About ten years ago I visited my local Family History Center to do some research and I got to talking with the center’s director about a recent discovery I had made. She was so taken with what I had found that she exclaimed, “that’s such a genealogy gem, you really need to share that with other genealogists!” She asked me to jot down the steps I had followed on a piece of paper which she promptly posted on the center’s bulletin board.
As I stood there looking at the scrap of paper hanging by a thumbtack, I thought to myself, “there must be a better way to network with other genealogists and share this kind of information!”
Fast forward to early 2007 when my kids gave me an iPod for my birthday, and my discovery of podcasts. It struck me like a thunderbolt – my virtual bulletin board! I had found my medium for sharing ‘genealogy gems’ at last! (Hhmm, that’s a catching phrase…) A month later I published my first episode of the Genealogy Gems Podcast and I’ve been having the time of my life ever since reaching thousands of genealogists around the world.
There is great power in connecting with other like minded people, and family historians have been at the forefront of capitalizing on that concept. After all, genealogy is about people, and not just the dead ones!
I’d like to share my personal top ten favorite social networking websites for genealogy in the hopes that you will experience the fun and genealogical success they can offer.
Lisa’s Top 10 Genealogy Social Networking Sites
- Facebook – When it comes to social networking, Facebook is king. And genealogists have come to it in droves, finding long last family, exchanging ideas, and following their family history faves (Follow the Genealogy Gems Podcast at Facebook.) Take a few moments to look over and tweak your privacy account settings to meet your needs, and you’re good to go.
- Ancestry Member Trees – Even with all of the vast genealogical original content Ancestry has added to it’s site over the last ten years, it was Member Trees that hit the jackpot. Even though there are always little frustrations along the way when using Member Trees, they are still a must have for any serious genealogist. It’s a rare family historian these days who doesn’t have a success story to tell about a contact made through their online tree.
- Family Search Research Wiki – Wiki has been the buzz word at many a genealogy conference so far in 2010 and it looks like they are here to stay. Not only does the Family Search Wiki facilitate the world’s brain trust on genealogy information, but it provides a platform for connection and collaboration.
- Family Tree Magazine Forum – As a frequent contributor to Family Tree Magazine, I’m well aware that editor Allison Stacy is at no risk of running out of ideas for new articles. And yet she is sharp enough to know that her readers have opinions too, and at the Family Tree Magazine
- Genealogy Blogs – OK, I know that “genealogy blogs” is not one site, but more like a thousand websites. But it’s the concept here that’s really at the heart of their value to genealogical social networking. If you’re reading blog posts and skipping the Comments section, then you don’t know how much you’ve missed! I’ve picked up great tips and found new online genealogists through blog comments. Blogs come in every genealogical shape, color and size, as do their commentors. Some of the most visited, and commented on, are Randy Seaver’s GeneaMusings, Eastman’s Online newsletter, and DearMYRTLE.
- MyHeritage – When it comes to international social networking, MyHeritage is the place to be. Not only can you build your family tree, but you can share genealogical data with folks who don’t even speak your language. There are truly no more barriers when it comes to social networking!
- YouTube – Part of the power of social networking is being able to find who shares your interest, and with the power of Google behind YouTube, it’s an important stop on the social networking tour. YouTube not only sports thousands of genealogy channels (like the Genealogy Gems www.youtube.com/genealogygems) but also thousands of genealogy viewers and the search engine to find them. Check out who is subscribing to your favorite channels and go check out and subscribe to their channels.
- We’re Related by FamilyLink – I admit it, I haven’t added the We’re Related app to my Facebook page. But sometimes it seems like I’m just about the only one who hasn’t. In my case it’s just the lack of a roundtuit, but thousands of genealogists swear by it for connecting with family on Facebook.
- PhotoLoom – A picture says a thousand words, and Photoloom melds your pictures with your genealogical data, and then gives you the platform to share it with invited family. This is a “sleeper” gem of a website that you have to check out!
- Genealogy Gems – Being the social networking butterfly that I am, it’s no wonder that I always have genealogical connectivity in the back of mind as I add new features to my Genealogy Gems website. Inevitably when I share a listener question on the Genealogy Gems Podcast, another listener will write in with the answer, and offer to help listener #1. And when I played some old reel to reel tapes on the show asking if anyone could “name that tune” that grandpa was playing, emails poured in. It still amazes me after three years of doing the show, that there are so many folks out there keen to connect, and ready to offer a random act of genealogical kindness.
Note: you can listen to Voices of the Past’s podcast interview with Lisa Louise Cooke here.