Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Janice Brown Puckerbrush Blog Award for Excellence


I was honored to be awarded by ten geneabloggers with the Janice Brown Puckerbrush Blog Award for Excellence a couple of weeks ago. What on earth is this award, you say?

The award was created in honor of genealogy blogger Janice Brown by Terry Thornton, author of “Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi”, who explained that “Janice told us all about the word ‘puckerbrush’ in an article she posted August 27, 2007 at “Cow Hampshire.”

Terry elaborated a bit further in a comment: "On any land allowed to go fallow and left untended, a wild assortment of wild plants grow – in some areas, this wild growth results in such a thicket of plants that it is almost impossible to push your way through the growth. So it is with the growth of blogs — so many that it is impossible to read them all. But in the puckerbrush eventually a few plants/trees become dominant and influence all who view them through the thick surrounding puckerbrush. And it is those outstanding blogs whose influence spreads beyond just the surrounding rabble of puckerbrush that I’m honoring."

Terry issued this challenge: Henceforth these awards will be called the Janice Brown Puckerbrush Blog Award for Excellence. All blog authors are hereby challenged to name the ten blogs which have influenced their writing the most and list them as a tribute to Janice — the Janice Brown Puckerbrush Blog Awards for Excellence.


The following very kindly named me as an influence in their blogging. Thank you to each one of you for your kind words and thoughtful consideration of me:

1. Colleen McHugh of Orations of OMcHodoy

2. Becky Wiseman of kinexxions

3. Bill West of West in New England

4. Denise Olson of Family Matters

5. Pam Warren of Granny's Genealogy

6. Amy Crooks of Untangled Family Roots

7. George Geder of George Geder: Family Historian - Photo Restoration Artist

8. Julie Cahill Tarr of GenBlog

9. Thomas MacEntee of Destination: Austin Family

10. Kathryn Doyle of the California Genealogical Society and Library blog

As you can imagine, it is very difficult to choose only 10 blogs that have most influenced me, because I can't think of a single genealogy blog that hasn't influenced me in some way. In the list below, the first six mentioned were the first six genealogy blogs I ever stumbled across. The subsequent four are those who I feel have brought a quality standard to genealogy blogging that I hope to emulate!

1. GenealogyBlog by Leland Meitzler - the first time I heard the word blog was in 2005 when my friend, mentor, and fellow EWGS member Donna Potter Phillips stood up in front of our society and mentioned that Leland was starting a blog on genealogy. At that time, it was a team effort, and Donna was one of the bloggers. This blog has evolved over time and is, in my opinion, the go-to place to learn about all that's new and up-and-coming in the genealogical world. Leland is also one of the few genealogy bloggers that I met, although at the time, geneablogging wasn't as big as it now is!

2. Genealogy Education by Ken Aitken - Although Ken has since passed away, his son has thankfully continued to leave Ken's useful blog online for those of us who are involved in genealogy instruction and presentations. This just goes to show that the words we write and the lessons we leave can influence others far beyond our life span.

3. Genea-Musings by Randy Seaver - When I began reading Genealogy Education, I noticed there was this one reader that was always commenting on Ken's great posts. I soon discovered that the reader had his own blog, and it was then that I became a fan of Genea-Musings! Uncle Randy always has great, relevant information in his posts with detailed reviews and statistics, and reading his blog makes me wish I was independently wealthy so that I could blog 24-7 as he seems to do (my summer vacation as a school staff member gives me just a taste of full-time blogging...enough to whet my appetite and frustrate me all school year long!).

4. GeneaBlogie by Craig Manson - when I first came across Craig's blog, I was intrigued by the description of his ancestry he had listed at that time on the blog. Craig's roots are African, Native American, and European, and I thoroughly enjoy reading about his diverse research. He brings his expertise as a law professor to both his research and his writing. Craig's blog was the first African-American genealogy blog I came across and it was by reading his that I learned the worth of reading genealogy blogs written by those with different ethnicities and races than my own. Unlike researching American roots that lead into Western Europe, those with African, Native American, Eastern European, Asian, or Jewish roots must use a variety of alternate records and resources and are constantly challenged to think "outside the box," valuable lessons for any of us trying to break down our brick walls.

5. Creative Gene by Jasia - there isn't a geneablogger out there that isn't familiar with Jasia's Carnival of Genealogy, the oldest and most consistent genealogy blog carnival in existence. It was by writing and submitting posts for the carnival that my blog became widely read and I'm certain the same is true for many other bloggers. I connected with Jasia because of our shared Michigan roots, although our heritage comes from different parts of Europe. Jasia is one of the top geneabloggers that I would love to meet someday, because she is more than someone who also blogs about her genealogy; she has become a good friend.

6. The Genealogue by Chris Dunham - Chris does a couple of services to the geneablogging world. First and foremost, he reminds us not to take ourselves, our blogging, or our research too seriously! Secondly, his creation of the Genealogy Blog Finder has put order into categorizing the geneablogging world. There were a few genealogy blog lists out there at the beginning, but they weren't done very well either in organization or in a clean, easy-on-the eyes format and design. Chris is an integral part of the geneablogging world; where would we be without his Top Ten lists?!

7. footnoteMaven by (who else?) the footnoteMaven - my fellow Washingtonian and geneablogger (another whom I've had the pleasure to meet) - has set a wonderful standard of citing sources on her main blog as well as documenting historic photots on her quality digital publication, Shades of the Departed, with its accompanying I Smile for the Camera! Carnival. There is a quote by Ralph Fletcher that always reminds me of fM when I read it: "Artists develop a love for the feel for their tools, the smell and texture of clay, wood, or paint. Writers are no different. Writers love words."

8. Steve's Genealogy Blog by Stephen Danko - Like Jasia, Steve explores his Polish roots on his blog, and like the footnoteMaven, he is equally attentive to citing his sources carefully. His is a unique blog, combining a studious research log with the occasional personal genealogical story submitted to a carnival, or highlighting the flora of his home state of California via photography. I've learned much about Polish history from his blog and although I've yet to find any Eastern European heritage in my family tree, it fascinates me nonetheless!

9. Family Matters by Denise Olsen - I now read a number of technology/genealogy blogs that have been helpful to no end, but Denise's was the first I read, and in my opinion, the best. She has the ability to explain technology in a way a layperson can understand, and better yet, can clarify the applications of the particular item she's blogging about to its use in genealogy. Like many of the above geneabloggers, she has more than one blog, and I've enjoyed learning about Florida history at her Moultrie Creek.

10. Destination: Austin Family by Thomas MacEntee - Although he arrived later on the scene than the above nine, I can't imagine the geneablogosphere without Thomas. He is a leader, a go-getter, and nothing he puts his hand to is unfinished or incomplete. Without him, there would be no Geneabloggers Group on Facebook, no Facebook Bootcamp for Geneabloggers, no Geneabloggers website...in fact the Geneabloggers as a "formal" group simply would not exist. He is every geneablogger's cheerleader, and whenever I think of excellence, Thomas always comes to mind. He is another dear friend that I hope to meet someday soon.

As I've said, listing only 10 of the most influential geneabloggers is nigh impossible. Everyone of the 300+ blogs on my Google Reader is an important part of my genealogical and blogging life, and I thank each and every one of you for the work you do!
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