These genealogy sleuths used Facebook for family history when they responded to a plea to help return a family Bible to its family.
Back on March 21, Donna Whitten posted a video on her church Facebook page. Her post says, “How far would you go to get back something you’ve lost?”
She was talking about a 150 year-old family Bible she’d come across while antiquing one day in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her post says, “We want to find this family and return it to them! Can you help?” (Click here to see that post and video.)
That video post got 34,000 views, thanks in part to more than 600 people who shared it! Family history fans immediately stepped up to the challenge. They looked for names on Ancestry.com and reached out to tree owners. Within two days, several descendants were aware of the Bible and asking for copies. The bible eventually went to a woman in California named Carrie Robinson, who has been researching her tree for several years. It contained obituaries clipped from newspapers and handwritten vital family events. (Wouldn’t you love to receive that kind of family treasure?) Click here to watch the follow-up video about when Donna took the bible to the new owner.
Hats off to Donna and her team of sleuths who took the time to find Carrie’s family and return their past to them! I find a few take-home messages in this story:
Social media is a great way to cast your net wide, not just when you’re sharing family history, but when you’re looking for information. Click here to read more about gathering memories through Facebook.
You can watch for orphaned heirlooms in your path and return them to descendants. Click here to read tips on how to do that.
The video Donna created got attention on Facebook! Video is powerful. Use it to share your family history. (Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. I appreciate you using these links because that compensation helps make the Genealogy Gems blog possible. Thank you!)Click here to read about Animoto, a DIY-video making service I love that lets you produce your own professional-quality videos. Below is one quick video I created. Can you say shareable?!
Want to record your personal history but never seem to have the time? Turn Facebook posts into a book with this nifty service. It’s journaling for the twenty-first century!
As a teenager, I was an avid journal writer. Now, it’s just one more thing I feel guilty about not doing regularly. But I have recently found an easy and effective solution: My Social Book.
Many of us already use Facebook to share the kinds of events we want to record, such as a grandchild’s kindergarten graduation, a weekend getaway, or a dinner out with friends. My Social Book will turn your Facebook posts into a book–complete with pictures and comments from your friends and family.
My Social Book.com slurps your Facebook statuses, comments, and photos and prints them as a lovely keepsake journal. In this context, slurping refers to an app or website “sucking” your content onto a new site with your permission. It is a wonderful tool.
Here’s How to Turn Facebook Posts into a Book
First, go to My Social Book.com and click “Start your book now.” Next, you will be able to edit your content by date and by posts. (If you want to leave out that silly post you made about your recent ailment, you can do that!)
Choose from 16 different book cover colors and choose a soft or hard cover. When you are done, click “See inside” for a look at several of the personalized pages in your book. The final cost depends on the number of pages you included and your cover choice. My soft cover book with 108 pages cost $51.90. There is a small shipping and handling fee. (Tip: Google MySocialBook Coupon for free shipping and discounted prices on your first purchase.)
I was delighted with the book I ordered. I plan on ordering one each year. It was fun to read back over the year, see the pictures, and read the comments of my friends and loved ones. I think it will make a wonderful reading addition to the coffee table!
As a little side note, a friend of my mine passed away last year. I had forgotten how often she posted comments on my Facebook posts. It was a nice little reminder of her and I thought how neat it is to have the comments of our loved ones recorded in this way.
Don’t let another year go by without capturing your own personal history back from Facebook! My Social Book is a great answer to making time to keep a journal again.
Here’s an innovative way to use Facebook for family history. It comes from my downloadable video class, Pain-Free Family History Writing Projects.
Are you using Facebook to gather family history from your relatives? You can! It’s a version of “crowd-sourcing,” or using the internet to ask lots of people at a time for help. Here are two specific examples:
I posted this first photo in my husband’s family reunion Facebook page, after being given a ton of photos from past reunions. I couldn’t identify anyone in the picture and I couldn’t tell what was happening, but it looked like something special. After I posted it, one person commented, “Boy that’s an old photo of me”–which identified someone in the picture! Then an aunt commented that this was a bridal shower held during the annual family reunion. Yay! The mystery photo was captioned.
In this second example, I asked for more than just a photo caption. I posted a yearbook photo of my grandfather and two newspaper articles about him in our family Facebook group. In the accompanying post I asked, “Does anyone know anything about his time in the military? All I know is his entry/release dates, that he was in the Navy and a radar tech.” I tagged several close relatives so they would see it. (This was in our closed Facebook group. You can tag people by typing the @ sign and then their names in the post or in a comment below it.)
The response was fantastic. My aunt said grandpa served on a ship in the Atlantic and mentioned a rank she thinks he achieved. My uncle said he had some related papers and would send them to me (yay!). Even better, some younger family members commented how much a sibling or son looked like grandpa at that age. A cousin snagged what I’d posted for her daughter’s family history project. So even those younger relatives who couldn’t tell me about grandpa could benefit from the online conversation.
BONUS TIP: I get the best response when I post an image or video along with my questions. Pictures and videos will catch people’s interest, jog their memories and sometimes prompt additional comments. This is a good way to remind people of your interest in the family stories and to share what you already have.
This story collecting tip came from my video class: Pain-Free Family History Writing Projects.
Now you can choose whose Facebook activity shows up at the top of your news feed. We hope the Genealogy Gems Facebook page is on your See First list!
Facebook now has a new feature to allow you to select which friends and pages you want to see at the top of your news feed. Along with your close friends and relatives, we hope you’ll include the Genealogy Gems Facebook page on your See First list.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Go to the Facebook friend or fan page you want to add to your See First list.
2. Look for the “Following” (for friends) or “Liked” (for fan pages) button on that profile picture.
3. Click it, then select “See First.”
It’s that easy! You can choose up to 30 people to see first in your feed.
Why bother? In the past, even if you “Like” a fan page like our Genealogy Gems page, it didn’t necessarily show up in your feed. And it could be easy to miss posts from the people you care most about (especially if they don’t post very often). Now you won’t have to chance missing updates from your “besties,” kids or grandkids, or favorite online groups.