Friday, February 12, 2016

Breaking Down Genealogical Brick Walls Using Social Media

Brick walls.  We all have them and when they appear, we become obsessed!  Here are a few ways we can break down those brick walls while assisting other researchers in their journey.


There are a variety of ways we can use Facebook to help us break down a brick wall.  The obvious way is by simply posting on our Facebook wall announcing to our readers what it is we are researching, but unless we have family and friends who are collaborating with us on our genealogical journey, chances of getting any real results are minimal.

Facebook pages are the way to go.  There are a great many out there, but here are a few that I use and why.  You will want to find some that are specific to your own needs.

            Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) USA

This site is a boon for a lot of reasons.  If you have a document that you are having difficulty transcribing, whether it be a census or death record, you may post a scan of the document and receive input from other members as to the content of your document.   Or, perhaps you need some assistance locating a grave or retrieving information from a genealogy library that is not local to you, but may be close to someone else.  The members of this site are always ready and willing to assist.  If you join this site, or one similar, please remember to always show appreciation for the assistance given to you and where possible, assist others in the group.

            Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOK) Photo Restoration Group

I recently inherited a bunch of old photographs, some of which were not in the best shape.  This Facebook page was wonderful for me.  I uploaded a photograph and the talented members in the group were able to touch up and correct the deficiencies in the photo making it look brand new.  Remember when posting a request, identify who is in the photograph and share a little bit of info.  It gives the group a collaborative and friendly feel.  I can’t say enough good things about this group.  They are definitely worth checking out if you have photos that could use restoring.

            Living History of Chicago and

Sites such as this give a wonderful insight to the area our ancestors resided.  For me, it was Chicago.  What I like about this particular group is that there are regular posts of photos of Chicago from back in the early 1900s, which is period of time my family lived there.  Following a Facebook page of a state or region is a wonderful way to get the feel of what your ancestors saw, what their occupations were and the conditions in which they worked, as well as seeing how they lived.  As we find photographs and information that gives us a better idea of our ancestor’s life in their own particular location in the world, we should incorporate that in our research.  But remember, ALWAYS CITE YOUR SOURCE!  I cannot emphasize that enough! 

You will want to do a Facebook “search” for a group that covers your ancestral area.  For my particular needs I have joined groups for Pennsylvania, Virginia and Norway, to name a few.

            Your Genealogy Brick Walls

This site helps specifically with your brick wall.  Everyone, including yourself, is a volunteer to assist others in finding a missing person or piece of information.  While the group does not guarantee that your wall will be brought down, you now have a team assisting you in your efforts.


If you have a Twitter account, you can create a hashtag (#) in your posts indicating the surname or place you are researching.  Here is an example of a post:

Researching my #Stratton family tree.  Anyone else working on #Genealogy in #Massachusetts, pm me!  Thanks!  

Google Alerts is a great way to have the internet work for you while you are sleeping or out enjoying a day at the beach.  Simply type in  You will then be prompted to type in a name or subject matter that you are researching and should an article or information on that name or subject be posted, you will receive an email alert.

So, as you can see, there are several ways we can attempt to break down those pesky brick walls in our family tree. Of course, breaking down those walls takes time and patience.  Remain positive and diligent.  You may be surprised at what you find.  And remember, share with others your research success stories because...

History not shared is History lost!