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Research Notes 2018-3-19

Did you know that Facebook is an impressive resource for genealogy support? A grass-roots effort by local genealogists from across the country created the Genealogy Network. They take advantage of Facebook’s group feature to build support groups for just about every state in this country and any number of other genealogy-related topics. If you are not familiar with a Facebook group, it’s a collection of people interested in a particular topic. St. Augustine Genealogical Society has a Facebook group called SAGS Community Research Center so our members can share their expertise with other members. Most of these groups (ours included) are set up as closed groups. This means you must ask to join the group and a group administrator decides whether to add you or not. This is done mostly to keep out spammers and others who are trying to promote themselves. Once approved, you will usually find a pinned note at top of the timeline describing the guidelines for this group. This will give you an idea of how the group works and what information you can expect to get from other members. These groups are not “formal resources”. They are just a bunch of people willing to share what they know. Don’t let that fool you. This bunch has plenty of information they are willing to share. And, when you show you are also willing to share, things get even better.

Once you’ve been approved, take time to read the guidelines then spend some time “cruising” the group to see how they operate. Often, a state genealogy network group will include links to other useful resources within their state. Visit the Recommendations section of the group to find links to these resources. For example, the Tennessee Genealogy Network includes links to archives, libraries and museums in various parts of Tennessee. Each group also has a section for Files and Photos that can contain useful information.

Sample response

In this example, a group member requested information about a cemetery in Yazoo County, Mississippi. The person who responded to that query didn’t have specific information on that cemetery, but pointed her to a map showing all known cemeteries in the county. It did not directly answer her question, but it did give her a new resource to examine. As we all know, every little bit helps.

The St. Augustine Genealogical Society has the SAGS Community Research Center group. It’s purpose is to serve as a research resource for members of the society. As more members join the group, we become an even more impressive resource for our fellow members. Our combined membership covers a broad range of research experience. This makes it possible to put all that experience to work!

State networks aren’t the only useful groups. You will also find groups like Genealogy! Just ask! With more than 39,000 members and 100+ posts a day. They can be useful, but they can also be overwhelming. The best option is to start slow, with a state network related to your research. Once you’re familiar with how things work you can expand your views into specific topics like DNA, newspapers and other genealogy topics.


What is the one thing you wish you had known when you first started working on your family history?

Many thanks to The Genealogy Girl for posting this thought-provoking piece. We need to make sure we are documenting today’s family as well as capturing the history of our ancestors. That’s where Storytellers Studio comes in.

What is

Storytellers Studio? It’s a website offering support and inspiration to researchers who are looking for creative ways to share the family stories their research discovers.  In addition to the website, we also have a Storytellers Studio group at Facebook. This combination serves as a community center for any member who is interested. The Studio is always “open”. You can check in on your own schedule to see what’s new, ask questions, offer suggestions and even post your own stories.

The Storytellers Studio website serves as a resource center with articles discussing applications, resources and services that are useful to storytellers. The Facebook group provides a platform for members to share ideas, ask for help and show off their creations.

The easiest way to keep up with Storytellers Studio is to subscribe to the site’s email feed. Much like the Research Notes delivered to your Inbox each Monday morning, each new post published at the studio is also delivered to each subscriber’s inbox. The Studio will publish an average of three articles a week.

Storytellers Studio

To subscribe, visit Storytellers Studio at and scroll down the home page until you see the Follow Storytellers Studio via Email box in the right sidebar. Enter your email address in the white box then tap/click the FOLLOW button. will send you an email message asking you to confirm your subscription. Follow the instructions to confirm and you are all set.

While you are on the site, take some time to look around. At the top of the screen you will see a menu pointing you to the Gallery, Library, Help Desk and Cafe. Below the subscribers box in the right sidebar you’ll find the link to the Facebook group, the Topics menu and the Tag Cloud. Click on any topic to see all the stories related to it. The Tag Cloud is the digital equivalent of an index. Every article published in the Studio is “tagged” with keywords describing its content. Clicking a tag in the Tag Cloud will present every article assigned that tag.


Have you visited the Library at SAGS Support recently? Click the Library link in the site’s top menu and it will bring you to the main Library page. It points you to the various collections maintained in the library. This includes Speaker Handouts, Member Guides and the Ancient City Bulletin. The Ancient City Genealogist page presents an index of the articles published there between March 1990 and November 2012. To read an article, you will find the Ancient City Genealogist in the genealogy section of the Southeast Branch Library.

Be sure to check out the Digital Library page. This is an index to online publications covering a broad range of genealogy topics. Many of the publications listed are PDF documents that you can download for free. There are also a number of links to online resources like Kimberly Powell’s Genealogy Online collection.


What is PDF and why should I be interested?

PDF is the acronym for portable document format. Before it’s creation, it was quite difficult for people to read documents, spreadsheets and other files when they were created using a different application from the one you used. For example, someone using Microsoft Word couldn’t read a document created with WordPerfect. In the 1990s Adobe took on the challenge and created a format with tools so a Word user could export their document to the portable document format.


PDF documents can be read in your web browser or by using any number of reader apps for desktop and mobile devices. Adobe’s free Acrobat Reader is quite popular and available for most mobile devices. There are also a number of third-party apps available. One very interesting app for iOS devices is the Documents app by Readdle (shown here). This free app not only lets you read PDF documents, you can also highlight and annotate those documents. It doesn’t stop with PDFs either. You can view Microsoft Word files, images and videos. There is a file management function that can sync with iCloud, Dropbox and Box so you have easy access to all your files. You can even download files from websites.

Android tablets like the Galaxy and Kindle Fire also support a broad selection of PDF reader apps. Amazon’s Kindle readers support reading PDF documents however, it can be a challenge to transfer a PDF file to your reader.

PDF has revolutionized how businesses, organizations and individuals  share information. Today you will find all kinds of PDF publications ranging from user guides to magazines and even books. PDF apps on your tablet make reading a whole new experience.

Got questions? We’ve set up a Q&A session at the SAGS Community Center on Facebook. It will remain live this week. Post your question and we will find the answer for you. PDF tips and app recommendations are also welcome.

Final Notes

Each new post published at SAGS Support is automatically emailed to member subscribers and/or delivered to their newsreader. Research Notes is published every Monday morning and other articles are posted during the week. Subscribers have the option to control how often these updates are delivered. Look down at the bottom of this message and you will find a Manage Subscriptions link in the fine print as you see in this example. Click it and you will be taken to the Subscription Management page. Use the Delivery Frequency column to change your delivery options from “Immediate” to either “Daily” or “Weekly”.

Fine Print

Sample of the “fine print” at the bottom of each post.

Also down at the bottom of each delivered post is a Comment button. If you would like to comment on something discussed in a post or ask a question, just click the Comment button and you will be taken online to the comment section of the post where you can share your thoughts and read what others have shared.

To learn more, download a copy of the SAGS Support Guide.

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