Friday, December 3, 2010

Mailing Lists, Facebook and Farmville - Taking Inventory of Your Research Toolbox

This week a mailing list I subscribe to had an interesting discussion: Does Facebook have a place in genealogy research? The response from the subscribers on the list surprised me. While I expected some people not to be interested in Facebook I was surprised that some found little to no value in what Facebook had to offer.

While Facebook will never replace 'boots on the ground' research it does offer the people doing family research a chance to connect with LIVING people. Sometimes I think that genealogists forget that searching and finding living people can be just as important as finding their ancestors.

Using Facebook or any other social networking platform allows genealogists to reconnect with their immediate family and find distant cousins. I have reconnected with many first cousins that I have not seen for over 40 years. I have also 'met' second and third cousins who have helped me round out family stories and identify people in family pictures.

Will Facebook replace Rootsweb, Ancestry.Com or FootNote? No, but it does allow us to draw people in who do not consider themselves genealogists, but may have information and artifacts that may enhance or jumpstart our research.

Think about it - do you know where that family bible is that you have always heard about... It could be in the attic of a distant relative who could care less about genealogy, but loves playing Farmville!

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