Saturday, October 17, 2009

Area Man has Far Greater Knowledge of Marvel Universe Than Own Family Tree

In very loosely genealogical-related news, comes this article from The Onion, a satirical paper I love to read. Thanks to Scotto-san for sending it.

"Sundling, who cannot identify his ancestral homeland or the meaning of his surname, possesses extensive knowledge of the creation of superhero teams, the history of imaginary alien races, and the special powers of countless characters."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Top Ten Reasons Our Ancestors Came to America

I didn't write this one, but it was too good to resist re-posting here:

Top Ten Reasons Our Ancestors Came to America

10. Took wrong turn at Bering land bridge.

9. Slavers seemed pretty insistent.

8. Sought religious freedom and the right to disembowel Quakers.

7. Nothing good to watch on BBC.

6. Took their orders from Neil Diamond.

5. Potato famine put big dent in profits from Irish fish-and-chip franchises.

4. To oppose anyone else being allowed to immigrate to America.

3. Sick of having unpronounceable names.

2. Wanted the right to vote on behalf of their wives.

1. Hoped to one day be listed on Ellis Island website.

I stole this (rather shamelessly) from The Genealogue, who publishes all kinds of other "Genealogy News You Can't Possibly Use". He has an excellent and highly entertaining blog filled with news that you can definitely use, or at least get a laugh from. Check him out at:

And for ALL of his "Top 10" lists, visit:

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Off the Beaten Genealogical Path

Sometimes I get tired of ordering birth and death certificates, sifting through census data, or searching cemetery databases. Not tired of genealogy, but tired of the "traditional" channels for research.

That's when an article like Kathy Jones-Kristof's comes in to play. Her "Unusual Places to Look for Genealogy" does a great job of listing a number of different avenues for research - some that you probably have never thought about, and some which you have probably not tried for awhile. It's worth taking a fresh look at the article, as well as the rest of her blog:

Inspired by her post (it was written awhile ago but I just came across it today), I decided to search some Unclaimed Property type sites and actually came across three recently-deceased cousins listed. I've contacted their next of kin, and am hoping that there is some sort of positive payout for them!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Japan's Itako a Dying Breed

With modernity comes some loss of belief in the ability to commune with one's ancestors:

“This is an era when children ignore their parents and forget about the dead,” said Mr. Kurokawa, who runs an inn near the temple that caters to visitors of the spiritual mediums.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Leningrad, Then and Now

Stumbled upon these very cool photos that combine the past and the present in a very creative way.

Leningrad, then and now:

This makes me think of some interesting things one could do when visiting the hometowns and homesteads of our ancestors if you have an old photo to refer to!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

'Grave' Humor & Interesting Epitaphs

I was searching for ancestors and came across a category just for interesting or humorous tombstone texts.

Some of my favorites:

From a dentist's gravestone:
"I'm filling my last cavity."

An interesting story behind this one that reads "DAMN THE STATE DEPT"

A Canadian says "I told you so..."

A sad one:

The Actor Jack Lemmon's last "role":

An older man who obviously loved life til the last breath:

Perhaps it sounds morbid, but what would you have *yours* read? :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Overcoming Those "Brick Walls"

This time around, a little bit of a personal story on my family history research, and how I was able to overcome what I thought was a "brick wall".

Watching the video you'll see that I had a clue the whole time, and didn't even realize it. :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Best "Buys" for your Genealogy Research Dollars

Sorry to everyone for my long absence. Just got caught up with the JOB search. Speaking of which - if you know anyone looking for an experienced marketer with her MBA, please let me know! :)

This video sums up where (with what resources) I've had the most success in researching my family tree. You may be using the same sites and methods. If you have any thoughts, I'd be happy to see your comments.

I also mention one website I feel I wasted some money and time on - If you made the same mistake let me know. Alternatively, if you feel the site was a great help, I'd love to hear where and how it was most helpful to you!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thomas Jefferson's Mac & Cheese... Your Ancestors' Recipes

I came across this video recipe, which is supposedly the former American President Thomas Jefferson's favorite "macaroni and cheese". Now, I don't believe that this is actually Thomas Jefferson's recipe, as there is no historic proof of this, but it did get me thinking about the very cool legacy we are left in the recipe cards or informal cooking lessons we get from our mothers, fathers, their mothers and fathers, and so on.

How cool is it that we can bake a batch of cookies the same way our great-grandmothers did? Or whip up a casserole in the same way that an ancestor in England, France, you-name-it, did? It makes me feel closer to those people, though they've lived and died long, long ago.

I have several recipes which were my great-grandmother Isabelle's.  Her parents were English immigrants, so it's possible that some of them were old English recipes, or ones adapted for life and the ingredients commonly found in the US.  

There is one recipe in particular for a "drop" sugar cookie made with soured milk and a bit of nutmeg.  Unlike most sugar cookies, you don't roll the dough and cut them out.  Instead, you "drop" a bit of the cake-like batter onto your cookie sheet with a spoon, and they come out of the oven, soft, white, and almost like small cakes.  These are my very favorite cookies in the world except for my Mom's oatmeal raisin, or her datenut cookies -- supposedly a recipe given by an Eastern European friend to my grandmother years ago.

I've sort of guarded this recipe for years, but have thought I should start sharing it - at least with distant cousins, Isabelle's other descendants.  I suppose I don't want people NOT to see it.  It's just that I don't feel right about posting that "treasure" out there online and having it passed anonymously around. :)

In lieu of Isabelle's sugar cookies, here is Thomas Jefferson's Mac & Cheese.  I think you'll appreciate Chef John's other recipes at as well!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Color, Race, and the Family Tree

An interesting segment aired on NPR just today which brings together genealogy, our notions of race, skin color, genetics and evolution:

To begin, please point your elbow to the ceiling.

Then imagine yourself naked.

Then look at the patch of skin on the inside of your upper arm, the part of you that almost never sees the sun.

Whatever color you see there is what experts call your basic skin color, according to professor Nina Jablonski, head of the Penn State Department of Anthropology.

And that color, the one you have now, says Jablonski, is very probably not the color your ancient ancestors had — even if you think your family has been the same color for a long, long time.

American Royalty Deep in the Heart of Texas

If George Washington had demanded to become the King of the US, and not our first president, who would be ruling today?

Though Washington's descendants are many (though he himself fathered no children, nieces and nephews would have been next in line), and royal line rules vary by country, genealogists have traced the lines to one man who is doubly descended from Washington's family.

His location?  The lonestar state.

Friday, January 30, 2009

What's Your Haplogroup?

In this video, I talk a little bit about haplogroup testing.  I'm no expert, but am annoyed by some of the myths that prevail.

I'd love to hear what haplogroups you all have found yourself associated with.  Please feel free to comment or make your own video.

Find Your Ancestors in Family Histories and other books

Whether famous, infamous, wealthy or poor - you may find some of your ancestors in family history books written by your distant cousins. Here are a few sites to start the search for genealogies and histories written about various parts of your family!

URLs mentioned in the video:

Also be sure to check out the ideas in the comments section below the video on YouTube here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Your Unexpected Finds?

The discovery by a distant cousin of mine that one of our ancestors was wanted in connection with a crime led me to wonder what other types of unexpected finds you all have had when researching your family trees.

I'd love to hear your own stories of crazy, interesting, or unexpected things you discovered in your own genealogical research. Feel free to reply to the video via comment or vlog.

First Web Resources - Part II

Part II of this video presents two other great Web resources for tracing your family tree.  Both of these are free.

The first is World Connect Community Project:
The second is simply Google:

Also, check out these Google searches, modified especially for genealogists

I found several of them very helpful!

Monday, January 5, 2009

First Web Resources for Researching your Family Tree!

This video, along with the links below, should help you get started on a lot of totally free resources out there on the Web for finding your ancestors and the all-essential, birth, death, marriage and census data. Some sites will give you the information for free but will require a fee or subscription for the actual records...

I find that what you can find truly for free varies depending on the ancestor, the timeframe, his or her location, etc...  These links should give you plenty to start with, and I will be bringing up more interesting websites and reviews in the future!  Stay tuned!


Search the Social Security Death Index
(one of several sites to do this):

Order your deceased ancestor's SS-5 (Social Security application) ONLINE at:

FamilySearch has listed a LOT more free records and indexes online on this PDF:


On a side note, because there is a lot of confusion surrounding these, I thought I'd paste in what the Social Security Association has to say about genealogical research and what they can do to help:

Q9: What information is available from Social Security records to help in genealogical research?

A: You might want to start by checking out the Social Security Death Index which is available online from a variety of commercial services (usually the search is free). The Death Index contains a listing of persons who had a Social Security number, who are deceased, and whose death was reported to the Social Security Administration. (The information in the Death Index for people who died prior to 1962 is sketchy since SSA's death information was not automated before that date. Death information for persons who died before 1962 is generally only in the Death Index if the death was actually reported to SSA after 1962, even though the death occurred prior to that year.)

If you find a person in the Death Index you will learn the date of birth and Social Security Number for that person. (The Social Security Death Index is not published by SSA for public use, but is made available by commercial entities using information from SSA records. We do not offer support of these commercial products nor can we answer questions about the material in the Death Index.)

Other records potentially available from SSA include the Application for a Social Security Number (form SS-5). To obtain any information from SSA you will need to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Getting Started - Tracing Your Family Tree

Here are my thoughts on getting started - the first steps you should take in tracing your family tree.  Video below.  As for the links mentioned in the video, I'll place them just below the video.

In addition to watching and checking out the links below, I'd recommend checking out fellow researcher on YouTube, jeromeyward's video series on genealogy on the cheap. In his first video there is an explanation of some totally FREE software for keeping your tree which is downloadable on

Pedigree chart:

Other useful paper forms:

The steps I cover:
  1. Get organized.
  2. Record what you know.
  3. Reach out to family.
  4. Search the attic, the basement, etc...
  5. Plan your next move.
More to come in the next video on online databases for continuing the search!

Welcome and Introductions

Hi folks!  Here's a brief introduction to a blog / vlog dedicated to genealogical researchers and family tree enthusiasts - beginners and long-term hobbyists alike.  Thanks for stopping by!