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John Hilyard Family ca. 1909

Saturday, November 29, 2014

If I Liked it Then I Shoulda Put a Pin In It; or, My Budding Relationship With Pinterest

There's a bouncy pop song from way back in 2008 called "Single Ladies" by Beyonce. The gist is, if you didn't want to lose the girl, you "shoulda put a ring on it" and made her yours.

I have to say, as a genealogist, I have flirted with a lot of websites lately. I've been looking. A lot. Can I remember all their names? Not really. Some had flashy pictures; some had wonderful long lists of data. There were a few offering up some new techniques I wanted to try. But when I try to remember which god-forsaken corner of they internet they were located on, I can't come up with it for the life of me.

I''ve tried bookmarking them. That's like writing their names in a little black book. There's a name and a number, but what was it about? What piqued my interest there? I hate actually calling up the page and having to say, "Oh, sorry; it wasn't you."

Enter Pinterest. Now don't run off screaming into the night. It's not just for recipes and funny cat memes. If you've never heard of Pinterest, it is a website that offers you a visual way to bookmark websites and sort them into categories. You get a sneak peek at what the site was about to refresh your memory.

Pinterest is free to sign up for and use. You can sign up via email or a Facebook account. Once you have an account, you can create "boards" or categories that you want to sort your pages into, or "pin" the pages to. You can add new boards any time. If you would like to see what boards I currently have you can check them out here.

As of this writing, I have a few boards labelled "Surname SoAndSo" for when I find a page specifically about a certain family I'm researching. I've created one for Naturalization Sources; this is a new area to me because most of my lines are colonial, and I'm getting schooled on some unfamiliar types of records. A few others, self-explanatory I believe, include Civil War Information and Historical Fashion. Again, you create the categories, so they are tailored to your personal interests.

Two things I've found that make pinning really easy: the mobile app and the Pin It! browser button add-on. If you are using a mobile device, you can get the free Pinterest app in the same manner you get all of your other apps. When using your device, if you are on a page you want to save or "pin," you use the "Share" option in your menu and you can choose Pinterest there from among your other programs such as Facebook and Instagram.

As for how to add the Pin It! button to your browser, I'll let Pinterest tell you how. It is very easy to do, and places a small button in the top right corner of your browser that lets you pin whatever site you are on with the touch of, well, a button.

A warning, gentle readers: Pinterest is one of the greatest time sucks known to man. Be prepared to waste a little time your first few visits. Once the new wears off, I hope you will find it a useful tool in your genealogy research.


  1. What a great idea! I started a Pinterest account at the beginning but have never reall used it. Just got back to it this week so that I would have a place to stash recipes But THIS is even better. Off to get lost in your pins . . .

    1. I don't have many yet, Nan, but there are PLENTY of genealogy pinners out there! Glad to be your gateway.