Saturday, July 11, 2009

GenealogyWise Launches


Though it doesn’t “officially” launch until July 17, GenealogyWise opened for business earlier this week, and already has several hundred new members. Deemed a “Facebook for genealogy,” the new social networking site has shown tremendous content growth and promise.

GenealogyWise was created by FamilyLink.com, the company behind WorldVitalRecords.com, FamilyLink.com, the “We’re Related” Facebook application, and the highly anticipated GenSeek.com partnership with the Family History Library.

Like most social networking sites, signing up for GenealogyWise is free. Once you are a member, you will want to “make friends.” It works just like sites like MySpace and Facebook. You can send a “Friend” request to other members (or import your email contacts to invite them to join) and then they will confirm you as their friend. This is a great way to network with other genealogists.

Once you are a member, there are several genealogy-related benefits. Each member has the ability to create or join a Group. There are already a few hundred created by various members. Each Group focuses on one specific topic. For example, Groups exist for surname studies and specific locations, but others include “Obituary Fans,” “Genealogy Tips and Links,” “Genetic Genealogy,” and “American Revolutionary War Ancestors.” Within a Group, you can start Discussion threads, or leave comments.

Other aspects of the site are the Blog, Videos, and Forum. Each user can also write their own Blog on the site, which other users can read and comment on. Users can also upload genealogy-related videos, like on Facebook. And in the Forum, users can start general discussions, that will take place outside of the various Groups, including “Your Favorite Free (or Low-Cost) Genealogy Resources,” and “How to Make Sure Your Research Won't Be Lost or Forgotten.”

As this site is so new, there are still relatively few African-American genealogy-related resources. The USF Lowcountry Africana project has created a Lowcountry Africana Group, and several prominent African-American genealogy bloggers are already members. But the ability for each user to create Groups, start Forum discussions, and invite their friends provides the necessary structure for users to create an African-American genealogy presence.

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