Search for the word genealogy on YouTube and you’ll dig up about 100,000 videos. Facebook has more than 1 billion users worldwide. Twitter has more than 230 million monthly users who create more than 500 million tweets per day. WordPress.com hosts more than 63 million blogs. Pinterest doesn’t even bother to provide numbers because they’d be instantly outdated. Although the social media world may seem overwhelming at first, ignoring it means missing out on the collective genealogical brain trust.
To help you get your social media feet wet, I’ve gathered 40 feeds worth following from blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest. These social media mavericks provide quality genealogy content that’ll enrich your research know-how and enjoyment. Find social media intimidating? Start with just one service and choose a few genealogy-focused feeds—the ones on this list or others—to follow or like.
These blogs range from individual genealogy enthusiasts to government agencies. Click a blog’s orange RSS Feed link to subscribe to its feed. A blog aggregator such as Feedly or the Flipboard smartphone app lets you manage your blog feed subscriptions in one place.
Allen County Public Library
This Fort Wayne, Ind., library houses one of the country’s largest research collections. Its informative blog features library programs and resources, plus genealogy advice.
Whether you’re a genealogy novice or you’ve been searching for decades, you’ll use FamilySearch.org again and again. Follow the FamilySearch blog to stay up-to-date on new databases you can search, family history news and events, research tips and more.
Thomas MacEntee’s GeneaBloggers is an ideal place to find blogs to follow. Click Genealogy Blog Roll and search for keywords to find blogs about topics of interest. Also follow this self-proclaimed “Genealogy Ninja” on Facebook.
Randy Seaver reliably serves up genealogy research tips, techniques and news, as well as commentary on his own research. And nobody does software evaluation better, so if you’re trying to choose a genealogy database or want to use the one you have more effectively, this is the blog for you.
Mid-Continent Public Library (MCPL) Genealogy Blog
This blog is key to accessing the latest offerings from this genealogical treasure. Posts cover a wide range of genealogy topics—everything from how to order microfilm to how to find genealogical topics on Twitter.
The National Archives UK
A must-read for anyone with British connections, this blog organizes posts into categories such as Records and Research, Technology and Innovation, and Managing Information.
According to blog author Michael John Neill, his blog covers “things that cross my path, general research suggestions … with a little bit of attitude.” This eclectic mix of genealogical content comes packaged in a well written, informative blog.
Teach Me Genealogy
I stumbled onto Sarah Heiner’s blog via one of her hilarious pins on another genealogist’s Pinterest board. It’s everything a great blog should be: authored in a unique voice, loaded with quality content and captivating images, and full of opportunities for interaction.
Your Story Coach
Tami Koenig inspires her blog followers to preserve their memories and share their stories. Posts include writing prompts, links to family history articles and book recommendations. One of my personal favorites was her piece on mega-timelines from her Story Spark series.
Like things short and sweet? Twitter is the place for you. On this microblogging service, users “tweet” messages in 140 characters or fewer. Set up a Twitter account and follow these tweeters, then use the search box to find favorite genealogists or organizations to follow, as well as tweets on topics of interest (use hashtags, such as #genealogy).
Jen Baldwin not only tweets about genealogy (more than 16,000 tweets and counting), but also actively engages in conversation, which is what the social Twitterverse is all about.
Professional genetic genealogist CeCe Moore tweets her special brand of DNA know-how. An added bonus: her expertise in adoption research. See more information on her websites Your Genetic Genealogist and Adoption and DNA.
Back in 1996, Dick Eastman launched Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter as an emailed publication. It’s now one of the most popular genealogy news blogs. His Twitter feed lets you quickly scan and locate relevant topics.
Family history enthusiast Andrew Martin tweets about genealogy and cross-posts interesting articles from his History Repeating blog. He’s in the United Kingdom, but his interest in genealogy knows no borders.
Judy G. Russell shares her expertise in the law as it impacts genealogy. Most of her tweets link to her blog, The Legal Genealogist. Use them to quickly peruse post topics and access ones of interest in one click.
Follow the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for live tweeting of special events and help with questions. Also check out other NARA Twitter channels such as @TodaysDocument, @DocsTeach and @NARA_RecMgmt.
For genealogists, Facebook is a crowd-sourcing venue for genealogy information and an easy way to share photos, videos and life events. Facebookers can have a “page” or “group.” On a page, click Like to see the posts in your news feed. If it’s a group, you may need to request permission to join. When sending a friend request to someone, mention your interest in genealogy.
Evidence Explained author Elizabeth Shown Mills has amassed a loyal following of her expert commentary on source citation and other genealogy topics.
Family Tree Magazine
With more than 20,000 likes, Family Tree Magazine’s Facebook page provides a constant stream of genealogy goodness: thought-provoking questions, great articles, photos, educational opportunities and a good bit of fun.
Marian Pierre-Louis, host of the Fieldstone Common online radio show on genealogy in the Northeast United States, asks thought-provoking genealogical questions on Facebook. Scan her timeline for the radio show’s recent topics and more.
Ireland Family History
This is the place to be if you have Irish heritage. Grab a cup of tea and spend a few minutes drifting back in time through old photos, stories and “friends” from around the world.
Margate Local & Family History
Even if you don’t have ancestors from Margate, England, this Facebook page is a fantastic example of crowdsourcing: Folks from around the world with ties to the seaside village share old photos, memories and historical background.
The Organized Genealogist Group
Elyse Doerflinger, Becky Jamison, Linda McCauley and Susan Petersen run this group dedicated to one of the genealogist’s toughest tasks: staying organized. Ask to join the group of 6,500 researchers sharing organization tips.
Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK)—USA
This closed group of more than 7,000 members is a good example of using Facebook as a venue to fill a need after the RAOGK volunteer lookup website closed in 2011. To request to join this group, click Join Group at the top of the page.
Sassy Jane Genealogy
Nancy Loe is an archivist, librarian and genealogist. Along with her popular Tuesday’s Tip feature, she excels at rounding up and sharing quality web content beneficial to genealogists.
YouTube is not only the web’s video powerhouse with a goldmine of genealogy-related videos, it’s also a social-networking site and the second largest search engine online. Here’s a sample of the channels you’ll find:
On this video-packed channel, start with the playlists, such as What’s New at Ancestry.com, 5-Minute Finds and AncestryDNA. Not to miss: The Barefoot Genealogist’s (aka Crista Cowan’s) instructional videos.
Playlists include Genealogy for Beginners, Honoring Ancestors and 1940 Census. If you’re a FamilySearch volunteer indexer, you can find a wealth of video tutorials here.
I’ve added more than 80 videos about genealogy tools, techniques and inspiration to my channel. You’ll also find a good dose of humor, including my favorite video, a Ken Burns spoof called “The Socks to America.”
Start with the folksy and fun introduction video to meet Kenneth, then dig into dozens of videos on newspaper research, many focused by state. One video to highlight is “Researching Newspapers—African American Historical Newspapers.”
“It’s all about genealogy, the technology and software I use, a bit about one-name studies and a bit about one-place studies,” Keough says. Check out the “Twenty with Tessa” series for quick bursts of genealogy.
US National Archives
Want an overview of passenger records? Watch “Coming to America: Celebrating the Immigrant Experience.” You also can enjoy hours “Inside the Vault,” a playlist of videos that provide a behind-the-scenes look at NARA’s treasures.
Universal Newsreels were released twice a week from 1929 to 1967. Each issue contained about a half-dozen short stories on world events, politics and entertainment. Unfortunately, the videos aren’t sorted into playlists.
Pinterest exploded in popularity after it opened to everyone in 2012. Pinners “pin” images of family history tips, photos, records, recipes and quotes on virtual bulletin boards. No need to register to peruse others’ pins, but before long you’ll want to join and start your own family history boards.
If you have a particular area of interest, try entering a keyword in the Pinterest search box. That’s how I found Ancestor Hunter’s Vintage Maps board featuring nearly 60 maps pinned from around the web. Click this pinner’s name and you’ll find 26 other boards devoted to genealogy and history.
Caroline has more than 70 boards, the majority of which are dedicated to genealogy. Don’t miss: Productivity Tips and Apps for Researchers featuring pins that prompt you to be more efficient, organized and productive.
Genealogy Tip Jar
This board, spearheaded by GeneaBloggers’ Thomas MacEntee, has tips from 10 contributors. Want to see the genealogical potential of Pinterest boards? Check out Thomas’ 70-plus other boards as well.
Enjoy getting lost for hours as you click through Gini’s boards. I recommend her Freebie & Printables, Framed Ancestors, Genea-Spaces, Family History and Childhood Memories boards.
Among Janet’s many boards are more than 10 for genealogy. Her pinning specialty is family history displays (she’s the owner of Family ChartMasters) and you’ll find plenty of inspiration. Don’t miss her Genealogy Fun board, either.
Pinterest is popular around the globe, and Swedish pinner Linda Kvist offers captivating vintage photographs on her Genealogy board. The majority come from her Cousin Linda blog. Kvist shows how enticing photos make blog posts perfect for pinning.
Robin Foster: Genealogy & More
One of Robin’s best boards is African-American Genealogy, which delivers more than 100 pins to educate and inspire. And if you really want to become a proficient pinner, check out her “All About Pinterest” board.
With more than 7,500 pins on 100-plus boards—about 30 dedicated to genealogy—Elkins is a prolific pinner. Whether you want to get your certification, host a family reunion or create a family history craft, Elkins has a board for that.
Tip: On Facebook, type your ancestor’s town in the search box and include the word history or genealogy to find a page relevant to your research.
Free Web Content
• Seven genealogy Facebook apps
• Best genealogy news sites
• Social networking for your family tree
• Family Tree Magazine on YouTube
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• Pinterest for genealogy
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• 40 best genealogy blogs
• Blog Your Family’s Stories download
• Twitter for Genealogists video class
Follow Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems on Twitter @LisaCooke, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest and her blog.