Thank you to Amie Tennant of My Kith N Kin for this helpful article.
I continue to be amazed how social media can quickly give you the answers you need to break through your family history brick walls. In just the last 2 weeks, I have turned to Facebook for help and was not disappointed. Here’s how I did it!
In the U.S., there are 4 FamilySearch groups:
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These Facebook pages, or groups, are being viewed by people like yourself. People who love genealogy and family history and are ready to help if they can.
My first experience was with the “U.S. Northeast Genealogy Research Community.” After joining, I put a little message that read:
“Hello! I am a professional genealogist, speaker, and writer of a family history blog at www.mykithnkin.blogspot.com. One of my biggest brick walls is locating where in New York my Louis Lockwood and Sabrina Robinson came from! Can’t wait to ask some questions here!”
That’s it. That is all I wrote. In less than 24 hours, I had the answer (and more!) that had eluded me for more than 10 years.
Patricia Morrow, the town historian for Windham, New York, saw my post and quickly found Lewis [yes, there was a spelling change] Lockwood and Sabrina in the 1855 New York State census. Then, she uploaded biographical sketches of Lewis, documentation of Lewis’ previous wives and tombstone pictures. I was shaking my head in amazement. That was a genealogy miracle if I ever heard one! [Note: typically, you will want to put more information in your request for help than I did.]
In the weeks to follow, I have been able to find Lewis’ parents and the parents of his wives which have been added to my family tree. Help from Patricia gave me the answer to break through that brick wall and I was able to then continue my own further research.
Yesterday, I had another wonderful experience, this time with “Europe Genealogy Research Community.” While researching some Scottish records, I found a birth record that included the marriage date and location for the child’s parents. Unfortunately, I could not make out the name of the town they were married in. I could read that the village was located in Ireland, but I am not familiar with that country’s towns. I searched all village and town names in Ireland trying to find one that “looked similar,” but to no avail.
I knew I needed help. Facebook to the rescue! I posted the image of the birth record to “Europe Genealogy Research Community” and Becky Pate took a look. “Banagher,” she said. Yes! I could see it now. And wouldn’t you know it was in County Offaly right next to County Tipperary where the couple’s older children were born.
How to Create an Account and Use the FamilySearch Facebook Groups
If you are not Facebook savvy you will need some instructions. First, go to www.facebook.com and create your account. You will need an email address. They will also ask you for your birth date. Don’t worry, your birth date will not show on your page if you don’t want it to. You can easily change privacy settings at any time. Learn more about that here.
After you create a Facebook account, you will need to confirm it. An email will be sent to you and you will click “Confirm Account.”
You will be directed back to your Facebook page. You may skip the steps of adding friends and adding a profile picture if you wish. This would be a good time to set up your privacy options if you haven’t already. Doing so will make sure only those you give permission to can see your profile information and posts.
Now, you will search for the FamilySearch groups I mentioned above, or simply click on the links provided. above. If you do not see the search field I have indicated in the picture below, just refresh your page.
When you have clicked on the group you are interested in, you will be directed to their page where you will need to click “Join Group.”
These FamilySearch Facebook groups are being monitored and managed, so you will need to wait until you are “approved.” I was approved within a few hours. Once you are approved, when you return to this page, you will see that you can “write something” on their page. Others will see your post and hopefully you will get the answers you are looking for.
Remember, anyone else who is in the group can see what you have written here, so only share what you feel comfortable making semi-public.
We’d love to hear your success stories about breaking down family history brick walls using Facebook!
Editor’s Note: In addition to the FamilySearch groups on Facebook there are many other genealogy research groups available. Use the Facebook search to locate the best options for you.
Image: “Celebration at Bull Run: 2 Confederate veterans shaking hands,” c1911, Library of Congress