Family history advice column a helpful find

There is nothing new about advice columns, as the likes of Dear Abby and Ann Landers have been around for quite some time. Applying that forum to family history, however, is a somewhat more recent turn – and newer still, to me.

Recently I discovered “Dear Myrtle,” a genealogy blog that takes reader questions and answers them publicly for the benefit of all. Tagged as “Your friend in genealogy since 1995,” “Dear Myrtle” has won all sorts of accolades for its service to searchers. I’m apparently behind in finding this gem only of late. But that’s OK – any family history junkie will concur that we find things just when we need them in this endeavor.

Averaging 400 posts per year, the Q-and-A blog covers a lot of territory – from multiple marriage questions and military records of the sick and wounded, to British royal staff records. Most posts include photos, which can be quite helpful when trying to understand and translate information from another’s experience to one’s own. No stone is left unturned in delving into a question, either, as all possibilities are explored and examined for the best answer based on evidence in hand. Sometimes the answer is simply that more evidence is needed still.

The blog also includes lessons for those just starting out, organization tips for those buried in paperwork chaos, webinars, suggested books and even Tweets for those who like their genealogy on the go.

All of this free advice comes from Pat Richley-Erickson, a frequent guest speaker at regional and national genealogy conferences, whose blog is consistently among the top five family history blogs internationally. Richley-Erickson is co-founder of the Genea-Quilters group on Facebook, and founder of, a centralized calendar and blog for all known genealogy webinar hosts and virtual presenters.

Seek advice from “Dear Myrtle” at

Now that I’ve found the place with all the answers, which of my 5,637 questions should I ask Myrtle first?