Cousin Connection Tip #3 – The Family Group Sheet

Hello Cousins! We’ve got another tip for you this week.

After putting all your grandparents in order last week, you may be left with information on all their children; not just your parents. What are you supposed to do with that? Is it really useful to you? Of course it is! You’ll soon learn as a family researcher that those lateral connections can offer great clues when you are having troubles figuring out who is who. You want to keep all that information as much as you want to keep your grandparents’ information. One great way to keep track of it is using family group sheets. Pedigree charts from last week do an excellent job of helping us see our direct line, but for each set of those parents, there is a family attached. I like to write the page numbers of the family group sheet to corresponds to someone after their name on the pedigree chart so I can find them quickly.

A family group sheet simply helps you keep the information you have on a family all in one place. You start with the parents at the top, usually, then fill in what you’ve found for all their kids, like birth dates, places and spouses. These, like pedigree charts, are easy to come by via free download on the internet. It may seem unnecessary to keep all this on paper with all the great online places to keep a family tree, but even in a digital age, paper copies of things are so beneficial. Showing what you’ve found to family is easier; if you are without internet but want to check on something, you have access; and if aliens attack and the world falls to pieces, you know who your Great Uncle Zadok was named after. 
This chart from BYU ( is one of my favorites because the information is kept tidy and there is plenty of room for little notes.

Post by Abby Glann

Congress is Really Just One Big Family!

AJ wrote a piece for the Guardian about Barack Obama and Congress and how they’re just one big family. Think we can get ’em to have a group hug??  You can read the article here.

Barack Obama kisses a lot of babies, but what about Republican David Vitter? He is the president’s first cousin seven times removed’s wife’s great niece’s husband’s second cousin thrice removed’s wife’s third cousin, after all. Photograph: Pete Souza / White House via Flickr

P.S. Thanks to great researchers at and WikiTree for helping us find connections between President Obama and many U.S. Senators!

AJ Cousin Connection: Anne Hathaway

Today’s AJ Cousin Connection is Anne Hathaway, the wife of playwright William Shakespeare

Anne Hathaway was born in 1555/6 and died on this day, August 6, in 1623.  Not much is known about Anne beyond references in legal documents and many historians and creative writers have speculated about her personality and her relationship with William Shakespeare. 

Anne was 26 when she married the then 18 year old William in November of 1582.  She was pregnant with the child she would give birth to six months later.  Because of the age difference, there are some historians who postulate that this was a “shotgun” wedding forced onto the young Shakespeare by the Hathaway family.

Anne and William would have three children – Susanna, born in 1583 and twins, Judith and Hamnet, born in 1585.  Hamnet died at the age of 11. 

Anne died August 6, 1623.  On her tombstone is an inscription in Latin which reads as “Breasts, O mother, milk and life thou didst give. Woe is me – for how great a boon shall I give stones? How much rather would I pray that the good angel should move the stone so that, like Christ’s body, thine image might come forth! But my prayers are unavailing. Come quickly, Christ, that my mother, though shut within this tomb may rise again and reach the stars.”

This may have been written by John Hall, on behalf of his wife Susanna, for her mother.[1]

A.J. Jacobs is Anne Hathaway‘s husband’s first cousin 13 times removed’s husband’s nephew.

Here’s what that looks like: 

 Chart courtesy of


AJ Cousin Connection: Marilyn Monroe

Today’s AJ Cousin Connection is American actress, singer and model Marilyn Monroe, who, sadly, died on this day 5 August in 1962.  Can you believe she’d be 88 if she had lived?!

Marilyn spent most of her childhood in foster homes then went on to start a career in modeling.  By 1946 she landed a contract with Twentieth Century-Fox.  She starred in numerous commercially successful films in the 50s and 60s.  Marilyn won a Golden Globe award for her performance in Some Like It Hot.  Regrettably, her later years were plagued with illness and personal problems.  It is debated whether her death was a probably suicide or accidental overdoes but either way the world lost a brilliant diamond on this day 52 years ago.

“I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love.”  – Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe is AJ’s second great aunt’s aunt’s husband’s first cousin twice removed’s wife’s great niece’s husband’s great nephew’s wife’s father’s ex-wife.

Here’s what that looks like:

 Chart courtesy of

AJ Cousin Connection: Louis Vuitton

Today’s AJ Cousin Connection is French fashion designer Louis Vuitton, who was born on this day, 4 August, in 1821.

In 1835 at the age of 14, Louis ran away from home to walk the 292 miles to Paris. He supported himself with odd jobs along the way, sleeping wherever he found shelter. I’m 1837 at the age of 16 he arrived in Paris. He apprenticed in the workshop of a successful box-maker and packer named Monsieur Marecha. There Louis learned the 19th century craft of custom box making. This involved not only making the fitted boxes, but packing and unpacking them also. Louis established a good reputation for his craft and service.

When Eugenie de Montijo, married Napoleon IIII, she hired Louis as her personal box-maker and packer. Vuitton now had access to a class of elite and royal clientele who would seek his services for the duration of his life. [1]

Louis Vuitton is AJ’s wife’s second cousin’s husband’s first cousin’s wife’s fourth cousin once removed’s wife’s second cousin twice removed’s husband’s brother’s wife’s second great grandfather!

Here’s what that looks like (You = AJ):

Chart courtesy of


Cousin Connecting Tip #2 – The Pedigree Chart

Hello again, Global Family!

Last week’s tip was the best one for any family history novice-talk to your family and take lots of notes! This week we’re going to do something with all those notes. Right now things can seem like a jumble but genealogists have some great charts they use to try to keep things straight. You can either sketch these out or print them off, but using a pedigree chart is great to visualize your tree, which can help when you are ready to move on to sharing your work with others. There are couple different styles:
This one is probably the most common used by researchers, a single sided chart. You put yourself in that first box (or whoever your beginning ancestor you’re researching is) and then the top line is always the father and the bottom is the mother. Once you reach the end of the page, you take that last person and start a new chart with them as the first person, then their parents, their parents’ parents,and and so on. 
And a double sided chart. Same idea, but you put yourself in the very middle, and one parent on either side:

There are a lot of places to download these, but here are a couple to get your started:
Got aunts’ and uncles’ and cousins’ information, too? Hold onto it-we’ve got a chart for that! We’ll wait to talk about it until next week. This week’s homework-put your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents into those charts we can work with them later!
Post by Abby Glann

You’re Probably Related to Ryan Gosling

Buzzfeed posted this great article today about AJ and the Global Family Reunion! Cousins Ricky Gervais and George H.W. Bush make cameo appearances along with several other cousins.  Thank you Buzzfeed!

Cousin Chrissy Teigen

AJ Cousin Connection of the Day: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarznegger is probably best known for his line “I’ll be back” (read that with a thick Austrian accent), for his political role as the “Governator” of the state of California and for his marriage to Maria Schriver, niece of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.  Arnold was born July 30, 1947, in Thal, Austria.   He is an actor, film producer, activist, businessman, investor, writer, philanthropist, former professional bodybuilder and as mentioned, 38th Governor of California.

Check out a couple different ways Arnold is connected to AJ!

Are you related to Arnold, Maria or the Kennedys? If so, be sure to write us at and let us know!

Cousin Connecting Tip #1 – Start at the Very Beginning

Hello Cousins!
Many of you are excited to find your connection to AJ and the rest of the world, but just do not know where to start. Well, in the brilliant words of Maria von Trapp, “We’ll start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.” The very first thing you should do is grab a notebook and a pencil and go talk to your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents about your family. Ask them for names, dates, and places. Write it all down, including little stories and what seem like oddball facts. Parents aren’t around anymore? Try aunts, great aunts, uncles, and great uncles. Anyone who may have a bit of information.
Hang on to that notebook-we’re going to do so much more with it on our journey to cousinhood!
Post by Abby Glann

AJ Explains How the World is Related!

Earlier today, AJ was a guest on HuffingtonPost Live where he talked about the Global Family Reunion and the importance of genealogy.  Joining him via Google+ Hangout were Mike Mallin, CPO of MyHeritage, Jen Baldwin, professional genealogist and Outreach Manger for FindMyPast as well as creator of GeneaBloggers, author and educator, Thomas MacEntee.  If you have a few minutes, check it out – it’s a fun conversation between them all! You can view it here.

Watch the Livestream Archive