In last week's blog post "Ancestors Please! How to ask for help online" I wrote about best practices for asking others for help on social media sites like Facebook. A number of people commented, asking where on Facebook to find genealogy help. In this post we'll explore five effective places for finding genealogy help on Facebook.
1) Your Facebook Wall
You may not realize it but your very own Facebook wall might be the place to start. Who will better know your family history than your own family? Asking genealogy questions on your wall might prompt family members to share information you didn't know they had and they didn't realize you wanted. Keep in mind that that Facebook is not really private. Consider who else among your Facebook friends can see your discussion and decided whether the topic should better be handled in an email or not.
The other great use of posting on your Facebook wall is to share with other genealogists. Genealogists has long since taken over Facebook and many of us use Facebook more for connecting with other genealogists than we do with old friends or family. In this case posting to your wall can be very effective.
If you don't currently have a lot of genealogy connections on Facebook start by "friending" the genealogists you do know from your local society. Once you connect with a genealogist that is very active on Facebook you'll notice that they are tied in to a much larger community of genealogists on Facebook. That will be your entry into connecting with a very large community online.
2) A Surname Group
There are many groups dedicated to specific surnames. I belong to one group called the House of Learneds for Learned family descendants. Surname groups are perfect for posting a genealogy query but only if it relates directly to that surname. Be sure to read the group or page description to understand what the group is all about. The description for the House of Learneds says "If you are a Learned/Larned/Learnard/Larnett, etc. (no joke!) you can join. If you can state your lineage, even better! Please keep it light - no politics or religious proselytizing. Beyond that, you may say or submit anything you want. This is YOUR Facebook page!"
Here are some to get you started:
- Kemp - which is for Kemp descendants
- The Mangan Family in County Clare
- Yacynych/Yacenich/Yacinich/Jacynycz Genealogy
- McGinnis Genealogy
- The Breese/Brees Genealogy Group
To find surname groups try searching Facebook for the surname plus the word "family" or "genealogy" such as "Chandler Family." Keep in mind that some groups are created for a small group of family members for staying in touch or organizing reunions rather than connecting with all descendants. Try to get a feel for what type of group it is by reading the description before asking to join.
Also, don't try asking questions about your other family lines or it might just get you kicked out of the group for being off topic.
3) A Geographic Focused Group
If you don't find a group for the surname you are looking for then try a group based on the location where your ancestors came from. This is a great way to get help from people who are experienced in researching in that same location. You may not share the same family but you may be researching the same records.
There are literally hundreds of these types of groups on Facebook. One that I belong to is the Indiana County PA Genealogy group.
Other groups include:
- Mississippi Genealogy Researchers
- Monmouth County NJ Genealogy
- New York Genealogy Network
- Guysborough County Genealogy (Nova Scotia)
Not finding what you need? Katherine R. Willson has created a comprehensive list of "genealogy on Facebook" links which you can access on her website at http://socialmediagenealogy.com/genealogy-on-facebook-list/
4) The Legacy User Group
And let's not forget the new Legacy User Group !
This group was created for people using the Legacy Family Tree software so most of the questions deal with genealogy as relates to the Legacy software. There is a terrific amount of sharing going on the group and not only will you learn about the software but you'll get some great genealogy tips too!
Thanks to Alona Tester, Dawn Fulton, Liz Loveland, Clarise Fleck Soper, Joyce Homan and Elizabeth Handler for contributing suggestions to this article.