Although Richley-Erickson, based in Utah, has chosen to establish her good reputation through a persona, she makes no mystery of her life or experience. The veteran researcher has been tapped at a guest speaker for numerous conferences and cited for awards by the National Genealogical Society. A former college computer systems instructor, Richley-Erickson has been online promoting genealogy for 30 years by publishing articles, hosting chat rooms, hosting radio shows and doing public speaking.
One of the most noticeable features of the DearMyrtle.com site is the variety of ways that Richley-Erickson packages information. Budding researchers have expansive ways to learn how to do research. She offers webinars, virtual appearances, weekly hangouts, a YouTube channel with more than 400 archived videos, a page of suggested products and supplies for archiving through Amazon.com and a genealogy community. Dear Myrt, as her fans and followers call her, even runs a DearMyrtle Facebook page and a Genea-Quilters group on the same platform.
One of the most alluring features of Richley-Erickson’s rich offering is the sheer number of detailed articles on research methodologies and the other genealogists and researchers she features on the site. For example, she gives links and instructions for creating a DiscoverFreedman.org account to help African American researchers find Civil War-era ancestors though records from The Freedman’s Bureau. Although this resource will not be applicable to all researchers, it speaks to the kind of heritage specificity the site gives to its viewers.
To further spotlight similar topics, DearMyrtle.com sponsors a weekly Google hangout session with noted experts and knowledgeable researchers called Wacky Wednesdays. In an upcoming hangout session, for example, Angela Walton-Raji will talk to listeners about conducting research on African-American troops and Native American genealogy. These hangout sessions are affordable for any budget. Richley-Erickson offers them in pay-what-you-want package.
If you are new to genealogy or to online research, the site can seem a bit overwhelming because it offers so much. Densely packed with news, tips, videos and updates, DearMyrtle.com is a full education in how to find your ancestors. There are features here that make is a bit less intimidating, though. A handy search tool makes it easy to narrow your view to specific topics and a user-friendly navigation bar takes you easily to broader topics. The only risk the newcomer takes is falling down a rabbit hole of his interests and getting lost in learning.
There is a much less formal feel to the DearMyrtle.com site than there is at other sites. Richley-Erickson talks in down-to-earth language and never gives too much information in a single page load. It is up to you to decide where or how far you wish to click. Everything caters to the newcomer. In fact, the friendly nature of the site makes you really feel Myrt’s good wishes when she bids all visitors “Happy Family Tree Climbing.”