Category Archives: Social Media for Genealogy

Genealogy and Facebook

Facebook is often seen by some of us older folks as a waste of time at best or issuing an invitation to thieves and hackers at worst. I have to admit that I’ve known people who photograph restaurant meals in front of them and post them online. I have also known people who announce online that they are leaving for an extended vacation hundreds or even thousands of miles from home. I, myself, have never posted personal news on any social media, but that doesn’t mean I don’t use it.

It is a fabulous resource for crowdsourcing-type help when I’m stuck on a genealogically related problem. While you will never see a photo of a meal I am about to eat, you will find my name attached to a number of posts. Some of these groups are public groups and some are private. Public groups allow anyone to read the posts, but you need to request membership in order to post. Private groups are just that. Membership is restricted and may include groups related to hereditary organizations, children’s groups or even large families who want to share family information (like reunions) only with other family members. The fact that a private group exists is public on Facebook, but in order to view any of the posts, you have to be accepted as a member.

Katherine R. Willson has compiled and regularly updates Facebook groups that relate to all kinds of genealogy research. Her current PDF file, updated just a few weeks ago, features over 5200 links, divided into U.S. and international groups and specialties, such as adoption, technology use for genealogy, etc.

Don’t have time to review 5,200 links? Here are a few examples of active groups on Facebook:

If you have read many of my earlier blog posts, you know that I’ve been working on my Scandinavian roots steadily for the past few years. There are Danish American and Swedish American genealogy groups, where Danes and Swedes seek out help finding ancestors and their siblings who emigrated to the United States and then lost contact with the family. Americans post queries asking for help locating family who remained behind in Europe or have a record or family letter and need help with translation.

I recently joined the Scandinavian Genealogy Research Center Professional Research. In spite of the word “professional” in the title, its description says that the “purpose of this group is to provide a forum for links, tips and tricks that can be helpful or of interest for anyone interested in Scandinavian (mainly Danish and Swedish) Genealogy and research. It is not a group for individual queries about your own genealogy, but rather a place for help to self help with links to other sites that may give you ideas how to answer your questions.” Although the focus is on Danish and Swedish, the most recent posts have tips for Norwegian and Finnish research. There are multiple posts relating to Scandinavian culture.

Interested in learning more about DNA and test results? There are about 85 Facebook groups from which to choose. About 25 groups are dedicated to Jewish research and ten groups are made up of Civil War buffs.

There are also one-name study groups such as the Greenwoods and groups for descendants of one man, like Hartmann Hunsaker.

Want organizing tips or opinions on genealogy software or tech goodies? Look into joining The Organized Genealogist or Technology for Genealogy.

Ready to jump in and take part? Katherine Willson’s PDF is very easy to view as she has sites organized in easy-to-follow categories. It really is the most efficient way to learn what’s out there.