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 FamilySearch.org.
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 email@example.com.