I am happy to introduce to you Jana Greenhalgh and the blog The Genealogy Kids. A running joke among many genealogy bloggers is that family members’ eyes glaze over at the mere mention of their research. Jana does not have that problem. Her blog is truly a family affair in which she and her children together write and produce videos in order to inspire the next generation of family historians.
Jana, can you tell a little about yourself?
I grew up in a large, awesome family. I’m the oldest of eight kids. My husband Brent and I met when we were young. My family moved into his neighborhood in Pleasant Grove, Utah. We both attended BYU where I completed a BA in Genealogy/Family History in ’03. I’ve been a busy stay-at-home mother ever since. When I’m not doing dishes, laundry and helping kids with homework, you’ll find me involved in some family history project, gardening, and perhaps knitting. Brent and I reside in Utah with our 6 cute children.
How did you get interested in doing genealogy?
My interest in genealogy started when I was a child. My parents clearly valued their heritage and shared family stories with us. When I was a teenager, my grandfather (who was our “family genealogist”) influenced my life profoundly. He called and asked me for rides to the genealogy library. Once we were there, he gave me little projects to work on. He’d say something like, “Write down all the people in this town on this census with this surname.” I learned to use records to find information about people, and I loved it. I was hooked!
What do you enjoy the most about doing genealogy?
I find great joy in discovering stories about people. And interestingly, I find just as much joy in helping others to find their family stories. The other day I saw this joy pass through my 12-year old son while we were reading some old family stories about an ancestor. As we finished he said, “Which ancestor are we going to read stories about next?” He didn’t want to stop. He’s caught the bug.
What is your favorite genealogy research tool or source?
We are big fans of everything FamilySearch. We also use Ancestry.com regularly, and honestly, a good Google search makes it into our top three tools. If the kids were picking a favorite record type, they’d probably say: census. Nothing beats a census for painting a picture of your family. They also like to index. My personal favorites are the records of England, which is where I spend most of my research time.
Why did you start a genealogy blog? How did the idea of creating videos come about?
For years I’ve attended the fast-growing RootsTech conference but usually via live stream since I’ve either been nursing a baby, lying in bed morning sick, or am otherwise unable to leave the kiddos. Living in Utah, I’d journey out for a couple of hours just to bask in the glory of the expo hall, and last year we managed to take the oldest two to “Family Discovery Day.” Every year I finish the conference enthused and anxious to try new things and do more genealogy until a few days later when reality hits and I realize I’m way too busy to do it all. Last year though, I had an epiphany. I determined that there must be creative ways to do the genealogy I love and be a good parent at the same time. As my children were really into watching YouTube videos at the time, we devised a plan together and The Genealogy Kids blog was born.
Where do you get your inspiration for your blog posts?
We write when we have time. We write when we have enough genealogy success together that we want to share it with the world. While the kids post only occasionally and usually about simple activities or updates about our videos, I have recently started keeping a separate mom journal called Jana’s Genealogy Journal to have an outlet for my genealogy thoughts. The idea list in my brain is endless, so we hope to see the blogs expand over time. Most of my writing so far appears in the form of The Genealogy Kids video scripts.
What kind of networking do you use to attract readers to your blog?
We rely on our friends, family and followers to spread the word. Since we’re just new this year, we hope you’ll check out our blog and videos and share them with your contacts. We now have a Facebook page and a Pinterest board in addition to our blog and YouTube channel. We hope other kids (and parents of small kids) will discover our site and use our ideas so they can have as much fun as we’re having. Please come follow, like, subscribe, and share.
What future plans do you have for your blog?
We are right in the middle of creating our 6-video series “How to Research Your Ancestor.” I am anxious to teach children the rules of genealogical research and the basic how-to’s. We’re having fun using our own ancestors as models in this series. The kids have also delved into a new idea, and they recently posted their first “The Genealogy COOKS” video, featuring a favorite recipe from Great Grandma Hardman. This combines two of their favorite hobbies into one. As we increase our following, we’d like to host contests and competitions to see what family history videos other kids (or kids-at-heart) can create. And once our “How to” series is done, we have plans to make short 2-3 minute videos in a series called “Genealogy Defined” which will feature basic genealogical terms. We are always updating “Our BIG list of Family History Activities” and we want to create a bigger list of links to useful genealogy websites, especially those that are kid-friendly.
What other genealogy blogs inspire you?
It seems I find a new blog I like every week. I have recently discovered Emily Kowalski Shroeder’s “Growing Little Leaves” blog about educating children with genealogy. I watch the work that Janet Hovorka has been doing with her “Zap the Grandma Gap” and “Chart Chick” blogs. I love any blog that offers ideas about involving children in family history.
What is on your genealogy bucket list?
Travel! While we have visited many local ancestral towns and historic sites with our children, we look forward to broadening our range. My oldest two (Nathan and Becca, hosts of The Genealogy Kids videos) are headed to Washington D.C. this fall to visit their aunt and visit historic sites. My husband and I look forward to trips to England, Scandinavia and Germany someday when the babies aren’t so little. On my personal genealogy bucket list I have a goal to apply for accreditation as a professional genealogist, and I’d like to continue my education through conference attendance and possibly another college history degree down the road.
Do you have any tips for getting kids interested in genealogy?
Tip for kids: Be a detective, find your families’ stories, then SHARE, SHARE, SHARE. Share in whatever creative ways you like. Video-making is really fun, and your friends and family will love it. Tip for parents: Tell family stories, do family history research TOGETHER, and look for age-based activity ideas online. There’s like a million ways to do family history, so find those that appeal to you and your kids the most.
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Please take a moment to visit Jana at The Genealogy Kids and leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Thank-you, Jana, 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 email@example.com.