Geni Podcast: Engaging with the Genealogy Community

Posted April 21, 2011 by Geni | No Comment

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Show Notes:

Interacting with the Genealogy Community

  • How I get started with genealogy blogging?

First, you need to realize that there are really two entry points to the world of genealogy blogging.

One entry point is using genealogy blogs for research.  This means you are a reader of genealogy blogs and like any resource you access them via Google or other search engines.  Google has a great blog search engine at In addition, you can search over 1,800 genealogy bloggers over at GeneaBloggers at

The other entry point for genealogy blogging is actually to actually create your own blog so you can share your genealogy and family history findings with family and the public. The best free blogging platform, in my opinion is Blogger ( You can learn how to use Blogger and other blogging platforms like WordPress by accessing the free cheat sheets and resources over at GeneaBloggers (

  • How do I find other genealogists on Twitter and Facebook?

There are various directories and search engines for both Twitter and Facebook:

    • Who To Follow: this is a Twitter page that allows you to search by name or topic (!/who_to_follow).
    • Twitter Search: You can easily use Twitter’s search engine for terms such as #genealogy to locate other genealogists at
    • Follow Your Favorite Genealogist: if you have a favorite genealogist whose lectures you’ve attended or whose articles you’ve read, find them on Twitter and then follow their followers.
    • Facebook: use the term “genealogy” or “genealogists” to locate groups and pages related to genealogy. As for finding new Facebook friends, start with people you know in real life. Go to a friend’s page on Facebook and see if they’ve created a genealogy list of friends and start following those people.
    • Google Realtime: not many people realize that Google now has a “realtime” section of its web search dedicated to status updates on Twitter and Facebook (
  • How do I interact with other Geni members? (Discussions, Projects)

Besides connecting with your family members on Geni, did you know that you can connect with other genealogists on Geni? The Genealogy Projects section ( lists a variety of projects posted by other genealogists and family historians Once you locate a project, you can check out the project collaborators, the project profiles and even start your own project.

Geni also allows you to participate in existing public discussions at or even create your own discussion. This is a great way to interact with others in the genealogy field or even ask a question when you need help with your own research.

  • How do I go about joining a genealogy society?

Most genealogists want to belong to a society that is physically located near them. But in reality, since many of us are not located near where our ancestors lived, we want to join a genealogy society that has a strong on-line presence and can help us with our own research.

A good place to start is the Federation of Genealogical Societies listing at or Cyndi’s List at

In addition, many of the leading genealogy societies have an online presence and can be found on Google or even Facebook.

  • What others ways can I interact with the genealogy community?

Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and all offer ways to interact with others but these venues are only the tip of the iceberg. Here are some other ways:

    • Message Boards: Ancestry (, GenealogyWise ( and other sites offer message boards and forums where you can answer questions or post your own query.
    • Attend a Webinar: check out the webinars at GeneaWebinars ( where you can attend a class online and interact with other attendees.
    • Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness: an easy way to get involved is to help out others with lookups or taking photos or more at the RAOGK website (
    • GeneaBloggers Radio: not only can you listen to what guest genealogists and callers are saying, but there is also a chat board where you can interact with other listeners of GeneaBloggers Radio (

More About Thomas

Full Transcript

Grant Brunner: Welcome to the Geni Podcast. I’m Grant Brunner and with me today is Thomas MacEntee. How are you, Thomas?

Thomas MacEntee: I’m doing great. It’s a great day, Grant.

Grant: Yeah. It’s great here in Delaware. I have to say, as we’re recording this it’s April 20th and spring is finally kicking in.

Thomas: Right. You know, we had our spring storms last night, and while it’s not warm, warm, yet, I think things will be warm by the weekend here in Chicago.

Grant: We want to talk about interacting with the genealogy communities. So we’ll start off with the basics, and then we’ll move on to more complex topics. So just really start off with really easy stuff and things you’re really familiar with. How does somebody get started with genealogy blogging?

Thomas: Well, I think the first thing is you need to realize there are two entry points into the world of genealogy blogging. The one entry point is where you would use a genealogy blog for research. So this means that you read the genealogy blogs. You might leave comments, but you use them mostly as a source of information. You can find them via Google, their search engine. Google has a great blog search engine That is a good resource,, and they have an area where you can search just within blogs. And also, at my, you can search for over 1,800 genealogy blogs. So those are ways that you could use blogs as mostly an information source.

The other entry point for genealogy blogging is actually creating and having your own blog, and running it and posting information that you can share with family and with friends and with the public. So, in my opinion, one of the best free blogging platforms is Blogger. It can be found at There’s also WordPress at But I think the Blogger is a little bit easier for new bloggers, first time bloggers, to use.

So, I also want to point out, it’s one thing to start using Blogger, but sometimes it’s not very intuitive as to how you set up a blog, how you sort of trick out your site bar, etc. So, if you want, go to GeneaBloggers. Look at the notes on the podcast. But we do have under blog resources a variety of free cheat sheets for both Blogger and WordPress that will help you get started.

Grant: Yeah, absolutely. And, just so you guys know, we at Geni have a really great Tumblr site. It’s Tumblr doesn’t have an E by the way. And that’s a great place to go and find a curated genealogy link. So I link out to genealogy blogs often, like Thomas and Dick Eastman and Dear MYRTLE. All those blogs have great genealogy content, so if you’re interested in finding out kind of what other people are doing, that’s a great place to go.

So how do you go about finding genealogists on social media, like Twitter and Facebook?

Thomas: That’s a little bit more difficult. It’s not as easy as just going to Google. You really need to know which search engines to use for both Twitter and Facebook. Now one that I really like is when you’re on your own Twitter page, they have an option there called Who to Follow. So you go to, log in at your own Twitter page, and then click on Who to Follow, and you can actually search by name or by topic. I very often will put the word genealogy in there. I’ll put genealogical society. I’ll put family history. Or I’ll search for some names like [unintelligible 03:39] , Dick Eastman, some of the bigger names, and also see if I want to follow them. So that’s a good resource.

Also Twitter has its own search engine at I always look for the hash tag genealogy, and that would mean using pound sign and the word genealogy, and search for that. Grant, what I don’t recommend is searching for just the word genealogy, because there are many Twitter users that are using that term, not necessarily for family history. Most genealogists are using pound sign genealogy on Twitter.

Grant: Yeah. I find that to be the case as well. And also, if you’re interested in finding out more about us Geni folks, we’re at Geni just on Twitter. And you’re GeneaBloggers and Hidefgen, and also T. MacEntee, right?

Thomas: Right, exactly. You know, I have actually various different aliases, more for my different business divisions and also for my volunteer work. But the thing what you should do is you should go and find your favorite genealogist on Twitter, and then also see who’s following them and who they’re following. And that’s the nice thing about Twitter. I love that it’s so open that way. That I could go, see who’s following and follow those same people, if I feel that we have a common interest. And that’s what I love about Twitter.

Now when it comes to Facebook, Facebook does have a search engine and I very often will put the word genealogy or gene to locate groups and Facebook pages related to genealogy. Finding friends are a little bit difficult. I’m finding, Grant, that not everyone is aware of the list feature for organizing your friends. Now, I do organize my friends. I’ve have about, I think, 1,100 Facebook friends, and 900 plus are genealogists.

So if you happen to find someone who has a list of genealogy friends, that’s really a bonus, because then you can go and see who those people are and try and friend them.

And lastly, I want to point out, Google does have a very little known feature called Google Real Time. It’s at, and you can search on status updates for Twitter and other sites, and that’s a good search engine to use as well.

Grant: Wow. That’s really useful. And no, I would say most people don’t know about that, so that’s a really good tip. So how do you go about interacting with other members on Geni, using the features of Geni to interact with other members?

Thomas: Well, when I’m on Geni, of course, I have my family members. So sometimes you don’t want to interact with family members, and that’s understandable. But you actually want to cast a little bit of a wider net and get yourself involved in a community. So there are two features that I use on Geni. One is the projects feature, and that’s at\projects. And this is a variety of projects that people have set up. I was just looking at an interesting one the other day, about the ancestors who fought at Gettysburg. And so people are putting up profiles for people on various family trees that fought at Gettysburg. And I think you’re going to see a lot more of these civil war type projects at Geni over the next few months, because the Civil War anniversary is big in the news.

Also once you locate a project, you can contact the project collaborators, check out the project profiles. But the nice thing is you can also start your own project on Geni, which is really fun. If you have any project like that, Civil War, maybe people that fought in the war of 1812, people that were farmers in Upstate New York, you name it, you can create a project around that topic.

The other thing is I find that Geni also is a very good discussion area. And that’s accessible at where you can participate in the public discussions that are already there or create your own discussion. Creating a discussion is great when you want to ask for help in a certain area. Maybe you need help with a brick wall, maybe you want to post a query, maybe you want to know how to sight a source, etc., and that’s a good way to use the discussions feature.

Grant: Also I just wanted to add, if you are interested in the specific surname like, let’s say, you really want to know more about McEntees, if you got to, you’ll be able to search for whichever surname you’d like. If there are other McEntees out there, that are updating and have information about that, it will list everybody on Geni that has that last name. And if anybody updated the page with more information like, for example if there is like a family website of McEntees, you’ll be able to find it right there.

That’s really great for working online with people. And that really opens up a wide berth on what you can do and who you can talk to. But what about if you want to do something more local and more about going and meeting people in person and learning more about genealogy. What about like joining a genealogy society, how does that work?

Thomas: I think joining a genealogy society is great. For someone like me who works at home in this genealogy home, it’s nice to get out of the house once in a while. Most genealogists they want to belong to society that is physically located near them. It’s the convenience factor. Societies will very often meet at a public library. Now if they are lucky enough, they have their own library, their own meeting space, it maybe at a Church or synagogue, or maybe community center. So the reality is that also in my case, my ancestors are not in Chicago or not in Illinois. But my ancestors are from New York and Rhode Island. So I will also make an attempt to join a genealogy society online like New England Historic Genealogical Society that has a very good online presence with features that I can access from home and programs that I can participate in.

So that’s another factor. You have to understand, look at what you are researching. And then that’s not to say that you are not going to find something local. If you are in Chicago, we’ve got the Czech & Slovak Society, we have a Polish Genealogical Society. We even have a Scots and a British Society.

So don’t rule out local all the time because you don’t have local ancestry. Focus on an ethnic group might be a good way. My recommendation is you go to the Federation of Genealogical Societies. They have a listing and it shows all the member societies there, over 400 close to 500 member societies.

Also Cyndi’s List at I also note that these notes are up on the Geni podcast once we are done here you post them on the website. But those are good resources for finding out what kind of societies are out there that may work with your genealogy in your research.

Grant: Yeah, absolutely. So what are the couple of other ways that you can interact with the genealogy community?

Thomas: Well, we’ve covered blogging, Facebook, Twitter,, genealogical societies, but these are really only the tip of the iceberg. Some of the other ways that I recommend is message boards. Ancestry has message boards at Genealogy Wise they have forums at and this is where you can post messages, you can answer messages from other people, get to know other people online. Another great way is attend a webinar. There are tons of webinars out there both free and ones that have a very nominal price. Those can be found at and when you attend this very often your other attendees speak when they ask questions. Sometimes they will have a chat board or ways that you can interact with other attendees.

Another one that I love is you may have heard of random acts of genealogical kindness, often known as RAOGK. They are I very often will drop in and look at some of the requests that people have posted. They need a look up from maybe this newspaper to which I have access or they need this photo of a grave taken maybe in my neighborhood here in Chicago. And it is a way of helping out other people. You really get to know other genealogists that way.

Then finally I am going to push one of my own projects, Genea Bloggers Radio. We are at People may not realize it’s more than just a two hour call in show where you hear what’s going on. We’ve a chat board. Sometimes there is as many as 120 people during that two hour period, we can type, have a good time, exchange information, get information from other people, comment on what’s going on, on the radio show or maybe in the world of genealogy.

Grant: Yeah, absolutely. So where can they go to on the web to find more about you?

Thomas: Well, more about me, what I’ve got going on right now are two things that are big. I’ve got a “Dropbox for Genealogists” webinar tomorrow. You know what a Dropbox is. It allows you two gigabytes of free online storage, sort of in a datacloud. But the real kicker is you can actually synchronize it among different computers and mobile devices. I use it all the time. Societies, more genealogy societies are using that. So you go to to find out about that. And I also want to say that we launched a new endeavor today with the Federation of Genealogical Societies. We are doing a new radio show called My Society. And it is at And it is on the Saturday afternoon at one o’clock Central and we are going to talk about Genealogy Society issues. Not just how to join your genealogy society but what do you do if you want to increase membership, if you want to opt for more services, if you want to use social media.Our guest star is going to be Curt Witcher from Allan County Public Library in Indiana, Fort Wayne, Indiana. And he is going to talk about how we can bring genealogy societies into the 21st century. And I am really looking forward to that.

Grant: Well, thank you very much for your time. For the Geni Podcast, I am Grant Brunner. Have a good one and thanks for listening.