Yes, indeed, this is definitely a red-letter event!!!
Not only is having my blog archived in the Library of Congress an incredible honor, but it solves a long-standing problem. Let’s start at the beginning.
In the Beginning…
I started this blog, www.dna-explained.com, also www.dnaexplain.com, for three primary reasons:
- To educate the public, specifically genetic genealogists, about effectively using DNA for genealogy.
- To share my own and other relevant vendor and non-vendor research and advancements in the field.
- To provide a timeline and cumulative progressive history of this emerging field, recorded as it occurred. Essentially an industry diary.
My first blog article was published in July of 2012. The direct-to-consumer genetics industry was about 12 years old at that time. Today, the industry is roughly 23 years old and my blog is approaching its 11th anniversary. I’ve covered nearly half of the life of the genetic genealogy industry.
I recently crossed the threshold of 1600 published articles which equates to about 2.5 articles each week. Those articles total over 4 million words, or more than 15,000 pages of text, plus 20,000 images. That’s about half the size of the Encyclopedia Brittanica. That level of writing and publishing is almost a full-time job, alone, without anything else. Yet, I need to perform the research and do the work to create the content of each article. Not to mention the rest of my activities that pay the bills.
Anyone who writes, specifically, those who write to publish regularly, such as a blog, know that blogging isn’t exactly easy and requires an incredible amount of investmented time. The majority of blogs are abandoned shortly after creation. I fully understand why. You have to love both the process of writing and the subject – and be willing to contribute. Not to mention monitoring and approving the more than 50,000 comments and such.
As you know, this blog is free. I don’t charge for a subscription. I don’t accept paid content, guest articles or write articles for pay. I do have affiliate links at the bottom, but consider those cumulative purchases equivalent to buying me a cup of coffee. (Thank you to those who purchase through those links.)
There is some recurring financial investment in blogging too, but the biggest commitment, by far, is time. Hours and days that can’t be spent elsewhere, like on genealogy, for example – which leads me to my 52 Ancestors articles.
Of those slightly more than 1600 articles, 465 are in my 52 Ancestors series. I’m “blaming,” or crediting, Amy Johnson Crow for this, because in January of 2014, she challenged genealogists to write something about one ancestor a week and share or publish it someplace, somehow. I really liked that idea, and came to discover that focusing on one ancestor at a time, not a couple, and not their parents or children, allowed me to live with them for a bit and view their life through their eyes alone. So many times we know very little about our ancestor’s lives, and even less about the women. Interweaving Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA results and matches, relationships and the history of what was happening around them provides an invaluable tool to connect with their lives.
I wasn’t sure I could maintain that one article per week pace, but I wanted to try. The 52 Ancestors challenge was just for one year, right? I could stop anytime, right? But how would I share? I didn’t really think any of you would be interested in MY ancestors, so I very nearly didn’t publish these stories on my blog. I’m INCREDIBLY glad that I did, because I use both genealogy and genetic tools at multiple vendors to confirm those ancestors, to find and identify their descendants, and to break though next-generation brick walls. Plus, I’ve discovered innumerable wonderful cousins!
Having committed, I jumped into 52 Ancestors with both feet and immediately addressed a very long-standing mystery about my father’s missing son. What I didn’t expect to happen was for you, my readers, to help solve it, but you did!!! Two weeks later, Lee was identified, had a name and a history! Wow we were off and running at breakneck speed. To this day, the 52 Ancestors articles remain some of my favorites, along with the process of bringing those ancestors back to life, even if just through words.
Sometimes I don’t write about ancestors specifically, but memorable events in our lifetimes that we’ve shared, like the 1969 moon landing, Y2K and more recently, the anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger explosion. Don’t you wish someone had written or journaled about contemporary milestones in our ancestor’s lives? What I wouldn’t give for that!
Preservation and Perpetuity
One of the reasons I write about my ancestors and genetic genealogy more broadly is because I very much want to share with other researchers, now and in the future.
In some cases, I’m the contributor, but often others contribute invaluable information to me. I firmly believe that a rising tide lifts all ships.
My goal is twofold:
- To educate others and share methodologies so they can find and confirm their ancestors.
- To complete the painting of my ancestor’s lives, or as much as I can in my lifetime.
Both of these are foundations upon which others can build.
A few years ago, I began to be concerned with preservation in perpetuity. How might I preserve those stories and the rest of my blog? I realize that in time, the technical aspects of my blog articles will be dated, but the educational basics remain firm. Better research methodologies will be developed. New information, both paper trail and genetic, will, hopefully, be unearthed about my ancestors, but I want the information I’ve provided to remain accessible over time.
I’ve been a technologist long enough to know that nothing is forever. Web sites disappear every day. The Internet Archive is wonderful, but it too may go poof, not to mention that you need to know the website url to access the archived website.
I reached out to WordPress, my blogging platform a few years ago. I asked if I could pay in advance for a “permanent” website, but they said that after payment stopped for the domain name and my subscription for the “non-free” platform, that my articles would revert to a free WordPress site “forever.” That means the url would change. Of course, none of the original links would work, and its value would be much dimished given that the articles would not appear in search engines. Furthermore, “forever” in technology days could be very short indeed.
Resources like FamilySearch aren’t meant for publications like my blog, and neither is WikiTree, especially “someday” after the blog link is no longer valid. I’ve posted links to articles on my blog on the ancestors’ profiles at WikiTree and in my personal trees at MyHeritage and Ancestry, but once the link is gone, effectively, so is the information.
I could copy the articles to word/pdf documents and attach those files to the trees, but we really don’t know what will and will not have longevity in today’s technical genealogical environment. Plus, I don’t want my articles behind a paywall anyplace, especially since I’ve made them available for free.
However, the Library of Congress has now solved that quandary for me and I’m both elated and honored.
In the crazy days leading up to RootsTech, a gem of an email landed in my inbox. It was supposedly the Library of Congress (LOC) requesting to archive this blog and make this website available for all perpetuity as part of a collection of historically and culturally significant websites designated for preservation.
That’s quite a compliment.
I wasn’t quite sure I believed it. In fact, I was pretty sure that I didn’t.
Of course, the first thing I thought was that these were really brilliant scammers.
I contacted the LOC and discovered that this email was, indeed, genuine. I was both shocked and humbled.
To Whom It May Concern:
The United States Library of Congress requests permission to include your website in the Local History and Genealogy Web Archive, which is part of a larger collection of historically and culturally significant websites that have been designated for preservation. The following URL has been selected for archiving: https://dna-explained.com/.
The Library hopes that you share its vision of preserving digital content and making it available to current and future generations of researchers. As the internet has become an increasingly important and influential part of our lives, we believe the historical record would be incomplete if websites like yours are not preserved and made a part of it. We also believe that expanding access to the Library’s collections is one of the best ways we can increase opportunities for education and scholarship around the world. Please provide the Library with permission to archive your website and provide public access to archived versions of your website by filling out the form available here: <link redacted.>
With your permission, the Library of Congress or its agent will engage in the collection of content from your website at regular intervals over time. In order to properly archive the above URL, we may archive other portions of the website and public content that your page links to on third party sites such as social media platforms. In addition to the aforementioned collection, archived content from your website may be added to other relevant collections in the future. This content would be available to researchers only at Library facilities or by special arrangement, unless you additionally grant the Library permission for the content to become more broadly available through hosting on the Library’s public website, which would be done no sooner than one year after it was collected. For more information on the web archiving process, please read our frequently asked questions.
We encourage you to learn more about the Library’s Web Archiving program and explore our collections to see examples of how we archive websites. If you have any questions, comments, or recommendations concerning the archiving of your website, please email the Library’s Web Archiving Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Library of Congress Web Archiving Team
It would be an understatement to say I was incredibly excited. There were no balloons or jubilant noisemakers though, and the cats were unimpressed as I clicked and agreed for my collective body of work to succeed me “forever.” Who knew milestones like this were so quiet, with only me winking to Mom and Dad who I’m positive were watching and silently cheering!
Here’s the confirmation of my acceptance.
So, in another hundred years, just like I can search for, say, Estes photos from a century or more ago at the Library of Congress, people living four or five generations in the future will be able to search for and read about the very early days of genetic genealogy and find those ancestor stories. They will also be able to learn something about the time in which we live today.
I can stop worrying about more than a decade’s worth of work disappearing after I join my ancestors, hopefully to obtain the answers that have eluded me here.
I’m incredibly, incredibly humbled and grateful to the Library of Congress for this amazing opportunity to contribute to our collective heritage. Thanks to each and every one of you for joining me on our journey into the history books.
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Thank you so much.
DNA Purchases and Free Uploads
- FamilyTreeDNA – Y, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA testing
- MyHeritage DNA – Autosomal DNA test
- MyHeritage FREE DNA file upload – Upload your DNA file from other vendors free
- AncestryDNA – Autosomal DNA test
- 23andMe Ancestry – Autosomal DNA only, no Health
- 23andMe Ancestry Plus Health
Genealogy Products and Services
- MyHeritage FREE Tree Builder – Genealogy software for your computer
- MyHeritage Subscription with Free Trial
- Legacy Family Tree Webinars – Genealogy and DNA classes, subscription-based, some free
- Legacy Family Tree Software – Genealogy software for your computer
- Newspapers.com – Search newspapers for your ancestors
- NewspaperArchive – Search different newspapers for your ancestors
- DNA for Native American Genealogy – by Roberta Estes, for those ordering the e-book from anyplace, or paperback within the United States
- DNA for Native American Genealogy – for those ordering the paperback outside the US
- Genealogical.com – Lots of wonderful genealogy research books
- Legacy Tree Genealogists – Professional genealogy research