May I Introduce To You . . . Jacqi Stevens

Jacqi Stevens

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Jacqi Stevens and her blog, A Family Tapestry, described as, “. . . A place to capture the records and reminiscences of family history; an opportunity to encourage and be encouraged, share resources, and discuss research progress.”

How Jacqi Got Started in Genealogy

Jacqi has been doing genealogy for as long as she can remember, “. . . I like to say I was born interested in genealogy. I can remember always wanting to know the family stories–which attempts at gleaning were often rebuffed by close-lipped relatives, stoking that fire even more unquenchably, giving me an insatiable desire for interpersonal, family connection. I can remember venturing from the children’s section of the library into the never-before broached stacks of the ‘adults’ library’ because the children’s librarian told me I’d have to go there to find books on genealogy. I think I was about eight at the time….intrepid…I had to know.”

Jacqi’s Thoughts on Creating a Genealogy Blog

A Family Tapestry was launched on Mother’s Day, May 8, 2011. I had thought about blogging long before that, and in fact had launched another blog in August, 2008.

When I developed A Family Tapestry, my first wish was to give back to the genealogy community, since I’ve been the recipient of so much assistance along the way, grappling with my own learning curve. There have been so many people who have taken the time to assist me in my research, and I wanted to turn around and share what they’ve helped me find. Once extended family members became aware of my interest in their families’ histories, I became the recipient of many items of interest to genealogists–and a whole lot of ephemera that no one else knew what to do with, other than to not throw away!

In addition to wanting to give back to both the genealogy community and my extended family, I also wanted a vehicle through which to pass along my research. Genealogy is, in many ways, like an unwinding chain–each discovery we make becomes the missing link for the next researcher to use to uncover even more from our past. I wanted to put some of my discoveries out there, digitally, for others to find and make use of.

As I got started, though, I uncovered my true heartbeat for blogging: to become a vehicle enabling others to come together and form community and to provide others self-confirmation to become encouraged to join the conversation, whether directly through blogging or through other forms of new media. I want others to find their voice and be encouraged to use it to get their own family’s stories out there.

So, while on the face of it, I’m blogging to share the details of my family history research, my true hope is to be out there, making my site a hospitable place for people to ‘join the conversation’ by commenting–and even taking the conversation to other social media forums. And I want to get out there myself, encouraging other bloggers by stopping by their sites, too, and reminding them that their contributions are valuable–essential–in passing these stories and heritage along.”

Jacqi’s Favorite Blog Post(s) 

“It’s hard to say which post is my favorite, when a blogger really writes to meet the needs of an audience. Bloggers are on paper what an actor is on stage: we both need a platform, and if we don’t satisfy an audience, well…what’s the sense of having a favorite piece?! But here is my perspective on favorites, based on these criteria:

–blog posts which received the most page views (people’s choice)

–blog posts generating the most conversation (comments on the blog post)

–blog posts receiving the most acclaim via referral (Google +1)

–the blog post that has my heart.

My post with the most page views was about a mystery photograph for which I relied on crowd sourcing for help identifying. For months, I continued receiving hits on ‘A Man In Uniform’ until a visitor finally provided the correct answer. Almost as popular as that article was one from last January, ‘Post-Wedding Plans’ in which I shared some of my in-law’s wedding photos. (I’m not sure why that one was so wildly popular. Perhaps it had something to do with the inclusion of my mother-in-law’s black and white photo, in hygienist’s uniform, posing with the dentist (and third cousin!) she worked for in Perry County, Ohio, in his 1940s exam room).

Since I try to encourage participation at A Family Tapestry, it was so rewarding to see such an energetic conversation starting with my post last month, ‘He Really Was There’ in which it really hit me where, exactly, one of my direct ancestors actually was on April 9, 1865.

I’m sure most bloggers wish to preserve the good about their families and their heritage, but as some of us have discovered, genealogy is all about uncovering not only the good–it sometimes comes along wrapped all up with the bad and the ugly. For the post that gleaned the most recognition via ‘plus ones’ at Google Plus, our family paid quite a price. Still, I had to write about it, starting with the series that began a year ago with the post on October 31, 2011. Starting there, I shared my husband’s father’s story through letters he wrote home while serving in the Navy during World War II, then on through the rest of his short life. It was painful to know the rest of the story as I posted each of these letters, photos and keepsakes saved by his mother…and I finally decided to reveal what I hadn’t yet mentioned by the time of my post in mid-March, wrapping up that series with ‘What I Left Out of Those Letters.’ Speaking of building a sense of community, it was there that I so greatly appreciated the support generated from readers following that vulnerable time of sharing.

Though I value so greatly the affirmation of those following A Family Tapestry, sometimes it turns out that my favorites are not the ones everyone else prefers. So, in answer to your question, Gini, I’d have to say the post I enjoyed writing the most was a whimsical piece I posted just before New Year’s Eve, ‘Cat Genealogy and Dog Tags.’”

Jacqi’s Favorite Ancestor

“This is hard to say. I tend to be best friends with the ancestor I’m currently researching because I fall in love with each one of their stories. Right now, I’m wrestling with an ancestor whose pre-1821 arrival in Ohiohas eluded all the usual documental suspects. I’m also dancing with the memory of my great-great grandfather, Thomas Taliaferro Broyles, who provides me the key to DAR application, but whose very grave site eludes me. And yet, in the face of so many genealogists here who can trace their ancestors back countless generations, I guess I have to say my all-time favorite ‘ancestor’ is really my father-in-law, a man I never met face to face, but whose many letters home have beguiled me with his bittersweet story.”

How Genealogy Improved Jacqi’s Life

“Hmmmm . . . obsession with arcane details of history? Compulsive determination to ferret out obscure documents? Loss of sense of time while surrounded by dusty volumes? The ability to fight off nausea while speed reading through still-moving microfilm reels?

Genealogy may not have improved my life–well, at least not the appearance of my office files!–but it certainly has enriched my life. It’s my passion. That’s what turns the black-and-white ofKansas into the color of Oz. I need that color.”

What Jacqi Loves Most About Genealogy

“The thing I love the most about researching our family’s history is finding and sharing the stories. I want to bring these people–our ancestors–back to life, at least through our continuing memories of what made these people who they were. It’s like a tapestry: woven strands coming together to create a beautiful picture. The back of the tapestry may be a mess of tangled threads, but the nexus of these threads creates something significant. I want to cherish that.”

Jacqi’s Tips for New Genealogy Bloggers and Time Capsule Message 

“Never underestimate your ability to forget, misunderstand, transpose data, and misplace records. Write everything down–even the stuff you don’t think you’ll need, or some day in the future, that will turn out to be the very piece you wish you had. Keep thorough citations of all your sources; you may never have come this way before, but you will surely wish you could come this way again sometime in the future. Revisit your old documents; you’d be surprised at what can jump off the page that used to seem like it ‘didn’t have anything’ of value. The curse of knowledge is when we realize, ‘If only I knew then what I know now.’”

* * *

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

© 2012, copyright Gini Webb

Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, recently retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her now seven 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.

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