Wednesday, June 10, 2015


I know there are some genealogists who feel that social media is wasting time
better spent in doing research. But having a presence on Facebook and/or Google
Plus can be quite valuable for genealogy, as I've found out. The trick is, first, don't get
mired down in the games, (I only play Words With friends, nothing else.) and second,
join the Genealogy Groups and Pages that pertain to the areas you are researching.

I'm a native New Englander, as are all my direct ancestors on our Dad's side of the family.
So I've joined a bunch of New England genealogy groups on Facebook. Some are for
particular families, some for certain towns and areas, and some just general New
England groups. I've been able to make contact with new distant cousins through these
groups and exchanged information with them, and as a result I've made new discoveries
in my own research. The most recent example of this happened just the other day.

One of the members of the Massachusetts Genealogy Network Facebook group asked a
question "Is Benjamin Barrows a proven son of George Barrows?".  He was referring to
George Barrows, 1670-1758, who happens to be my 6x great grandfather. I have a Benjamin
Barrows listed among his children, but no record of his birth. My source was the Ellingwood
Family genealog written by my cousin Florence O'Connor.  But rereading that part of the
book, I found she mentioned how George Barrows' estate was divided among the children.
Now I'd found Probate Files for George Barrows' father, and for his son, but not for George
as yet. So I went over to FamilySearch,Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Estate Files, 1686-1915 collection and voila! I found George Barrows' Probate File.

Here's the two pages of the Will, and Benjamin Barrows is  listed on both of them.

 "Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Estate Files, 1686-1915," images, FamilySearch (,1078346401 : accessed 10 June 2015), Plymouth > Case no 1067-1096, Barrell, Noah Jr.-Barrows, George D. > image 606 of 631; Supreme Judical Court, Boston.

Also in the file is a letter a fellow Barrows descendant wrote over forty years ago in which he
describes why George's son Peleg Barrows, the executor of the estate didn't file George's will
until 1792.(He went off on the campaign against Quebec and forgot about it,)

I shared the link to the FamilySearch file with my new found Barrows cousin. I'd found an
answer to his question, and because he'd asked it, I'd found a family document I hadn't had
before, and learned a bit of family history as well.

And that is why I say social media is not a waste of time for genealogists!


Celia Lewis said...

I agree 100%, Bill. I've found other great documents, photos, stories, and fun connections through social media.

jaderade said...

I definitely agree! Earlier this year I began discovering these groups and the benefit. So far have been able to connect with several distant cousins. Also, I have a lot of German ancestry, so joining those groups has been extremely helpful in that I can connect with native Germans who have access to many things I do not; they've been able to provide me more info/documents on some of my ancestors that I had not previously had.

Marian Burk Wood said...

And I agree with you as well. Often these social media groups post alerts about new online resources very quickly, and mention special tips unique to the area or the ancestors' background. I've learned a lot simply by reading what others ask and answer!

Lisa A. Alzo said...

Great post! Social media has enabled us to make connections perhaps we could not make otherwise. It opens up the world to us.

Devon Lee said...

The research benefits associated with the social media y'all discuss has been limited in my experience. HOWEVER, I use social media in my genealogy for the benefit of support and encouragement. Few of my family members want to hear me ramble about my research, writing, and scrapbooking projects. Fellow family historians lend the encouragement quickly knowing they're in my shoes as well.