My first experience with Social Media, in this case Facebook, occurred in 2007 with a call from my youngest daughter, Kelly. The conversation began with “guess what I did today?” Having no idea what she was about to say, I responded, “so what did you do today?” “I went skydiving!” Once my heart went back to a normal rhythm (and the prayer went up…thank you for not telling me prior to the jump) she went on to say, “and we filmed it and you can see it on Facebook.” It turned out her roommate’s friends worked for Nat Geo and they filmed, edited it and put it on Facebook.
What’s Facebook? I’m not sure she called it Social Media at that time, but her response was it’s a place where you can share things…you have to sign up for an account so you can see it. At that time I entered the realm of Social Media. Although I still have the link to the skydiving incident, it no longer works…something to remember. Social media is not permanent...people can (and do) delete their accounts, so remember to grab a screen shot if you want to save something. The experience of joining Facebook was a bit strange. All of a sudden I began getting messages from people who wanted to be my “friend.” Some I knew, but for a larger number, I had no idea who these people were.
Today I still have that personal page although it is not my primary page. I don’t post there frequently, although it's a good place to catch up and I follow people with great information (Elizabeth Shown Mills, Judy Russell (the Legal Genealogist). I created a page for Donna Moughty Genealogy where I post most of my information relating to Irish genealogy and research. At one time, all of my girls were on Facebook (and it was a way for me to keep tabs on them) but they’ve all moved away to other platforms. For a while, I followed them on Twitter, but a few months ago I withdrew from Twitter. It was a huge time suck and contained so much mis-information, it wasn’t worth my time. I thought I might miss it, but I haven’t! I now cross post to Facebook and LinkedIn. I’ve played with other social media platforms, Pinterest and Instagram but didn’t find them as useful. I also have a YouTube account where I sometimes post short videos.
I think that Facebook is still an excellent platform for genealogy. Katherine Willson’s Social Media Genealogy site lists over 16,700 Facebook genealogy links (I recently heard that she is transitioning it to CyndisList). Following locality sites in the area where your ancestors lived might connect you with a cousin from across the globe, or someone who still lives near the family farm. On my Links and Resources page you can find links to each County in Ireland, including Facebook pages. If your name is unusual, like mine, you might receive messages, as I frequently do, asking “are we related?” The answer is usually, yes. Sometimes these message come via my daughters "who is this person that wants to friend me?" I’ve found cousins in the US and Ireland, but also in Australia and Argentina. Education sites help you learn about new tools or resources, and don’t forget YouTube to view all sorts of seminars and lectures relating to genealogy. If you plan to travel to an area, check out local libraries and archives, historical or genealogical societies and even local tourist offices. If you are adventurous, you might try some of the new social media sites that pop up regularly. To get more information just google “social media and genealogy.”
And then there are the blogs, like this one. You can find a blog to cover almost any topic in which you might have an interest. For genealogists, there is an organization called Geneabloggers where you can search by topic. Not all bloggers, blog on a regular basis and some of the blogs may have disappeared. Blogging is hard work. My blog started in 2007 and for 16 years I have blogged just about every week (and every day while in Ireland). This year I made the decision to cut back to every other week (yes, I know I missed last week, but the good news is that I did get my taxes done). I’ve recently been researching Substack, as my daughters inform me that blogs are passé. Since I’m moving toward retirement, I’m not sure I’ll make any change.
Another category for Social Media is Podcasts. I listen to podcasts every morning while I’m riding by bike. The longest running genealogy podcast is The Genealogy Guys, with George G Morgan and Drew Smith. I’m excited that Drew and his brother will be joining me this year on the Dublin Research trip. Check out CyndisList for a list of genealogy podcasts.
This started as my weekly exercise for 52 Ancestors and has morphed into my weekly blog. I hope you’re using Social Media as part of your research plans. You just might find the cousin that will solve your brick wall.
Update on the Ireland Research Trips.
I still have one slot left for Belfast and this week I had a cancellation for Dublin. If you're interested in either of these trips, please contact me. Also let me know if you want to be put on a wait list.