The History of Blogger Beads #AGSCon17


Blogger beads & Conference ribbons of  Genealogy RockStar Ruth Blair

This year the Alberta Genealogical Society Conference will attempt something new school.

Blogger beads!

They are multi-coloured, Mardi-Gras style necklaces that have been a cherished souvenir among bloggers at RootsTech, FGS, NGS and many other big-name conferences across the United States — and, are now slowly making appearances in Australia and Canada.

I recently asked “Genealogy RockStar,” Thomas MacEntee for his recollections on when he first presented his brightly-beaded strings to an unexpected public:

“I believe the first real use of Blogger beads was at the Southern California Genealogical Society  Jamboree in June 2008 at Burbank, California,” he confessed. “It was the first large, genealogy conference I attended.”

Did you know: it would be another two years (2010), before Thomas brought his festive party favours to RootsTech?

For six of these last seven years, Pat Richley-Erickson (best known to the masses as “DearMYRTLE”) continues to sponsor/supply these cherished beads that have come to be an ingrained part of The Total Experience that is RootsTech.

While it is still hard to believe that Blogger beads only started ten years ago, my burning question was how he conceived this wonderful idea: 

“One deficiency of having an online community is the inability to recognize another member in person at an event – especially since many members of GeneaBloggers, in the early days, were not comfortable posting photos of themselves or giving an extensive bio(graphy)..

“So, wearing the beads means I could run into someone at a genealogy conference and say to them: “Hey, you’re one of us!”

“Also, the beads meant that other conference attendees would ask, “What are the beads for?” or “Where did you get the beads?” and the blogger could then give an elevator speech about their blog.”

Since that day, the brightly beaded strings have become a very-hot commodity everywhere they appear!   

The Journey  Down Under

Jill Ball, or GeniAus as she is known in genealogy circles, came all the way from Australia in February 2012 to attend RootsTech.  While there, she happily accepted her first set of Blogger beads from Thomas!

Sparked by his kindness, she decided to do the same when she got home!

“It was at our National Conference in Adelaide,” she began, “in March 2012. I had bought them in the US while there for RootsTech.”

Alona Tester, another Aussie, has also been handing out the genie jewellery; and between these two ladies hundreds have been handed out in the last five years!

Across the Pond and Beyond

Attending RootsTech for the first time this year (2017) was Barbara Schmidt of Germany. She is the host of the German genealogy twitter group #genchatDE, which recently celebrated it’s first birthday!

Returning home, Barbara has thought about bringing her American experience to the German Genealogy Day in Dresden coming up in September.

“Over here, my dear,” she confided, “I will be the crazy social media person, again. Totally out of her mind.”

Eventually, Canada caught on 

Ruth Blair (the Passionate Genealogist) of Ontario, Canada had just started blogging and became a GeneaBlogger, when she attended a genealogy conference in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“I met Thomas for the first time and got my first beads in 2010 at FGS.”

But it would be a few years before the bright baubles made its Canadian debut at the 2015 Ontario Genealogical Society Conference in Barrie! The following year, the conference was held in Toronto, where the numbers doubled!

This year (2017), the conference is in our nation’s capital, Ottawa and ties in with the Canada 150 celebrations.

Closer to Home

Here in the Wild Rose Province, Ruth Blair, and yours truly, will be introducing Blogger beads to the 2017 Alberta Genealogical Society Conference attendees in Edmonton April 22nd and 23rd.

To ensure enough beads are available for all attending bloggers, please e-mail SIR (at) leprechaunrabbit (DOT) com with your blog name and URL address. We do not want to run out. 

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