Sunday, 16 August 2015

Using Facebook for Family History research

In a recent post on the Genealogy-Do-Over Facebook group, Thomas MacEntee mentioned the Legacy Family Tree webinair he had recently made - Facebook: a tool for Genealogy Research. This is a member only resource for those who subscribe to Legacy Family Tree webinairs but the GeneaBloggers site has a link to a preview of the webinair.

This led me to think about how I use Facebook for genealogy research.When I set up my Facebook page in 2013 it was primarily to communicate with family and friends. However I soon discovered genealogy, history and library or archive organisations with Facebook pages and selected a number that I now receive regular updates from.  These Facebook groups are usually open sites and once you click the Like button you will receive in your News Feed any subsequent posts made in these groups. This is a good way to keep up to date with what is happening in your area of interest. Some of the Facebook pages of organisations that I have Liked include:
  • Scotlands Genealogy
  • Scotlands People
  • Irelands Genealogy Page
  • National Archives of Australia
  • National Archives (UK)
  • Inside History Magazine
  • VicGum
  • Royal Historical Society of Victoria
  • Facebook pages of a number of local historical societies
  • Hawkesbury Family History Group
  • Hawkesbury Library Service
  • Ancestry
  • Find My Past
  • Lost Melbourne and Lost Sydney
To locate the Facebook page of an organisation go to the Find Friends box at the top of your News Feed page and start typing in the name of the organisation - the more letters you type the more likely you will find what you are looking for. If you find a Facebook site you want to investigate click the link to go to the Facebook page.
In this example I was looking for Public Record Office of Victoria (third on the list). The note at the bottom of the page (in blue bar) - See more results - will provide additional options if you cannot find what you want in the initial list.
If you want to receive updates from this Facebook page click the Like button. The name of the group that you have Liked will appear in the left column of your Timeline page.

You can use the same method to locate people who may also be interested in your area of interest.

One of the features of Facebook is that groups for people with similar interests can be created. Recently I joined two groups related to my Convict research. I no doubt will add others to my list. There are also groups relating to specific branches of a family.
  • Norfolk Island History Lovers
  • First Fleet 1788 Researchers
Already I have found other researchers investigating members on my family tree as well as relevant information mentioned in earlier posts. Private messages can be sent to members of the group arranging to share information.
In the Search this group box under the header of the group page type in the name of the person you are researching. Any posts mentioning this name will then be displayed. Sometimes the person may be mentioned in a comment relating to the post.

Facebook can therefore be a useful tool for locating fellow researchers plus information relating to your family history research.

Since first writing this post I have discovered another interesting way that Facebook can be used to promote history or tell a story.  Anzac Live recounts the involvement of individual Australians during World War I as if they were posting their thoughts on Facebook.


  1. Local History Groups and organisations like the Royal Historical Society of Victoria are on Facebook and many groups such as "Lost [name of place]" or "I grew up in .." or similiar are also on FB.

  2. Check out this list: