Linda Clyde | Dec 15, 2017

Continuing Your Genealogy Education at Home: Social Media, Webinars, Conferences, and More

This is the second of a two-part series highlighting resources and tips for continuing your genealogy education at home. Read part one here.

Learning more about genealogy from books and blogs at home is a great way to expand your knowledge, but it doesn’t have to stop there. What about social media, conferences, webinars, podcasts, or even a personal genealogy coach? When it comes to broadening your genealogy horizons, the sky really is the limit. If you’re already buried in genealogy blogs and books, try adding a little social media to the mix. It’s easy and there are some brilliant people out there to learn from.

Social Media

Ancestry’s corporate genealogist, Crista Cowan, suggested looking into four different social media platforms during her 2017 RootsTech address:

  • There are a lot of very knowledgeable individuals on Facebook. They participate in groups, lead conversations, and answer questions. Cowan mentioned Drew Smith as an example, saying, “I’m probably in seven or eight genealogy groups on Facebook with him. And when somebody asks a question, I just sit back and watch in awe as he answers. And I learn every time from him about how to be a better genealogy educator because he is so clear in his explanations.”
  • “Every genealogy conference has a hashtag,” says Cowan. Twitter is a great social media platform if you like to follow hashtags. “Essentially, all a hashtag is is a group conversation.” For example, during the RootsTech conference, you can type #RootsTech into the search field on Twitter and see all of the things that people are saying about the conference.
  • You may not have considered Pinterest as a place to go for genealogy education, but you might be surprised by what you can discover there. Cowan mentioned that Ancestry has a presence on Pinterest and that she uses Pinterest to save interesting maps and “different research in different countries, in different regions.”
  • A meme is a picture with words on it, and Instagram is all about pictures. Many companies and genealogy folks are creating memes that highlight research tips from professionals and from the community. Keep your eyes peeled for professionals and knowledgeable genealogy folks who are active on Instagram, and request to follow them. Before you know it, you’ll be collecting great tips that will help your own genealogy move forward.

YouTube, Webinars, and Podcasts

Don’t forget about YouTube channels. “There are channels on YouTube, just like your TV,” explained Cowan. Ancestry has a YouTube channel and there are playlists housed there. Cowan herself has been contributing to Ancestry’s Desktop Education Series for the last four and a half years as the The Barefoot Genealogist. Every episode is between 20 and 30 minutes long.

Podcasts can also be a great way to learn. For example, Drew Smith and George Morgan have been running The Genealogy Guys podcast for years. “They do a lot of interviews. And they’ve started another series as well now where it’s mostly just interviews of other people in the genealogy community who are putting out services and tools and resources for genealogists.”

Interested in some free genealogy education? Look into the Ancestry Academy. “The Ancestry Academy videos are really professionally done,” says Cowan. These videos include a variety of professionals teaching what they know best. Ancestry also offers short videos that can be used for your own benefit or for teaching others. Cowan also suggested checking out Legacy Family Tree Webinars for more educational opportunities. “They do regular presentations with board-certified genealogists [and] with the owners of software companies.” Be aware that when each webinar comes out from Legacy Family Tree Webinars, it is only free for one week and then goes into an archive. Once the webinars move to the archive, there is a charge to view them.


Almost all genealogy conferences now offer streaming, so keep tabs on the conferences when they’re happening. It’s a great way to learn more about your topics of interest. Cowan listed a number of conferences, such as Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Genealogical Society, and, of course, RootsTech. Depending on the conference, you can watch streaming for free, or with a registration fee. It all depends on the event.

Groups and One-on-One Help

Sometimes joining a group is the quickest way to get your questions answered. Cowan pointed out that “small group genealogy education can be one on one or it can be in small groups. . . . There are several different ways to get this education. Some of it is online. Some of it is over the phone. Some of it is in person.”

Not only is Facebook great for being social, it’s a great resource to find specific genealogy groups. “There is a Facebook group for everything,” said Cowan. “There are DNA groups. There are Polish genealogy groups. There is a genealogy group for Germans from Russia. I mean, literally, anything you could think of. If you just do a search in Facebook for that kind of thing and the word genealogy, you’re going to see a list of the groups that are available.” Be aware that most groups on Facebook are closed groups and you will have request to join. Each group will usually have a list of rules; once you have read and agree to follow the group’s specific rules and have been approved by the volunteer who serves as administrator to the group, you’re good to go. “Facebook groups are fantastic. They’re great places to go to ask questions and to get help from people who have experience.”

Family History Centers

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has family history centers all over the world. Many of them are set up in LDS chapels. They’re free and run by volunteers who may or may not have the knowledge and information that you’re looking for. If they can’t serve your immediate need, they should be able to put you in contact with someone who can.

One-on-One Help

Maybe you’ll benefit most from some one-on-one help. Cowan mentioned that “if you want more specialized help, then there’s some professional genealogists that are available.” There is a new service called in the industry. “ is a service where you can sign up online at their website.” There are 26 professional coaches involved. “You can hire them for 15, 30, or 60 minutes for a phone call or a web conference where they will help you with your specific research problem. . . . They’ll walk you through creating a research plan or they’ll teach you how to use your DNA results.”

As you can see, there are countless options for continuing your genealogy education at home. So maybe it’s time to try something new. Branch out a little and see what you can learn from some of the extensive resources waiting right at your fingertips.

This is the second of a two-part series highlighting resources and tips for continuing your genealogy education at home. Read part one here. 

Linda Clyde

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