A few nights ago I was just sitting watching television and during a commercial took out my iPhone to check FaceBook. I was not in genealogy mode, but something in my Facebook newsfeed caught my eye which spurred what appears to be a lot of upcoming research into my family’s history. I will hopefully be diving in-depth into these new family lines in a later blog post, but for now wanted to focus on the value of Facebook in helping with genealogical research.
Out of the social media outlets available I use only use Twitter and Facebook for personal use. For this particular post I am going to focus on the value of Facebook and how it can impact your genealogical research. One of the first steps I take on Facebook is to search for genealogical groups, societies, and pages where my research is focused. For example, a large portion of my mother’s side of the family comes from New Brunwsick, Canada so I searched for local genealogy groups involved in genealogical research in New Brunsick. I found a few and joined. Make sure once your request to join is accepted to introduce yourself by posting on the group’s page. Within your introductory post make sure express what family lines you are interested in researching and trying to find information about.
I suggest the introductory post because there is an extremely good chance there are people within the Facebook researching the same family and may very well be a long lost cousins. This sort of connection would be a fruitful asset for your research. After introducing yourself make sure to scroll down the group’s news feed to discover if anyone else has made mention in a post of a line you are working on. To reiterate, the benefit to introducing yourself and to exploring the group page is to instantously make connections with fellow researchers. Once a connection is established than you could very well have found another person to help break those research brick walls.
Not only should you join various genealogy groups, but you should also like pages of organizations involved in genealogy as well. For example. Ancestry.com, The New England Historical Genealogical Society, or Family Tree Magazine to name a few all have Facebook pages. The reason I like these particular pages is when they post something on their Facebook pages those posts appear in your personal Facebook feed. The benefits of being exposed to these posts is perhaps there is a special membership discount, or The NEGHS is hosting an event, or there may be a web event. The bottom line is when the information is in your Facebook newsfeed than there is a higher chance of you seeing it because it right there on your personal newsfeed. Which circles back to earlier in this blog where I wasn’t even thinking of genealogy and I saw a post in my newsfeed on my iPhone while watching television.
Just for those who are curious, what caught my eye was someone mentioning the name Esty in the post. The Esty line of my family is a line that can be traced back to Daniel Esty (moved to Miramichi, New Brunswick from United States), who is my 5th Great-Grandfather (married to Louisa Crowe). After the Esty name caught my eye I noticed the picture was a stone with six female names on it including a Mary Esty, I also noticed the women had the towns of Topsfield, Andover, Salem, and Marblehead inscribed next to their names. The real kicker which I did not notice immedilaity was inscribed above the names and the inscription read, “Hanged Sept 22nd, 1692″.
As soon as a I saw that the women on this stone were hanged I immedialty put the pieces together and realized these women were victims of the hysteria known as The Salem Witch Trials in the late 17th century. Even more remarkable to me was the fact that Mary (Towne) Esty could potentially be an ancestor of mine (9th Great-Grandmother, wife of Issac Esty) and hopefully she is. I am currently working on establishing this as a fact and not a hope. My certainly ancestor, Daniel Esty, is the only potential connection I have so I need documentation to prove a further connection.
Coming back to the purpose of this blog post, if Facebook is utilized properly and you take advantage of Facebook than a few more windows into your research may potentially open. To be honest, I was struggling extending beyond my 5th Great-Grandfather, Daniel Esty, and determining who is parents were and further back. However, since I took advantage of joining a Facebook group I may be able to accomplish knowing who Daniel Esty’s father & grandparents were. Not to mention who my potential 9th Great-Grandmother may have been which was a Salem Witch! All indication are pointing to that I belong to Mary Towne Esty’s line, but I need documentation and soon I will be visiting The New England Historical Genealogical Society to hopefully find something to confirm. Check back and I should have a post up with my findings. But for now – get on Facebook and starting joining genealogy groups!
Anyone have any similar experiences utilizing Facebook as a tool for genealogical research? Any tips or tricks to share to help expand our genealogical research.