Can Social Media further your research?

Its a reasonable question to ask as the serious genealogist or family historian will probably look askance at you. After all, if you are doing your research properly, what useful, correctly resourced and referenced material would come through social media

Social Media platforms are about making connections.  Its what you do with those connections that counts.

So far in my forays into social media, I have avoided using photo sharing sites such as Flckr, youtube, Instagram, RedButton and the like as I have concerns with abuse of copyright particularly when the work posted is original and an income source for its creator.

The recent Social Media workshops, of which I have been a co-presenter, have highlighted the current popularity of Pinterest, especially amongst women. Sent a link to an image by one of my colleagues, I followed through and yes, I joined.

Firstly, I thought I would make a search for pins relating to my current research project (and subject of one of my other Blogs) just to see whether anything would turn up.  Interestingly there were five images of my relative amongst the millions of Pinterest contributions.  Four of the shots I was already familiar with however the fifth caught my eye immediately as it was a studio shot I hadn’t seen before.

Imagine my surprise when the comment indicated that the pinner was a relative of the photo’s subject! Who was this person? There was no familiarity in her name.  I commented back, that I too was a relative.

Within 24 hours and from the other side of the world, I had a response, an email introduction, a quick exchange of basic information and offers of photos and stories about her family’s history. The most recent email contained more information, three wonderful family photographs and a promise of more to come. Of course, there will be relevant information heading to my correspondent shortly!

Social media connects people – its up to the people to make the best use of the connections!

© R Stockfeld 2103


Image from Pinterest


Crowdsourcing to solve mysteries

Having spoken recently at a couple of workshops on using Social Media as a means to extend your family history research opportunities, I am always on the lookout for ways in which people use that media.

Many people, particularly the more senior amongst us, have shied away from the likes of Facebook and Twitter, seeing both as something that is a waste of time, or just for the young ones or even dangerous.  There is no disputing the powerful nature of Social Media to effect change.

It can be used for good things like this “share” picture that has popped up in my feed over the past few days:



Posted originally by Dave Golden (Penn, USA) he asks for this picture to be shared in the hope that the person to whom this dog tag belonged, can be found.  The ‘share’ notes that it was found by an Australian teacher in Vietnam 2 years ago. 57,039 people so far have spread the word about this picture in the hope of finding T. F. Martinson.

This is not the first time I have encountered historians, genealogists and even just caring people who have found something that they felt should be reunited with its owner.  Just last week it was a specialist road bike; a couple of weeks previous it was someone’s camera with precious family photos.

Many Social Media platforms can be put to good use when it comes to solving genealogical “brick walls”, reuniting families with lost historic mementos, even reuniting families.  Someone out there will know and someone will care.

Link to Dave’s Facebook Page – here