Last week was Veteran’s day and I got so many gems through Facebook. As most genealogists sometimes struggle with having family all over the country, if not the world, Facebook becomes an invaluable tool for contact.
During gatherings have you ever had “the look” or generally gotten the sense that family members are bored with your family history stories or questions?
Facebook saves the day again by allowing a sort of “passive” observance of those you’re connected with and their friends. This thing is basically built in with family-finder if you know how to use it.
First, connect with as many family as you can. Do not just stop with the ones you know or have met, continue and attempt to connect with any cousins that reach out…or at least respond.
After initial connection I have to cool my jets. Yes I want to know everything – birth dates, death dates, family stories, pictures, newspapers – you name it! I want it all but at the same time I’ve just met this person. They may not share my passion. (Still trying to figure out why not?)
Then simply make sure you’re “following” them – meaning that their posts pop-up on your feed. You know that main page where you can scroll through posts by everyone you’re connected with? Well, that can be customized and in my opinion should be. Some folks I want to be connected with but not see everything they post. Others I want to be closer to – *and thus I filter my “feed”. It’s a mix of those friends I’m closest with, those whose posts & shares I enjoy and family, any family at all that will connect.
*I suppose if you don’t mind everything in your feed that’s fine too – I just found a healthy filter to increase my happiness while “facebooking”.
Now, as we’re passively connected to distant cousins and brothers and sisters alike, we naturally take note of any interesting family information. This past Veteran’s day was a great example.
- My Great Uncle Mike’s wife posted an old photo of him in uniform that I’d never seen before.
- My cousin whom I’ve only met once (I think?) updated his profile picture to one in his Marine uniform.
- Lastly, my recently connected 3rd cousin – Vanessa.
With all of my “cousin bait” out there in the form of my database, my blog and the rarely updated scrapbook site, most of my cousin-connecting is coming at me rather than me having to search people out. Which is great because then the likelihood of them accepting as friend request is greater!
So, a few months back, Vanessa asks if I’d created this video. I say yeah & ask how she’s connected to the family. I get some great information. A few months go by and she changes her Facebook profile to a picture of a man getting the bronze star circa WWII.
I have a guess on who it is but have never seen his picture. My guess was correct which sparked a conversation which included pictures, newspaper articles and of course names, birth dates and other vital information. FANTASTIC!
This provided an opportunity for an entire unfamiliar branch to open up. Plumping up Branches baby!
Lastly I want to share why this system works for me. First, everything is automatically recorded on Facebook so, since I’m usually just browsing Facebook and not in full family search mode, I simply take a screen shot. Then, when I have more time, as in tonight, I’m able to find those screenshots, then scroll through the last week of Facebook to find the original post. Or in the case of the Facebook messenger conversation – I simply open that app and see what was said/shared. My phone even prompted me to see if I wanted to automatically back-up the screenshots in “the cloud”.
Isn’t technology wonderful?
So, to the Veteran’s. Thank you for your service. We still need you. I honor you by documenting your family, your service and your life. Thank you.