Trying to do anything other than look at the news stream on Facebook reminds me of walking into the jungle in Central America. The amount of “information” is overwhelming and there are real dangers lurking in the shadows but every once and while, I manage to see something of interest. Can that jungle experience really be used to do significant genealogical research? Well, that depends on how you define doing research.

If you are searching for contemporary records about your ancestors, i.e. doing historical genealogical research, searching on Facebook seems pretty silly. For example, here is screenshot of a search for one of my ancestors.

The results here give me one other person who has mentioned my supposed ancestor back in 2009. As a side note, I presently have links to over 100,000 SmartMatches on MyHeritage.com of potential relatives. This post expands into a transcription of book called the “New England Families” book.

If I were just starting out, this might be interesting, but if you read it carefully, you will see that this is just a repetition of speculation on the identity of this particular individual. Interestingly, the source is listed at the bottom of the entry as follows:

source: NORTH KINGSTON, RI (BOOK) 1395631 (8327302) (MICROFILM) 1395773 (8412107).

If you happen to know what this means, you might find the book on microfilm on FamilySearch.org. Unfortunately, none of those numbers match any entry in the FamilySearch.org Catalog when I search by Film Number. They might be old film numbers. What about the title of the book? Here is the citation to this four volume work. 

Cutter, William Richard. 1913. New England families, genealogical and memorial: a record of the achievements of her people in the making of commonwealths and the founding of a nation. New York: Lewis Historical Pub. Co.

The book is generally available online in digital editions including Google Books. Assuming that I know all this and can find the book, I would now know a fair amount about my supposed ancestor. However, in this particular case, most of the information happens to be pure, unsupported speculation and is really copied from another earlier source. 
Did Facebook help me with my genealogy? I think we have to look further for an answer. In this particular case, there is a link to the Rhode Island Genealogy Network. 
I could post an inquiry or ask a question if I joined this group. But by joining a Facebook group, I will get more email and posts. There is a tradeoff. Actually, I am already a member of this group. 
Is there really any way further other than seeking opportunities to talk to other researchers that I can get any benefit from Facebook?
I could opt for some general education and links to programs and companies. I could post my own findings and blogs on Facebook and hope for some help.

My general use of Facebook is for information about my friends and family and for communicating with others on the program. Facebook is a good advertising medium and used by most of the genealogy companies. For example, there is a #RootsTech 2018 Facebook page for the upcoming conference.

It is generally a way to maintain contact with your family or an interest group. However, it has little use as a research tool. 





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