When we turn our hearts to our ancestors, something changes inside of us. We feel part of something greater than ourselves~Russell M. Nelson

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tuesday's Tip~Gettin' by With Help from Our Friends-Katherine R. Willson

This week's Tuesday Tip comes from our friend Katherine Willson!


This is an amazing time to be a genealogist, given the power of the internet!  It’s incredibly convenient to be able to view original records online at sites like FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, and FindMyPast.com - records that we previously viewed on microfilm or that required travel to other states and countries in order to view. 

Combining the power of the internet with crowdsourcing has made it possible to also see images of cemetery stones at sites like FindAGrave.com, BillionGraves.com, NamesInStone.com and, Interment.net. 

But it’s the crowdsourcing that’s available in the genealogical communities on Facebook that’s REALLY making this an exciting time to be a family history researcher!  There are currently more than 10,000+ groups and pages on Facebook that are specific to genealogy and history that focus on locations worldwide, surnames and so much more!

There are groups available to assist with research on African American, Hispanic and Native American ancestors, and those who were Jewish, Quaker, Mennonite, and Mormon.  There are groups specifically for those who are adopted (or descend from an adopted family member) and are trying to complete their family tree.  Members in the many photo identification groups can assist with unlabeled photographs, and there’s a large RAOGK (Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness) community that is willing to do look-ups at civic & sacred locations around the world. 

Do you descend from an ancestor who served in a major conflict, was a prisoner, a patient in an asylum, or a railway worker?  There are groups for those populations!

Are you trying to find antique maps from the towns where your ancestors lived?  Translate the letters your great-grandmother wrote in German?  Searching for Bible pages that may contain birth/marriage/death dates of your great-great-grandparents?  Looking for fraternal organization record archives?  There are groups for those, as well!

If you’re unsure how to get started with the use of Facebook as a genealogical research tool, here are some tips:

1) Download the “Genealogy on Facebook” list at no cost from  www.SocialMediaGenealogy.com/genealogy-on-facebook-list and familiarize yourself with the Table of Contents.  Note that each listing in the Table of Contents is a clickable link and will take you directly to that portion of the list. 

2) When you join a Facebook group, read the group’s descriptions and pinned posts to ensure you’re following group rules.  Some groups prohibit the posting of information about living individuals, while others have a specific focus - you don’t want to ask how to use your genealogy software in a group focused on translating foreign language documents. 

3) Utilize the “Search this group” feature in the upper left corner of the group’s home page to see if anyone else has already posted the information you seek. 

4) Explore the group’s uploaded files - there may be templates in there that will assist you or listings of surnames being researched by members of the group. 

5) When writing your query, remember that the best ones have the following:
·       A Who-When-Where introduction.  If you’re visiting the Willson Families of Cherry Valley, NY group, you don’t want to simply say you’re researching James Willson - tell people the time period that your James Willson lived in that area so he’s not confused with this son, grandson and great-grandson by the same name.
·       A specific question.  While we all wish we could get “everything having to do with my ancestor,” asking specific questions like the following will yield better results:  When did my ancestor marry?  Where was she born?  What were her parents’ names?
·       Where you’ve already looked.  If you’ve already researched the various censuses, city directories and newspapers of the time, say so.  You don’t want volunteers to spend their time duplicating the work you’ve already done. 

6) Always thank the group members who have provided you with assistance, and offer to pay it forward.

If you’re not yet using Facebook as a genealogical research tool, I hope that these tips can help you get started!  Enjoy! 

 BIO:  Katherine R. Willson of Ann Arbor, MI is a professional genealogist, public speaker & educator who is the creator of the “Genealogy on Facebook” list, containing 10,000+ links to genealogy & history pages/groups on Facebook.  Read more about her, the family lines she’s researching and her upcoming speaking 
engagements at www.SocialMediaGenealogy.com

Thanks, Katherine for the great tips and all your hard work in creating the "Genealogy and Facebook " list and keeping it updated!

Have you used Facebook for your genealogy research? We'd love to hear about it!
Thanks for stopping by!

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