Gooood Morning! It's a beautiful day down here in South Florida. The forecast is for sun and in the mid 70s all weekend. Our plans for today are to go to the farmer's market at the beach and then to the home show at the fairgrounds. But before I get out and about, I figured I would get another blog post in. Today's post is about using social media to help in your German research. These tips are good for any type of research on social media but I will be focusing specifically on those pages and groups that deal with German research.
First off, if you aren't using Facebook for your research you are missing out on a treasure trove of information. I know some people aren't comfortable using social media, but you have control over what you post and who you friend. So, be selective of your interactions if that is your concern. Others may not be comfortable because it is a new world for them. But how many times have you tried something new just to realize that you have been missing out on the benefits because of your fears. Social media is the new world for genealogy research and we should embrace it and learn to use the tools that are available.
So, let's get started. Why should you use social media for your genealogy research? The answer is that there are over 1.3 billion people using Facebook and you have the ability to interact with every one of them. That is nearly 20% of the world's population! For the developed countries, the percent participation in Facebook is much higher, sometimes over 50% of a country's population. Your chance of running into someone who can help you in your research are extremely large. And of course, with all those people online, there are a large number of groups that they have created. I won't be able to discuss them all, but Katherine Willson has tried to build a directory for all the genealogy related pages. This directory now has over 10,000 Facebook groups listed that deal with genealogy. You can find this list by going to her blog and clicking on Genealogy on Facebook List. Be aware that this list is now nearly 300 pages long, so you might not want to print it out. For Germany alone, she has over 50 groups listed.
How do you find a group that can help you? Groups and pages are set up by administrators and deal with specific topics. Some groups may address research techniques like using a specific software program. Other groups may address specific record types like photographs. While others may specialize in a certain region such as a town, county, state, or country. I suggest that after you log into Facebook, you do a search for the term you are interested in. One thing to remember though, is always read the purpose and guidelines/rules for the groups. Some admins are very strict on what they allow to be posted or the number of posts you can do in a day. If you violate these rules they can kick you from the group. So, always read the rules.
First, let's start in the United States. If you search your immigrant ancestors' home county you will find many possible groups to join. If they lived in a larger community you may want to search for that location also. My ancestors settled in Auglaize, Shelby, Darke and Mercer counties in Ohio. These counties are all adjacent to each other in the west central part of Ohio along the Indiana border. So, knowing that I have joined the following groups: Auglaize County Ohio History & Genealogy, Darke County Ohio History & Genealogy, Mercer County History & Genealogy, and Shelby County Ohio History and Genealogy. In these groups you can ask questions about your ancestors, discover new cousins, and discover research tools that fellow researchers in your area use. Once you join, you should post an introduction of yourself and something about your research interests. Now that you have your local area covered, you should expand and possibly join state groups; for Ohio there is the Ohio Genealogy Network, Ohio Genealogy, and the Ohio Genealogical Society. There are also regional genealogy groups such as the US Midwest Genealogy Research Community.
Now, that you are a member of your local, state and regional genealogy groups, be active. Post queries about your research. Let people know who you are researching by posting specific information about your ancestors. Ask for help in finding a specific record or learning about a new site that the group believes may be helpful. The more active you are, the more information you will receive.
Jumping across the Atlantic, you will find a large number of groups focused on German research. One of the site you can start with is the German Genealogy group. Since many of the people I have been researching came from the Baden-Wurttemberg region I use the Baden-Wurrtemberg Genealogy group often. One thing I was able to learn from this group is how to effectively use the Baden-Wurttemberg Archives website. Also, you might want to join the German Family Book (Ortsfamilienbuchen) group if you want to learn about the German family books. These books can be a treasure trove of information for your German research. But now that you are over in Germany, what do you do with the German records that you find, especially if you can't read German. You need to find a translator to help you, but that can be costly. Well, Facebook has a fix for that also. There are groups, including Genealogy Translations and German Genealogy Records Transcription, where you can find volunteers to help you translate your documents.
There are many, many other Facebook sites that can help you discover your ancestors. Try them out, be actively involved in conversations, use the tools they present, and you will discover new information at every turn. Good luck, and get social!