What I Have Learned So Far About Social Networking


I wrote more than a year ago (here) about finally edging my way into the waters of social networking by signing up on Facebook. I have had a number of positive experiences (and a few negative ones!) since then, and find myself thinking about whether there is a better way for me to use it for genealogical purposes. My negative experiences, by the way, have been with Facebook itself not with “friends”. (I tried to log in from a strange computer and then couldn’t remember my password and Facebook locked me out for a month or so. Did, finally, get back into my account; but not without a lot of frustration.)

The gist of the issue for me is this: I first signed up so I could stay in touch with the younger generation of our family, most of whom repeatedly said to me “those pictures are on Facebook”. That use of my Facebook site has worked wonderfully. I can see all the family pictures and comment on them when I want to. I can even share my own pictures. As I got more practiced using the site, I also wanted to connect with other family members, “cousins” of all varieties and have started to do that. So far all of these connections have originated with me, that is, I went looking for people.

However, because it is my personal site, I have tried to be very careful about privacy and so have tried to keep my posts and photos as contained as possible by only letting friends (people already in my friend list) see them. I know that I am limiting myself in terms of others being able to find me by searching for the family names I post periodically. (I assume you can do this in Facebook. Guess I should find out.) For example, I try, whenever I have posted something on this blog, to put that on my wall so everyone who is interested can go look at what I said. Assuming that names mentioned in a wall post can be searched, I am going to try making those posts public, to see if anyone finds me.

I also recently started playing around with making a page in Facebook for the Genealogy Gals. Until I figure out how to use the page, however, and decide with Judy what it should have on it, it will remain unpublished.

screen capture of the Syracuse group on Facebook

The very best is that I discovered a group, thanks to cousin Nancy, called Jewish Community of the 15th Ward, Syracuse, New York (click on the name to go see the front page of the group). This is a new group, in existence for just over a month now, with 88 members last I looked. (There were 68 I think when I joined, so you can see it is growing.) The purpose of the group is to share memories and photos and information about the old 15th ward. This neighborhood doesn’t exist physically any more due to the construction of a major highway and general urban renewal. The group is active and there are some wonderful photos and images already. Everyone is also very helpful in making connections or answering questions.

I haven’t actually verified whether my husband’s family lived within this neighborhood, that is the actual boundaries of the ward, but they certainly were part of the Jewish community from their arrival in about 1905. That makes them latecomers compared to some of the Jewish families, but puts them in the middle of the pack compared to many others. I am hoping my sister-in-law will join the group and that we may find new “cousins” as well. So far the group has shared the recipe for potato latkes originally submitted by one of the aunts to a Hadassah cookbook in the 1960s, and I’ve been told about a handwritten pickle recipe from another aunt. I also found out about a book from the Arcadia series of picture books about places, which I have ordered and await impatiently. What a treasure trove!

I have a number of pictures and documents that I plan to share with this group. I don’t want to step on cousin Nancy’s toes, so will try to be careful not to share pictures we have because she sent copies to us. And before I share any studio photographs I will check up on the copyright issue. I seem to remember that photos taken before a specific date (or over X number of years old) are in the public domain, but I want to be certain.


The other social networking site I use is Twitter. I also originally signed onto this thinking that the younger generation in the immediate family would adopt it as a communications channel. I was the only one there for a very long time, but they’ve started to join in.

So, I am on Twitter as an individual and follow several of our fellow genealogists. The question for me again is separating the personal family stuff from the more general genealogical. As far as I know tweets cannot be directed to only some people.

Judy put the Genealogy Gals on Twitter too (yay, Judy!!) and both of us can access that account. Please notice the “follow us” icon on the bottom of the left menu. I suppose the answer to my own question is that I should use the Genealogy Gals account for general genealogy stuff and my personal account for staying in touch with individual family members or friends. I don’t use it much anyway since I’m often not doing or thinking anything I feel the need to share in that way. Too, I haven’t added using Twitter to my cell phone abilities, so there are many times when it isn’t easily available to me.

And, finally, there is a useful new posting by James Tanner over on familysearch.org that summarizes social networking for us genealogists. This post, plus the first comment capture it all.

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