If you create it, they will come
There are many tutorials on how to create Facebook groups. What I’m going to focus on here is how you can make it the kind of group your extended family wants to join. But by creating a family Facebook group, you’ll be able to share a lot of the things about your family history that you have discovered. In return, you’ll hopefully get others in your family to share their family knowledge and information.
Facebook for family history
I’ve created a few private Facebook groups for different family lines over the last couple of years. Family history groups are some of the more worthwhile pages on Facebook. Family Facebook groups, hometown pages, and historical society pages are the main reasons I still check into Facebook every day. Facebook is a hidden treasure as a genealogy resource. Creating your own family Facebook group will bring new stories and information to you about your family.
The only thing that will keep you from getting your family Facebook group started in under 30 minutes is if you get distracted on Facebook itself. It’s so easy to make a group. I’ll take you through it, step by step.
You’re going to be the one who creates the group, so you’ll be the group’s administrator (admin) by default.
What’s your purpose?
Take a little time before you create your group on Facebook to think about what your purpose in creating the group will be. Identify some goals that you would like to accomplish with your family Facebook group. You may have a goal to focus on one part of your family line, for example “descendants of” a paternal grandparent. Or, you may want to focus on relatives with a specific surname who are in a particular region of the country. By identifying your purpose, it will help you determine what to name your group, how private you want the group to be and which people you will invite and allow into the group. On the other hand, your goal could be to just get you and your cousins together to share family stories or to plan an upcoming family reunion. So, your goals might be:
- Genealogy research
- Looking for information on a particular branch of your family tree
- Seeking people with a particular surname
- Bringing your family closer together by sharing photos and memories
- Plan a family reunion
Creating your group
Private or public?
Next, decide if you want to keep the group set to private or make it public. I suggest keeping your group set as private if you’re creating your group with more immediate family line members in mind. If your goal is to attract a lot of strangers with a common surname, who are from a certain location, then you will most likely need to have your privacy set to public so that they can find the group when they search on Facebook. To protect the privacy of my family members, I have my family groups set to private. That means that I have to approve any new members – they cannot just be added by another member without my permission.
7 Steps to create your group
- Go to https://facebook.com
- Click “Create”, near the top of the page
- Select “group” (don’t select “page” – it’s something different)
- Name your group. If your last name is Young, like mine, you might call it the “Young Family Page”. If your surname is fairly common, you may want to name it “Patrick and Katherine Young Family”. You could also name it “Young Family From Illinois and Wisconsin”. You can name your group anything that helps members understand the purpose of your group.
- Invite people. You can easily invite family Facebook “friends” to the group by either typing their names or by adding their personal emails. The people that you invite will be able to accept or decline your invitation to join the group. It’s good to add a little note with it, there is a space to do that. Let them know what your purpose is for the group. Once you members in the group, those people will be able to add family that they are friends with on Facebook or by email. You can also decide to pre-approve the request or allow anyone to be added and accepted by the current members.
- Select privacy setting. For personal family groups, I recommend selecting “private”.
- Pin to shortcuts. There is a small box you can check in the lower left corner of the box that says “pin to shortcuts”. Click it to check the box. Enabling this feature puts a handy link
into the shortcuts column on the left side of your “home” page. Once it’s “pinned” to the side column, you won’t have to do a search for your own group every time you log into Facebook.
Set rules for the group
Make and post rules that you and your group will be expected to follow. You may select ready-made rules or you may write your own rules. Here are the steps to set your group rules:
- Make sure you’re on your group page
- In the left side column, select “Moderate Group”
- Under “Admin Activity”, select “Create Rules”
- Click “Get Started”
- When the box appears, this is where you will select ready-made rules, or write your own.
Enjoy creating your family Facebook group
Creating a family Facebook group is a way to share your family history with the rest of your family. Within a short amount of time, you will probably have many family members who will thank you for getting the ball rolling. Through sharing family history with each other, relationships will form closer bonding, as well. Start sharing photos and information that you have and invite the others to do the same. You’ll learn a lot and so will they. Encourage sharing, enjoy all the new information and have fun!
If you have any questions, please ask in the comments below! If you’re starting a group page for your family, let me know if you find this helpful!