Thursday, August 5, 2010

Facebook and genealogy

I haven't posted anything in a couple of months, but I thought I would post today about the positive benefits of signing up for a Facebook account. The social networking site isn't just about playing games (like Farm Town or Mafia Wars), it can also benefit genealogists when they are looking for cousins to connect with.

The simplest way to find possible cousins would be to put a surname in the Friend search box and see what comes up. I did that about a year ago and believe it or not had moderate success. I found familiar names that I already had in my tree (when I talked to an aunt, uncle or cousin) and through simple deduction and matching of birthdays (also which I got when talking to family) I sent friend requests. Some accepted right away without asking who I was and others asked who I was, which I didn't mind because it gave me a chance to let them know how we were related. Most I'm happy to report were interested in their own family histories happy to provide information.

Yesterday I took it one step further especially with those that I had just sent friend requests to and also to those that I hadn't introduced myself to. That's exactly what I did and explained that I was the 'resident' family genealogist. I asked for basic information on their spouses, marriage, children and the like. I also let them know that they could e-mail me 'off' Facebook and that I understood if they didn't want to provide any info at all. Two asked about family histories and I plan on tweaking two of those histories and sending them so that they can not only get a better idea of how we are related to one another but also who else they are related to.

Unfortunately, a couple of cousins haven't accepted my friend requests and one even confirmed that I had the right person because she posted a comment to her nephew's page. I wouldn't say I'm sad about that, just disappointed that she could chat with her nephew and not me or even just accept the friend request and have that be it. I'm certainly not looking to have long conversations with every cousin I find on Facebook, heck some aren't actually related to me but they happened to marry a cousin.

So the next time you are on Facebook (which I like more than Twitter by the way), try a cousin's surname that you know about, you never know who might pop up on Facebook. You'd be surprised how many cousins and other relatives are out there playing Farm Town.

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