May I Introduce To You . . . Janis Tomko

Janis Tomko

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Janis Tomko and her blog, Janis’ Genealogy. Janis describes her blog as, “ . . . A companion to my Janis’ Genealogy Website. I started this blog in September of 2008 as a companion to that site. It will contain information that will hopefully be of interest to others doing genealogy research – particularly those publishing genealogy data on the web. It will include topics such as genealogy software; tools, utilities, and software that are useful in building a (genealogy) website; online genealogy data repositories and indices; as well as some of my personal research finds and other relevant topics.”

How Janis Got Started in Genealogy

In the fall of 2003, Janis’ daughter was assigned a research project in middle school to find her immigrant ancestors and their countries of origin. The teacher was a long-term substitute, “I doubt that she realized how hard this would be for those students whose ancestors came in the 1600’s and 1700’s. After my daughter completed what she needed to do for her project based on my husband’s paternal grandparents (who were immigrants), there were still too many unanswered questions on my side of the family – at least for me! So I continued researching.”

Janis’ Family and Her Blog

For the most part, Janis’ family has very little interest in genealogy, “ . . . Well, for the most part they don’t share in my fascination with genealogy, so I think they only read it if I really start bugging them about it!”

How Janis Follows the Rest of Us

Janis started using Google Reader just recently.  The blogs that she follows daily will vary, “I try to check Google Reader fairly often during the day because I also subscribe to news feeds from some of the local TV websites as well as some digital scrapbooking blogs. I really like how I can categorize my subscriptions in Google Reader. That way I can read all the newly arriving genealogy posts together, then all the news, then all the scrapbooking blogs, etc.”

Janis’ Thoughts on Blogging

When Janis first started researching, she wasn’t able to find very much information on the Internet. Luckily, her mom knew the names of most of her and her dad’s grandparents and some of the great-grandparents, so that got her the first several generations. Janis’ mom also knew the location of the burial plots of some of the more recently deceased ancestors, so Janis and her mom would visit the cemeteries to try and find birth and death dates.

After those initial visits, Janis went to more of the local graveyards and took photographs of any tombstone she could find with one of her surnames. Janis also went to the library of the town where she grew up and searched (un-indexed) microfilm of the old newspaper for obits, went to two of the local county archives and looked at marriage licenses, wills, orphan’s court records and deeds and also to several historical societies to look at copies of church records, surname files, etc. – things started to finally come together for Janis.

“After a couple of years I realized I had a pile of obituaries, several notebooks full of notes taken at the historical societies and courthouses and a ton of tombstone photos. And most of it was not available online. It seemed like such a waste to not share it with other researchers who lived further away and didn’t have the same access that I did. I found out about Find A Grave and started creating memorials and uploading tombstone photos to that site. I also started a website on freepages on to upload some of the obits and other transcribed and abstracted records – trying to do it in such a way that other researchers could easily see how the various people were connected.

A year or so after the website, I decided to create a blog to share information that didn’t fit so well into the structure of the website. I was envisioning it for generic things like sharing information about useful websites, geocoding (or geotagging) tombstone photos, etc. Unfortunately, my blog postings were pretty sporadic. I recently found out about GeneaBloggers and thought that picking out some weekly prompts would be a great motivation to post more regularly.”

At first, Janis had a concern whether she would be able to post often enough, “ . . . Finding out about GeneaBloggers has been a great motivator to become more active. I especially like the Daily Blogging Prompt lists. I like reading the roll-ups to see what other researchers are posting and it’s also fun to participate. I picked out prompts for Tues., Wed., and Thurs. and I’m trying to consistently post based on them.”

What Janis Loves the Most About Genealogy

“I love the hunt! I love searching out and finding isolated bits of information and then connecting the dots. Sometimes it takes a lot of persistence and thinking outside the box to find the record that proves your hunch or provides the information you’ve been seeking. And when you finally find it, it’s such a great feeling that it motivates you to keep going and tackle the next mystery (at least that’s how it works for me)!”

Janis’ Time Capsule Message

“I’m not sure if I really have a message for future generations, but what I would like to pass down is the results of my research – in a photo book or two or three! In addition to genealogy, I’m very much into digital scrapbooking – both designing kits and creating layouts. I’ve made quite a few heritage layouts and at some point I would like to rework them a bit and pull them all together to tell a cohesive story with the photos and the journaling.” Janis owns and manages her own digital scrapbooking blog: Designs by jmdt described as, “Combining genealogy and digiscraping.”

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

© 2011, 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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2 thoughts on “May I Introduce To You . . . Janis Tomko

  1. Good luck with your photo books. I love working on that kind of project. Your scrapbook designs are super.

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