Our cruise speaker profiles continue with Thomas MacEntee. For anyone who is involved in the genealogy social media scene, you’d have heard of Thomas MacEntee and GeneaBloggers. Since getting into that field myself a number of years ago, I have been following him from afar through social media, and I had the absolute pleasure of meeting him in person earlier this year when I went to RootsTech. I have to say that he is so knowledgable, so inspiring and so charismatic that I can’t wait to meet him again on the cruise and sit in on his talks.
As the creator of GeneaBloggers.com, Thomas has organised and engaged a community of over 2800 bloggers to document their own journeys in the search for ancestors. And for this, the geneablogger community is thankful. As a way of finding blogs that might be useful to follow, as well as providing help for those wishing to start a blog, togehter with daily prompts if you need some inspiration on what to blog about … it’s all at GeneaBloggers.
Thomas is a genealogist who specialises in the use of technology and social media to improve and aid genealogical research. Having started his own research 20 years ago, he’s seen all the changes that technology has brought with it. And far from running from it, he has has not only embraced it, but has learnt how to use it to its advantage.
NAME: Thomas MacEntee
HOMETOWN/COUNTRY: Chicago, United States
DAYTIME JOB: Genealogy thought leader
Q1. Think back to your childhood … now what is your favourite memory from that time?
Believe it or not my favourite memory was school. It was a refuge for me since I grew up in a home environment that was difficult as my parents divorced.
Q2. There’s always ‘something’ that sparks an interest in genealogy/history? What was it that sparked your interest?
My great-grandparents who helped raise me, instilled an awareness of history and a responsibility to learn our family’s history. They started me on my lifelong journey of embracing genealogy and family history.
Q3. How old were you when you developed an interest in this hobby?
I didn’t seriously undertake genealogy until I was 31 years of age.
Q4. What countries across this big wide world did your ancestors come from?
On my maternal side: Saxony (Germany/Prussia), Ireland, England and the Netherlands.
On my paternal side: France (Huguenot), the Netherlands and Ireland.
Q5. Is genealogy/history your main job?
Yes. I make my living by lecturing about genealogy (both in person and virtually via webinars), writing articles and books and performing consulting work for genealogy startup companies.
Q6. Do you have a genealogy mentor or idol? Someone who has deeply influenced you in your research along the way?
I don’t have any one mentor or idol in the genealogy field. I have connections with a variety of influencers in the field and from each of them I find aspects of their work and character which inspire me each day.
Q7. We all know that you family history can reveal some amazing things. Have any of your discoveries resulted in a life-changing experience?
Some of my discoveries have been very personal and deal with the inter-personal relations with living and recently deceased family members. I’ve been able to trace issues such as mental health and alcoholism which have given me a better understanding of why my family is the way it is.
Q8. What do you find most challenging about research?
I can’t keep up with the number of resources available and the technology that makes those resources more accessible. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
Q9. If you had a time-machine what relative (past, present or future) would you most like to meet?
I’d like to meet Johannes Putman, my 9th great-grandfather who arrived in New York in 1661 from the Netherlands and was killed in an Indian raid in Schenectady, New York in 1680.
Q10. Still using that time machine, you’ve been propelled into the future five years, what do you see yourself doing?
I see myself doing what I’m doing now – writing and lecturing but doing more online virtual work – webinars and ebooks.
Q11. What value do you think social media plays in genealogy these days?
Social media is the current outreach method to connect with others interested in genealogy and its influence will only increase as time goes on.
Q12. What do you do when you aren’t doing genealogy or history?
I cook, clean and manage my household here in Chicago. I don’t have much time outside of genealogy to be honest. I love to travel, but much of it is genealogy related.
Q13. What do you hope to get out of a genealogy cruise?
I hope to spend more time with my Aussie genealogy colleagues and get a better understanding of the genealogy market in Australia and what motivates them to pursue their family history.
Q14. Share with us a few (up to five) of the genealogy websites that you tend to spend the most time on?
I spend much of my time on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch and MyHeritage for personal research. For my work, I am always reading the blog posts – about 500 a day – from technology and genealogy blogs around the world.
Q15. Do you have any wise words for those just starting out in genealogy?
Tap into the vast resources online especially the generous community of genealogists and family historians. Research with an open mind and try new technology and be open to new experiences.
For those of you who are going on the 4th cruise, here is a list of topics that Thomas is expected to be speaking on, based on the Program:
- Building a genealogy research toolbox
- Pinning your family history
- Future of genealogy panel
- Saving Memories promo talk
- Genealogy cloud computing
- You use WHAT for genealogy? Wonderful uses for unusual tools
- Google alerts and Google books for genealogists
- Wikis for genealogists
- Wolfram / Alpha for genealogists
AND YOU CAN ALSO FIND THOMAS ON …
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Geneabloggers
Twitter – http://twitter.com/geneabloggers
LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/in/tmacentee
Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/geneabloggers/