The Internet and Social Media

Genealogy has come a long way from how people searched before the Internet came about in the 1990s. I don’t envy those dedicated souls who looked for their ancestors armed just with a pen, some paper, postage stamps, their shoes, and the never ending need to find their roots. They would comb through record after record in genealogical libraries, Latter Day Saint Centers, courthouses, and churches, going row after row in cemeteries looking for the marker of their dead ancestor. They would read old newspapers or work a microfiche machine, and those are no fun as the print is so tiny with really no way to enlarge it. It was back breaking and eye squinting work….and I do mean work.

Now enters the Internet and the ability to connect ti databases remotely without having to leave your home. Ancestry was one of the pioneering ancestral collection sites to offer access to records from different parts of the United States and now many other countries. It’s founders started out publishing a magazine with different information related to genealogy. Then after a few key people entered the scene and changes were made, the company entered the Internet age with it’s launch in 1996. It has grown exponentially in the last 20 years to include billions of records and millions of subscribers in the United States, Canada, England, Australia, parts of Asia, and about five or six other countries, all in their own language.

In 2003, when Ancestry had been around for almost 10 years growing and adding more and more to their brand name, we start seeing the trend in social media. People connecting with total strangers just for the sake of saying “hi”. MySpace was first and was very popular from about 2005-2008, although it was founded in 2003. Then Facebook enters the scene, first just connecting students at Harvard in 2004. By 2006 it is being offered to everyone and in 2008 it has passed MySpace in popularity. With the growth of social media, we also see another tool in the ever-growing genealogical box of resources. This now connects a total stranger to someone who is related to them. I’ve personally connected with a cousin who shares my 10th great grandmother from the mid 1600s, via a Facebook group. Facebook groups are another tool, created to connect people to talk about subjects they all share a common interest. The amount of genealogy based groups has grown over the last five to six years with many concentrating on a particular subject.

So, I say happy hunting for those on their quest to find ancestors, elusive or not. There are about 15 main Internet sites that offer free or paid access to records and family trees. You now have many tools at your disposal, with many more to come.

6 thoughts on “The Internet and Social Media”

  1. You are searching Norwood? I recently found out my mother was Sue Jane Norwood. She had passed a few years ago, but in checking her death certificate found I have a biological sister. My mother lived in Chicago until she c was 8, then moved to Danville, IL. That’s where she became pregnant with me at 18/19 years old. I was born in September, 1953. Her father, Benjamin I Norwood, Jr. Was a prominent attorney in the small town of Danviile. I believe he shipped her up to Rockford, IL to secretly stay and have me. The man she put on my birth certificate is not my father, I found his brother and a DNA test proves we are not related. I did find out that at that time it was required that if a mother was married at the time of birth, the husband was put on the bc no matter what. My mother then married three other men, al l of them approx. 20 years older than her. I’m looking for my biological father. I have no clues at all about him. I have found that his last name may have been Epperson, but can’t find a positive cinnection.


    1. Hi Ann,

      Yes I am looking for Norwoods but I’m not sure if they reach down into the States. Mine that I’ve found so far are from England and the 1500s. My last known Norwood married a Cole and their son came here in the mid 1600s. It’s quite possible that my last Norwood’s siblings had some come here but I haven’t found that connection yet.

      I’m sorry that you’re having such a difficult time finding you’re birth father, that has got to be tough. Have you submitted your DNA to GEDMatch, which is free to do? Or your DNA testing wasn’t for genealogical purposes? I think that should be your next step only bexause so many people are doing that. Choose a company that you can afford and that provides you with what you need based on your search. I wish you the best of luck and sorry I couldn’t be anymore help.


      1. Hi, the farthest back I have on Norwood is 1795 with the birth of Asbury Norwood, and the trail went cold. I’m assuming he came or his father came over from Europe so I need to expand my search somehow. If you keep working down, and I keep working up, perhaps we’ll meet somewhere in a centure and realize we are distant relatives 🙂 Yes, I am registered with GEDmatch, but DNA is such a mystery to me, there are so many and I don’t know DNA well enough to verify a match. But a young man, Andrew Colengeli, on Ancestry has several relatives that are DNA matches to me so I am positive that somewhere in there someone is connected to may dad. His grandmother is my highest match on GEDmatch, but he said he doesn’t believe we are related.

        Sometimes I have to question people’s answers because its possible they know someone in their family “stepped out” on a spouse and knocked up my mom and they don’t want to start a family drama. I’ve pretty much give up on finding my dad, I’m looking out more to see if siblings pop up.

        Thanks for responding. You have a lot of info on the FB page and its will be very useful.



        1. Hi Ann,

          Your last sentence through me as I didn’t have a FB page connected to this. Then I saw your name in the group and it made so much sense. You’re welcome for the info and I hope to continue to give good leads or funny stories.

          For the researching, sounds like a plan. I’m not concentrating on my Norwoods at the moment but I could since you have an interest. That way if I find something, I can share. It’s not necessary for me to share my blog posts but some members showed an interest so I am. I will be sharing my search and related stories but it will include ancestors found. When I post something on the Norwoods here I’ll share and you can see if any of corresponds to yours.

          As to the DNA and that young fellow, don’t let him and his “not my family” deter you. I’d get around that by researching the grandmother to see what you come up with, it’s possible there is some info there since the match was strongest with her. No one wants to admit there is sordid details to their family. I found out my maternal grandfather was quite the cad. He abandoned his first child and wife before his son was ever born. He cheated on his second wife with a congregant member he helped by taking into his home. He did eventually marry her and stayed married to her but who knows what he got up to that she didn’t know. I found all of this out quite recently because I am doing my genealogy and saw the wrong wife attached to him on other people’s trees. So I contacted one and she just so happened to be the great granddaughter of my grandfather (who by the way my grandmother was his second wife). So we are who knows what relation but related. She said she was hesitant to tell me any of it because of how people are especially if they are close. I told her nope, he was a snake and my mother disowned him. So she spilled the beans.

          Good luck with your search, I know how hard it is. I’m searching for my father’s father and can’t get anyone on his family side to help because of his mother. I have no idea what she did but her own family are uninterested in me and my search. Even his own sister didn’t answer my letter to her. So family is tough enough, looking for some is even tougher.


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