How to use Twitter for family history

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05 December 2019
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Discover how to make use of Twitter for genealogy – using tweets and hashtags to connect with others and keep up to date with what’s new in the world of family history.

With its 140-character limit for tweets, Twitter might not seem the ideal vehicle for family history research, which often relies on lengthy documents and in-depth research. But actually, this social media network is perfect for connecting with others researching the same name, keeping up to date with new record releases and following your favourite genealogists and family history companies.

Using hashtags for family history

A hashtag (#) is your key tool for accessing family history information of interest to you. Whether you’re searching Twitter or writing your own tweets, you can use hashtags to find and/or follow topics of interest. For example, if you’re searching for an ancestor with the surname Barnett, you could search using #Barnett #familyhistory and look for others tweeting about this name in connection with their research. If you do make contact with someone, be cautious about what information you give away (just as you would with any acquaintance) until you know more about each other.

If you’d like to concentrate on a specific branch of family history you could search using #DNA or #onenamestudy, for example, then you’ll have the option to read the most recent, or most relevant, tweets first. Sometimes a particular family-history related hashtag will be ‘trending’ which means it is experiencing a surge in popularity, indicating a high interest in the subject or perhaps the release of relevant news or records.

Twitter groups and following tweeters

If you’d like to use Twitter as a way to immerse yourself in the hobby of family history, you can follow people whose content you enjoy. Using the #familyhistory and #genealogy hashtags explore various tweets and if you like a tweet, simply click ‘follow’ to have new content from that group or person dropped into your news feed. And you can take it a step further by looking at the people who that person follows, to find other accounts of interest.

Many family history societies, libraries, archives and genealogy websites have groups and again, you can follow these to access their content and find out about things such as events and record releases.

Ancestry Hour

One of the best-known and best-loved Twitter groups for family historians is Ancestry Hour, which takes place every Tuesday at 19.00 GMT. During this hour, you’ll find the hashtag #AncestryHour trending as genealogists of all ages and levels of experience (including Family Tree!) swop news, tips and advice. New participants are always welcome – just remember to use the #AncestryHour hashtag when tweeting or replying.

#genchat is another group recommended by our followers, with details here.

And finally…

Please do follow Family Tree magazine on Twitter for all our latest news, opinion, how-to guides and top tips.

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