I have the pleasure of introducing you to Sharon Fritz and her blog Strong Foundations named to honor the strong foundations formed by some very strong and admirable ancestors. Sharon summarizes the purpose of her blog in this quote: “You live as long as you are remembered.” Through her blog she shares photos and research to keep memories of people and places alive for current and future generations. Sharon is both proud and pleased that her blog is listed among the archives at the National Library of Australia.
A Little About Sharon
“I am a country girl, who likes her personal space. As children, our family moved often, and I have therefore lived in a large number of country towns across Victoria (South Eastern State of Australia). My father was a Bank Manager, and I followed him into a career in Banking and Finance. I have always worked full time while my husband was ‘Mr. Mum.’ For the past 12 years I have worked as a Financial Planner in North East Victoria. My husband and I are looking forward to becoming ‘empty nesters’ (we think?), retirement and new adventures. When not working, my hobbies are spending time with family, family history research, travel and photography, which very fortunately can all be completed together!
“I am currently studying the Certificate of Genealogical Studies (Australian Records) with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies and have recently also commenced the Certificate in Genealogical Research with the Society of Australian Genealogists, which will lead to completion of the Diploma in Family Historical Studies in the future. Yes, I am now addicted to family history research and there is never enough time for research.”
How Sharon Got Started in Genealogy
“My Nanna (paternal grandmother) died when I was six years old. I remember being annoyed that I was not allowed to attend her funeral and being told I didn’t understand, but I did! Maybe I am an old soul? I was only six years old, but I asked my father if I could have my Nanna’s dressing gown and the ballerina doll in the bottle to remember her. Was this the first indication that I would respect and preserve family items and history? Yes, I still have the dressing gown and blogged about the doll in the bottle.
“My first history project in Form 1 (over 35 years ago) was to research my family tree. My parents could tell me very little, so I contacted both my aunt and maternal grandmother who had so much information between them (more than I needed for my project). I was fascinated! I received an A+ for my project and this started my family tree journey and the collecting of information and items of family significance. I gathered boxes of information but didn’t do anything with it.
“However it was the death of my maternal grandmother in 2006 (at age 96) which initiated serious research and the sorting and verification of the abundance of information that I had collected over many years. After Gran died, an aunty found many old albums full of labeled and dated photos that my grandmother had taken since the late 1920s. This made me realise the importance of asking questions and preserving information now before it is too late.”
Sharon’s Thoughts About Blogging
“The blog was initially commenced in January 2011 to promote a family reunion and launch of a family history book. However, it was a failure as the majority of people who were interested in the reunion did not have a computer!
“In May 2012, Alona Tester at Gould Genealogy, initiated the ‘Family History through the Alphabet’ challenge and I thought it was a great opportunity to start blogging, and then I was hooked.
“Blogging gives me the opportunity to share my research, not just the dates and names but more personal and informative facts. Writing a family history book is very time consuming and costly. Research never stops and the family keeps expanding so the book was out of date shortly after publishing. I love that blogging enables many small stories to be told and can be updated as additional information becomes available.”
Sharon’s Advice for New Bloggers
- Get involved with other blogs and websites that provide prompts such as
Sepia Saturday and Geneabloggers . You will be amazed at the direction that your research and blogs can take. You will write about things that you hadn’t previously considered.
- Decide who your audience is and what the purpose of your blog is. Be yourself and don’t be distracted. Your blogging will develop and evolve over time.
When I started writing family history, I completed a writing course to improve my skills. It had been many years since school and even then I was always poor at punctuation. I wanted to learn how to write with emotion and to turn facts into an interesting story that people would enjoy and could picture. The only writing I had completed over the years was business reports so I tended to write with a very factual, blunt and technical slant and struggled to make it emotional. I soon learnt that you cannot change who you are, and it is important to remain true to yourself and your own personal style. Don’t try to be someone that you are not.
Initially I would worry if I did not have any comments, but I don’t anymore. My intended audience is family members who want to know more about their ancestors (now and into the future). They do not tend to comment publicly. If anyone else gets enjoyment and comments, then it is a bonus!
- Recognise and comment on blogs that you appreciate or that are well researched. There are many inspirational and interesting blogs out there. Geneablogging is a great, friendly and helpful community. Take the time to get to know your fellow bloggers and you will be rewarded over and over again.
- Record your sources from day 1. In addition to the photos from my grandmother’s albums, I have copied so many photos and information from various family members over the past 30+ years but unfortunately did not keep a record of who provided which photo or information until recent years.
Sharon’s Favorite Blog Posts
“I take pride in the large majority of my posts but my favourites would be those that required a lot of research.
- Remembering My Grand Uncle Robert John (Bob) Jones
No one in the family knew anything about the Jones family. Starting with a couple of photos, I was able to find out a lot of information about Bob. It was extremely enjoyable and rewarding, and I was overjoyed and amazed when Bob’s youngest daughter (aged in her 90s) contacted me. She was young when her parents separated so did not know much about her father either. She was very thankful and able to give me some very important information to enhance my research. She told me that his three children (Lorraine, Verdon and Norma) were all named after places in France where Bob served or visited during World War 1.
- A Family’s Remarkable Journey Overland from Nhill to Mildura in 1901
This was originally written by my great granduncle in 1931, and I came across the article by complete accident when researching for another blog. It is an amazing story of endurance and courage which highlights the difficulties faced in times gone past.
- AHS Wanganella
This post started from a photo of a war ship in my grandmother’s album. There was no name or details included. From this one photo, I put together a tribute to my grandfather whom I never got to meet.
Sharon’s Time With Ancestors
“Not enough! Although my husband may disagree. Working full time and studying part time leaves very little time for research, but I am trying to research and write a blog every week. Bring on Retirement!”
Sharon’s Favorite Ancestor
“I really can’t choose favourites as they are all a part of me. However I have a lot of information about:
- my grandmother Eva Scott (nee Pilgrim). Since she died in 2006, I have realised that I have inherited so many of her traits and have so much in common with her. I wonder if she recognised this? I believe that she did but never told me. Her photos and the information that she provided me over the years are the inspiration behind MANY of my blog posts. Thank you Gran!
- my great great grandmother Nurse Edith Geyer. An amazing woman of great strength and courage who overcame such hardship and adversity to become a well known and respected business owner in the early 1900s. One of the first working mums!
- my great great grandfather James Pilgrim Senior. He was a true leader with strong morals, who was heavily involved in the community and really tried to make a difference. Additionally, he was one of the first Victorian farmers to trial superphosphate and crop rotations. He came to Australia in 1858 and now has over 1400 descendants in Australia.
How Genealogy Has Improved Sharon’s Life
“Genealogy has given me a greater connection with my family, both living and deceased. I am a shy, introverted person, who finds it difficult to make conversation with strangers. However I am constantly amazed at the automatic connection with family members and other researchers. There are no uncomfortable silences when I am speaking with a relative or other researcher. I suppose that being a family historian gives me ‘permission’ or the confidence to ask questions and ensure that the conversation flows.
“Researching has also given me the opportunity to travel the country and see many places that I would not have otherwise experienced, reuniting and meeting with relatives, who I now call friends.
“Researching my family history has also yielded some surprising coincidences and genetic traits and characteristics. I feel that I have really gotten to know and understand many deceased ancestors and relatives and feel a greater connection to them.
“I no longer waste time on unnecessary things such as house work!”
What Sharon Loves Most About Genealogy
“I love the hunt! The challenge of locating additional information and putting the pieces together and being able to build a picture or story about an individual, place or object. I also enjoy puzzles and strategic games. Family history is an extension to this, very strategic and a huge never ending puzzle, which gets bigger and bigger with every piece that you find. You are always challenged, learning and discovering new things.”
Sharon’s Genealogy Bucket List
“Taking Long Service Leave and completing a 3 month campervan or driving holiday around UK (will that be long enough??) visiting all the places that my ancestors lived, whilst completing research. Very open to suggestions here as I am in the planning phase.
“I am currently studying genealogy and would like to commence speaking to local groups and clubs about family history. It is my goal to join the genealogy circuit when I retire and to hopefully speak at various conferences and events and help others to learn more and to research and write about their family tree.
“One day I would like to have the time to locate, research and reunite lost photos with their owners. I really enjoy reading these blogs and find them admirable.”
Sharon’s Time Capsule Message
“I feel that there will be a problem in future as the photos on phones and computers will be deleted and/or unlabelled. Emails are not retained. So my message to the younger generations is
- Do not rely solely on the internet. Go searching and you will be surprised at what you find.
- Label and Save photos and encourage your friends to do the same thing.
- Keep a memory diary, for your ancestors about everyday happenings and events.
- Talk to your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles while you can, before it is too late.
- Write letters (rather than emails) and ask that they are retained rather than thrown out.
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Please take a moment to visit Sharon at Strong Foundations and leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Thank-you, Sharon, for letting us inside your blogging world.
© 2014, 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.