This week we travel to the geographic center of the contiguous United States (or at least within about 50 miles of it!) to catch up with Beth Sparrow and learn a bit more about her and her blog (aptly titled) Beth’s Genealogy Blog. Like so many women, Beth juggles several balls on a daily basis – raising a family, working at a part-time job and engaging in her full-time genealogy addiction. Recently Beth took her interest in genealogy beyond the personal. She now includes professional genealogy services in her corner of Nebraska. Since I have ancestors who left Ireland and made Nebraska their adopted home, I was keen to showcase a blogger from one of my favorite states – the Cornhusker State!
A Little Bit About Beth
“I consider myself a young genealogist (in my early 40s). I was born in a small town in southwest Nebraska, and I currently live in a small town in Nebraska about halfway between Lincoln and Grand Island. Since my oldest child started school, I have been trying to do genealogy as a professional. As you can imagine, in small town Nebraska, there is not much demand. So for the past year and a half or so, I am also working part time as a receptionist in a dentist office. I got involved in family history when I found some books my grandparents made for me that had a little bit of a family tree in them. I then was intrigued; who are these people, and where are they from?”
How Beth Got Started Doing Genealogy and Her Current Focus
“I have been doing family history for a little over 13 years, so since I was in my late 20s. When I started I focused on my own family, and how far back I could go. I wasn’t concerned about the stories, just names and dates of my ancestors and getting back through the generations quickly. Over the years, I have been tracing more of the stories in my family, and also not just my direct line ancestors, but also their siblings. Currently, I try to split my genealogy time among 3 areas: my professional goals, my volunteer goals, and my personal goals. Also in the past 3 years, I have been tracing others’ families, pretty much anyone that wants or lets me trace their family. Also I got married about 9 ½ years ago, so after that I started tracing my husband’s family.”
Beth’s Thoughts on How Genealogy Has Evolved Over Time & The Most Interesting Change
“I think social media has really impacted genealogy lately. There are tons of Facebook groups, there are a few genealogy chats on Twitter, some groups meet in Google+, and Pinterest seems to have crafty family ideas. Also having webinars available online, when you used to have to go somewhere to learn something is a huge change. Of course, having many more websites that continually add more information also has changed family history.
I suppose the most interesting change over the past 10 years has been the advance in technology and how that has affected genealogy. Now we can access our genealogy by apps on our phone, find a gravestone by GPS and do research any time in our pajamas! Of course not all we want is online, and some “older” genealogists think we “younger” ones think it IS all online. That’s probably another big change in the last 10 years, more “younger” genealogists. It seemed genealogy used to be a hobby mostly for retired folks, and now there are more of us under 50 getting hooked.”
Beth’s Thoughts on Blogging & Why She Started Blogging
“My blog has been around for 5 years now, and at first I had trouble knowing what to blog about and how often. I’m not really sure why I created a blog. I started reading others’ blogs, and figured I would put some of my thoughts online. There are many helps for bloggers, so sometimes if I get stuck, I go to one of those.
During the last 2 years I have developed a plan for blogging about 1 ancestor per month. I heard some of my genealogy friends were doing one per week, and that was WAY too big of a bite for me to take, so I broke it down to one per month. That has been workable for me, and it puts some cousin bait out there. The first year, I just blogged about my ancestors, and this year I added in a few of my husband’s ancestors. I keep track of my ancestors in a spreadsheet, so I try not to duplicate. That usually gives me 12 posts, and then I try to do 12 more to get a total of 24 throughout a year. If I am stuck, I might use a GeneaBloggers’ tip or one of Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun missions.”
Beth’s Favorite Blog Post
“Well asking for a favorite blog post is nearly like picking your favorite child, right? My favorite child is usually the one that’s behaving the best at the moment…..Just kidding. I have a toddler and a second grader, so if you’re a mother, you understand some days are like that. But I digress.
I suppose if I were to a pick a favorite, it would be the one I wrote on my relative, Dorothy Jorgensen: a sad story of a young lady. It is my favorite because it is such a sad and moving story, and I’d like to think I did a fairly good job with it. I am a bit surprised by how many of my posts have at least 100 hits, 24 posts out of 90 total. So yes, for those of you doing the math, I haven’t always attained my goal of 24 posts per year, since 24 times 5 = 120 posts, and I’ve only got 90.”
How Beth Spends Her Genealogy Time (or how she divides her Genealogy Pie)
“When I started out, I used to spend 90% of my time on my personal research. During the past 2-3 years I have been dividing my time between personal research, volunteer work, and professional work. So I take a couple hours a week or so for personal research. That often consists of looking up my ancestor of the month and tracing what other records I might need or want for that person.”
The Top 3 Items on Beth’s Genealogy Bucket List
“I probably have more than three I could pick, but let’s go with these:
- Attend a national genealogy conference; presenting would be a bonus!
- Travel to one of the countries of my immigrant ancestors, so somewhere in Europe, since I am totally European, not a stitch of Native American, African American, or Asian in my DNA or ancestry, AND
- Travel to Northeastern United States to see the burial places of my Mayflower ancestors, and maybe some others. I haven’t been east of Indiana much, except a trip to Florida and one to D.C. Those were on planes so I wasn’t on the ground for any of the states in between.”
Beth’s Advice for New & Not-So-New Bloggers
“Just do it, but make sure you have a plan. I don’t like to “waste” my time figuring out what to write about, when I could be writing. I do not consider myself a writer, so don’t think you have to have a degree in journalism to blog. I have a degree in mathematics, which is not at all close to journalism. However I am a really good speller. Good luck.”
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Please take a moment to head over and visit Beth at Beth’s Genealogy Blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by and be sure to check out her ancestor of the month (a wonderful way to focus on your ancestors and share their stories with family, friends and the genealogy public). And since Beth is located in rural Nebraska, if any of your ancestor research is in that area and needs some professional attention, be sure to contact Beth at her blog or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If she can’t assist you, she can probably find someone who can.
© 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 email@example.com.