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30 October 2008

Genealogists Invade Facebook

You may have noticed the "Find us on Facebook" badge on the right side bar of the blog. It's been there for the past couple of months since I created a special CGS Facebook page for the California Genealogical Society and Library. Unlike individual profiles or groups on FB, you don't have to be a member of Facebook to view the CGS Page. What you'll find there is a nicely organized presentation of everything CGS - links to our Web site, blog posts, photo albums and the opportunity to become a "fan." Facebook is not just for kids anymore. It is one of many social networking services that I've been experimenting with as a place to promote the society and post our events.

Photo Detective Maureen Taylor nudged me into joining Facebook back in June and I've been watching in wonder at the number of genealogists who have embraced this new way to share information and make friends. Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak started the genea-stampede to Facebook with Unclaimed Persons – a self-described "group of volunteer genealogists who donate their time and research skills to assist medical examiners, coroners and investigators to locate the next of kin of deceased individuals." Smolenyak states she had "no idea about all these unclaimed people who are usually cremated and buried in unmarked graves, and that’s often after several months on a shelf in a morgue. We hear about abandoned pets, but you never hear about these abandoned bodies." You can view a video on RootsTelevision showing how Megan got her start working with coroners' offices.

By July 2008, hoards of genealogy bloggers had invaded Facebook and Thomas MacEntee of the Destination: Austin Family blog created a "Genea-Bloggers Group" on Facebook. The FB learning curve can be a little steep so Thomas also started the Facebook Bootcamp for Genea-Bloggers and more blog to assist members "in becoming more familiar with Facebook functions." The blog has evolved into a "how-to" manual for blogging in general.

Thomas posts a weekly Facebook update about the Genea-Bloggers Group. There are now 230 members, the vast majority of whom are genealogist bloggers who are writing about every aspect of family history.

Just in the last couple of weeks I've re-connected with several Internet acquaintances I'd met in years past through Rootsweb mail lists. Now that we are "Facebook friends" I've been able to put a face with the name and learn more about them and their other interests. I haven't found any cousins yet but I know it's only a matter of time.

Please take a look at the California Genealogical Society and Library page on Facebook. If you decide to join the fun, be sure to "friend" me.

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