Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wrapping Up 52 Issues

I'm taking a short break from working on issue 52 and decided to reflect briefly on the first year of Casefile Clues.

For those of you who don't know, I've written genealogy how-to material for some time, including Ancestry's former Ancestry Daily News and Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter. For a variety of reasons, I decided to begin self-distribution of my material in late July of 2009. I really had no idea what the response would be or whether the number of subscribers would warrant the continuation of the newsletter.

I had long been told that there really wasn't a market for lengthy how-to material and that in the "online, web-based world," people wanted short. And a lot of the time I was told that people really didn't want anything close to an "academic" article. While I'm not kidding that Casefile Clues is an academic journal, I do think that we are meeting a need beyond the beginning type of article that is the bulk of what is out there. And so far I haven't gotten any complaints about the newsletter being too long.

We're getting a reasonable rate of renewals so far, which is good. I really don't know what renewal rate to expect, but I know some won't renew for a variety of reasons. The fact that renewals are coming in tells me that some needs are being met. I do thank everyone for their support.

I try and be honest about the content of the newsletter, although a few upcoming articles have been delayed for a variety of reasons. I don't write about anything I haven't researched myself and I don't write on topics with which I am not familiar. I won't tell people to go ahead and subscribe because eventually I'll cover Jewish immigrants to Canada if that's what they are interested in. Chances are that I'm not going to write about it because I have no familiarity with that type of research (along with a variety of other regions). However, I do feel (as others have indicated to me privately) that the methodology and process, which I always try to emphasize, applies to a broad type of research areas and problems.

I do appreciate suggestions from readers and try and incorporate them when I can. There is a good chance I have a similar problem somewhere. Every article revolves around a family I've actually researched. As regular readers know, I've actually broken down one of my own brick walls this year, which resulted in my discovery that one-eighth of my own background is pretty much entirely Colonial New England.

My children's background is fairly diverse. In 1800, my children's ancestors were living in the following regions (with approximate proportions shown first):
  • 1/4 Ostfriesland, Germany
  • 1/16 New England
  • 1/16 Ireland
  • 3/32 Germany
  • 1/32 Switzerland
  • 1/16 Sweden
  • 1/16 Belgium
  • 1/16 England
  • 1/16 Quebec
  • 1/16 Virginia/Kentucky
Many of the 1/16 lines were mid-19th century immigrants. The rest were in a variety of locations, and I'm not going to figure out any more percentages. Some took relatively unusual migration patterns which we'll discuss in future issues as well. These individuals ended up for the most part in Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri, with pitstops in most states east of that location. Over the coming year, we'll look at additional family members who were settlers in KS, NE, OK, TX, and a few other locations as well. There will also be pieces on some of my pre-Revolutionary war Virginia families and residents of Chicago and urban Pennsylvania.

All the while showing method and process, which I believe is very important.

In the last year, we've made the following changes since the first issue of Casefile Clues came out:
  • PDF format
  • proofreader
  • citation of sources in the spirit of Evidence Explained
  • use of illustrations
We're hoping to continue our growth over the next year. I appreciate the support I have received.

Back to work.....

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