My Relative: Family History comes to Facebook

Okay. I’m not in general a huge fan of Facebook apps. So many of them turn out to be little more than free advertising for cheap companies and games. But I found one that I actually really enjoy and can whole-heartedly endorse (with a few caveats):

Relative Finder

Using this  handy app, I now know that Thomas Edison is my 7th cousin 5 times removed. Humphrey Bogart is my 8th cousin 5 times removed. Bing Crosby my 9th cousin 3 times removed. I’m related to the Presidents Bush, FDR, Ulysses Grant, John Adams. Four Mayflower passengers are my direct grandparents.

And I found all that out with a few simple clicks. Maybe this doesn’t excite you. In which case, go and say bah humbug and leave me alone, because I think this is awesome sauce on a chili cheese dog. Check it out right away, especially since–if you add the app and use it, we can then see how we’re related, too. (One of my English professors at BYU is also a distant cousin, for example. No wonder I got an A in his class.)

BUT you can only use this app right now IF

(And here come the caveats)

  • You’re Mormon. Yup. The app is bigoted right now. Totally discriminatory. Why? Because you have to have an account in New FamilySearch, a church-run website that’s still in the beta stage, and is thus limited to church members only at the present. They’re working on broadening the reach, but it’ll take some time for that to happen.
  • You or your family has done extensive family history work. Even if you’re Mormon, someone needs to have done the groundwork for the app to dig in and find connections. I benefit in this case from the hard work of tons of my family–grandparents on all sides have spent hours and hours doing family history research, which makes it possible for me to click a few things and see connections right off. If you don’t have this sort of system already built up, this app might not be nearly as cool for you.
(For info on why Mormons are so obsessed with family history, check this link out.) In the meantime, start using this app. Now. Because I want to see how we’re related. Maybe we could have a huge family reunion. 🙂

5 Comments

  • By stacy, August 29, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

    I’ve tried it and found it wanting so far, despite having been doing family history on my dad’s side for nearly 20 years and having 40 years of researching via my aunts and mom on my mom’s side. From what I’ve been hearing at BCC and other Bloggernacle blogs, it’s strongest at the moment at New England-area connections, and most of my family are Southern or Swedish/Irish/German immigrants to the Midwest (though there is a strong New England strain on my mom’s dad’s side that I had expected to be picked up).

    At first it wasn’t working because I hadn’t gone into new.familysearch the way I thought I had (think on lds.org is actually to an old system, despite the ability to log in with the same login as elsewhere on the site). Once I got in to the right site and got myself all connected to the family history I’d already done, it’s still saying I have no connections, so I’m at a loss as to why.

    I look forward to it being more useful when it opens up a little, though–it could be a great tool, beyond even FamilySearch itself (through which I’ve already found distant cousins who met up with me in a vein of research, at which point we exchanged info).

  • By stacy, August 29, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

    “think on lds.org” should read “the link on lds.org”–dang keyboard.

  • By Bryce's Ramblings, August 29, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

    Yeah–since I tap into that whole Mayflower roots thing, I’ve got New England ancestry in spades. It clearly still has a ways to come, but it’s a pretty cool start for now. And I’m amazed at how many people I’m related to–albeit verrrrrrry distantly. Apparently it doesn’t take too many generations for you to suddenly be related to everyone.

  • By Anonymous, August 29, 2011 @ 5:34 pm

    I checked. It turns out, we’re first cousins. TEC

  • By Bryce's Ramblings, August 29, 2011 @ 8:00 pm

    Really? That’s so amazing. 🙂

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