Using Pinterest for Genealogy

It's easy to lose track of the articles and resources that you find online. There's a solution for that: Pinterest. Here's how you can keep track of what you find by using Pinterest for genealogy.

Using Pinterest for Genealogy


Generations Cafe Podcast, Episode 27

You can listen to this episode by clicking the play button below. (You can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and most other podcast apps.)
Length: 26 minutes.

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

Lisa Lisson, who blogs at Are You My Cousin, is a Pinterest power user. She shared with me numerous ways that you can use Pinterest for your genealogy. 

Dispelling Myths About Pinterest

First, Lisa dispelled the myth that Pinterest is only for recipes and only for women. It's for any subject that you would do a Google search for (including family history!) As for men using it, women are still the largest group on Pinterest, but the number of men using it is growing. 

Using Pinterest as a Search Engine

Pinterest isn't necessarily "social media" like we think of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Although there are ways that you can leave comments on pins and send messages to other users, that isn't why people are there.

Pinterest really is more of a search engine. Anything that you can think of that you would search on Google or any other Internet search engine, you can search on Pinterest. That includes genealogy topics!

What if you're getting started in German genealogy and are looking for some articles or tutorials about it? Search for it on Pinterest! Here is the top of the results that I got when I did a search recently for German genealogy:

Using Pinterest for Genealogy

Pinterest shows me what people have pinned pertaining to German genealogy. I can click on one of the pins to see more about it:

Using Pinterest for Genealogy

If I want to read this article, I can either click on the image or click the button with the URL. 

Lisa pointed out that it's a good idea to scroll down past the pin to the "More like this" section. Here is where Pinterest will show more pins that it thinks are related to the one you clicked on. (Though why it shows a pin for tacos when I was looking at German genealogy is a mystery to me!)

When you're searching on Pinterest, search for topics rather than your ancestor's name. Think about topics like "Ohio genealogy," "Civil War research," "cemeteries," etc. 

Organizing With Pinterest

Chances are that you've gone online to research one thing, only to end up chasing "bright shiny objects" — those articles, websites, and databases that look interesting, but maybe don't quite fit with what you're researching....  and then you end up spending hours NOT researching what you intended to.

Pinterest can help with that. 

As Lisa noted, Pinterest originated as a bookmarking site and it is still one of its greatest strengths. 

When you find something online that you want to refer to later, save it (pin it) to Pinterest. 

On your Pinterest account, you can create "boards." Lisa compares them to the bulletin boards many of us had in our rooms as teenagers, where we would keep everything from photos of friends to spirit ribbons from football games. 

You can make your boards as general or as specific as you'd like. You can have a board for genealogy, one for dessert recipes, and one for quilt patterns. If you're going to be pinning a lot in one topic, you might want to break it down further. For example, you could have separate boards for North Carolina genealogy, Virginia genealogy, and preservation. Here are some of Lisa's Pinterest boards:

Using Pinterest for Genealogy - different genealogy boards

Here's where the boards are magic: When you find something that you want to refer to later or that you don't have time to read right now, save it to one of your boards. That way, you can find that article, website, tutorial, etc. when you need it or when you have time to read it. 

To save something to Pinterest, look to see if that post/website has a Pinterest button on it (like this blog post does). If it does, click that button and you'll have the option to save it to one of your boards. 

Some websites are set up so that the Pinterest button appears when you hover your mouse over an image. 

I like to use the "Pinterest Save Button" Chrome extension. Whenever I use Chrome, there's a Pinterest button at the top of my browser and I can click that and save that article or website directly to Pinterest.  (This is helpful when I want to save a website that doesn't have a built-in Pinterest button.)

Getting More Genealogy in Your Pinterest Feed

Pinterest uses an algorithm, which means that when you go into Pinterest, it will show you pins that it thinks you might be interested in. If you do a lot of searching on genealogy topics, it will show you more genealogy pins in your feed.

Another way to get more genealogy in your feed is to follow people who pin a lot of genealogy items. 

Your Turn

Did this give you any ideas for using Pinterest for genealogy? Are you already using Pinterest for genealogy? If so, share in the comments how you like to use it. 

Using Pinterest for Genealogy
Posted: May 2, 2019.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • I also use Pinterest to group my ancestor stories. I have boards labeled 52 Ancestors – Martin, 52 Ancestors – Vining, etc. Then I pin my blog posts there. It might attract some readers to my blog. It serves me as a visual index to my blog so I can see who I’ve already covered.

  • Another fabulous topic. I’ll definitely be adding Pinterest to my search routine. Many thanks to your and your guest Lisa Lisson.

  • Interesting ideas! I do have a genealogy board but used it to look up Family trees etc. I use Chrome but do not see the button at the top? Do I need to download an extension?
    Thanks for your article!

  • Great podcast!!! I love using Pinterest for genealogy and mine is like yours, full of quilts too ? I made a board called Memories of Nana with pins of things that remind me of my grandmother – geraniums, Ben Franklin store, banana pudding, etc. Not genealogy related but it’s a excellent reminder of loved one I thought you’d like ?

    • Not at all! I use Pinterest for both my personal research and for my business. For example, I have a board just for my blog posts and podcast episodes. I’m also quite intentional about the images for my posts and the Pinterest descriptions. Professionals can definitely leverage Pinterest for their businesses.

  • I use Pinterest to search for old maps and recipes from an ancestor’s home country, in particular, and have had good luck pinning those to my genealogy boards.

  • I finally understand Pinterest. “A visual bookmarking site”. I always thought it was a photo board, and couldn’t understand why everyone was saying I had to get on it. Thanks Lisa & Amy!

  • I did Pinterest for a while but I got so many emails from them about things that I had no interest in that I gave it up. I still have a Pinterest board out there somewhere. Maybe I need to reactivate it for genealogy pursuits! Interesting podcast, Amy and Lisa.

  • I recently set up a Pinterest account for our genealogy society – more than 1,000 pins in 28 boards (so far) – as a way to provide genealogy bookmarks for the beginning to advanced genealogists and family historians. It’s already been bookmarked in toto by several people and viewed more than 15k times. It joins our FB page and group, and website in our efforts at outreach, communication, and education. Twitter and Instagram are next!