Saturday, October 30, 2010

How Is Casefile Clues Different?

When I started distributing Casefile Clues in July of 2009, I had no idea how it would develop. For a variety of reasons that no one really cares about bseides me, it was time to stop writing for someone else and start writing for myself.

From 1989 until 2009, I had written for just about every trade genealogical publication there was. I had numerous articles published, but I had a lot of interesting ideas and content turned down. I also felt that most of the trade magazines were really not giving readers the content and analysis they wanted. There was simply too much fluff.

Editors and managers also told me that no one wanted to read articles written about my ancestors. I was told that  how-to articles based largely on case studies were not wanted by the genealogy public. But I knew that there were already plenty of articles about what was in the 1880 census, etc. I was told that readers did not want to read long articles--"anything over 1,000 words people simply were not going to read. It has to be short." I was also told that what  I wrote sometimes sounded too much like an NGSQ article with too much analysis and that "internet genealogists" simply were not interested in that sort of content. While I know there are researchers who are not interested in "analysis," I know a large number are.

So I started Casefile Clues writing basically for myself. I'd already written over 1,000 articles for others. It has been fun, but there have been challenges along the way.

I don't accept any advertising in the newsletter or on the Casefile Clues website. Other than generating more subscribers (grin), there is no agenda for Casefile Clues, we're not selling anything else on the website. I don't review materials in Casefile Clues and I don't mention sites or databases that I don't personally use. I'm also not one to immediately latch onto the "latest" and "greatest" thing. Because of that, you won't find "news" and "latest developments" mentioned in the newsletter. Personally, I tire of much of the hype and exgaggeration that seems to envelope certain aspects of "online genealogy." You'll never find a copied and pasted press release information in the newsletter or on the website (or the other websites I maintain either). Content, errors and all, is fresh. The newsletter is proofread, but the websites are not. And because I pretty much march to my own beat, the genealogy marketplace usually doesn't invite me to the "behind the scenes" events. And that's fine with me too.

If you know of someone who might enjoy Casefile Clues, I'd appreciate you letting them know about the newsletter. Our rates are low in an attempt to be affordable to just about everyone, but because of that the more subscribers, the better.

If you've read this far, thanks for listening. And now, back to work. As regular readers know, I've got several research projects underway and I need to get back to them.




  1. Michael,
    I have appreciated your writing and have followed you since the Daily News on Ancestry. I enjoy the analysis and have learned a lot. It's how I want to write about my own family research.

    Lisa Gorrell

  2. A couple of month before you started writing your newsletter, I had begun searching specifically for articles on case studies. I found a few and most of them were written by you. So I start searching for anything you had written and read a bunch of your articles. I don't have the time or money to take formal classes, so this was the best way for me to educate myself in the methods of research.

    Your newsletters are great source of information and have really helped me to looking at my research objectively. The newsletters have helped me to edit my assumptions and focus more on thoroughly verifying the information instead of jumping to conclusions.

    I really appreciate the time and effort you put in to producing each newsletter and hope to be a fan and subscriber for a long time.

    Karen Smith

  3. Thanks for your comments, Lisa and Karen. I really appreciate them!