Social Media?!?!?!  Facebook….Twitter….Instagram….LinkedIn….we’ve all heard these names (plus many others) and a lot of us have accounts in at least one social media venue.  But are they really supposed to just connect us with living people and help us in our daily lives and keep us entertained?  Yes…and NO!  Have you ever thought about using Social Media for genealogy research?

Yeah…everyone looks at me like I’m crazy…at first.  But once I start explaining the possibilities, their doubt turns to intrigue.  I have been able to break thru several Brick Walls in my research specifically using Facebook to make contact with living relatives and genealogy groups.

I’d told a couple friends about my theory before I shared it with the genealogy group I meet with every month.  The first response I got back was “But Facebook is for talking to my family and friends…and for playing games”.  <Insert head slap>  Yes…Facebook is great for those things, but, what if it could also give you another way to connect with other family members or other people that recognize your family name?  Wouldn’t it be worth it to use that social media outlet for that kind of connection, too?  Ultimately the answer becomes “yes”.  With some people it takes a little more convincing and actually getting some results before they jump into it with confidence…and I still have some friends that refuse to see the logic behind it.

Right now Family Search in Salt Lake City has Facebook pages for every state in the US and for almost every country in the world (there are a few that aren’t out there…like Greece).  They have volunteers that monitor and act as Administrators to the pages, helping out where they can and giving wonderful advice.  They share new links and websites that they have found, assist in helping translate difficult handwriting or foreign writing, and also ask questions that make you think outside the box.  And they have fun ways to get your information out there for others, too.  Recently several of the State pages have started playing the “Surname Game”.  Each day they post a new letter for the Surname Game on a bunch of their state pages…all you have to do is post your surnames that begin with that letter and a location (City/County) or a bit of information about the surname.  Michigan Genealogy Research page put the Surname Game up a few days ago and when it hit “D” I added my Drakopulos surname and the county where my mom’s family resided.  Although I haven’t had any hits/replies on it yet, the name is now out there again for others searching for that surname.

Any states and countries that I am searching for, I search on Facebook and see what comes up…you’d be surprised how many genealogy research groups/pages there are out there!  Seriously…try it!!  I currently belong to research pages maintained by Family Search for Italy, Finland, Russia, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and also many Genealogical Society pages as well.  Many of them have given me other sites to check out, links to online databases, and even linked me with family members that I didn’t know existed.  And some states even have county pages that are run by the local genealogical societies…Kentucky is a great example!  I also belong to Carter and Elliott County, Kentucky Genealogy sites on Facebook (to help with a friend’s tree I’m working on) and have received some wonderful help…and I’ve actually been able to actually connect him, on Facebook, with a cousin he never knew about!  I thought it was wonderful to actually introduce them in a Facebook chat!  How’s that for HIGH TECH?!?!?!

…And who in genealogy doesn’t remember the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness website?  It was such a huge hit.  Unfortunately the owner of the page unexpectedly passed away and the site was taken down.  But…it’s back!!!  ON FACEBOOK!  Go ahead…search for it!  There are 2 pages…Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness – RAOGK USA, and Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness – RAOGK International.  And there is still the same amount of wonderful genealogists on those pages to help out where they can!  Where one door closes, another one opens!!

But, please….don’t take my word for it!  I mean it….go out and try this method yourself!  The next time you sign in to Facebook, do a quick search for a location or state and add the word “Genealogy” to it in the search bar.  See what pops up!  Or look for a local Historical Society Facebook page.  It’s going to be painless…I PROMISE!  And it just might help you take a good, swift kick to that Genealogy Brick Wall you have been trying to break down!