Sharing is Caring: Introducing Your Ancestors on Social Media

If you’ve ever tried – and failed – to hook your family on family history, now is the time to introduce your ancestors on social media.

Whether it’s the vintage hues, ridiculous fashions, or subtle family resemblances, an old photograph of an ancestor can capture the attention of someone who would never give a pedigree chart a second glance. In fact, even if your family archive is short on old photographs, you might have come across an intriguing newspaper clipping about a great grandparent, or maybe you visited Google Maps and discovered the church where your ancestors married in the old country.

If your family is active on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, there are endless opportunities to connect and share these bite-sized pieces of family history:

Sharing is Caring Image

Celebrate a month. Although Family History Month rolls around only once a year, there are a number of months nationally dedicated to celebrating a wide range of histories and heritages, including African American History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Native American Heritage Month, Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, Women’s History Month, and LGBT History Month. Those of German, Irish, Italian, and Caribbean descent, to name a few, can also take pride in their heritage during designated months throughout the year.

Celebrate a day. Observe an ancestor’s birthday or wedding anniversary by sharing their photograph or story on social media, or get creative when it comes to holidays such as Siblings Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Grandparents Day. Take a good look at your family tree for relevant gems. Did your great grandmother raise a dozen children? Maybe she deserves a nod on Mother’s Day. For that matter, Siblings Day could be the perfect time to give your grandfather props for growing up with eleven brothers and sisters!

#Hashtag it. You’ve probably noticed the growing trend of sharing old family photographs on #throwbackthursday, but how about #waybackwednesday or #flashbackfriday? Go beyond photographs from your lifetime and take the opportunity to showcase your ancestors, while making sure to share responsibly. You can even go a step further during the holidays. Consider #honoringvets by sharing a highlight from a War of 1812 pension file on Veterans Day, and on Thanksgiving, are you #thankful for a particularly courageous ancestor?

Above all, know your family. Are there fashion divas, members of the military, or world travelers in their midst? How about new parents fascinated with their little bundle of joy? Maybe your cousin recently dressed up for a Roaring Twenties party and has no idea that her great grandmother was a flapper. Reach out with images that might pique their interest and allow them an unexpected connection with the past: an advertisement for women’s clothing at the turn of the last century, a grandfather’s draft card, a passenger manifest, or a photograph of grandma as a little girl, where, you swear, she looks just like your newest niece.

Take your love of family history to social media to allow your family a glimpse into the lives of their ancestors. And remember, #sharingiscaring.

Melanie Frick, MLS, holds a Certificate in Genealogical Research and is a member of the NextGen Genealogy Network’s Leadership Team. A genealogist, writer, librarian, antique photograph aficionado, and Midwestern native, Melanie lives in Southern California.