Let’s Get Social! Genealogy and Social Media

Genealogy is more about making connections between the past and the present and sharing stories within the two then it is about the filling in the blanks of certain life events. Have you ever thought of using social media as a tool in the gathering of these stories and a means of making those vital connections? Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are just some of the outlets that you should be using as an active family historian.

I know most of you know about Facebook. If you aren’t on it yourself, you have probably heard about it especially recently in the news. Despite the privacy concerns, I still think Facebook is a worthwhile tool to help you connect with living relatives as well as classmates and/or friends with whom you may have lost touch. Did you know that you can form your own private Facebook group on whatever topic you desire? Say you would like to form a group from one of your family branches that has annual reunions. Facebook is a great way to communicate with those family members. You can then easily share photos within this private group after the event. You could also form a group on just a surname that you are researching. Invite a bunch of folks that are looking into the same line and exchange new research hits and misses all within the group.

Twitter. It is not just for our current president! If you have never dipped your tow into the waters that are Twitter and you have n interest in genealogy, you really must dive right in. The water is fine and full of nice and welcoming like-minded individuals! Twitter is a great place to ask general research questions as well as the chance to talk with actual genealogical librarians in real time. One account I highly recommend is David Allan Lambert’s (https://twitter.com/DLGenealogist). He is the Chief Genealogist at NEHGS (New England Historic Genealogical Society) based in Boston, MA. One neat thing that happens on Twitter is called Twitter Chats. These happen on a scheduled date and time and can cover an array of topics. One chat that I enjoy participating in is #GenChat. This is the chat that specifically covers genealogical topics. #GenChat happens usually twice a month on Fridays at 9 p.m. Central Standard Time. #GenChat has covered topics related to RootsTech, finding female ancestors, and records found specific to certain locations among many others. They are fast-paced conversations but are fun to follow. The moderator will usually post a question and all can chime in their answer using the same hashtag of #GenChat. Simple search “genchat” in the Twitter search box to see all the recent tweets.

The last social media channel that you may be ignoring is Instagram. Instagram is very popular with the younger crowd but don’t let that give you an excuse to not give it a look. Instagram is a photo platform which makes it perfect to share all your old photos. I enjoy posting photos of not just my ancestors but also my research process and how I got started in genealogy. A wonderful account to check out on Instagram is Save Family Photos (https://www.instagram.com/savefamilyphotos). On their home page they state that their mission is to “save and share family stories, one photo at a time.” Many times they will repost photos that others have posted on their personal Instagram accounts. Their mission is one that I think all of us as family historians would agree with. I believe that through posting your family photos on a site like Instagram you will not only be sharing them with relatives but also helping to save and share the story that lies behind that photo. Since Instagram is very popular with teens and up, I believe that when you share your family photos on that platform you are then meeting them where they are at. You could then help plant a seed of knowledge and perhaps curiosity into their family tree that maybe wasn’t there before.

Another aspect for all of these social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) is that it is a way for you to learn more about businesses that cater to the genealogy market. There are so many small businesses that make gorgeous family trees (check out Branches.art at https://www.instagram.com/branches.art/ for an example) and other unique pieces of art that are of interest to the family historian. Simply search genealogy or family tree on any of these platforms and see what comes up.

So I urge you to give each of these outlets a glance. There are benefits to each one. Try one out this month and see if it is a good fit for your interests. If not, delete your account and try another one. Make some connections and see your family tree grow!

I would love to connect with you!

Find me on Facebook: http://www.fb.com/tilliestalesandmore

Read my tweets on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tillies_tales

View my photos on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/tilliestalesandmore

**Leave a comment and let me know which social media outlet you use the most for your family history interests!**

[Note: this article was originally written by myself, Angie Kelly, for the June 2018 issue of the Newsletter of the St. Clair County Genealogical Society]

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