December 2014

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A Look Back at 2014

Posted December 31, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
AJ

As we prepare to welcome in the new year, now is the perfect time to reflect on some of the amazing things we have accomplished in 2014. And what a year it’s been! Take a walk down memory lane with us as we reflect on the highlights from 2014. The year got off to an exciting start when we teamed up with best-selling author AJ Jacobs on his journey to hold the world’s largest family reunion in… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Robert Burns

Posted December 31, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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It’s New Year’s Eve! It wouldn’t be a New Year’s celebration without hearing the holiday’s signature song, “Auld Lang Syne.” Did you know Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote “Auld Lang Syne” in 1788? The song was set to the tune of an old Scottish folk song and was never intended to be a holiday song. Nevertheless, the song gained enormous popularity and it became tradition to sing the song to cherish old friends, bid farewell to the… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Helge Ingstad

Posted December 30, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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On December 30, 1899, Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad was born in Meråker, Norway. Ingstad and his wife, archaeologist Anne Stine, were the first to prove that the Vikings had reached North America 500 years before Christopher Columbus. In 1960, Ingstad discovered the remnants of a Viking settlement in the L’Anse aux Meadows of Newfoundland, Canada. The settlement has been dated to approximately 1,000 years ago and is the only known site of a Norse or Viking village… Read the full story

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Monday Recap for December 29, 2014

Posted December 29, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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It’s our last genealogy recap for 2014! Check out these articles you may have missed over the holidays. Image: The Couple That Took the Same Christmas Portrait for 40 Years / The Atlantic The Genealogy Sphere The Couple That Took the Same Christmas Portrait for 40 Years (The Atlantic) – Anne and Richard Wagner took a photo in front of their tree every year from 1900 to 1942 ‘Bay Area’s Titanic’: 1901 shipwreck near Golden… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Charles Goodyear

Posted December 29, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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On December 29, 1800, inventor Charles Goodyear was born in New Haven, Connecticut. He invented and developed a process to vulcanize rubber in 1839. The oldest of six children, Goodyear was a descendant of Stephen Goodyear, one of the founders of the colony of New Haven in 1638. For years, Goodyear experimented with natural rubber, trying to make the material more reliable and stable for industrial use. Despite his crippling debt, Goodyear succeeded when he accidentally discovered… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Alexander I

Posted December 23, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
Alexander_I_of_Russia

Do you have any Russian heritage? On this day in 1777, Alexander I of Russia was born in Saint Petersburg. Between 1801 – 1825, Alexander reigned as Emperor of Russia, leading the empire during the chaotic period of the Napoleonic Wars. He succeeded to the throne after his father was murdered. Both he and his younger brother Constantine were raised by their grandmother, Catherine the Great. Some sources allege that Catherine had planned to remove her… Read the full story

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New: Enhanced Photo Uploader

Posted December 22, 2014 by Amanda | 5 Comments
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Today we are excited to announce an easier and faster way to upload family photos on Geni! Whether you want to upload a few photos or hundreds at once, you can drag and drop photos from anywhere on your computer to share with your relatives on Geni. Image credit: U.S. National Archives Just in time for the holidays, we’ve simplified the process of uploading your family photos to make it easier than ever to share… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Ludwig van Beethoven

Posted December 22, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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Are you a fan of classical music? On this day in 1808, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 made its world premiere in a mammoth concert at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna. The conditions of the four-hour concert were very difficult. With freezing temperatures in the theater and little rehearsal time, the orchestra did not play very well. Their poor performance had even forced Beethoven, who was also acting as conductor, to stop the music and… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Charles Dickens

Posted December 19, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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On December 19, 1843, Charles Dickens’s Christmas classic A Christmas Carol was first published in London. An instant success, Dickens’s novella significantly influenced the rejuvenation of the old Christmas traditions of England. Since it’s publication, the story has never been out of print. Children all around the world grow up hearing the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his spiritual visitors, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. Do you remember reading A Christmas Carol while… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Steven Spielberg

Posted December 18, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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Happy birthday, Steven Spielberg! Today the iconic director turns 68. Born on December 18, 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Spielberg got his start making films at an early age. Throughout his early teens, he made amateur 8mm adventure films with his friends, even earning his first Boy Scout merit badge for a Western film he created. After the successful release of Jaws, Spielberg became a household name. The film became the first movie in history to… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Simón Bolívar

Posted December 17, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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On December 17, 1830, Venezuelan military and political leader Simón Bolívar died at the age of 47. Considered one of the most influential politicians in the history of the Americas, Bolívar played an instrumental role in Latin America’s successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire. Bolívar’s surname was derived from the Bolívar aristocrats from the Basque Country La Puebla de Bolívar in Spain. In the sixteenth century, the family settled in Venezuela and prospered. Born into wealth, Simón… Read the full story

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The Boston Tea Party

Posted December 16, 2014 by Amanda | One Comment
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Do you have ancestors who participated in the Boston Tea Party? 241 years ago today, dozens of American colonists boarded three ships in Boston Harbor and threw 342 crates of tea overboard in protest of the Tea Act. An iconic event in American history, the Boston Tea Party helped pave the way for the American Revolution. “No taxation without representation.” Organized by the Sons of Liberty, the political protestors, some disguised as Native Americans, took to the wharf to destroy an entire shipment… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Jane Austen

Posted December 16, 2014 by Amanda | One Comment
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Do you remember reading Pride and Prejudice? On December 16, 1775, author Jane Austen was born in Steventon, England. The Austens were a large, close knit family. Jane’s parents, George and Cassandra Austen, were members of substantial gentry families. Early on, Jane would write poems, stories and plays for her family’s amusement. It wasn’t until Jane was in her thirties that she publish her first novels. From 1811-1816, Jane anonymously published what would be known as… Read the full story

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Monday Recap for December 15, 2014

Posted December 15, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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Have a great weekend? Check out our genealogy roundup of articles! Image: Childhood Friends Reconnect After World War II, Japanese Interment Separated Them / Stripes.com The Genealogy Sphere MyHeritage Wants to Bring Genealogy to the Mainstream with Instant Discoveries™ (TechCrunch) – Our parent company MyHeritage has launched Instant Discoveries™! Watch the video to see people making family history discoveries in seconds Childhood Friends Reconnect After World War II, Japanese Internment Separated Them (Stripes.com) – The… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Clark Gable

Posted December 15, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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Remember watching Gone with the Wind? 75 years ago, the epic film premiered in Atlanta, Georgia. The movie starred Clark Gable as Rhett Butler and Vivien Leigh as the Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara. The day of the film premiere was a statewide holiday in Georgia. Hundreds of thousands of people descended on the theater to watch the stars arrive. However, not all the stars of the film were allowed to attend. Hattie McDaniel had been barred from attending… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Edvard Munch

Posted December 12, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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Do you have Norwegian ancestry? On December 12, 1863, famous Norwegian painter, Edvard Munch, was born in a farmhouse in Løten, Norway. After his mother died in 1868, Edvard and his siblings were raised by his father, who often entertained the children with vivid ghost-stories and tales of Edgar Allan Poe. Between 1893 and 1910, Edvard created his most famous piece, The Scream. He created four versions, two paintings and two pastels. His piece is perhaps one of… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Brenda Lee

Posted December 11, 2014 by Amanda | One Comment
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Is the song “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” on your holiday playlist? Today, the voice behind the popular Christmas song, Brenda Lee, celebrates her 70th birthday! She was born Brenda Mae Tarpley on December 11, 1944 in Atlanta, Georgia. She began singing at the age of two, earning candy and coins for singing at the local candy store, and won a singing contest at the age of 6. Her family was poor, and when her father died… Read the full story

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Family History Gift Ideas for the Holidays

Posted December 10, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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The holiday season is upon us! Are you still shopping for gifts for your relatives? Here are some ideas for the perfect gift for relatives interested in learning more about your family history. 1. Family photo album Make copies of old photos you have in your possession and put them into a family history photo album. This would make a perfect gift for the entire family! 2. Scrapbook supply kit Scrap booking and genealogy were… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Emily Dickinson

Posted December 10, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.” – Emily Dickinson On this day in 1830, poet Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts. With deep ancestral roots in New England, Emily lived much of her reclusive life in her family’s homestead in Amherst. Reluctant to meet with people in person, many of her friendships were carried through correspondence. A prolific poet, Emily wrote over 1800 poems, but published less than… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Donny Osmond

Posted December 9, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
Donny_Osmond

Happy birthday, Donny Osmond! Today the former teen idol turns 57. Born Donald Clark Osmond on December 9, 1957 in Ogden, Utah, Donny showed a flair for performing at a very young age. He joined his older brothers to form the musical group The Osmonds and quickly stood out for his lead vocals. In the 1970s, Donny branched out on his own with hits “Puppy Love” and “Go Away Little Girl.” He later partnered with… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Sammy Davis, Jr.

Posted December 8, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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Today we remember famous Rat Pack performer Sammy Davis, Jr. on what would have been his 89th birthday. Samuel George Davis, Jr. was born in Harlem, New York to Sammy Davis, Sr., an African-American entertainer, and Elvera Sanchez, a tap dancer of Afro-Cuban descent. Davis began his career in show business as a small child dancing in his father’s vaudeville act. During World War II, he served in the U.S. army, where he faced strong racial… Read the full story

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Strange Inventions From the Past

Posted December 5, 2014 by Amanda | One Comment
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There have been a lot of great inventions throughout history that have made significant impacts on our lives. From the invention of photography to the creation of the smartphone, numerous devices have changed the way we interact and communicate with the world. Of course, for every successful invention, there are tons that couldn’t quite make it to production. While some proved to be impractical and cumbersome, others turned out to be rather bizarre. Here are a… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: George Custer

Posted December 5, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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Do you have ancestors that served in the American Civil War? On this day in 1839, Union General George Armstrong Custer was born in New Rumley, Ohio. Did you know that during the Civil War, the press frequently nicknamed him “The Boy General” in reference to his promotion to brigadier general at the age of 23? Despite his strong reputation for his bravery and heroism during the Civil War, Custer is perhaps best remembered for his… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Marisa Tomei

Posted December 4, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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Happy birthday, Marisa Tomei! Today the actress turns 50. Born in Brooklyn New York to Patricia and Gary Tomei, Marisa caught the acting bug early after being captivated by the Broadway shows she watched with her family. Following string of small roles, her career exploded with her Oscar-winning performance in the 1992 film My Cousin Vinny. While investigating her Italian roots on the popular genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are?, Marisa discovered the true story… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Joseph Conrad

Posted December 3, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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Do you remember reading Heart of Darkness? On this day in 1857, author Joseph Conrad was born in Berdychiv, in what is now Ukraine. Interestingly, although regarded as one of the greatest novelists in the English language, Conrad did not speak the language fluently until he was in his twenties. Born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, Conrad was the only child of Apollo Korzeniowski and Ewelina Bobrawska. His father was a poet, playwright and clandestine political activist. At the age of… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Marquis de Sade

Posted December 2, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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Do you have any black sheep in your family tree? On this day 200 years ago, the notorious Marquis de Sade died in an insane asylum. A highly controversial figure in history, de Sade’s scandalous life and work shocked and continues to shock audiences. For years, his descendants had long disowned their scandalous ancestor and eliminated the use of the marquis title well into the mid-twentieth century. Today, his living descendants have embraced their infamous ancestor, producing… Read the full story

Monday Recap »

Monday Recap for December 1, 2014

Posted December 1, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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We hope everyone had a fun and safe holiday! Here are some great family history articles to read with your Thanksgiving leftovers! Image: 7 Intriguing Turkey Recipes From the 1800s / mental_floss The Genealogy Sphere Uniting the World in One Tree (ShalomLife.com) – Another great article covering AJ Jacobs’ mission to throw the largest family reunion in history 7 Intriguing Turkey Recipes From the 1800s (mental_floss) – Possible new recipes to try next Thanksgiving? World’s Oldest… Read the full story

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Profile of the Day: Pedro I

Posted December 1, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
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On this day in 1822, Pedro I was crowned the first Emperor of Brazil. Known as “the Liberator,” Pedro is best remembered for declaring Brazil’s independence from Portugal. Born in Lisbon, Portugal, Pedro was the fourth child of King Dom João VI of Portugal and Queen Carlota Joaquina. After the country was invaded by the French, Pedro and his family fled to Brazil, Portugal’s largest and wealthiest colony. He remained in Brazil as regent when his father returned… Read the full story