Dec 4, 2009

Posted | 1 Comment

Serendipity or Advertising Your Ancestors

I finished last week’s blog  by saying that Serendipity would guide this week’s  entry. Fortunately Serendipity was kind to me and I can report that it does pay to advertise your ancestors in publications, on websites and on social networking sites like Facebook.

In the December issue of Australian Family Tree Connections I had an article on finding your ancestors in church publications. As always I use examples from my own family history. The magazine has only been out a week or so and already I have received two contacts and I now have more information on collateral lines of my Johnston family.

On my website a little while ago I put up my SAG thesis From Iron Chains to Gold Bars which is a mini history of a number of families including the Potter family. This was picked up by a descendant of the Potters who chose to contact me not via the email address on my website, but via my Facebook page. She sent me an invitation to view her Facebook pages but none of the names meant much to me,  so I queried the invitation and after an exchange of emails, we are now swapping information on the Potters.

Had it been me, I would have simply sent an email to the website. I don’t think I would have looked to see if I had a Facebook page. But then I don’t use Facebook to keep in touch with relatives, although I am beginning to see some of the advantages.

On my Twitter page I announced I had found a photograph and small biography of my ggg grandmother’s half brother on a Canadian website – they had settled in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan along with my gggg grandfather. That too was Serendipity because I simply entered the surname into the site (which I had noticed in another tweet) and up came the reference.

It is a relatively uncommon surname so I decided to look it up on Facebook  and I was surprised to turn up a number of references to it from people still living in Saskatoon. Obviously there must be some family connection but I couldn’t see that anyone was actually tracing the family history. I sat there a while looking and thinking but couldn’t bring myself to send a friend request. Yet others do it all the time.

In the old days I had no hesitation sending letters to unknown people I found in genealogical research directories or even in telephone books. Yet I hesitated, and still do, to send a friend request on Facebook. Why is it so (as Professor Julius Sumner Miller used to say)?

This week is proof if you advertise your family interests, someone somewhere will read it and contact you (if you are lucky). Perhaps it is nothing ventured, nothing gained. I would encourage everyone to write about your ancestors, advertise your interests on Facebook, Twitter, websites and not forgetting good old print publications.

You just never know when Serendipity will smile upon you.

  1. Great article Shauna and you’ve shown how important the use of social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook are to genealogists!

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