May I Introduce to You . . . Lilian Magill
Remember the little boy in The Sixth Sense who says, “I see dead people”? Lilian Magill does not SEE them (that I know of anyway), but she talks to them. Now don’t worry – Lilian is not troubled like the little boy. Quite to the contrary, she is a warm and caring professional genealogist and family historian who conveys the stories of her ancestors’ lives by “talking to them” in the most charming and often humorous ways. I am pleased to introduce to you Lilian Magill of Lilian’s Tree.
Lilian, can you tell a little about yourself?
“I’m a Sydney girl born and bred. Apart from moving suburbs several times, Sydney, Australia, has always been my home. I’m a trained teacher/librarian, but I no longer teach, having decided in 2007 that life was too short. I took leave and haven’t gone back. I miss the students but not the political side of teaching. When I’m not ‘doing my family tree,’ I read, knit, quilt and spend time with my family. Now that my husband of 40 years is retired, we are free to travel and really enjoy it. Last year we spent six weeks in Europe and loved it.”
How did you get interested in doing your family history?
“My dad died when I was three, and I didn’t know much about him. Mum wasn’t forthcoming with any information, so when I married I started my genealogy journey. It took several years before I really got started. Now I research for other people, with my small business, Research by Lily. I have been doing presentations in the past few years and love that side of genealogy. I think I might broaden that area. I love the family atmosphere when genealogists get together and the encouragement that is freely given.
“I am also studying for my Diploma of Genealogical Studies and am loving it.”
Has the focus of your personal research changed over time?
“With so much being available now online, my research has changed from focusing on the facts, like births, death and marriages, to putting ‘meat on the bones’ of my ancestors. I love that I can search and read newspapers and find snippets of information about them. It makes them real for me. I still love to spend time in archives, libraries and cemeteries.”
What do you think is the most interesting change in family history in the past 10 years?
“The explosion of the Internet, especially Social Media. I can now connect with family, friends and colleagues in minutes, not days or weeks.”
Lilian, why did you start your genealogy-related business? What types of services do you provide?
“I started my business to help those that can’t do the research or don’t have the time. I wanted to use my knowledge to help others. I have two main services. One is where I find where the information, certificates, etc. are located and then give the client the details of how to obtain them. The one I like is my second service where I get to do ALL the research and then give them the full picture at the end. I find this very rewarding. I re-united two brothers several years ago and that was amazing.”
Blogging is just one aspect of social media. How important has social media been to the growth of your business?
“While most of my work comes via the Internet, I’ve yet to know if social media or my blogs have played a part in that.”
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start their own genealogy-related business?
“Get everything in order FIRST – any tax things organized, any registering of the name and securing the domain name. Build the website. If I was doing it now, I would start a blog first and post my business building trials etc. This way people would know what is going on. Join Linkedin. Look at the types of research you want to specialize in and make sure you have all the details of societies in that area, archives, and newspapers. Then GO FOR IT! Promote it at every opportunity.”
Why did you start a genealogy blog?
“In answering these questions, I went back to the very beginning and re-read my first post. It was posted at 7:45 a.m. on 21 November 2010 and was three lines. Sometimes, even now my posts are short. So why did I start my blog? Cousin bait, maybe, but I suppose I started it as a way to write family stories. My Family Fridays have done that. Blogging helps with connecting with like-minded people. I was wearing my Blogger Beads at RootsTech 2016, and people would either ask what they were about or stop as a fellow blogger. Blogging is a way to express what I feel.”
Where do you get your inspiration for your blog posts?
“I look at what others are posting and if I like their ideas, I use them. Things like Surname Saturday, Family Friday, Trove Tuesday and Wedding Wednesday have all come from others. Thomas MacEntee has daily prompts on his GeneaBloggers site and sometimes I use them.
“I did the A to Z of blogging challenge this past April and found it a challenge to find something unique for each day. You had to blog every day except Sunday, using the alphabet. We started with A on Friday the 1st and finished with Z on Saturday the 30th.
Other blog posts are about what I’m doing, researching or feeling. It is a very mixed bag.”
What are your favorite posts on your blog and why?
“A Brick Wall Has Fallen! (no not a real one but a family tree one) – I had spent 30 years looking for my maternal great-grandparents’ death and a random newspaper search turned up a death notice that helped me solve it. It was an awesome feeling.
“My RootsTech – This was my first visit to RootsTech and I loved it. This post was done after I arrived home and could upload more photos. My poor little iPad couldn’t cope with so many photos.”
What future plans do you have for your blog?
“I’m going to add tags to my posts. This is something that I have seen on other blogs and think it is a good idea. I revamped the blog this year with a new photo and different pages, so I’m happy about that. I think that the blog will continue to evolve as I improve my blogging skills.”
Finally Lilian, what is on your genealogy bucket list?
“I want to go back to RootsTech and also to the Family History Library, expand my range of presentations and develop that side of my business, and continue to expand my knowledge with more study.”
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Please take a moment to visit Lilian at Lilian’s Tree and leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Thank-you, Lilian, for letting us inside your blogging world.
© 2016, copyright Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.
Wendy Mathias is a retired teacher who divides her time between her home in Chesapeake, Virginia and Smith Mountain Lake. She enjoys researching her family and digging for the story behind old family photos for her blog Jollett Etc. Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Wendy via email firstname.lastname@example.org.