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May I Introduce to You . . . Alex Coles

Come meet genealogy blogger Alex Coles, author of the Winging It blog, in this interview by Tessa Keough at GeneaBloggers.

Come meet genealogy blogger Alex Coles, author of the Winging It blog, in this interview by Tessa Keough at GeneaBloggers.
I have the pleasure of introducing you to Alex Coles and her blog Winging It described as “my blog is “Winging It – The Research Journal of the Wing One-Place Study (and other genealogical ramblings)”. It just turned eight years old although I don’t know how that is possible – don’t they grow up so fast!”

A Little Bit About Alex

“I’m a NZ accountant with an interest in family history and a small obsession with the village of Wing in Buckinghamshire where my great-grandfather was born. I’m also on the committee of the Society for One-Place Studies.”

How Alex Got Started in Blogging

“Many people find blogging (or more specifically a blogging platform) an easy way to start establishing their online presence and sharing their family history. I actually did things the other way round – the website for my one-place study came first and the blog was an afterthought. I figured a blog would be a good way not only to let people know about website updates but also to have more of a conversation about what I was up to with the one-place study and my own genealogy. My one-place study website presents records and research and accordingly is more formal in tone, but I don’t have that restriction with the blog.

Alex’s Thoughts on Blogging

“Don’t let it rule your life – sure, if your main aim is to build up readership then follow the rule about blogging regularly and frequently, but simply sharing what you want to share when you have a moment to share it will achieve the aim of getting out there in the world easily accessible by search engines. If you trot over to my blog after reading this you will see that I am a far from regular blogger!

Readers like myself aren’t necessarily going to be visiting your blog, we use aggregator tools like Feedly to flick through the dozens of blogs or RSS-enabled website that interest us and we don’t even see all the effort you may have put into the visual design of your blog apart from the first time we discover you. Content that resonates or interests us (and our magpie brains may have some wacky reasons for that!) is why we’re reading.”

Alex’s Favorite Blog Post(s)

My most popular blog post by far was a whimsical piece I wrote around a couple of postcards of Wing – A Walk Home Along High Street, Wing – from the point of view of an ordinary agricultural labourer plucked from the 1901 census who encounters at least one of my ancestors during his walk home.

Alex’s Time with the Ancestors

“The Wing one-place study has absorbed much of my genealogy time over the past decade so my own ancestors are probably getting a bit cranky due to my neglectful treatment of them. I’ve written up wee books (well, booklets) about the ancestors on my maternal line and I really do need to show the paternal side some love, but like many family historians my attention gets grabbed by the latest shiny database release rather than staying focused on my research plan. Realistically there’s just not that much genealogy time in my week after work, family, the minutiae of daily life and other commitments (hear those tiny tiny violins playing?).”

Alex’s Favorite Ancestor(s) and Why

“I have a soft spot for several – one is Matilda Coleman who made me cry when I discovered her living (as “inmate”) in the Railway Servants Orphanage in 1881. Her father was killed in a railway accident – turns out a bit of whisky doesn’t cure crush injuries.

Another is Brightwell Holyman who wins favourite name in my family tree, and fathered a child (my ancestor) with his future third wife in 1812. Unfortunately he was still married to his elderly 30-years-older-than-him second wife at the time. The whole village evidently knew the story here but I don’t and I’d love a TARDIS to help me learn more.”

How Genealogy/Family History Has Improved or Changed Alex’s Life

“It’s great fun to learn about history through the angle of a particular individual who may not have been particularly special to the world or their community but is special to you. I love the random-yet-not-random-ness of having an in-depth understanding of one particular aspect or event in history because it happened to intersect with your ancestor’s life yet remaining entirely ignorant of other aspects.

One-place studies are a great opportunity to give back to the family history community and hearing from so many fellow descendants of Wing residents over the years has definitely enriched my life.”

What Alex Loves Most About Genealogy

“I do love the research process. It’s like being a detective without the pressure of having to catch the bad guy and make the world a better place. And my dead friends (I consider all those past residents of Wing my friends) are fascinating, as are the potentially distorted stories the various records tell about them. We get quite a clear picture in our mind from the random snippets of their life they leave behind but do we really know them?”

Alex’s Time Capsule Message

None yet – I need to check with Alex to see if she wants to add something.

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Please take a moment to head on over to Alex’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Alex (as you may have noticed) has a wicked sense of humor. I don’t know that you can do better than the example Alex sets with her one-place study publishing at her blog and her website. Oftentimes, I look to both Alex’s blog and website for ideas on content as well as layout/vision/form. Welcome Alex, it’s great to have you here!

© 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