Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

Finding Your Family Online

Flickr photo:mweitkamp

In the news yesterday is a story about a couple who are engaged and planning to wed soon. What makes this story really unusual is that they have the same name, Kelly Hildebrandt, and they met on Facebook.

One night (female) Kelly was bored and typed her name into Facebook to see what came up. Up popped Kelly Hildebrandt but it was a guy and he was in Lubbock Texas. She sent him a note that said “Hi, We had the same name. Thought it was cool.” He “thought she was pretty cute” and on it went.

The story is a familiar one. They met in person, fell in love, and are now planning the wedding after making sure they weren’t related.

What makes this story particularly appealing to me is how simple it is to type your name into a social media tool such as Facebook or even Google your name and a myriad of options pop up. The implications of that simplicity for those of us rapt fans of genealogy or personal history is enormous. Sure it takes some work but it sure beats the days of yore when you had to spend hours in the public library with microfiche phone directories from around the U.S. waiting to spot that one word, your last name.

Just this morning I received a Twitter message from another Twyford who’se collecting Twyfords through the social media tool. We’ve started a dialogue and I will be curious to see what the connection is. Twyford is not a common name but I know there are a few branches around the US.

My maiden name is Elkort which is a made-up name. My great-grandparents chose it when they decided their Hungarian name didn’t sound American enough after immigrating in the late 1800s. I have a young cousin (the daughter of my father’s 1st cousin and whom I have never met) who messaged me on Facebook a couple of weeks ago about three other Elkort surnamed men she found while typing her own name into Facebook. I have since been exchanging notes with two of them who live in northern Africa to try to discern if they are somehow related. In my research, we thought we knew all the branches of our family and that they were all in the United States. Perhaps I have a rogue cousin who went overseas and fathered two boys. I am fascinated while waiting for this story to unfold.

Clearly the quest to find your family can be a time-consuming one but with the social media tools, the job just got a lot easier.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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