I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Andrew Martin and his blog, History Repeating, described as, “. . . An East Anglia multi-author genealogy blog, covering families of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.”
How Andrew Got Started in Genealogy
Andrew resides in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, England. He has been researching his genealogy since 1995, “. . . I was 17 and right in the middle of my A Levels.
My father’s oldest brother visited one day and left a piece of paper on my parents’ dining table which had a hand-drawn tree on it. I saw it and recognized no-one (it included my Great Grandfather and his siblings, but at that point, I didn’t recognize them). From that moment on I set myself the challenge to learn about everyone on it, and it kind of took over from that point. I probably put more effort into my research at that time than I did put into studying my A Levels.”
Andrew’s Thoughts on Blogging
“My first post was quite late in my research really – I’d already researched for 12 years by the time I wrote the first post in the Christmas to New Year lull in 2007. After posting it, I didn’t write anything much for a while. I already had my ‘The Family Tree UK’ website, and so I think I was worried about maintaining two sites.
The more I researched, the more I was finding stories – funny ones, or incredibly sad and disturbing ones. I also wanted to document the journey I was taking by including the exasperating challenges, and then the success of when I solved them.”
Andrew’s Favorite Blog Post
“This is a tough question.
I think my favourite posting is ‘Why I Love the 1851 Census’, as I honestly do love that census because it’s really the first useful one. 1841 is okay, but it’s a little thin on information, and of course the ages are often out by a few years. This post felt quite cathartic – like I was admitting some kind of guilty pleasure.
To date (and by a long way), the readers’ favourite posting is actually one where I created an infographic from the data of my Barber family. The traffic to that post easily beat the previous record holder of an article that I wrote and published during the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – writing it about their predecessors of that title. The infographic has had a lot of attention on LinkedIn and Facebook, and I’m really pleased to see this kind of content have that effect, as hopefully infographics can help more people find genealogy more accessible, and encourage them to start their own research.”
Andrew’s Tip for New Bloggers
“1. Your blog is only going to succeed if you post something, and keep posting.
2. Spend about 20% of your time creating the content, then 80% of your time promoting it – this will help you find new readers who want to read your blog.
3. Getting comments can be difficult. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get any for a long time. Keep writing!”
How Genealogy Has Improved Andrew’s Life
“Genealogy is so important.
I think that a lot of families have a massive disconnect between generations, which is really unfortunate because older generations have so many great stories that they can tell you. Even if you find them boring now, you’ll kick yourself when it’s simply too late, and the memory is lost. Being a researcher immediately puts you in the middle of all that. People love telling stories about how things were, and that’s a great excuse for reuniting people to pool memories, or to work out who the mystery woman is in a photograph.
My research has helped to reunite relatives who lived only a few miles apart but due to whatever reason or situation, and then the passing of time, they’ve missed out on years of each other’s lives. Genealogy is a very social past-time.
I’ve also been fortunate to grow a great circle of international genealogy friends – either via twitter or through my blog, or by visiting genealogy events like Who Do You Think You Are? Live, or local family history shows and meeting fellow researchers face-to-face.
Also, it has given me a sense of belonging. At 17, when I was brimming full of ideas for ways to find my place in the world, knowing where I’d come from really helped me to realize that sometimes when times can be so viciously cruel, that people still had the courage and strength to fight through and succeed. That gives me a strength when I feel a bit low.”
Andrew’s Favorite Ancestor
“I think it probably has to be my maternal Great Grandmother Maude. I was lucky enough to know all four of my maternal great grandparents, but she was the one I knew the best, reaching the age of 104, when I myself was 25. Her story-telling, sense of humour, and laughter when remembering life as the third of fifteen children of a railway worker. That really fuelled my research and brought us close. I have a beautiful photograph of her from the 1920s hanging in my lounge. I’ve been fortunate to meet seven of her siblings – all such wonderful people.”
What Andrew Loves Most About Genealogy
“I love seeing photographs and being able to put names to them. Alongside that scrappy hand-drawn tree that my uncle had left with my parents were some photographs. Eventually more photographs followed, along with names, and it really helped to bring my family to life again.”
Andrew’s Time Capsule Message
“I would probably tell them what I did today. Where I went, what it was like, how much things cost etc. It’s those bits of information that I would have loved to have stumbled across from my ancestors – real life – not just the BMDs. I’ve not found any diaries yet, and so the minutely detailed social history side is lacking. I’ve tried to make up for this by focusing on newspapers to help fill in the gaps – to spot stories about, and quotes from, ancestors and to help understand the wider context in which they lived.
Oh, and I’d probably tell them where to find a copy of their family tree (but to check everything twice).”
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Please take a moment to head on over to Andrew’s blog. Leave him a comment letting him know you stopped by. Welcome Andrew, it’s great to have you here!
© 2013, copyright Gini Webb
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.