Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Facebook Genealogy

Since its creation in 2004 Facebook has amassed over a billion users, chances are that many of them are related to you and you may not even know it.  Doing a google search of “facebook genealogy” will yield many results.  From facebook genealogy apps to networking with other researchers.  But many article miss a basic fact about facebook, is that there are real people there who are related to you and have memories of genealogical significant stories and events that you do not have and that are not written down.  

Start with your "friends"

Go through your friends list

Login to facebook and look at your friend list.  How many of them are related to you?  How many of them are outside of your immediate family?  Of those people how many of them to do have a complete genealogy profile(with pictures) in your genealogy records?  If you said no to the last question, those people have information that you want and they are right there in front of you.  They may also have friends in their friend list that are related to you that you are not friends with.

These are excellent resources that can be turned into valuable genealogical information.  

It's all in the approach

The best way to get information that you need to is to ask for it by sending a message to the person who has some information.  

An example message to a cousin you know.

Hey Bill,
  As you may (or may not) know.  I have been doing genealogy in my spare time and wanted to know if you could give me some information about your family.  I am particularly interested in your parents (my Mother's sister) and what you could tell me about them and if you yourself may have any stories you remember about our grandmother than you would want to share.  I would like to continue to be in touch with you for specific dates, people and places for people in our family tree.

Linda (your first cousin)

Worst case: Bill deletes your message or Bill never logs in in anymore to read messages and you get no reply and you have wasted two minutes on facebook (like you have never done that before).

Best case: Bill is intrigued by you request, had information he wants to share.  And guess what his mother just got on to Facebook last year so she could see pics of the grandchildren and is happily accepting friend requests of people she knows.

Attempting to friend a more distant cousin.  

1. Note a common relative
2. Start slow and be precises (to avoid looking like a scam)
3. Don’t worry if you do not get a response
4 Don’t nag or you will be blocked :)

Dear Meg,
  My name is Linda Jones and I am your second cousin.  I got your name through your brother Joel.  You grandmother (Betsy Smith) and my grandmother (Grace Johnson) were sisters.  I have been doing research on the family tree and I was trying to get new information.  I am hoping to friend you so that you could share any family stories that would be interesting for the rest of the family about you, your parents or your grandparents.  I look forward to talking to you.


Worst case: Meg doesn’t friend you and you never hear from her again.  

Best case: Meg friends you and has stories to share with you about your relatives.


Facebook is a powerful tool that is making the world smaller and many of the people on the largest social network in the world are related to you.  Facebook has many genealogy apps that can range from interesting to useless, we hope to review them in the future to differentiate some of them in the future. 

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