May I Introduce to You . . . Debbie Kennett

Come meet genealogy blogger Debbie Kennett, author of the Cruwys News blog, in this interview by Tessa Keough at GeneaBloggers - May I Introduce To You

I have the pleasure of introducing to you Debbie Kennett and her blog Cruwys news. It is the place where Debbie shares her “day to day activities of the Cruwys/Cruse one-name study” and also discusses DNA testing and personal genomics. DNA testing and analysis are one of the big topics in genealogy and family history today. Debbie’s writing on the subject – at her blog, in her book DNA and Social Networking: A Guild to Genealogy in the Twenty-First Century, and in several published articles, helps to educate the beginner and the more advanced genealogist alike. Debbie’s blog is proof that quality trumps quantity – write when you have something to share with the genealogy community and you will enjoy a loyal following and not burn out. So without further ado, let’s learn a bit more about Debbie, her blog and her experiences in family history.

Debbie, can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved in family history?

I live in England. I got involved in family history after the death of my father-in-law. When we sorted out the contents of his house we found a collection of family photographs but we didn’t know who all the people were. I started writing letters to my husband’s relatives, and doing searches on the internet to see what I could find out, and before I knew it I had become addicted.

How long have you been doing family history and has your focus changed over time?

I started my research towards the end of 2001. I was initially only interested in researching my husband’s family tree and my own family tree. I’ve always had a particular interest in my unusual maiden name Cruwys which has a very long history going back to the 1200s. I found that I was spending more time researching that surname than any other. I naively thought that it might one day be possible to link together everyone with the surname in one big tree so I collected all references to the surname even if they weren’t immediately relevant.

As I subsequently discovered, this is a classic sign of an addiction to another form of family history research known as a one-name study! I registered the surname Cruwys with the Guild of One-Name Studies back in 2006. Through my one-name study I now find I spend a lot of time researching families who are not related to me. This has brought me into contact with lots of researchers from around the world, many of whom have become friends and some of whom I’ve now had the pleasure of meeting. I started a surname DNA project in 2007 and since then I’ve become interested in the application of DNA testing to genealogy. This is a very fast-moving field so it’s been fascinating to keep up with all the latest developments.

How do you think family history has changed while you have been involved?

Family history research has been transformed in the last decade or so. When I first started out there were just a few census records available on CDs or microfiche. I had to go to my local record office and search laboriously through microfiche copies of the birth, marriage and death records for England and Wales. It would sometimes take hours to find a single index entry whereas now those references can be found in an instant. We now have the opposite problem. There is so much data available online that it is impossible to keep up.

I’m a great fan of social media, and especially Facebook and Twitter, and I was one of the early adopters for genealogy. Indeed I even wrote my first book on the subject of DNA and Social Networking! I relied on the Rootsweb mailing lists for help when I first started out but I now find that all the conversations have moved over to Facebook.  I also have a lot of fun on Twitter.

Why did you create your blog and what are your thoughts on blogging?

I started my blog in January 2007. I thought it would be an easy way to share my ongoing research on my Cruwys one-name study. The blog has evolved over the years and I now seem to spend more time writing about my experiences with genetic genealogy than my one-name study. I tend to opt for quality over quantity. I write when I have the time and when I have something I particularly want to communicate. I don’t always have the time to cover everything I would like to. I find that blogging is a great way of sharing your research and making contacts. I sometimes get people writing to me about articles I wrote many years ago.

What is your favorite blog post from Cruwys News and why?

My favourite blog post is my article on “BritainsDNA, The Times and Prince William – the perils of publication by press release” ( This post was prompted by ongoing discussions with a number of population geneticists here in the UK about some extravagant claims being made by one UK-based DNA testing company. It was this blog post that was instrumental in my appointment as an Honorary Research Associate at University College London, which was an unexpected honour.

How much time do you get to spend on research vs. anything else you do related to genealogy/family history?

I’ve had very little time recently to do any of my own family history research. My volunteer DNA work on my DNA projects and the ISOGG Wiki seems to have taken up a lot of my free time. I also seem to have spent quite of bit time in the last few years travelling around the UK and overseas to Canada, Ireland and Portugal to give talks and to educate people about genetic genealogy.

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

Autosomal DNA tests – the cousin-matching tests from 23andMe, AncestryDNA and Family Tree DNA – are starting to revolutionise family history research. There are now numerous cases of foundlings and adoptees who have finally discovered their biological heritage thanks to the power of large matching databases. The databases have not yet reached critical mass outside the USA but it is only a matter of time. DNA also has the potential to allow us to partially reconstruct the genomes of our ancestors. We will be able to determine their eye colour, their hair colour and other physical features, and perhaps even determine which traits we have inherited from specific ancestors. Science fiction is becoming a reality!

What is on your genealogy/family history bucket list?

The top three items on my family history bucket list are:

  1. Go to the Family Tree DNA Group Administrators’ Conference in Houston, Texas;
  2. Go to Rootstech in Salt Lake City, Utah; and
  3. Go on a battlefield tour in Spain and Portugal to retrace the footsteps of my great-great-great grandfather David Tidbury, who was a veteran of the Peninsular War. He was also at the Battle of Waterloo so that is also on my bucket list.

What advice would you give someone who is just starting a genealogy/family history blog?

Blogs are so easy to set up that I think everyone should be doing one. However, a blog does require a certain level of commitment. You don’t have to write every week or even every month but you do need to build up a reasonable stock of posts to become visible. Otherwise just be honest and find your own voice.

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Please take a moment to visit Debbie at Cruwys news and leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Thank you so much Debbie for sharing a part of your family history and blogging world with us.

© 2015, copyright Tessa Keough. All rights reserved

Tessa Keough divides her time between Arlington, Virginia and Portland, Oregon. She got hooked on researching her ancestors after seeing a pedigree chart at a family reunion. She shares her paternal genealogy at The Keough Corner, her maternal genealogy at Scandia Musings & More, and technology and methodology tips at her YouTube channel TessaWatch. Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Tessa via email

May I Introduce to You . . . Anna Matthews

Come meet genealogy blogger Anna Matthews, author of Tripping Over My Roots, in this interview by Michelle Taggart at GeneaBloggers.
I am excited to introduce to you Anna Matthews and her blog, Tripping Over My Roots.  On her blog, Anna shares her ancestors’ stories while journaling the experiences she has as she researches.  On her blog Anna shares photos, documents and most recently even a piece of a home movie of the wedding of her grandparents!

Anna, please tell us a little about yourself.  Where did you grow up and what is your current hometown?

“I live in Rockville Centre, NY (on Long Island) with my boyfriend, our Basenji, DJ, and our tortoise-shell cat, Moxie. I have lived in RVC, as the locals call it, since the age of two when my parents and I moved from the Chicago suburb of Elk Grove Village. I am the only child of my parents’ marriage, although I have four stepsisters and a stepbrother. I work for a vascular surgeon, I am a rabid ice hockey fan (Go Habs Go!) and love to bake, craft and watch Masterpiece on PBS. I also love all things vintage and family research has given me a renewed interest in history. When my back isn’t acting-up I love to take DJ for long walks.”

How did you get started in genealogy?

“In some ways I have always been surrounded by family history from old family portraits on our walls to visits to my cousins’ farm, which was founded by a third great-grandfather. There are many people in my family who have worked to preserve our history, even long before home computers and the Internet. I started my first online tree in 2007 but my real research started when I realized that two of my maternal grandfather’s brothers, who died in infancy, were not buried with the rest of the family. That search led to other discoveries about our family and really gave me the bug.”

When and why did you start your genealogy blog?

“I started my blog in May of 2012 after I found GeneaBloggers. Although I wanted to be a part of this wonderful GeneaBlogging community, Tripping Over My Roots was just cousin-bait for a long time. Now I feel like I am finally finding my blogging voice. Sharing my experiences while doing the Genealogy Do-Over has been a big part of that. Thomas MacEntee shared two of my blog posts with the Do-Over Facebook group and in doing so, he showed me that I do have something to offer other genealogists, not just my cousins.” 

What is your favorite post(s) on your blog?

“I recently finished sharing my paternal grandfather’s family history and autobiography in 22 posts for Amanuensis Monday (this is the first post):

I loved sharing his story and giving others a glimpse into the past in a small town in Pennsylvania. It also brought me two new cousins!” 

What do you love most about doing genealogy?

“This is a difficult question to answer! I love the complexity of genealogy. How’s that for not answering the question. But I really love just about everything about it except destroyed records and defunct churches. I love that when I’m a little burned out or frustrated by that brick wall or from chasing a record, there are many other things I can do and still be doing genealogy. I have blogs and books to read, photos to scan, memories to preserve, technology to explore, blog posts to write, webinars to watch and trips to plan. All of it involves learning and certainly engages my brain and imagination more than my 9-5 job!”

What is your favorite genealogy research tool or source?

“Newspapers! For instance, finding the Pittston Gazette of Pittston, PA online has been so much fun. It has provided me with names and dates but much more than that, it has given me some insight into and context for the daily lives of my grandfather and his parents and siblings. You just never know what you are going to find in an old newspaper, like my grandfather’s letter to Santa published in 1909 when he was eight; one of my favorite finds of any kind.”

What other genealogy blogs inspire you?

“In some ways all GeneaBloggers inspire me with their willingness to spend so much time and energy sharing their families and their stories with us.

I recently made a commitment to visiting more blogs again, something I had gotten away from for a while. I now have a account and follow a number of GeneaBlogs, a list that grows every week.

Good writing is particularly inspirational to me. I wish that I could write well enough to engage readers in the lives of my ancestors, to make them come alive on the page and evoke the readers’ sympathies.

I recently found Linda Stufflebean’s “Empty Branches on the Family Tree”  who is very inspirational as a blogger. She posts every day, or close to it, shares her research stories as well as her ancestor stories, participates in at least one year-long weekly challenge, which is a commitment I admire, and also posts a weekly roundup of blog posts called Recommended Reads. I love bloggers who take the time to do that for the rest of us, like Randy Seaver ( and Jana Last ( who posts weekly roundups as well.”

What is on your genealogy bucket list?

“Where do I start?

  • Finding the burial places of those great-uncles I mentioned.
  • Breaking through the brick wall of my second-great grandfather Benjamin Smith who was actually born not far from where I live.
  • Confirming or busting the family myth that we are descended from Francis Cooke of the Mayflower, which I have to say is not looking good.
  • Finding proof of my great-grandfather’s birth so that I can apply to the D.A.R. on behalf of myself and my mother and any interested cousins.
  • Learning to research in countries other than the US and Canada and visiting those places (Sweden, England, and Scotland) is also a long-term goal, although they might have to pump me full of sedatives to get me on the plane!

And that was just off the top of my head!”

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Please take a moment to visit Anna’s blog Tripping Over My Roots and see all of the wonderful things she has to share. Be sure and leave a comment to let her know you stopped by. Thank you Anna for sharing your thoughts and your blog with us!

© 2015, copyright Michelle Ganus Taggart, All rights reserved 

Michelle Ganus Taggart lives in Kaysville, Utah, where she enjoys the beautiful outdoors, time with family and researching her ancestors.  She shares her passion for her southern research in her blog, A Southern Sleuth.  Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . . “ series?  If so, contact Michelle  via email

May I Introduce to You . . . Karen Krantzberg

Come meet genealogy blogger Karen Krantzberg, author of The Road Backward blog, in this interview by Wendy Mathias at GeneaBloggers.

I have the pleasure of introducing to you Karen Krantzberg and her blog The Road Backward. It is a very clean and uncluttered blog, yet full of interesting stories and images about her varied family roots. The integrity of her research and the warmth of her style are evident in every post. So without further ado . . . .

Karen, can you tell a little about yourself?

I was born in Boston, Massachusetts but have lived in Tampa, Florida since I was seven. My maternal grandmother’s ancestors were New England Puritans, my maternal grandfather’s family were English/Irish/German Canadians, my paternal grandmother was of Irish descent, and my paternal grandfather was a Russian Jew. This variation makes genealogy research interesting. I have a B.A. in psychology and an M.A.T. in secondary social science education. In addition to genealogy, I enjoy music and singing, and am a total history and science nerd.

How did you get interested in doing your genealogy?

I’ve always been interested in my family. My mother often told me stories about her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Mom passed away in 1999, right around the time I got a computer with internet, and I started poking around online. There wasn’t a lot in the way of genealogy information on the web back then, so I didn’t really get back into genealogy research until 2010. Mom talked so much about her contemporary family but never mentioned her ancestors. I don’t think she really knew much about them. She would get a big kick out of what I’ve been able to find.

What do you enjoy the most about doing your family history?

I love history and have to say that the coolest thing about genealogy is uncovering connections to influential people and events of the past. It’s one thing to read about the infamous Civil War prison camp at Andersonville, but when you find out that your 3rd great-uncle was there, it makes it real in a way that it wasn’t before. The other thing I love is meeting new cousins.

What is your favorite genealogy research tool or source?

The broad answer would be the internet. I live 1,200 miles away from New England, where most of my ancestors lived, and lack the time and money to do much traveling. So I have to rely mainly on website databases (as well as kind people and cousins who are in the vicinity and are able to look up a record or take a gravestone picture). My favorite go-to site is

When did you start a genealogy blog and how did you choose the name?

I originally started “The Road Backward” in 2011. I’ve changed platforms a couple of times, so posts only go back to 2013. As for the title, I think of genealogy as a journey, and many journeys are by road. And since you’re trying to go into the past, you’re going backward rather than forward.

Where do you get your inspiration or ideas for your blog posts?

Mostly through discoveries I make, regarding both my personal research and by resources that I’ve found that others might find useful. I read quite a bit, so sometimes inspiration comes from the subject of a book I’m currently into. Sometimes it comes from other bloggers.

What interesting connections have you made through blogging?

I’ve made several cousin connections, both with other genealogy bloggers and with cousins who have stumbled upon my site and contacted me. As an example, one day a 4th cousin found my blog and sent me an email; it turned out that she had a photo of our 3rd great-grandmother that I’d been hoping to come across, and she sent it along.

How do you motivate yourself to keep blogging?

Having a day job and other responsibilities, it’s not always easy to find the time and the energy to write. I try to publish a post once a week. Genealogy blogs in general don’t tend to get many comments, and lack of response is sometimes discouraging. But I figure that if whatever I’m posting might help someone else make a connection, or give them direction, then it’s worth it.

What future plans do you have for your blog?

There aren’t currently plans for anything too dramatic. I might try to find interesting themes or come up with a series. If anyone has any ideas, or anything they would like to see, please let me know!

What other genealogy blogs inspire you?

There are many, but I’ll name just a few: “Nutfield Genealogy” by Heather Wilkinson Rojo. She’s a cousin to me on quite a number of lines, and she has inspired me with her awesome surname posts. Elizabeth Handler has two blogs, “From Maine To Kentucky” and “A Jewish Genealogical Journey,” the latter dedicated to her husband’s family. I love that both of her blogs are relevant to different branches of my tree. There is also

Janice Webster Brown’s “Cow Hampshire” blog, which focuses on Manchester, New Hampshire. My mom lived in Manchester, and in fact that’s where my parents married. Her posts are always fun and fascinating.

What is on your genealogy bucket list?

I really want to 1) visit the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and 2) take a trip to New England and Canada so that I can do in-person research and visit sites and cousins. One of these days!

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Please take a moment to visit Karen at The Road Backward and leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by.  Thank-you, Karen, for letting us inside your blogging world.

© 2015, 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