Monday, July 1, 2013

Exploring Facebook for Family History


What social media icon is big, blue, and ubiquitous? Which one is used for everything from connecting with long-lost high school chums to keeping up with pics of the grandkids?

The social media site that can be used to find coupons for your favorite restaurant has become a wonderful outlet for the give-and-take of inquiring genealogy fanatics.

It’s Facebook: an online spot you’ve no doubt already accessed for so many uses.

Perhaps it’s in the flood of other uses that we get distracted from the fact that Facebook can serve as a useful utility for family history researchers.

Try one test on the search bar at the top of the Facebook page: enter the term “genealogy”—or try “genealogical”—and see what results come up.

I’ve searched for interest groups aligning with some of the locales where I have family history. When I worked on my maternal grandmother’s roots in Florida, I found a Facebook page, for instance, on Hillsborough County.

One of my favorite—and, hands-down, most useful—Facebook pages is the Chicago Genealogy page. It certainly has been a responsive resource in studying my husband’s Stevens, Tully, and Malloy lines in the city’s history. This is one of those pages where you need to be admitted to the group, but it is worth the (very simple) effort of submitting a request.

The Chicago Genealogy page provides an almost daily example of the immediacy of sharing genealogy issues on Facebook. A query posted on the Chicago Genealogy Page will elicit almost instantly a wide variety of helpful comments. If you are on Facebook and are researching any family members from the Chicago area, I highly recommend that you tap into this group.

Not only are there Facebook pages or groups with a genealogy slant focused on cities and counties, but there are international items, too. Take this one example I follow (thanks again to my husband’s Irish heritage): the page called County Limerick Ireland Genealogy.

If you search on Facebook long enough, you will uncover a wealth of pages and groups focused on many geographic levels as well as disciplines. There is even a Facebook group for Social Media for Genealogy.

While some groups are lively, such as the Chicago group I just mentioned, others don’t have as much activity—but could, if someone like you popped in and posted a comment or query. Almost like the old genealogy forums, though more immediately connected via the social media mechanisms, these are opportunities to network with others on specific research focus areas you are currently addressing in your own work.

And—this is especially for those of you reading here who are also bloggers—there is a Facebook page for Genealogy Bloggers.

You’d think I would have discovered that using the very methods I recommended above. But no, do you think this is how I stumbled upon it? Rather, it was through the recent post of a fellow genealogy blogger, Beverly McGowan Norman, who shared a list of Facebook pages of other genealogy bloggers she knows. Here’s her list, posted just this past Saturday in her blog, Roots, Branches, and a Few Nuts.

Why do I mention all this? Because social media in general provides us with multiple tools to connect with others going down the same research paths we are—and Facebook is the one social media site the greatest percentage of us are already utilizing.

Why not add Facebook to our research tool kit—and get a chance to socialize a bit with the ones we’re meeting along the way?

Unlike on Twitter, with Facebook, we can say a lot more about our research passion than could ever fit within the confines of those skimpy 140 character limits.

16 comments:

  1. Maybe someday, kicking and screaming, I'll open up a facebook account. :)

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    1. You can always make it small--make your settings private or limited to family only, for instance. But if you do ever end up yielding to Facebook, Iggy, I imagine all your bloggy friends would be clamoring to connect with you :)

      Ah, the price of fame...

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  2. Wow, Jacqi, thanks! I'd love to be on this Facebook list of Genealogy Bloggers. I'd better get on this right away. I've copied your reference URL. I've found it hard to include Facebook, really, in my daily rounds of reading blogs, researching, Twittering, and blogging. But the FB link sounds important. I'm very grateful to you!

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    1. Great, Mariann. Hope it turns out to be helpful for you.

      It is a challenge to integrate all these social media outlets into a reasonable outreach plan--without usurping all your time (especially the time that should be devoted to writing!). I definitely hear you on that one!

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  3. So I just joined about 5 groups on FB, and now I feel sick to my stomach. "The Organized Genealogist" is making me realize I'm not going to live long enough to get organized. "Technology for Genealogy" and "Social Media for Genealogy" - OMG, I barely installed my Feedly Button. I don't think I'm ready for all this. I must be that old dog struggling to learn a new trick.

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    1. This is the stuff Facebook nightmares are made of...

      Stop and take a deep breath, Wendy. You can do this :)

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  4. Ha Ha Wendy! I think Jacqi has us all going to FB today and joining one thing or another, but I'm only sticking my toes in and asked to join only one group for now. I still haven't gotten to the Feedly button. So much prompting from you recently Jacqi. I feel the nudge. I'm trying to adapt!

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    1. Great, Kathy! Glad you are connecting--and at a speed that's manageable for you. As you do, though, don't be shy about sharing links to your own writing. I just love your blog, Kathy!

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  5. I manage the Hubbard County Historical Museum Facebook site. Perhaps that is another avenue for y'all. I do get requests for information..unfortunately I do not have enough researchers to keep up with requests..so I do what I can do:) I am going to see if I can find you on Facebook right now. :)

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    1. Nope I could not find you..see if you can find me Connie Yliniemi Henderson :)

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    2. I follow the blog for your museum, but I hadn't thought about checking it out on Facebook. Great suggestion!

      And great thought about checking out other local and county historical museums on Facebook, too. Those could be helpful resources for researchers.

      I'll be sure to look for you on Facebook, Connie :)

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  6. There are so many marvelous FB pages. Two of my favorites are https://www.facebook.com/familysearch and https://www.facebook.com/RootsonomyGenealogy

    Jim

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    1. Thanks for the links, Jim. Your Facebook page has lots of helpful info!

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  7. Thanks for the mention +Jacqi Stevens !

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