How to use Facebook for family history

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11 January 2016
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Find out how to use Facebook for family history, with tips on making the most of Facebook's search functions, groups and apps for family tree research.
How to use Facebook for family history Images

Find out how to use Facebook for family history, with tips on making the most of Facebook's search functions, groups and apps for family tree research.

You probably already use facebook for chatting with friends or sharing holiday snaps, but have you considered how facebook can help your genealogy research?

Using facebook's search function

  • Make friends with facebook’s search box and you’ll be well on your way to finding people and pages to aid your research.
    Most people type names into the search box, trying to find old friends, neighbours and colleagues.
    You can do this too, but also take it further.

  • You can search for surnames of interest; you may have too many results to know what to do with but if the name is unusual it may be possible to make connections.

  • You can also search for place names or topics as there may be facebook groups or pages that focus on your area of interest.

  • If you search for ‘genealogy’ or ‘family history’ you will find results for community pages, companies, groups, apps and more. It’s possible to filter results to only groups or apps etc.

How to use facebook pages for family history research

  • Like pages, such as the Family Tree facebook page, to receive news or special offers, and make useful contacts.

  • Find pages for your favourite archives, libraries and data providers.

  • A community page is a page about an organisation, brand or topic, but it doesn’t officially represent it. So you could create a community page about using Ancestry or FindMyPast, but it would be labelled as a community page so that others could identify that it hasn’t been set up by either of those companies.

How to use facebook groups for family history research

  • Facebook groups are different to pages. Groups provide a space for groups of people to communicate about a common interest, such as genealogy.

  • There are some large groups with a general interest, such as genealogy, and many much smaller groups with a more specific concern.

  • Groups can be closed or open; in a closed group posts can only be seen by group members. To join a group you must be approved or added by another member. There may be a group for a village where your ancestors lived, or one for saving a local war memorial.

  • You could start a group for a topic you care about.

How to use facebook apps for family history research

  • Current facebook tree-building apps include Family Tree from Familybuilder, TreeView – Family Tree, and Family TreeTop. Family Tree is by far the most popular.

  • TreeView is the Facebook version of TheGenealogist’s online tree building software.

  • Ancestry has a feature that allows you to connect living people in your Ancestry tree to their facebook profiles.

  • When you have connected yourself in your Ancestry tree to your Facebook profile, Ancestry will compare your tree to your Facebook connections and give you the option to accept or reject matches. The idea is to connect you with more living relatives.

Make sure you back up your family tree

Apps for family history have come and gone, and the apps mentioned here may not be around forever. It’s worth bearing this in mind if you’re using facebook to publish your family history – make sure the information is backed up somewhere else too.