In a few days, Vita Brevis will have published one hundred blog posts. Thinking back to about a year ago, when the subject of the blog was first broached, I can say that I only thought through the mechanics of preparing and posting the first half-dozen; everything after that seemed quite remote!
What can one say about the blog, circa May 2014? After a little more than five months in existence, it has played host to thirty-four bloggers, writing on topics as disparate as RootsTech 2014, the love troubles of William Norton in 1649, the antics of the Puddingstone Club in the early twentieth century, how best to use the NEHGS catalogue from home, an historical image Smack Down! between Google and Bing, and a list of the ships in the Winthrop Fleet in 1629–30. Alicia Crane Williams has published twenty blog posts since January 2 (or before the blog actually went live), and I have published twenty-one – between us, we are somehow responsible for more than 40% of all Vita Brevis posts.
One goal of the blog has been to serve as a forum for NEHGS staff and friends to write informally about their interests and the application of their specific expertise to more general research topics. When I described Vita Brevis before its launch, I likened it to a mosaic, one where a multitude of short essays could provide the potential reader with hints and examples of what other genealogists have found to be successful research strategies.
Genealogical writing tends to be fairly dry, and it really has to be exact: not a recipe for light and witty prose, perhaps. Where Vita Brevis has been especially fortunate is in its bloggers, many of whom are used to writing formally and exactly, and all of whom write for the blog with wit and clarity and (often) a sense of fun. This was another goal: to provide a service with (as Mary Poppins might say) grace and humor.
There are many outlets in the field for the last word on a subject: Vita Brevis is designed to offer the reader insight into the ongoing research process as well as a sense of the excitement and the rewards of successful research. As such, it is not the last word, but rather a way station as its contributors do what they do best, learning and teaching and continuing to polish their skills.