Fun with Genealogy

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Vintage Advertisements

Posted April 18, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment
Vintage Ads - Corn Flakes

As we are perusing newspapers and other old periodicals in our family history research, it can be great fun to take a moment to read the advertisements of the day. These vintage ads are a great glimpse into life in the past and can provide insights into popular fashions, products and trends of the time. Check out these advertisements throughout history: Image: Library Company of Philidelphia In this 1849 advertisement, Dr. George Stuart’s botanical syrup and vegetable pills are said… Read the full story

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Not an April Fools’ Joke: PM David Cameron and Kim Kardashian ARE Related

Posted April 1, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment

As British Prime Minister David Cameron begins his re-election campaign, he’s made an interesting revelation about his family history. In an interview with Heat, Cameron confirmed that he and Kim Kardashian are 13th cousins! How did he come to this revelation? Why Geni’s World Family Tree of course! This relationship was originally reported in two articles in the Daily Mail, following research done by AJ Jacobs, who’s been using Geni’s World Family Tree for his Global… Read the full story

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Naming Laws from Around the World

Posted February 3, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment

Many countries around the world have their own set of laws or customs for naming children. The reasons behind these policies varies widely from country to country. Image: Nationaal Archief, flickr Check out these interesting naming laws from around the world: ICELAND Parents in Iceland may only choose names approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee. The Personal Names Register includes about 1,800 approved Icelandic names for each gender. Girls should be given female names and… Read the full story

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10 Unusual Gravestones

Posted January 22, 2015 by Amanda | One Comment

If you have taken a stroll through a cemetery, you may notice a few graves that are not quite like the others. Many families choose unique markers that are reflective of who the person was when they were alive, while others offer grand tributes to the deceased. Have you come across one? Check out these unique gravestones: 1. Goff Memorial at Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington D.C. Image: Sarah Stierch, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0) 2. Holding… Read the full story

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The Great Stork Derby

Posted November 20, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

From time to time, family history researchers may find an odd request in an ancestors will. These can range from requests for large sums of money to be given to the deceased’s pet to a unique request of being buried in a glass box. Charles Vance Millar was a successful Canadian lawyer and financier, who loved jokes and pranks which played on people’s greed. On October 31, 1926, Millar died a bachelor at the age… Read the full story

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Halloween Postcards

Posted October 25, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
postcard (1)

Do you have old postcards in your collection of family history mementos? Before email and texts, postcards were a perfect way to send short messages to family and friends. Because of this, postcards often hold wonderful anecdotes of family memories written in the hand of your relative. Whether your relative was traveling or just sending well wishes during the holidays, postcards bring us an intimate connection with your family’s past. With Halloween season upon us, check out… Read the full story

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10 Ways to Celebrate Family History Month

Posted October 3, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

Family History Month is here again! Each year, the month of October is devoted entirely to genealogy. There’s no better time to celebrate your family heritage, reconnect with your roots and share what you have discovered with the ones you love. We’ve compiled this handy list of ways you can make the most of this Family History Month! 1. Review your family tree on Geni Take a look at your family tree on Geni and see if there are any… Read the full story

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Creative Ways to Display Your Family Tree

Posted September 18, 2014 by Amanda | One Comment

One of the most exciting parts of researching your family history is getting the opportunity to share it with others. And part of the fun is coming up with unique and clever ideas to display your family tree, whether it’s a mural on the wall of your home or a shadowbox showcasing your family history. Here are few creative ways to display your family tree: Family Tree Cutout This is a really beautiful family tree showcasing family… Read the full story

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Strange Royal Epithets in History

Posted September 10, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

Do you have royal ancestors in your family tree? You may be familiar with some of the epithets that follow their names. An epithet is an adjective or descriptive phrase expressing a quality characteristic of the person or thing mentioned. Many figures throughout history are remembered and referred to by their epithets, long after they are deceased. A familiar one from history may be Richard the Lionheart, who earned his nickname because of his reputation… Read the full story

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Etiquette: A 19th Century Guide

Posted August 28, 2014 by Amanda | One Comment

Growing up, our parents taught us to be polite and practice good manners - say your “pleases” and “thank yous,” hold the door for others, don’t talk with your mouth full, etc. And as we grew up, we strive to pass along these best practices to our children. During the 19th century, etiquette guides were a booming business. To the people of the Victorian Era, practicing good manners was essential to all social interactions. Many books were written… Read the full story

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The World’s Earliest Photos

Posted August 19, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

Nothing brings a genealogist more joy than the discovery of old family photographs. These pictures give us faces to the names on our family trees and bring with them stories that help enhance our understanding of how our relatives once lived. Today, we can instantly preserve and share memories with anyone around the world with just a click of a button. However, while it’s hard to imagine now, it hasn’t always been so easy to snap a… Read the full story

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Watch as the U.S. Center of Population Heads West

Posted July 3, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment
Mean Centers of Population  1790 to 2010   Geography   U.S. Census Bureau

The United States Census Bureau has created this amazing map that details the movement of the country’s mean center of population over the last 220 years. The data is from the U.S. census records from 1790 – 2010. What is the mean center of population? According the the U.S. Census Bureau, the mean center of population is “the point at which an imaginary, flat weightless, and rigid map of the United States would balance if… Read the full story

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The Statue of Liberty Arrives in the U.S.

Posted June 17, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

On this day in 1885, the Statue of Liberty, America’s iconic symbol of freedom and independence, arrived in New York Harbor in Manhattan, New York after a long voyage across the Atlantic. Over two hundred thousand people lined the docks and boarded hundreds of boats to welcome the French steamer Isère and catch a glimpse of the copper and iron statue. The statue was shipped disassembled in over 300 individual pieces and packed in over 200… Read the full story

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Mother’s Day: Famous Moms

Posted May 9, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day in the U.S. Variations of Mother’s Day have been celebrated at different times throughout history all over the world. The official celebration of Mother’s Day in the U.S. began in the early 20th century thanks to the efforts of a woman named Anna Jarvis. A few years after the death of her mother, Anna was inspired to organize a day to not only honor her mother, but… Read the full story

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Oscar Night 2014: Who’s Related?

Posted March 3, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

Did you watch the 86th Annual Academy Awards? The star-studded award show was hosted for the second time by comedian Ellen DeGeneres, who took over the reigns from the previous year’s host Seth MacFarlane. Funny must run in the genes because the Family Guy creator also happens to be Ellen’s 10th cousin. Did you enjoy watching Ellen bring her friendly charm to the Oscar stage? It turns out this year’s race was a family affair, with… Read the full story

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Elvis Presley: Long Live the King of Rock & Roll

Posted January 8, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

Today we celebrate the birth of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. Considered one of the most celebrated and successful musicians of all time, Elvis not only transformed the field of popular music, but was the catalyst for the cultural revolution that was rock and roll. On January 8, 1935, Elvis Aron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi to Vernon Elvis Presley and Gladys Love Smith. Elvis was born at home in his family’s two-room shot-gun house built… Read the full story

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Looking Back: Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus

Posted December 24, 2013 by Amanda | No Comment

Do you remember writing letters to Santa Claus? As a child, many of us believed in the jolly man from the North Pole. If we were good children, Santa would bring us presents on Christmas day. But there were always those who would shed doubts in our belief. One of the most famous editorials ever to be published is the story of a young Virginia O’Hanion and her quest to know if there really was… Read the full story

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Crafty Ways to Bring a Little Family History to Your Holiday

Posted December 18, 2013 by Amanda | No Comment

The holidays are always a fun time to share with your family. It’s also the perfect time to share your ancestors stories with your relatives. Check out some crafty ways to spice up your holiday decor with some family history memories. Wrap It Image credit: Sweet Paul Do you have old family photos at home? Scan your photos to create homemade wrapping paper for your relatives. Sweet Paul Magazine offers a quick tutorial to turn… Read the full story

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Famous Descendants of the Mayflower

Posted November 28, 2013 by Amanda | No Comment

Happy Thanksgiving! A holiday known just as much for bringing families together as the food everyone partakes in, Thanksgiving holds a special place in the hearts of America. The First Thanksgiving The very first Thanksgiving can be traced to 1621. In 1620, the 102 Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower arrived to the New World. After enduring a harsh winter where only half of the Mayflower‘s original passengers and crew survived, the settlers were aided the next spring… Read the full story

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5 Family Activities For This Thanksgiving

Posted November 27, 2013 by Amanda | No Comment
Happy Thanksgiving

This Thursday the U.S. celebrates Thanksgiving! As a day reserved for family and friends to come together and share a traditional feast of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and other delicious dishes, Thanksgiving is also an opportunity for everyone to give thanks and share stories. With the entire family gathered together, it’s a great time to do a little genealogical digging. Here are five ways to get your family to share some family history this holiday:… Read the full story

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Family History: Creative Games for Kids

Posted October 11, 2013 by Amanda | No Comment

Have you wondered about what creative ideas are out there to get your kids more excited to learn about their family history? In honor of Family History Month, here’s a sample of DIY games that’s loads of fun for the entire family. Guess Who? Family Edition Image credit: Mads Memories blog Here’s a clever idea from the Mads Memories blog. Take the classic game Guess Who? and make it your own. Replace the game’s photos with those… Read the full story

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Family History Month: 5 Fun Ways to Celebrate

Posted October 4, 2013 by Amanda | One Comment

It’s that time of year again! October is Family History Month – an entire month devoted to the celebration genealogy. Learning about your family history gives us a greater appreciation of our past and a better understanding of where we come from. Check out  these 5 fun activities to celebrate Family History Month! 1. Interview your relatives Take this month to see which relatives you have yet to interview and record their stories. Nothing makes… Read the full story

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Honoring the Past: Jewelry and Your Family Tree

Posted September 19, 2013 by Amanda | 2 Comments

If you’re lucky enough to have tons of old family photos stored in your home, chances are they are tucked away in a box, perhaps in a closet, never to see the light of day. Your old family photographs are just waiting for you to bring them to light in a creative, unique display in your home. Check out how a few crafty folks have created some beautiful pieces of jewelry to display their family… Read the full story

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Celebrating Father’s Day

Posted June 13, 2013 by Amanda | No Comment
President John F. Kennedy and his son, John F. Kennedy, Jr.

This Sunday, the U.S. and many other parts of the world will celebrate Father’s Day. Observed on the third Sunday of June every year, Father’s Day is the perfect summer celebration for outdoor festivities and family gatherings in honor of our father’s, grandfather’s and paternal figures in our lives. Did you know Father’s Day was well celebrated long before it was officially recognized as a national holiday in 1972? The day was founded in Spokane,… Read the full story

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Activities for Your Next Family Reunion

Posted April 19, 2013 by Amanda | No Comment
Family Reunion Activities

Are you planning a family reunion in the near future? Here are some fun activities to get your entire family involved in learning about your family history. 1. Fill in the family tree Here’s a fun game to get some of the younger members of your family interested in their genealogy: make copies of blank family trees for each youngster and have them ask relatives to help them fill out the tree. This is a… Read the full story

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The Love Story of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning

Posted February 14, 2013 by Amanda | 3 Comments
10 January 1845 . Browning  Robert to Browning  Elizabeth Barrett.    The Browning Letters

It’s Valentine’s Day! Valentine’s Day brings out the romantic in many of us and what better way to spend Valentine’s Day than to read about great love stories in history. Baylor University, in collaboration with Wellesly College digitized the love letters between English poets Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett. The entire collection is now available online for your viewing pleasure. Elizabeth Barrett came from a prominent and wealthy family and she was already a well… Read the full story

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Fun Family History Activities for the Holidays

Posted December 14, 2012 by Amanda | 2 Comments
Stockings on Mantelpiece

The holidays are just around the corner! Celebrate this holiday season with some fun activities for the entire family! Check out some ways you can share your family heritage with the ones you love. Swap Stories   With your entire family gathered in one place, it’s the perfect time to share family stories from the past. Ask an older relative to share a special holiday memory from their childhood or a memory of a passed… Read the full story

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Are You Related to Justin Bieber?

Posted October 12, 2012 by Amanda | 8 Comments

There’s been a lot of news lately surrounding Justin Bieber‘s ancestry. Well, it turns out Justin Bieber has even more celebrity relatives in his musically-gifted family tree. Thanks to Geni’s World Family Tree, you can easily find out  how he’s related to other celebrities, historical figures or even you! Check out a few of his famous relatives below. And the best part, you can actually see how they are related! We’ve posted many of Beyoncé Knowles celebrity… Read the full story

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Look Who’s Related: Ed Helms and Michelle Obama

Posted October 4, 2012 by Amanda | 3 Comments
Ed Helms&Michelle Obama

In tonight’s episode of The Office, Ed Helms‘ office manager Andy Bernard learns he is related to Michelle Obama. Will you be watching the hilarity as Andy brags to his co-workers about his newly discovered relative? In honor of “Andy’s Ancestry,” we thought it would be fun to see how the Office star was really related to the First Lady. As it turns out, Michelle Obama is Ed Helms’ 18th cousin once removed! Just like his… Read the full story

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Remembering Robert Goddard

Posted August 10, 2012 by Amanda | One Comment

The world has been abuzz over NASA’s latest accomplishment – the successful landing of Curiosity on the surface of Mars. NASA’s rover has already started sending images back of the red planet. Considered one of the most ambitious planetary missions in history, scientists hope to investigate whether life ever existed on the planet. However, without the scientific breakthroughs of physicist and inventor Robert Goddard, none of this may have ever been possible. Known as one of the founding… Read the full story

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Are You Related to an Emmy Nominee?

Posted July 19, 2012 by Amanda | No Comment

Early this morning, the nominees for the 64th Primetime Emmys were announced. Were you surprised by any of the nods? While taking a look at this year’s nominees in comedy, we noticed that many of them had family trees connected to Geni’s World Family Tree. If you’re connected to the world family tree, you may very well find your relationship path to some of this year’s Emmy hopefuls! Here’s a look at how some of… Read the full story

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Famous Folks and the Declaration of Independence

Posted July 6, 2012 by Amanda | One Comment

Earlier this week, we showed  you how Reese Witherspoon was related to one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, John Witherspoon. Now lets take a look at how some other famous faces are related to the people who signed the Declaration on July 4, 1776! Matt Damon grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts and attended Harvard University. Did you know he is related to fellow Massachusetts resident John Adams? He is Matt Damon’s fourth cousin… Read the full story

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Independence Day by the Numbers

Posted July 2, 2012 by Amanda | 9 Comments
Independence Day

This July 4th, the U.S. will celebrate its 236th Independence Day! On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence. Two days later on July 4, its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, and declared the 13 American colonies independent states and no longer a part of the British Empire. Check out our infographic for some fun facts to help mark the holiday! How will you be celebrating this Fourth of July?

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Look Who’s Related: Mark Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane

Posted June 29, 2012 by Amanda | 5 Comments
Mark Wahlberg

This week Mark Wahlberg shows off his comedic chops in his new movie, Ted. Written and directed by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, Wahlberg plays a man whose childhood wish for his teddy bear to come to life comes true. MacFarlane also lends his voice as the titular teddy bear and best friend. Did you know the pair are also distantly related? Seth MacFarlane is Mark Wahlberg’s 13th cousin thrice removed!* Read on to see which other… Read the full story

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Five Famous Connections to Abraham Lincoln

Posted June 21, 2012 by Amanda | 3 Comments

This week, the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter opens nationwide. Based on the fictional novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, the story follows the life of President Abraham Lincoln but with a twist – he was secretly a vampire hunter! In honor of the movie’s release, check out how these five famous faces are related to the real Abraham Lincoln. 1. Starring as the vampire hunting President is actor Benjamin Walker, who’s married to Mamie Gummer, daughter of actress Meryl… Read the full story

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Look Who’s Related: Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin

Posted June 14, 2012 by Amanda | No Comment

This Friday, Tom Cruise lends his voice as Stacee Jaxx in the rock musical Rock of Ages. Just this week, Cruise was honored by The Friars Club with the Friars Club Entertainment Icon Award in New York, becoming the fourth recipient of the honor and placing him in the same company as legends Douglas Fairbanks, Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra. On hand to present his award was his Rock of Ages co-star Alec Baldwin. Did you know… Read the full story

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Look at Which Celebrities are Related to Queen Elizabeth II

Posted June 1, 2012 by Amanda | 2 Comments
Queen Elizabeth

June 2 kicks off Queen Elizabeth II‘s Diamond Jubilee celebration. In honor of her 60 years on the throne, here’s a look at just a few notable celebrities who are related to the Queen of England. Throughout her long and distinguished reign, Queen Elizabeth has met with 12 U.S. Presidents. In 2009, President Obama made a visit to Buckingham Palace. President Obama is Queen Elizabeth’s 9th cousin twice removed! Just this week, teen idol Justin… Read the full story

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Look Who’s Related: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

Posted May 24, 2012 by Amanda | 8 Comments
Brad Pitt

This week Brad Pitt made an appearance at the Cannes Film Festival in support of his new movie Killing Them Softly. The film was created in collaboration with writer/director Andrew Dominik, who worked with Brad in the film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. In the film, Brad played the American outlaw Jesse James. Did you know Brad Pitt and Jesse James are actually related? Jesse James is Brad Pitt’s 9th cousin twice removed!… Read the full story

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Look Who’s Related: Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus

Posted May 18, 2012 by Amanda | 6 Comments
Britney Spears

It was announced earlier this week that Britney Spears will be the latest celebrity judge to join The X Factor. The newly engaged Spears has been making a comeback lately. She was recently listed as No. 6 on Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Celebrities and on May 20, she will compete for Top Dance Artist at the Billboard Music Awards. Let’s check out how she’s related to some of today’s top stars! It was originally rumored that Miley… Read the full story

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Look Who’s Related: Joss Whedon and Johnny Depp

Posted May 4, 2012 by Amanda | One Comment
Joss Whedon thumbnail

Joss Whedon‘s highly anticipated superhero film, The Avengers, has broken domestic and international box office records this weekend. Are you excited to watch Joss’s take on the multi-superhero movie? Joss began his career as a sitcom writer and before long began writing screenplays for feature films. It was through his success in television that he amassed a fervent and devoted cult following. As the mastermind behind television shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, Whedon… Read the full story

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Look Who’s Related: Rob Lowe and Amy Poehler

Posted April 26, 2012 by Amanda | 2 Comments
Rob Lowe

This Friday’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? features Rob Lowe and his journey to discover his ancestors. Since his family tree on Geni is already connected to the World Family Tree, we thought it would be fun to see how he was related to some of his celebrity pals! Rob currently stars in the critically acclaimed comedy Parks and Recreation as city manager Chris Traeger. Did you know he is also related to a couple… Read the full story

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Pickfair Found in the 1940 Census

Posted April 12, 2012 by Amanda | No Comment
Aerial view of Pickfair

Last week we showcased a few celebrities we found in the 1940 U.S. census. During our research, we also discovered some celebrity neighbors! Mary Pickford, Fred Astaire and Charlie Chaplin all lived on the same street in Beverly Hills, California! Actress Mary Pickford was living at 1143 Summit Drive with her husband Charles Buddy Rogers. During her marriage with Douglas Fairbanks, the home was known as “Pickfair” by the press and was once a hot… Read the full story

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Titanic: Remembering 100 Years

Posted April 9, 2012 by Amanda | 15 Comments
titanic_v7 thumbnail

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the RMS Titanic‘s fateful voyage. Let’s take a look at some interesting facts about the Titanic and learn a little bit more about some of the most notable passengers on board. Want to learn more about other Titanic passengers? Check out the RMS Titanic project on Geni and join other users working hard to build the family trees of all the Titanic passengers and crew! Are you related to a Titanic passenger?… Read the full story

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Celebrities in the 1940 U.S. Census

Posted April 6, 2012 by Amanda | No Comment
Shirley Temple 1940 census image

Now that the 1940 U.S. census images are up, we thought it would be fun to see where some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities were living at the time. Check out a few big name Hollywood players in the 1940 census! Click on the census images to get a better view. Shirley Temple   Dimpled actress Shirley Temple was 11 when the census was taken. If you weren’t looking carefully, it would have been easy to… Read the full story

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Look Who’s Related: Taylor Swift and Reba McEntire

Posted April 5, 2012 by Amanda | 2 Comments
Taylor Swift

Are you a fan of country music? Did you catch Taylor Swift win her second consecutive Entertainer of the Year Award at this past Sunday’s Academy of Country Music Awards? The gala was co-hosted by country singers Blake Shelton and Reba McEntire. Did you know Taylor Swift and Reba McEntire are related? Reba is Taylor Swift’s 15th cousin once removed! It’s no wonder Taylor Swift has found success – country music runs in her veins…. Read the full story

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Middle Names in Genealogy

Posted March 9, 2012 by Amanda | One Comment

Happy Middle Name Pride Day! Today everyone is encouraged to celebrate their middle names. Middle names are an interesting thing in genealogy. Some people may choose to hide their middle name, while others choose to embrace them. Either way, it’s likely that you have encountered a few unusual middle names in your genealogy research. As you find them, it might be fun to try to understand their origins. Middle Names and Family Connections   Some… Read the full story

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Look Who’s Related: George Clooney and Brad Pitt

Posted February 24, 2012 by Amanda | One Comment
George Clooney2

The 84th annual Academy Awards are this Sunday, February 26 with comedian Billy Crystal returning as host. Are you excited to see who will win Hollywood’s most coveted prize? This year, best buds George Clooney and Brad Pitt will both be vying for the Oscar for Best Actor. Did you know the pranking two-some are also related? Brad Pitt is George Clooney’s 18th cousin twice removed! Let’s take a look at how some of this… Read the full story

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Happy Founder’s Day to all the Scouts

Posted February 22, 2012 by Amanda | One Comment
Robert Baden-Powell

Nearly all National Scout Associations throughout the world are celebrating Founder’s Day or World Thinking Day today in remembrance of Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout Movement, and his wife, Olave Baden-Powell, founder of Girl Guide movement. Coincidentally, the husband and wife team both share February 22 as their birthday. Robert Baden-Powell was a lieutenant-general in the British Army. An avid outdoorsman, Robert published the first book of the scouting movement, Scouting for Boys, in… Read the full story

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Presidents Day on Geni

Posted February 17, 2012 by Amanda | One Comment

This Monday, February 20, the U.S. celebrates Presidents Day across the country. Although the holiday was created specifically to remember George Washington‘s birthday, observance of the holiday has expanded to honor all the presidents of the United States. Check out how you can celebrate Presidents Day on Geni! U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents Project   A great Geni project is dedicated to all the U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents. Check out the family trees of… Read the full story

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Genealogy Activities for the Holidays

Posted December 14, 2011 by Amanda | 5 Comments
Christmas Scene

Christmas is the perfect time of year to share your love of genealogy with your family. Do you have any activities planned for your relatives? Here are a few interesting ideas on how to incorporate genealogy into your holiday festivities! Decorate your tree Make decorating your Christmas tree a family activity. This year decorate your tree with family photos of your living relatives and ancestors. You can purchase ornaments that allow you to insert the… Read the full story