Today marks the one-thousandth Vita Brevis post since the blog launched in January 2014. The blog’s pages have been accessed more than one-and-a-half million times, and by my (not very scientific) count the following eighteen posts have led the field, read by more than one hundred thousand readers.
By far and away the most-read post at Vita Brevis is Chris Child’s August 2014 account of Robin Williams’s maternal ancestry. The circumstances of Williams’s death, and the affection he had inspired in millions of Americans, made the post a place to stop and reflect about what he had meant to members of the genealogical community.
In September 2014, Zachary Garceau wrote about the genealogical information to be found in death records of various kinds.
Katrina Fahy on the value of surname maps and Lindsay Fulton’s riposte to Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Do not read’ list (with reference to a List of Persons Whose Names Have Been Changed in Massachusetts, 1780-1892) round out the top five posts.
Another one of Lindsay’s posts covers naming practices for children born out of wedlock. In November 2016, Jean Maguire announced the availability of the genealogical columns of the Boston Transcript online; Ryan Woods’s description of the then-new Middlesex County probate records database was another popular post in 2014.
Henry Hornblower wrote about the discovery of a family Mayflower line, especially interesting as the line was associated with his grandfather, the founder of Plimoth Plantation. The very first post on the blog, setting out the goals of the new venture, has been another popular piece.
Bill Griffeth’s initial post on his new book, The Stranger in my Genes, elicited much interest and led to further posts on the book’s complex subject matter.
Two of Chris Child’s posts on the DNA of King Richard III (here and here) speak to the enduring fascination of England’s last “Plantagenet” king. And Sam Sturgis wrote revealingly on the initial difficulties genealogical researchers can sometimes have in connecting to hitherto unknown relations who regard their overtures with suspicion.
A final trio of posts speak to the ever-expanding range of the blog: Tom Dreyer on the “lost” Popham colony in Maine; Jean Maguire on an exciting new Irish records database ; and Anna Todd on the Orphan Train movement (1854–1929).
By my count that leaves 981 other posts, from January 2014 to November 2017, for genealogical researchers to browse here at Vita Brevis!