Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Calling all Genea-Musings Fans:

It’s Saturday Night again –
time for some more Genealogy Fun!!

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along – cue the Mission Impossible music!):

1) What was your first foray into genealogy social media on the computer?

When I first read the question, I was thinking in terms of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. With that in mind, my answer would be My Space. Do you remember My Space? While I was a My Space user, it wasn’t for genealogy. Instead, it was job related.

However, when I read Randy Seaver’s answer to the question, I realized he was using a broader definition of ‘social media’. So, I looked it up. According to Wikipedia, social media

are interactive technologies that facilitate the creating and sharing of information, ideas, interests, and other forms of expression through virtual communities and networks

Investopedia identifies six types of social media

  • Social newtorking
  • Bookmarking
  • Social News
  • Media sharing
  • Microblogging
  • Online forum sites

While Randy mentions AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy those were ‘big city’ applications. Because the connectivity in rural America was slower to develop, these services did not take off in my area.

If I go back to the definition of social media and look at ways in which information was shared with the technology available in my rural area at the time, then mailing lists and listservs would have been my first foray into using ‘social media’ for genealogy. Thankfully, different entities were willing to allow their Internet servers to be used for some of these listservs. As the Internet evolved, most of those listservs were consolidated on RootsWeb. One could subscribe and unsubscribe from these listservs at will. A wide variety of listservs existed including surnames, locations and genealogy software. Thankfully, Facebook groups have evolved to replace these now unsupported listservs.

About the same time that listservs were popular, two web sites had online forums or message boards where genealogists could place queries: Ancestry and While the website,, is no longer active, the forum has been preserved. I was able to find one of my posts from 2001.

Like the forum, Ancestry message boards allow Ancestry users to post queries.

In the late 1990s a movement took off in the genealogy community encouraging genealogists to connect via websites. This collection of websites was called GenWeb. Many of these sites hosted a ‘page’ where researchers could post queries.

Many of these county GenWeb sites also created a bibliography of sources for the county. Associated with the GenWeb sites was an archive site where records were transcribed and shared.

While a web site is not usually considered ‘social media’, my personal web site has allowed me to share my research. Over the years, I have used a variety of (mostly free) sites to host my research. This has included GeoCities, and RootsWeb. As I learned to use The Master Genealogist, I also started using the software Second Site to generate a web site from my genealogy file. That’s when I started using Family History Hosting to host my genealogy web page.

When I switched to RootsMagic, I switched to using RootsMagic to generate and host my data. I continue to share my research in a variety of ways:

  • this blog
  • Ancestry public tree
  • WikiTree profiles
  • Uploading events, memories and sources to FamilySearch profiles

When it comes to my current social media usage, I’m working on connecting to Instagram, Reddit, LinkedIn and Mastodon, but my ‘go to’ sites are still Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you Randy for this walk thru Internet history!

2 thoughts on “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

  1. Linda Stufflebean

    I loved those old message boards. Unlike today’s online trees, most people who posted on those message boards were looking for answers/help and they responded. They could even tell you where they got their information! I guess FB groups are the current version, but I’m not a big fan of that platform.

  2. My first would be RootsWeb. Facebook would probably be the next one. I don’t think I communicated much with USGenWeb or

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