You may have heard of Pinterest. It’s an online free virtual bulletin board website that’s generated a lot of talk. Because I really don’t want to add another online site to my life I’ve more or less ignored it. In fact, to be honest, I dismissed it as a great place to share recipes or craft patterns.
However, more and more I’ve read of people using it for genealogy and I decided to invest the time to learn about it. Turns out Pinterest can be of value to genealogists.
You can find Pinterest at www.pinterest.com. You have to create an account but using the website is free and the signup is easy. You can create any number of boards on different topics and/or family research.
Something that will help before you start. When they talk about pinning it’s really just saving items to your board. Many genealogists use Pinterest as a search engine looking for items that pertain to ethnic genealogy such as German research, or a particular area, such as Boxford, Massachusetts, genealogical research. These types of boards will often contain references to books, websites, archives, newspapers, special collections, etc.
You can also find boards dedicated to particular families or individuals. An example would be something like the Wilson family of Lincoln County, Maine. Family boards are apt to contain documents such as draft registration cards, naturalization papers, census records, diary entries, diplomas, and other items along with maps, photos, and even family stories.
Boards can also honor a person, such as someone’s grandmother. It could contain any of the above along with marriage records, a timeline of a life, perhaps photos of a handmade quilt or other fine work, a favorite recipe, newspaper clippings or other items. Certainly if you found such a board and it was a relative, you might well make a connection with an unknown cousin.
Creating your own board or boards appears simple. You choose a name, describe what the board is about, and scan items to the board and “pin” them (save them). You can rearrange items, add or subtract over time, and it appears you can keep your board secret until you decide to open it to the world. If you keep it secret you can invite individuals to access to your board. This might be a good way for cousins in different areas of the country to pin items about the shared family. If a board is public, a Google search on the topic will have a link to the board. That’s another possible means of finding cousins and one genealogist calls this “cousin baiting.”
There’s also an app where you can load Pinterest onto your tablet or smartphone to allow searching while away from your computer.
If any of this sounds intriguing to you then check out Pinterest. Users should beware that some people claim they’ve become addicted to the site and needed a “Pintervention.” If you use it, have fun exploring.
Columnist Nancy Battick of Dover-Foxcroft has researched genealogy for over 30 years. She is past president of the Maine Genealogical Society, author of several genealogical articles and co-transcribed the Vital Records of Dover-Foxcroft. Nancy holds an MA in History from UM and lives in DF with her husband, Jack, another avid genealogist. Reader emails are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.