How Facebook supercharged my genealogy and family history research post-pandemic

How Facebook supercharged my genealogy and family history research post-pandemic

Facebook has long been a place for families to connect. But in the past few years, it’s turned into a goldmine of genealogy information. For instance, the post below describing new additions to a database of New York newspapers recently popped up in my feed. This type of information and sharing used to be relatively rare; now it’s commonplace.

facebook genealogy

What’s changed on Facebook? Here’s my theory: The pandemic lockdown and shift to virtual activities resulted in millions of people spending more time on the social network. Simultaneously, Facebook de-emphasized depressing and divisive current affairs in people’s feeds, and started to boost lifestyle and community content.

The result: Facebook pages devoted to hometowns, hobbies, and history exploded in popularity. New followers began to share information, photos, stories, and advice, making the pages even more interesting and valuable to family researchers. For instance, in the last year or two, I have discovered great photos in my hometown historical association’s Facebook feed:

silent movie theater messages

It occurred to me that my ancestors’ hometowns probably had similar Facebook pages, run by historical associations or local history buffs. Indeed they did! This photo shows the railway station where my great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather both worked, starting in the 1860s and ending in the 1920s. I probably would never have been able to get a copy if it weren't for a local Facebook group in my mother's hometown:

facebook genealogy ogdensburg train depot

The variety of genealogy and history-focused Facebook pages is astounding. Besides hometown history pages, there are also narrowly focused genealogy pages for local regions and ethnic groups (Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy), DNA research (NATIVE AMERICAN Ancestry Explorer: DNA, Genetics, Genealogy & Anthropology), and historical events (WWII Warships).

facebook world war II

For private groups, newcomers can apply by clicking the Join button (you may need to answer some basic questions or acknowledge the group’s rules).

What I appreciate most about niche Facebook communities is the willingness of people to help each other, whether it’s deciphering handwriting on an old birth record or explaining how to compare DNA matches. I often see this spirit on EasyGenie’s own Facebook page, where I share historical photos, videos, and news items that I think will interest other genealogy and history enthusiasts.

Bottom line: In Facebook history and genealogy pages, there’s something for practically everyone. We urge you to seek out communities that are important to you and your family history!

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