May I Introduce to You . . . Nichelle Barra

Come meet genealogy blogger Nichelle Barra, author of the Copper Leaf Genealogy blog, in this interview by Tessa Keough at GeneaBloggers.

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Nichelle Barra and her blog Copper Leaf Genealogy. Nichelle describes Copper Leaf Genealogy as having “two parts: a personal blog and a website for my genealogy business. The first part is my blog is where I write about useful genealogy tidbits like new resources, record types, how to use/search through certain websites, etc., and I include my own family history stories as well as the resources and discoveries I’ve come across along the way.  The second part would then be the professional side – and includes my lectures, publications, qualifications, research, and fees.”

A Little Bit About Nichelle

“My name has always been considered unusual and I normally pause before giving my name because I either say my nickname (Niki) or Nichelle, which then requires a repeat and an explanation. However, if I say Niki, people will then assume my name is Nicole, so my real name will have to be explained sometime anyway. I have two possible stories for where my name comes from:

  • My mother had a close friend who named her daughter Sarah Nichelle and that’s where she got my name


  • My mother is a huge Star Trek fan and named me after Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura.

One of those is true, but I’ll leave you to figure out which one! I do like the Star Trek one the best though.”

How Nichelle Got Started in Genealogy

“I have loved history since I was a kid and my paternal grandmother used to tell me tales about our family history, but I didn’t really get into genealogy until the early 2000’s. I was in college at the time and was wandering around a cemetery (I was already a genealogist in training!) to find some of my paternal ancestors that I was told were there. I came across a gravestone that had my grandmother’s name on it – Mary Witherell Hay Owen. My grandmother was simply Mary Witherell and had passed by this time, but this started me on a hunt to see why this woman had Witherell in her name and if we were related. Thus, began a journey that has never ended!”

Nichelle’s Thoughts on Blogging

“Blogging is probably one of my favorite things to do now! It has created many new genealogy friendships and it has gotten me in touch with several new cousins. Plus, I love to write and share what I discover, especially if it could be helpful to others. That is how I came to find the genealogy blogging community. In fact, I was looking for opinions on the National Genealogical Society’s Home Study Course. I believe I wrote a post that day (then called My People in History) when I discovered the community and I haven’t looked back since!”

Nichelle’s Tips for New (and Not So New) Bloggers

“I recommend trying to be consistent on when you blog (timing is everything). That way your readers know when to expect something from you and will tune in regularly. Be careful not to overdo it though. I started first with the idea of writing every day but I had trouble with finding content. Now I blog three times a week and that is much more manageable for me!

Just as important as consistency is to have fun with your blog. Your enthusiasm always comes through in your writing. Make a point to respond to any comments you receive! I always make sure to respond and I appreciate it when other bloggers do too.”

Nichelle’s Favorite Blog Post(s)

“My most popular blog post by far was “Tuesday’s Tip: Use a Research Plan

My personal favorite blog post is any of my Friday posts. On Friday I do a Genealogy Finds where I post useful webinars, articles, blog posts, videos, and any new resources that came out that week. Two recent posts were Genealogy Finds May 30th-June 5th and Genealogy Finds June 6th-June 12th.”

Nichelle’s Genealogy Bucket List

  • Become a Certified Genealogist (which I am working my way towards)
  • Attend GRIP (Genealogy Institute of Pittsburgh) in 2016
  • Become more knowledgeable in using DNA with genealogy
  • Write a genealogy book (fiction or nonfiction, either way!)

What Nichelle Loves Most About Genealogy

“I majored in History, so I really love seeing how my family played (or did not play) a role in specific events. I always considered myself more of a social historian, so I enjoy learning how genealogy and history play out with my family, and everyone else’s family too! I get excited about the interplay of genealogy and history.”

Nichelle’s Time Capsule Message

“Maybe it’s because I also majored in English, but my time capsule message would be – cite your sources! For those who come after you or who plan on continuing your work, please let them know where your information came from so that re-researching doesn’t happen. And do it for yourself – you may need to re-find something and a citation makes that much easier! It’s a win-win for all.”

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Simply put, Nichelle’s blog is lovely to look at. She clearly thought about the use of images as well as her theme and layout. Everything is clean and crisp with easy to read fonts. Nichelle’s blog will not only give you some great ideas about tidying up your own blog or website but will also provide you with a wealth of useful and timely information. I especially like Nichelle’s use of cards (those tiles you can click on to read the entire blog post) and the I © footnotes link (a WordPress plugin that opens a separate site with everything about footnotes!).

Please take a moment to head on over to Nichelle’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Nichelle, it’s great to have you here and it has been a pleasure getting to know you better.

A Summer Break for May I Introduce To You

And with today’s May I Introduce To You post, the Geneabloggers MIITY team (Gini Webb, Michelle Ganus Taggart, Wendy Mathias, Jana Last and Tessa Keough) go on hiatus for the summer months. Hopefully each of you have some of the same plans we do. Enjoy spending some time this summer with friends and family, get some research time in at the many and varied libraries and archives, attend a family reunion or vacation, visit a couple of cemeteries, and check in with Geneabloggers regularly.

We hope you have enjoyed learning a bit more about the geneabloggers we profiled (as much as we enjoyed getting to know a bit more about them). If you would like to be featured in a future May I Introduce To You post, please send us an email with your name, your blog’s name and link. We would love to shine our MIITY spotlight on your genealogy blog. Have a great summer and we will see you back here on Monday, 14 September 2015.

© 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 . . . Heather Collins

Come meet genealogy blogger Heather Collins, author of the Of Trees & Ink and Young & Savvy Genealogists blogs, in this interview by Jana Last at GeneaBloggers.
I have the pleasure of introducing you to Heather Collins and her blogs, OF TREES & INK and Young & Savvy Genealogists . Her personal blog, OF TREES & INK, is described as, “where I share and preserve my own family stories and research experiences.” 

A Little About Heather

“I was born and raised on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. I currently live with my husband and a very spoiled cat in Boise, Idaho.” 

How Heather Got Started in Genealogy

“I’ve been doing genealogy for more than ten years. I’ve kept a diary since I was 12 years old. I scribbled my first pedigree chart in the back of a spiral bound notebook covered in stickers, which I still have. I grew up on the Mason Dixon line in one of the oldest cities in Maryland. We often went to Baltimore to visit with family. We took day trips to historic Philadelphia or Washington D.C. Two of my great grandmothers were alive for most of my childhood, and both of my grandmothers are still living. No matter where I went, I was constantly surrounded by history. History was in the air that I breathed for so long, it simply became a part of me.” 

Heather’s Thoughts on Blogging

“Of Trees & Ink was born in spring 2011 because I was going to live overseas in Brazil for 18 months. I was going to have limited contact with my family, and I wasn’t going to be in a position to do genealogy until I came back to the States. I knew I was going to miss my family and doing genealogy, and blogging gave me a way to slowly detach from my research. I picked up where I left off after I came home in late 2012.”

Heather’s Tips for New Bloggers

“For someone doing a personal family history blog like Of Trees & Ink, the most common pitfall is to be ordinary. Don’t do the same thing everyone else is doing. Even if your story is similar to that of other people, find a new way to tell it. Be a character in the stories you tell, not just the narrator. People love to read about new discovery. They love to get inside your head, to find new ideas in your approach. Achieving a good balance between the stories I want to preserve and the methods I used has always been really important to me.”

“I would also say to avoid the bandwagon topics. If you aren’t starting the trend or blowing the first whistle on the controversy, your voice gets lost in the crowd all saying the exact same thing you are. Ask yourself, “Am I only writing about this because other people are doing it? Or do I genuinely care about this? Why do I care? Is there anything new I can say? Are people tired of hearing about this already?” I’ve scrapped a lot of posts because of these questions, and every single one of them deserved it.” 

Heather’s Favorite Blog Posts

“I love this post because I love this story. Annie was one of my longest standing “brick walls,” so anything to do with her always gets me excited. I only know this story because of Pomp’s autograph album, which easily makes it one of my favorite finds. Pomp and Annie Fenity loved each other dearly, and Annie died tragically young. He spent the rest of his life living without her, and I imagine that he missed her every day. Seeing their handwritten love notes from their courtship is something I will always treasure.”

“This post also represents many years of patient, persistent work. My grandmother grew up in a foster home, and told me very little about her birth family. She gave me very incomplete information about her mother, which were the only clues I ever had. She finally let slip that her mother was buried in Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal, which ended up being the key to the mystery. I added 4 generations to my tree in less than a week after that, which I couldn’t have done without my husband’s help and support. I love that his part is visible in this post.” 

Heather’s Favorite Ancestors

“I can’t have favorites, I love them all for their own unique story. I love Annie Rorer Fenity because I waited and wished so long to meet her, and was overjoyed the first time I saw her picture. I love Charles Pinheiro because he was the secret I was never supposed to find out. I love Pearl Bartlett for being a survivor. And I love Violet Greene for making the hardest choices, many of which have shaped my life today. The more I learn about each of them, the more I love them all for who they were.” 

What Heather Loves Most About Genealogy

“I love the way it has allowed me to connect and reconnect with the older generation in my family. All my life I’ve been surrounded by incredible women, and genealogy gives me something of substance to share with them, to give to them. It has brought us closer in a way I don’t think anything else ever could.” 

Heather’s Genealogy Bucket List

  • Visit Halifax, Nova Scotia and lay a rose on the grave of Charles Pinheiro.
  • Find a missing relative using my DNA test.
  • Find the emancipation documents of one of my slave ancestors.
  • Meet/speak to another descendant from my Barbadian lines.
  • Discover where my Doyle ancestors came from in Ireland.
  • Write my great grandmother’s memoir.

Heather’s Time Capsule Message

“Life is beautiful. Life is simple. Life goes on.” 

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Please take a moment to head over to Heather’s blog, OF TREES & INK, and leave her a comment, letting her know you stopped by. Thank you Heather for telling us about yourself and your blog. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you better.

© 2015, copyright Jana Last. All rights reserved.

Jana Last is a wife, mom and grandma living in sunny California. She loves family history and enjoys learning about her ancestors. She started her family history research in 1996 after the death of her maternal grandfather. She is the author of three blogs and a website: Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog, Grandpa’s Postcards, Jana’s Place and Jana’s Genealogy and Social Media Hub. Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Jana via email at

May I Introduce to You . . . Valerie Craft

Come meet genealogy blogger Valerie Craft, author of the Begin With Craft blog, in this interview by Michelle Taggart at GeneaBloggers.

I am excited to introduce to you Valerie and her blog, Begin with ‘Craft’, which Valerie describes as her “journey in genealogy.”  Valerie takes her readers along on her adventure as she researches her southern ancestors, particularly those who lived in Georgia and South Carolina.

A Little About Valerie

“I can trace my paternal family back 9 generations in Georgia, with many other lines arriving just after the Revolutionary War. My maternal lines were similarly situated in South Carolina. Because my ancestors immigrated to America so early, I don’t identify with any specific European ethnicity. Instead, because of my roots in the history of the South, I identify strongly as a Southerner.”

How Valerie Got Started in Genealogy

“I started researching my family history as part of a geography project in college. The assignment had a few different options, including showing how geography affected our family over five generations.  I didn’t know my grandmothers’ maiden name, let alone who my great great grandparents were. But my mom had been longing to research our family history and encouraged me to do the project.  From there, I was hooked and have been researching our family history for over 10 years.”

Valerie’s Thoughts on Blogging

“I started my genealogy blog as a “What’s New” section on my Rootsweb site.  From there, I found out about the Geneablogger community and moved to Blogger. I wanted a place to share my family finds and the strategies I used.”

Valerie’s Advice for New Bloggers

“I would say that it’s not necessarily about the length of your blog posts, but about the content. A short post that is well written, but only a paragraph long, can be more effective than a wordy and meandering post that doesn’t get to the point.  It can also be better to split up your content into a series of posts, rather than have readers lose interest in a post that takes an hour to slog through.  Also, and this is my preference, always include an image in your post. It adds visual stimulation, highlights the point you are making and can help attract viewers who see a link on Facebook, Google or another site that includes a thumbnail image.  If you don’t have a photo of your own, you can find images available through the creative common license at Flickr: Creative Commons.” 

Valerie’s Favorite Blog Post

“One of my most recent blog posts is Cabbagetown – Then and Now.  In this post I share my visit to the home of my great great grandparents and some unique photos – and the surprise I got afterwards.”

Valerie’s Favorite Ancestors

“I honestly don’t think I could pick just one favorite ancestor. I identify with different ancestors for different reasons: my great-aunt, Ollie Britt, who was a riveter during WWII, my Civil War ancestors whose footsteps I’ve walked on local battlefields, my 4th great-grandfather, Willis Craft, who represented his county in the Georgia State House, and my 6th great-grandfather, John Cash, through whom I joined the DAR.”

How Genealogy has Changed Valerie’s Life

“My research has taken me to places I wouldn’t have gone otherwise and connected me with people I would not have otherwise met.  It’s impossible to imagine what else I might be doing if I hadn’t started doing genealogy.  I’m an introvert who is nervous around new people and in new situations.  Although this remains true, I am much more outgoing and self-assured, thanks in part to my experiences with genealogy research.”

“I love that genealogy is like a puzzle. It takes hard work and determination, but when you figure it out, there is a sense of accomplishment. My work has benefited others and will continue to do so for years to come, from photographing headstones and adding them to, to transcribing records and uploading them to the internet for others to find, to buying old photos in antique stores and sending them back to their family, to simply being able to tell my own family who their ancestors were. I truly feel that I have accomplished something and that my research will be of benefit to others.”

Valerie’s Genealogy Bucket List

“I would love to travel overseas and do research in Europe, break through my Waters and Leaphart brick walls, travel to the Family History Library, and make some amazing DNA connections.”

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Please take time to head over to Valerie’s blog Begin with ‘Craft’ and leave a comment, letting her know you stopped by.  Thank you Valerie 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