Facebook and Family Photographs

By Maureen A. Taylor

I’m always looking for more family photos, trying to fill in the pictorial blanks in my family tree. There are a LOT of people in my genealogy that fall into that “blank” category. Searching for “new” family pictures means asking distant relatives and trolling the internet.

There’ss one very popular social media site that can help you locate pictures—Facebook, of course. Here’s how to use it to find old family photos:

First you need a Facebook account.

Next, search for groups. There is a Groups area in the left hand column of your Facebook page. It shows you what groups to which you already belong, and if you click the word “Groups” you can search for new ones. Find the right group page for a family and locale, and you might have genealogical success.

Genealogist Becky Jamison wrote a nice post on her Grace and Glory blog about how she found images on Facebook. She located a Greene Connections of Pennsylvania Facebook page for individuals with relatives in that area. Recently a picture of students at the Morris Grade School in Gilmore Township in Greene, Pa., appeared. Bingo! Some of her husband’s relatives were in the picture. Read her post and get inspired.

If you don’t find a group that’s relevant to your research, consider starting one. It’s really easy:

  • When you begin looking for groups, you’ll see a green button on the top of the screen that says, “Create a group.” Click that.
  • Name your group
  • Pick members from amongst your friends and family
  • Identify the group as open, closed (as the coordinator of the group you’ll have to approve their admission) or secret. Many of the groups I belong to are closed.
  • Start posting a family photo or a local picture depending on the topic of your group.
  • Ask your members to participate.

That’s about it. You’ll need to check back regularly to see if any new items pop up. It’s a good idea to periodically remind members as to the purpose of the group so you don’t start getting off topic posts.

Facebook is a lot more than a social platform, it’s also an underutilized genealogy tool. Let me know what you’ve found on Facebook.

Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now