26    Apr 20090 comments

Cyberspace: Finding family

There's a revolution happening in cyberspace and it's great for people looking for family history information.

There are millions of genealogy blogs holding information and everyone also seems to be on Twitter and Facebook.

How can you utilize these sites to find out information and reconnect?

Let's start with blogs.

According to a recent Google search by ProGenealogists.com, there are almost 500,000 "genealogy blog" options and some 3.5 million "family history" blogs. The exact number doesn't really matter - there are a lot of them. My own search showed many more.

BLOGGER

ProGenealogists just published its 25 Top Genealogy Blogs of 2009; find it here. Here's a bit more about some of the top-ranked ones.

Niche or specialist blogs can provide detailed information from many sources to those interested in a specific topic. Dedicated genealogy bloggers often read hundreds of blogs and news sources each week to distill important news for readers, whether it is general or a very localized blog topic. Few people have time to devote that much time to digging out relevant information on a regular basis.

Genealogy blogs report on events, books, technology, history and many topics connected in some way to family history. They are the first to report on new Internet resources, websites, databases.

Two of the most popular blog platforms are Blogger and Wordpress.
WORDPRESS

Some writers focus on their own familes and specialized research, or use a blog as a research journal to record work they have done and information discovered and to share it. Others maintain family sites on MyHeritage.com and also write blogs for even wider Internet exposure in their quest for family connections.

Blogging is a great way to let others know what you are doing, and it helps possible relatives around the world find YOU.

One that concentrates on the author' detailed family records is Steve Danko's Genealogy Blog.

Some blogs are devoted to a particular ethnicity like Jasia's Creative Gene on Polish ethnicity, or CanadaGenealogy.

Some are general topic sources, such as Kimberly Powell's About.com Genealogy, or Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter.

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings offers helpful reviews of software and technical devices. DearMYRTLE was the first to utilize podcasts, and she writes several blogs on different aspects of her interests.

And we even have our own resident comedian, Chris Dunham's The Genealogue is always good for a family history-related quirky giggle.

Also, as far as technology and innovations is concerned, Blaine Bettinger's Genetic Genealogist discusses DNA issues.

There is even a blog devoted to disasters that may have impacted the lives of our ancestors, Stu Beitler's GenDisasters.

View the complete list at the link above for more information and links to each blog. To find more general and specialty blogs, visit The Genealogy Blog Finder or Cyndi's List.

Additionally, social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have enabled many family historians to locate relatives. I was dragged - kicking and screaming - into Facebook by a genealogy blogger colleague - he did a great job and nearly all of us are now on Facebook.

FACEBOOK

I wasn't sure if joining Facebook would be worth it - something else to fool around with and take up my time. My attitude changed very fast when three long-lost cousins contacted me during the first week!

Two cousins - formerly in Russia - now live in Germany. They knew I was looking for them, but I had never been able to make contact. One saw my name on Facebook, the rest is history.

Another cousin - from Riga, Latvia - has lived in several countries and we simply lost touch. He saw my name on Facebook, wrote on my wall, and now I know he's in Moscow and has three children.

An old friend from Teheran - we last saw each other in the 1970s - found me and we reconnected, sharing news of our families some three decades later and making plans to see each other very soon.

Was Facebook worth it? Absolutely! TWITTER

When the same genealogy blogger colleague who had touted Facebook began tweeting at our genealogy community about Twitter, my turn-around this time was much faster and I jumped at it, joining the genealogy group, using #genealogy for posts and "following" people - I felt like a stalker!

It seems like this new technology has really come up to speed for family historians, who are using these resources to find possible relatives. It works very well if you have a less common, more unusual name like Talalay or Dardashti. I'm not so sure how you'll do looking for Smith!

Researchers have reconnected with long-lost branches of families by looking for those with the same family names and querying them as to towns of origins or asking about the names of their grandparents or great-grandparents.

Have you found relatives on Facebook or Twitter? What other genealogy blogs do you read? Is there a blog you recommend for a particular interest area? I look forward to reading your comments.

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