Capturing Family History on Social Media

| June 13, 2017 | 0 Comments | Email This Post Email This Post
 Adapted from The Essential Social Media Marketing Handbook: A New Roadmap for Maximizing Your Brand, Influence and Credibility (Career Press) by Gail Z. Martin. Martin owns DreamSpinner Communications and consults with professionals and businesses in the U.S. and Canada on strategic social media.

Social media is a huge game-changer for people researching their family history–and it’s also shifting how we document history as it’s being made.

The Written Record

Documentation has always been a challenge for family historians. Not everyone kept diaries or letters, and paper is fragile. Newspapers and magazines retained archives, but whole segments of the population (women, minorities, lower-income people, LGBTQ individuals, recent immigrants, teenagers) went largely absent in their coverage.

Access was usually limited and required traveling to a library, university, museum or court house and negotiating to get intoa special collection.

Digitization and the internet have made maps, census information, Selective Service registration, ships’ manifests, immigration documents, public records like birth, death and marriage certificates, survey documents, cemetery plot maps, newspapers, magazines, letters and more to be searchable online. Individuals, libraries, small museums and newspapers can now easily share private letters, journals, certificates, etc. Massive amounts of information are accessible and searchable—for free.

Social Media Changes Everything

Social media pulls digitized history together. Start with the many Facebook groups dedicated to genealogy and family history topics. You’ll meet people with similar interests, find out about difficult-to-discover resources, get tips from more experienced researchers, and be able to ask questions. Google Books, makes many out-of-print or difficult to find books searchable. Many organizations and scholarly groups involved in genealogy have active pages on Facebook.

Sites like Ancestry.com and Genealogy.com are a first stop to find and share digitized information. FamilySearch.org is a huge collection of family information for millions of people worldwide. Afrigeneas is a site specializing in African-American family history, while JewishGen traces Jewish genealogy. BillionGraves and FindAGrave make it easy to search cemetery records. The National Archives, Fold3.com, the General Land Office (GLORecords.blm.gov) and the USGenWebProject.org make it easy to access US government records. NewspaperAchive.com provides an extensive and searchable compilation of digitized newspapers. The Library of Congress (LOC.gov) is also an amazing resource. So are cemeteries, which often have an online database of plot numbers and names, headstone photos and interment dates.

The story of many small towns and regions is often driven by the fortunes and misfortunes of its most famous and prosperous families or the large organizations that provided the majority of jobs. Google old and newer versions of the company name. Some industries have dedicated historical organizations and websites committed to preserving a record of the companies and their workers. Check out the Library of Congress’s ‘Business Resources’ web page as well. Historical photos on Flickr and Pinterest are posted by individuals andby the Smithsonian, National Archives and New York Public Library.

Always keep either a digital or screen print record of what you post. Websites can go out of business or be bought, and you don’t want to lose everything you’ve compiled.

 

About the Author:

Gail Z. Martin owns DreamSpinner Communications and consults with professionals and businesses in the U.S. and Canada on strategic social media. Gail has an MBA in marketing and over 25 years of corporate and non-profit experience at senior executive levels. Her newest book is The Essential Social Media Marketing Handbook: A New Roadmap for Maximizing Your Brand, Influence and Credibility (Career Press). She is also the author of three other bestselling books on new media marketing: 30 Days to Social Media Success30 Days to Online PR and Marketing Success and 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success (Career Press) as well as Fresh Start Success: Reinvent Your Work, Reimagine Your Life, Reignite Your Passion30 Days to Social Media Success was chosen by Life Hack as one of the Top 20 Books to Read in 2016, made TheWashingtonPost.com’s Top 5 Business books, was chosen by Fed-Ex Office and Office Max to be among a handful of books featured in-store, and has been mentioned in media including Inc., The Wall Street Journal, Worth, and Fox Business News. Find her online at www.DreamSpinnerCommunications.com, on Twitter @GailMartinPR and blogs at BigDreamsAndHardWork.com

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