Facebook Friday: Using Facebook Groups to Further Your Genealogical Projects

Some of us spend too much time on Facebook (I'm raising my hand, here); others say they have no time for it and haven't joined -- they'd rather interact face-to-face than online.  But if you're not using Facebook as a resource for your genealogical research, you're missing a type of social interaction that can be a wellspring of information rather than a vast sinkhole of time.

Many types of genealogical groups exist on Facebook.  Some have a general focus, such as "Technology for Genealogy," where you can get advice on which scanner to buy or how to back up your research, or "The Organized Genealogist," where you can discuss how keep on top of things with checklists or what should go into surname binders.  Thomas MacEntee's "Genealogy Do-Over" will give you a whole course on getting and keeping everything in order.

Genealogy and Newspapers

Other groups will help you with aspects of your research.  "Genealogy and Newspapers" features various newspaper repositories and helps members locate historical publications.  It also has links to online newspaper collections.  One of my most-used sites is "Genealogical Translations" -- this group's multilingual members give generously of their time to help others with translations, including interpretations of difficult types of handwriting.

Many groups focus on genealogy in particular areas; since all my family roots go back to Germany, I'm a member of "German Genealogy" and groups for specific areas such as "Genealogia Silesiae Superioris" (for the former German state of Silesia), or "Ahnenforschung im Werra-Meissner-Kreis," a group for a small locality in Hessen.  A quick look reveals groups focused on Spanish genealogy ("Genealog"), Irish genealogy ("KC Irish Roots," "Irish Genealogy") and others ("Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut and the Northeast").

Mexican Genealogy

Societies and libraries of various kinds also offer groups.  You can interact with people from the "New England Historic Genealogical Society," "The Denver Public Library Western History and Genealogy Department," or "The Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center."  "GuadalajaraDispensas" offers names extracted from marriage registers over three centuries; the "Online Searchable Death Indexes and Records Group" will give you information on how to find death records for your ancestors.

New England Historic Genealogical Society

If you are very lucky (as, happily, I am), you will find a group about one of your family surnames.  My mother was a Berneburg, and I found a Facebook group created by a family genealogy society in Germany, the "Berneburg-Werneburg" group.  This led to many new sprouts on that particular branch of my tree.  Explore your surnames -- you might come across a "History of the Sandrock Family" or "Gorbea Family" group.

And given the interests of today, you might find a DNA group to connect with; I belong to the "U4 Haplogroup" and "German Language Area DNA Research Project" groups.

German Language Area DNA Research Project

Beyond answering members' questions and discussing relevant issues, groups often offer many resources in their "Files" section.  My "German Genealogy" group maintains a 10-page Word document on German links and resources, and my "Genealogy! Just Ask!" group hosts an ever-growing surnames list to which you can add your family names.

I personally have received a tremendous amount of help from these groups, and I offer what little I can when the opportunity comes up.  We all know that as a species, genealogists are among the most generous and helpful people on earth, and with so many of them hanging around on Facebook just waiting to be asked, you can't afford not to make use of this incredible resource.  Start searching for genealogical groups today!

Have you joined genealogical groups on Facebook?  How have they helped you?

[5/1/16 Update:  I have just learned of Katherine R. Willson's list of genealogical Facebook groups.  With over 8,000 groups included, it will surely offer something of interest to everyone.  Gail Dever has also compiled a list specifically for Canadian groups.]


  1. Excellent article on the advantages of using Facebook for genealogy. I too have had success with Genealogy Translations. I also belong to a couple of German groups and a group for a U.S. county where my ancestors lived. I would like to share your post with my genealogy society.

  2. You're more than welcome to do so. Also, if your society has a German interest group, they might find my recent post on Geogen helpful. And I'm feverishly working on a book for beginners in German research, so stay tuned for that. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing my Genealogy on Facebook list with folks! :-)


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