Social media for genealogists

Robert Winthrop (1833-1892)At the moment, I am working on three different family histories, two of them for families in Boston, and one for a New York Dutch clan.

As part of the research process, each of these family histories will, at some point, generate a questionnaire for modern-day family members. With each book project, the question arises: How best to encourage family members to fill out yet another form, in this case running to several pages?

I don’t have an answer, sadly! One tool that has proved useful, though, is Facebook (and social media generally). I can reach out to members of a Facebook group, alerting them to the forthcoming genealogy, and this seems to bring results as a paper mailing is sent out.

In an earlier post, I spoke of my research on the Baltimore architect Edward Hughes Glidden. I have also been using Facebook as a resource as I collect images of Glidden buildings, creating Facebook albums to help organize my thoughts on Glidden's career.

One aspect of social media, of course, is creating a sense of community. Families sometimes need a nudge when the family genealogist comes knocking (metaphorically) on the door, and starting with Facebook friends can help speed the process – a lengthy process in any case, as family historians know!

Scott C. Steward

About Scott C. Steward

Scott C. Steward has been NEHGS’ Editor-in-Chief since 2013. He is the author, co-author, or editor of genealogies of the Ayer, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, Thorndike, and Winthrop families. His articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, NEXUS, New England Ancestors, American Ancestors, and The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and he has written book reviews for the Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.View all posts by Scott C. Steward