Facebook has been in the news recently-- here's an interesting take on the potential value of the social networking site for genealogists (thanks to Dave for permission to reprint his message here):
From: Dave Lossos
To: Google Group Genealogy in St. Louis
Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2009 8:08 AM
Subject: Have you tried Facebook?
I’m always on the lookout for an "edge" in finding new methods and aids in my genealogical pursuits. After putting off becoming active in Facebook for quite a while, about a month ago I jumped in head-first. I have always considered Facebook a social networking tool mostly for teeny-boppers, something that my soon-to-be grandchildren will use to maintain silly adolescent relationship with their friends.
I have now changed my mind - dramatically. Whatever the initial purpose was, Facebook has become one of the most productive genealogical tools available on the Internet. Once I joined, I added as "friends" a few close relatives and personal acquaintances. Then I noticed that you can also set up your profile to list such things as years that you graduated from college, high school, places you’ve lives, employers you’ve had, etc., etc.
Suddenly I was receiving "Invitations" to become "Friends" with some guys with whom I had graduated from high school, guys that I hadn’t spoken to for nearly 50 years. That was pretty cool, but nothing compared to what I discovered next.
Using the "Search" feature I tried what I’d done numerous times using a global Google search: find a particular surname. With the surname of Lossos, a relatively uncommon name, Google was successful to finding websites that contained the "Lossos" surname. Invariably it would find a bunch of my websites, along with some that referred to scholarly treatises by a few PhDs and MDs. These were individuals that I had attempted to solicit genealogical information from over the years, with very limited success. I had in my database a skeletal outline of them and their ancestors/descendants, but invariably very sketchy data.
Now I was presented with a long list of Lossos Facebook users, all of whom I "Invited" to become "Friends". Every one of them responded, and almost daily I seem to be inputting dates and places of birth into my database that I’d never had before. Now I grant you that the vast majority are 25 years old or younger. However, those are the ones that I have the least amount of information about. Eventually I will create a specific query to each of them, detailing what I know of their ancestry, and see if I can get them (with the help of their parents) to respond with more family info.
One last comment. Facebook also supports "Groups" and Networks. I joined Facebook’s RAOGK (Random Act of Genealogical Kindness) "Group", as well as the "St. Louis, MO" network.
I even created a "Genealogy in St. Louis" group.
If you haven’t tried Facebook, you are missing a great genealogical tool. If you do sign up, be sure to send me an "Invite" so I can be your "Friend".
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