, “Exploring the spaces where psychology, genealogy, and history converge. One story at a time.”

Steven, please tell us a little about yourself.

“I was born in Ohio. Growing up my family moved several times between Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. I currently live outside of Detroit, Michigan. Most of my family ancestors who came to the U.S. made their way through Michigan in some way or another.”

How did you get started in genealogy?

“In 5th grade we did a genealogy project. I remember my parents helping me map out our family tree on an large piece of poster board. It is probably rolled up somewhere in my basement right now. So, I think the interest was there from an early age. I remember the first time I discovered Ancestry.com. I literally stayed up all night (which I never do) excited by each new shaking green leaf that would pop up. That was probably about 10 years ago. Last year I did my first DNA test and that is when I think I became hooked and had the idea to start The Psychogenealogist.”

When and why did you start your genealogy blog?

“As I began exploring my personal genealogy more seriously I realized there were SO MANY stories to tell. I discovered so many interesting people that I wanted to learn more about. It occurred to me that as a professional psychologist and psychotherapist I spend most of my day helping people tell their stories. There seemed to be a natural convergence of these two fields and I wanted to explore that in a creative way.”

How did you choose the name for your blog?

“The name of the blog just kind of emerged. There is a field of “psychogenealogy” that aims to examine how the lives of our ancestors, who we may never have known, influence us today. I am fascinated with this question from a personal and professional perspective. I would like to help people find and tell their stories.”

What are your tips for new bloggers?

“Just write! Try to get out of your own way. There are no bad ideas and there are no perfect blog posts. I’ve struggled with some perfectionistic tendencies that have interfered with my creativity. Write about things that grab your attention. Explore the unanswered questions.”

Please tell us about your favorite post(s) on your blog.

“There are SO many posts I want to write. A couple recent ones that I really enjoyed are:

“Both are about ancestors of mine that I knew little to nothing about. It was exciting to learn about them. Both posts showcase some different genealogy research techniques that I think will help others learn and tell their own family stories.”

How much time do you spend on family history research?

“Sometimes it feels like too much, other times it is not enough! I have a full time psychotherapy private practice and a young family so it is difficult to find the time to research all of the areas I would like to. For example, I have large groups of ancestors from Ireland, Greece, Poland, Germany, and a smattering of other countries. I’ve explored most of them but haven’t even scratched the surface with the Germans. It is on my list.”

How has genealogy improved your life?

“An unexpected benefit of studying genealogy is how it has enriched the relationships I have with my family today. I love sharing what I have found and family members genuinely appreciate it. I have talked to distant cousins and even connected with some that I didn’t know even existed.”

What family story or heirloom do you cherish?

“There is an old photo (I will attach) of the Hanley Tavern, probably taken in the early 1940s (just a guess). It was bar run by my family that was attached to the home of my 2nd great-grandparents. They settled in Atlantic Mine, Michigan, in the heart of Upper Peninsula copper mining country. It was hanging in my grandfather’s den before he passed away. Now it hangs above my piano in the office so I get to look at it often.”

Besides major websites like Ancestry and FamilySearch, what research tool or source has been helpful in researching your family history?

“I love all the newspaper clipping websites. They all have their plusses and minus. The one I use most though is probably Newspapers.com. Seeking Michigan is also a helpful one for many of my Michigan roots.”

Which genealogy blogs inspire you?

“There was a blog that caught my attention a few years ago called Freud’s Butcher: A Blog About Genealogy, Psychology, and Meat.”

“The title is fantastic. The fact that it is really good writing and interesting stories is a bonus.”

“The other is Michigan’s Past who I follow on Facebook and Twitter. There is some prolific Michigan history content curation going on there.”

What do you think is the most interesting change in the past ten years in genealogy/family history?

“Without a doubt it is DNA testing. It wasn’t until my first DNA test last year that my interest in genealogy really went into overdrive.”

What is on your genealogy bucket list?

“There is no one trip I would like to take or site I need to see. If anything, I would wish for a large chunk of fully funded and uninterrupted time to do research and writing. A trip to Ireland, Greece, or Poland would be nice too.”

If you wanted to leave a message for future generations, what would you tell them?

“There is a quote I have on the home page of The Psychogenealogist attributed to Madeleine L’Engle. I can’t think of a better way to say it:

‘If you don’t recount your family history, it will be lost. Honor your own stories and tell them too. The tales may not seem very important, but they are what binds families and makes each of us who we are.’”

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Please take a moment to head over to Steven’s blog, The Psychogenealogist and leave him a comment, letting him know you stopped by. Thank you Steven for telling us about yourself and your blog. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you better.

© 2017, copyright Jana Last. All rights reserved.

Jana Last is a wife, mom and grandma living in sunny California. She loves family history and enjoys learning about her ancestors. She started her family history research in 1996 after the death of her maternal grandfather. She is the author of three blogs and a website: Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog, Grandpa’s Postcards, Jana’s Place and Jana’s Genealogy and Social Media Hub. Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Jana via email at jmlast61@gmail.com.

May I Introduce To You . . . Katie Andrews Potter

Come meet genealogy Katie Andrews Potter of Storybook Ancestor blog as interviewed by Jana Last at GeneaBloggers

MAY I INTRODUCE TO YOU . . . Katie Andrews Potter

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Katie Andrews Potter and her blog, Storybook Ancestor, described as, “Writing the stories of our families with the youngest generation – a place to encourage children to explore their family history.”

Katie, please tell us a little about yourself.

“I live in Indianapolis, Indiana, and am a 9th generation Hoosier, and so is my husband. We have two kids that we homeschool and many pets. I have a degree in Elementary Education, have done graduate work in History, and am working on my certificate in Genealogical Studies. I am a Girl Scout leader, an avid hiker and the author of the young adult historical fiction novels Going over Home and Going over Jordan.”

How did you get started in genealogy?

“I became interested in learning about my family history when I was sixteen. I spent a lot of time talking with my great-great aunt and my grandma and listening to their stories and going through their old photos when I was in my teens, and I began to realize how important it was to listen to our elders when we are young, because if I hadn’t taken the time when I was young, so much family history would have been lost.”

When and why did you start your genealogy blog?

“I launched my blog in January 2017, after the idea had been brewing in my head for years. I have always had a passion for family history and writing, and bringing it to kids completes that passion, as I have loved working with kids since I was in high school. I think it’s so important for kids to explore their family history, and I would love to see them use their creativity to write the stories of their family and share it with others.”

How did you choose the name for your blog?

“The ideal outcome of this blog is to see kids turn their ancestors’ lives into storybooks. I am working on a children’s picture book based on the memoir of one of my ancestors right now, and will hopefully release it in the fall. I would love to see kids do the same.”

Who is your favorite ancestor and why?

“Almyra King Holsclaw is my favorite ancestor. She is my 3rd great-grandmother. She was born in 1842 and lived her entire life in Jennings County, Indiana. She is the one who wrote the beautiful memoir of growing up in pioneer Indiana that I am turning into a picture book. I have heard so much about her from family and am somewhat in awe of her.”

What do you love the most about genealogy?

“The stories. Always the stories.”

What interesting connections have you made through blogging?

“Before Storybook Ancestor, I had another smaller blog where I blogged more about my own personal family history, and I had a grandparent’s first cousin find my blog and contact me. It was amazing.”

What is on your genealogy bucket list?

“To visit Ireland. My mother’s side is very Irish, and I would love to visit County Galway especially where my Mulry ancestors were from. Ireland has always been a dream destination for me.”

If you wanted to leave a message for future generations, what would you tell them?

“Make connections to the past, and invest in the future.”

“A big part of the Storybook Ancestor blog is sharing family stories with the world. If your child has a family story they would like to share, please contact us! You can visit our site to see stories we have already published, and if your children need help writing, subscribe to our newsletter to receive a free e-book Writing Family History for Kids: A Workbook & Guide. We would love to share your special family stories with the world!”

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Please take a moment to head over to Katie’s blog, Storybook Ancestor and leave her a comment, letting her know you stopped by. Thank you Katie for telling us about yourself and your blog. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you better.

© 2017, copyright Jana Last. All rights reserved.

Jana Last is a wife, mom and grandma living in sunny California. She loves family history and enjoys learning about her ancestors. She started her family history research in 1996 after the death of her maternal grandfather. She is the author of three blogs and a website: Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog, Grandpa’s Postcards, Jana’s Place and Jana’s Genealogy and Social Media Hub. Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Jana via email at jmlast61@gmail.com.

May I Introduce To You . . . Susan LeBlanc

Come meet genealogy blogger Susan LeBlanc of the Gopher Genealogy blog as interviewed by Jana Last at GeneaBloggers

MAY I INTRODUCE TO YOU . . . Susan LeBlanc

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Susan LeBlanc and her blog, Gopher Genealogy, described as, “Gopher Genealogy by Susan LeBlanc provides information about research, lectures, published articles and book reviews, and Serendipity Moments that are the results of searching for ancestors both personally and for clients. The objective of the blog is for others to receive insight and inspiration in doing their family history research. It is an evolving method of communication, and input from reviewers is welcome.”

Susan, please tell us a little about yourself.

“My life began in Portland, Oregon. Our family lived in the area of Linton and St. Johns until we moved to northeast Portland when I was about three. I have one sister and two brothers. In 1978 I married David in Idaho Falls, Idaho. We have lived in the Portland area in the towns of Carver, Gladstone and now Scappoose. Our family has grown to include six children, four in-laws and five grandchildren. They are supportive of my interest in doing family history research.”

How did you get started in genealogy?

“When I was in high school my paternal grandmother shared with me her family history. Her mother died when she was four, and while her father and stepmothers did their best in raising her, she found the family history was an important support for her. She also had three sons and they had little interest in this information. That is when I became the family collector for both paternal and maternal artifacts, pictures, documents, etc. In the process our family history is enriched by this collection.”

When and why did you start your genealogy blog?

“In April of 2011 my blog was created with the help of my youngest daughter. All of my children are much more technology savvy than I am. In 2005 I graduated from BYU with a BGS degree in Family History. Then in 2010 I became an accredited genealogist through ICAPGen. In 2011 my background in research had grown considerably and it was time to create a place for sharing those experiences. I write more for me and my posterity than for anyone else. When my clients consent, then I may post something about the experiences with their work.”

How did you choose the name for your blog?

“It just evolved. Several times this name came to me, and probably is the result of knowing how hard gophers work at their jobs. No one else was using the term gopher in their blog titles. It is catchy and easy for people to remember. Doing genealogy research is challenging and demanding work.”

What are your tips for new bloggers?

  • “Keep writing as often as possible and carefully edit for errors.”
  • “Read all comments and suggestions from readers. They are usually encouraging and helpful.”
  • “Organize your blog and keep it updated so readers can use it efficiently. Look at other blogs to see what will work best for you.”
  • “Maintain a backup to your blog, make books of your posts, and watch the stats so you can see what interests the readers.”

Please tell us about your favorite post(s) on your blog.

“Genealogy Serendipity Moments – The Riggs Family”

“This is the post with the highest number of views, 1398, written May 13, 2011, just two weeks after setting up the blog. It was just recently published in our local quarterly, The Bulletin, of the Genealogical Forum of Oregon. It was written about an unusual experience when working on a client’s family.”

How much time do you spend on family history research?

“At least two to four hours a day. This depends upon how much family activities we have going on. One day a week I work at our local Family History Center. When I get going on an intriguing project I often work until I am too tired to stay focused.”

Who is your favorite ancestor(s) and why?

“My favorite ancestors are the Tidd family. They are the original ancestors that my grandmother shared with me. This family honored and respected their Revolutionary War ancestors and passed on some interesting artifacts. An original copy of an 1806 newspaper article about Daniel Tidd’s death (linking him to his father), his powder horn, pictures, etc. The women who were a part of this family fascinate me.”

How has genealogy improved your life?

“Genealogy is the basis of my life’s work. When I was recovering from several serious injuries and surgeries it provided me a way to stay focused. My family has been with me to cemeteries, courthouses, libraries, genealogy facilities, and have grown to understand the history of our country. As we packed up our home and moved a year ago they discovered many artifacts that they know little about. That has peaked their interest and concern about preserving the collection.”

What do you love the most about genealogy?

“Genealogy is always providing new learning experiences. My preconceived notions are often adjusted as I study families of varying backgrounds. The building blocks that brought me to where I am today are the teachings of some very knowledgeable genealogists or historians.”

What family story or heirloom do you cherish?

“The basket that my grandmother used to carry her few belongings with her when she moved from Iowa to Oregon as a teenager. It is beautifully woven, about 12” x 24”, with leather straps and a top. This was kept in her hope chest, with the other family keepsakes, and I am grateful she passed all of this on to me.”

Besides major websites like Ancestry and FamilySearch, what research tool or source has been helpful in researching your family history?

“The US Genweb is probably the most important research tool for locating information on the county basis. My favorite was in Carroll County, Iowa where there are translations of German newspaper articles about collateral relatives and some family pictures.”

Which genealogy blogs inspire you?

“Randy Seaver’s blog has great detailed information about genealogy happenings and his own research. Each Monday I review his top favorites of the week and often read some of them. He and I have ancestors in common, so once in a while he posts something for one of them.”

“There are too many others to list.”

What interesting connections have you made through blogging?

“The most interesting connections are people who contact me about family posts that are about their relatives. For clients I let them know about the person wanting to make a connection. For my own relatives we start a conversation about our connections, which often result in sharing of documents, pictures and stories. On my Neppl family I was sent the funeral card for my great grandfather, actually listing the very town where he was born in Germany.”

What do you think is the most interesting change in the past ten years in genealogy/family history?

“The most interesting change has to be internet access to records and research. The key is then knowing where to go for further research. Deep digging in documents and places is where one finds the proof for detailing the previous research. These skills are often learned from years of practice and attending classes, institutes, etc.”

What is on your genealogy bucket list?

“Going to Massachusetts, Maine and Iowa to visit the places where my Tidd family ancestors lived. Having been to England and Norway I know the keen sense of roots when standing on the lands where they lived.”

If you wanted to leave a message for future generations, what would you tell them?

“Never give up. Put something aside if you can’t find the answers. Talk with other people with more experience in working in certain places. Things are still buried in attics and basements just waiting to be discovered.”

An additional message from Susan.

“This month is my all-time high for page views almost 7,000, for a total of 86,568 in 5 1/2 years. My followers are consistent at 71, but many more see my posts through Google and Facebook. It amazes me that while I have not written as much as at first, the page views continue to grow. I still have plenty to write about and hope to do more writing in the coming year.”

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Please take a moment to head over to Susan’s blog, Gopher Genealogy and leave her a comment, letting her know you stopped by. Thank you Susan for telling us about yourself and your blog. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you better.

 

© 2017, copyright Jana Last. All rights reserved.

Jana Last is a wife, mom and grandma living in sunny California. She loves family history and enjoys learning about her ancestors. She started her family history research in 1996 after the death of her maternal grandfather. She is the author of three blogs and a website: Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog, Grandpa’s Postcards, Jana’s Place and Jana’s Genealogy and Social Media Hub. Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Jana via email at jmlast61@gmail.com.