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FACE-ing Your Ancestors: Using Facebook for Genealogy Research

FACE-ing Your Ancestors: Using Facebook for Genealogy Research

May 20, 2022

Sometimes our best genealogy work is done when we talk through our research struggles with other people. We can gain suggestions, ideas, and lots of moral support. They might have a different perspective on how to look at something and think through a problem, including trying to discover the secrets of your long-deceased ancestor. Conferring with someone we know or talking to a family history librarian about the mystery of that ancestor, or their family, can help us digest what information we already have. It can also help us determine our next move. 

However, you may feel like you have exhausted your options of which friend to call, which cousin to email, and which library to visit. When you feel like you have hit a dead end for ideas, why not try something completely different? One place you can go is Facebook!

Gone are the days of relying on the postal service to send and receive letters, and genealogists no longer have to post queries in local periodicals for help. Sometimes, we have to “FACE” the world of genealogy head on and send our questions to the masses.

You may be thinking Facebook is a very strange suggestion, but family historians love to share their research as well as help others find what they are looking for. We are all in the same boat and can sympathize with each other’s struggles to answer the unanswerable. Never underestimate the power of groupthink.

There are many different genealogical groups you can join on Facebook. These pages can be focused on a geographical location-such as a state-or even a specific surname. Joining a particular group is like joining a think tank for genealogical ideas. And because Facebook is global, these groups’ participants can be from an endless number of locations. 

When you post a question or comment, everyone in that group can see it and respond. They may have ideas you never thought of, or they might be in a location where they can look up something for you. At the very least, they will sympathize with your challenges.

You can also follow Facebook pages for historical and genealogical societies. Then, you can message them with whatever questions arise.

MGC has a variety of materials to assist you in using social media to further your research, such as audio CDs, books, and our own Facebook page. Do you have a good story about using Facebook for family research? Let us know in the comments.   

Mary D.
Midwest Genealogy Center

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