“I Am A Cousin” – Crystal Rafuse

Meet Cousin Crystal


1. Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do for work? Fun? Married? Kids? You get that idea.

I am a stay-at-home mother and full-time Accounting student from Rhode Island. I will have been married 2 years this Halloween, and my husband and I have one daughter, October (born in November, haha!). I have a cat, a dog, a guinea pig, and my daughter’s random fish who won’t die, and my husband calls our house “Animal Planet” for that reason. I love to sing, paint and craft, and am an avid reader (my Kindle currently has 253 books on my “to be read” list!).

2. Do you have a favorite ancestor? Who? Why?

My favorite ancestor that I have found thus far would have to be Charlemagne. Who doesn’t love being descended from French Aristocracy?

3. If you could be related to anyone in history, who would you want it to be and why?

Abraham Lincoln. I am fascinated by all things Civil War (and am currently looking for photos of my own soldier ancestors). What an amazing man he was! Or Mary Todd Lincoln, she was amazing! And so brave and strong, what a tragic couple they were, but so awesome! (Can you tell I’m a little fanatic?)

4. What are your thoughts on the Global Family Reunion? Will you be attending?

Funny enough, I just was mentioning taking a vacation that way, so we could actually attend the Reunion! I think it’s a fantastic idea, and since I grew up not knowing my father’s family at all, and hitting an early brick wall with my mother’s Polish/Russian/Austro-Hungarian line, I never really thought I’d have any luck with tracing my roots, so to know there are SO MANY cousins out there about to gather in one place? And that they’re all (in some way) connected to me? Truly an amazing idea! If I can help it at all, we’ll most definitely be attending!

5. Do you come from a big family? Small family? Do you guys have family reunions and do you have any good family reunion stories?

I come from a fairly isolated family, actually. As I stated above, my mother’s family is from somewhere in the Austro-Hungarian/Polish/Russian area that was just about wiped clean during WWII, so any information we could have gathered has died with my G-Grandmother, who came over to America in 1911(ish). And my Dad wasn’t a part of my life up until about three years ago, so I am just getting into the hang of having an extended family at all, really! But as far as family reunions go, I’m not that lucky (until the big one next year, of course!)

6. Favorite color? Favorite food? Left-handed or right-handed? Do you like to have breakfast for dinner? Favorite book? Movie? TV show? Song/band? Quote?

Favorite colors are purple, silver and sparkly (it IS a color, haha!), favorite food is cheese, I am right-handed, breakfast is an anytime food (and so are banana splits!), my favorite book of all time is Weaveworld by Clive Barker, movie is The Crow (I heart Brandon Lee!!), TV show would be a tie between Ghost Hunters (go RI!!) and Deadliest Catch (I am a reality show junkie!), favorite band of all time is Stabbing Westward (I grew up in the industrial 90’s haha!), and the song I want played at my funeral is “Silent Lucidity” by Queensryche. As far as a favorite quote, I think I would have to quote the great Jim Morrison when I say that “before I sink into the big sleep, I want to hear the scream of the butterfly.” Live for now, baby, because tomorrow’s not guaranteed, and today may be all you’ve got!

7. Do you have any funny quirks that you’ve inherited from your family?

I am OCD to a fault (just check out my alphabetized CD or DVD collection), and I tend to be quite ditzy (which is most definitely inherited straight from my Grandma!)

8. Do you know much about your family history? Where do your ancestors come from? Would you want to visit the lands they hail from?

I am only recently learning about my father’s side of the family. It’s funny, because he likes to tell people we are part Cherokee, but I have since learned that he is sooo wrong! We are so French, it’s not even funny! French Canadian, and straight back to France, all the way! And of course I would love to go to France, but I am going to start small (so to speak) and plan a trip to Quebec first!

9. If you could get AJ to invite one person to the Global Family Reunion, who would it be and why?

Hmm, that’s a good question! I would have to say Linda Lee Cadwell (Bruce Lee’s wife, and Brandon’s mother), and for two reasons: One is purely the fact that I could be in the room with the person who created Brandon Lee (sorry, fangirl moment again), and the second would be just to find out if she is, indeed a cousin in any way! How cool would that be?

10. AJ’s idea is that if the people of the world could see how interconnected we all are maybe we would be a little nicer to one another. What do you think about that?

I think it’s a great idea! I have made some great friends because of WikiTree.com and have found some new relatives that I otherwise would not have ever known. I am not saying I am any nicer to them, but I know them now (at least online), and that instantly makes me want to be nice to them, you know? I think if everyone knew that we all shared a connection, maybe there wouldn’t be so much hate in the world.

Okay, lastly, if you could share one message with your 7 billion cousins what would it be?

Love one another! Live every day like it’s your last! Get out there and FIND MORE COUSINS!!! ☺

Breaking News on the Y-DNA of England’s King Richard III

by  Kylen Campbell

Breaking News on the Y-DNA of England’s King Richard III

A scholarly study released on December 2, 2014 informs the world that it’s pretty much as certain as can be that a skeleton found in 2012 under a parking lot in Leicester, England constitutes the remains of that country’s King Richard III (1452-1485); a man infamous thanks to his portrayal by Shakespeare (and the rumor born during his life that he had his nephews murdered in order to be king).

The study, titled “Identification of the remains of King Richard III”*, published December 2, 2014 in Nature Communications (one of professional science’s premier peer revue journals) by a team at the University of Leicester in the UK, conveys the findings and details of a great deal of analyses undertaken on the skeletal remains found there two years ago under a parking lot of a man who’d died in the Middle Ages and had been, allegedly, when he walked the earth, none other than Richard III, last king of the storied Plantagenet dynasty. You might have heard of some of this colorful bunch: Richard the Lion Heart & his Magna Carta-signing brother John; their dad, Henry II (or: Eleanor of Aquitaine’s husband); or one of the Edwards (I – III) or any of the Henry’s (III, but IV through VI are more famous thanks to Shakespeare and Kenneth Branagh).

The study also relates the results of the sequencing of his genome–his DNA–the first time a full rundown has been done on a figure from history, from that time period and from a monarchical family. This includes revealing his Y-DNA and what they found in a comparison carried out between it and that of five living relatives. Y-DNA–the chromosome that determines maleness–is passed generation to generation, father to son practically identically and always fits into one of about 25 particular kinds, or haplogroups, so reliably that this type of analysis allows for enforceable laws when, for instance, a son’s paternity is in question. And it turns out that Richard III’s does NOT match that of the consensus Y-DNA of those living relatives.

What exactly does that mean and why is this big news? The import of this news derives from implications of the information. It could mean, among other things, that the War of the Roses–the well-known struggles over England’s rulership that lasted over 100 years– was more intense and scandal-riddled than already known, because it could mean that one or various kings might not have had any actual blood claim to the throne on which they might’ve sat. Because on paper, i.e., according to the official family trees, all of these guys were and are descended in their male lines–meaning following just their dads and dad’s dads etc–from the same guy, their “uber”-granddad: England’s King Edward III (1312-1377; whose death can also be seen as the precipitant to the “War of the Roses”).



Since Richard III was descended in his dad’s male line from one of Edward III’s sons (3 generations between Ed 3 and Rich 3), and the living guys are descended from another of Edward III’s sons (~20 generations between Ed 3 and them), the Y-DNA from all of them is supposed to match. But it doesn’t. Thus the “on paper” family trees have at least one mistake, and potentially more. And given the many links between Richard III and these living men, determining exactly where the falsely_ reported father or fathers were is very VERY hard to pin down.

And this is why many of us have been on the edge of our seats following this story. The idea was that we’d learn the Y-DNA of a family, the Plantagenets, that gave England 14 kings across 350 years from 1133 to 1485. But since there’s no match, it can’t be said which of the two, if either, is the one that was ostensibly being passed down the line, lo those many years.

It’s quite worth noting that the study does not hold much in the way of speculation, though it does offer context and briefly addresses these matters. We’re expanding on this particular issue a bit so as to offer more context than followers of the story probably have. So who were these Plantagenets? They were the male descendants of Matilda (1102-1167)–granddaughter of William the Conqueror and rightful heir to the English crown–who were fathered by her husband Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, (1113-1151) whose nickname “Plantagenet” became the sort of functional surname of this bunch a couple hundred years after Geoffrey’s and Matilda’s time.

Geoffrey’s Y-DNA (as yet, still unknown) was inherited by his and Matilda’s son, Henry, who, through right of his mother, became King Henry II of England. He passed it on to his sons, two of whom became kings in due time: Richard I and John. The five men who were tracked down and tested for this study are named “Somerset”, and descend from Edward III through his son John of Gaunt (1340-1399), the same son who sired the line of Henry’s IV though VI, but through a different mother than Henry IV. Interestingly, of the five living descendants of Somerset they found, one didn’t match the other four. But that four did match seemed encouraging. Richard III’s not matching definitely thickens the plot.



Among the many father-son links that could’ve been a different dad than who’s listed on Ye Olde Family Tree there are two known cases on the Beaufort-Somerset line of sons’ born out of wedlock (illegitimately). However, these sons were both accepted, openly acknowledged and ultimately legitimated by the fathers in both cases. In reverse chronological order:

Case #1: Henry Beaufort 3rd Duke of Somerset (1436-1464) & Charles Somerset 1st Earl of Worcester (1460-1526). There isn’t really any particular, stand-out evidence that the latter of those might have been fathered by another man. (We’ll report should this change.)

Case # 2: John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster & John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset (1373-1410). Beaufort was the first of four kids between the Duke of Lancaster and Katherine Swynford, all of whom were born out of wedlock, and yet all of whom were also not only legally legitimated after John and Katherine finally married, but accepted and claimed from birth by John. That said, though, when they began their affair Katherine was married to Sir Hugh Swynford, a faithful knight of John of Gaunt’s who died in 1372…Beaufort was born, so it seems, in 1373, though this fact seems to elude hard data; point being that when he was conceived, Katherine’s husband Hugh Swynford could very well have still been alive alive. Could he be the actual progenitor of the Beaufort/Somerset line? A hidden reason why the line was banned from any claim to the throne?

Though not mentioned in the study or any of the other press I’ve yet seen on this, there’s a third case that seems worth mentioning.

Case #3: Edmund of Langley, Duke of York (1341-1402) & Richard of Conisborough, 3rd Earl of Cambridge (1385-1415). John of Gaunt’s younger brother married Isabel of Castile, (princess from Spain). It was apparently well known at the time that Ed & Isabel didn’t dig each other, and it was rumored she had an affair with a notorious cad about the court, John de Holland, 1st Duke of Exeter. Could he have been the real father of Richard of Conisborough? (grandfather to Richard III; see chart.)

Depending where your guesswork hypothesizes a different dad than history reports, the implications for possibly pretender-kings shift. It’s important to note that it actually doesn’t bear on Britain’s currently ruling royal family, btw.

Y-DNA of the 4 living guys: R1b-U152

Y-DNA of Richard III: G2a-P278


*King, T. E. et al. Identification of the remains of King Richard III. Nat. Commun.
5:5631 doi: 10.1038/ncomms6631 (2014)

KC 8135Kylen Campbell is a writer and media producer in Oakland, California. He’s been doing genealogy since learning how in the “brick ‘n’ mortar” days of research (i.e., before the internet) at the Mormon’s Family History Library near where he grew up in Arizona. His abiding interest in it–and belief in its value and relevance–went with him to college, and he earned his BA in American Studies from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, studying under eminent historians Joseph Ellis, Stephen B. Oates and Steve Nissenbaum, writing narrative history based in the lives of some of his ancestors aimed at making history less dry to wider audiences. Later, for the official book commemorating President Clinton’s second inauguration he produced a historical introduction researched in the Smithsonian and enlisted documentary filmmaker Ken Burns to write the essay framing the section. He has been a journalist covering technology trends, including for TV, contributing to an Emmy-awarded program, and a teacher. His writing has appeared on CNBC.com and in the Village Voice covering music. He blogs about being a dad and is finally in the process of becoming a board-certified genealogist.

Global Family Reunion Holiday Photo Throwdown Contest

GFR Holiday Photo Throwdown

The Global Family Reunion (GFR) Team is holding its first ever “I Am A Cousin” Holiday Photo Throwdown.  We want to see how all our cousins celebrate the holiday season. Throwdown winners will receive some amazing prizes!

How it Works:

There are six photo categories that the GFR Team will consider:

  • Most Creative Cousin Photo
  • Most Holiday-ish Cousin Photo (either Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, or what have you)
  • Best Dressed Cousin Photo (either fancy clothes or costumes)
  • Oddest Place for a Cousin Photo
  • Farthest-Flung Cousin Photo (measured from New York City)
  • Most Cousins in a Single photo

We’ll pick our top 5 favorites in each category and those photos will be posted to the Global Family Reunion Facebook page where people will have a week to vote for their favorites in each category.

The Prizes:

The submitters of the 3 photos that receives the most votes overall will win:

  • 1st Place (Photo with the highest number of votes): MyHeritage Bundle (PremiumPlus subscription and Data Subscription – $240) and their photo will be included in AJ’s next book
  • 2nd Place (Photo with the second highest number of votes): MyHeritage PremiumPlus Subscription ($120)
  • 3rd Place (Photo with the third highest number of votes): A Geni Pro account ($119.40).

The submitters of the photos with the highest votes in each category will receive a signed copy of one of AJ Jacobs’ books and a Global Family Reunion bumper sticker.

All photo submissions will be entered in a random drawing.  The winner of the drawing will win an “Enjoy Genealogy” hooded sweatshirt courtesy of WikiTree.com.

The winning photos will also be featured on our Global Family Reunion blog.

How to Enter:

  1. During this holiday season take a family photo(s) that shows how you and your family/friends celebrate. Keep in mind the six categories the GFR Team will be looking for.
  1. Submit your photo(s) to info@worldfamily.us by 11:59pm, Friday January 9th, 2015 EST.


  • Photos must include a sign that says “I Am A Cousin”.
  • Photos must be submitted by 11:59pm, Friday January 9th, 2015 EST to qualify.
  • Obscene or otherwise inappropriate images will not be included.

Photo Examples:

Here are some examples to get you going!
















TERM: The Global Family Reunion “I Am A Cousin” Holiday Photo Throwdown (“Contest”) will run from December 9th, 2014 through 11:59 pm Friday, January 9th, 2015 EST.

SPONSORS: Prizes donated by generous contest sponsors include the MyHeritage, Geni and WikiTree.com and AJ Jacobs.

DISQUALIFICATION: Your entry will be disqualified if

(a) It is received after 11:59pm Friday, January 9th, 2015 EST.

(b) It does not include an “I Am A Cousin” sign.

(c) It contains obscene or otherwise inappropriate images.

SELECTION OF WINNERS: The Global Family Reunion Team will choose their 5 favorite photos in each of the 6 categories.. Those 30 photos will be posted in albums on the GFR Facebook page on Monday, January 12th, 2015. People will then be given a chance to vote on which ones they like the best by “liking” them via the Facebook page. The photo in each category that receives the most votes by Monday, January 19th  at Noon EST, will win for the category.  The three photos that receive the most votes overall will win the top three prizes.  The Winners will be announced on the GFR blog on Wednesday, January 21st, 2015.

Return of prize notification as “undeliverable” will result in disqualification and an alternate winner will be selected.

NOTIFICATION: The winner will be notified by e-mail sent to the e-mail address used in their photo submission. The Global Family Reunion is under no obligation to notify winners by any means other than e-mail. The Global Family Reunion is not responsible for notifications that are misdirected or not received because of e-mail addresses or mailing addresses that are no longer correct. If a potential winner cannot be reached after a reasonable effort has been made during three (3) business days from the first notification attempt, such person may be disqualified, with an alternate winner selected. Any prize notification or prize returned as undeliverable will result in the awarding of that prize to an alternate winner.

REDEMPTION: The GFR Team will deliver the prize as follows: Once a prizewinner responds to the notification from the Team, we will contact the winner to arrange for delivery of the prize to the prizewinner.

CONDITIONS: By participating in the Contest, you agree to release and hold the Global Family Reunion and all prize suppliers harmless from any and all losses, damages, rights, claims, and actions of any kind in connection with the Contest or any product purchased, or resulting from acceptance, possession, use or misuse of any prize, including, without limitation, personal injuries, death, and property damage, and claims based on publicity rights, defamation, or invasion of privacy, whether suffered by you or a third party. By participating, entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of the Global Family Reunion Team and waive any right to claim ambiguity in the Contest or these Contest Rules. All decisions regarding the Contest, including, but not limited to, selecting winners and usage of submitted photos, will be made by the Global Family Reunion Team  whose decisions shall be final.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. to Speak at the Global Family Reunion


For Immediate Release: Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Contact: Eowyn Langholf, gfrcousincoordinator@gmail.com or aj@ajjacobs.com


The Global Family Reunion is delighted to announce that Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. will be a speaker at the main event in New York City on June 6, 2015.

Henry_Louis_Gates_2014_(cropped)Dr. Gates has created 13 documentaries, authored 16 books, written innumerable articles and is a literary scholar, filmmaker, journalist and cultural critic. He is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University.

He serves as editor-in-chief of TheRoot.com while also overseeing the Oxford African American Studies Center, the first comprehensive scholarly online resource in the field. He’s hosted several PBS mini-series and his six-part PBS documentary series, “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross”, that traces 500 years of African-American history, earned multiple awards. Season two of his genealogical series “Finding Your Roots” is currently airing on PBS.


Dr. Gates has been the recipient of 53 honorary degrees and numerous academic and social action awards.

He is (distantly) related to Global Family Reunion founder A.J. Jacobs. (To be specific, he is A.J.’s aunt’s husband’s fourth great aunt’s husband’s first cousin thrice removed’s husband’s step-daughter’s second great granddaughter’s husband’s second great nephew).

About the Global Family Reunion

The Global Family Reunion will take place June 6, 2015, and aims to be the biggest, most inclusive and most entertaining family reunion in history. Everyone is invited. It will include presentations by celebrities, genealogists, and famous scientists, music, comedy, games, interactive exhibits and food. The main event will be held on the grounds of the world’s fair in New York, but there will be simultaneous parties around the world. All proceeds from the New York event will go toward Alzheimer’s Disease research and care.

The Global Family Reunion was founded by author A.J. Jacobs, who became fascinated with the idea that every person on Earth is related to every other after entering his name in several genealogy websites and finding he was connected to people all over the globe. “My hope — and I know it’s a bit idealistic — is that once we see how closely we’re all related, we’ll be able to work together better and solve the world’s really big problems, including Alzheimer’s,” he says.

The Global Family Reunion will be the topic of Jacobs’s next book and the subject of a documentary by Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me). Among those participating are actor Daniel Radcliffe, President George H.W. Bush and comedian Nick Kroll. The event has already been featured in the New York Times, People Magazine, NPR and Good Morning America. If you are interested in attending, please see the event website at globalfamilyreunion.com for more information. Plus, take a few minutes and watch Jacobs’ TED talk The world’s largest family reunion…we’re all invited .

*Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Dr. Mehmet Oz to Speak at the Global Family Reunion


For Immediate Release: Thursday, November 13, 2014
Contact: Eowyn Langholf, gfrcousincoordinator@gmail.com


The Global Family Reunion is thrilled to announce that Dr. Mehmet Oz will be a key speaker at our event in New York City in June 2015.



Dr. Oz is a renowned heart surgeon and host of The Dr. Oz Show, which debuted in 2009 and went on to win three consecutive Emmy Awards. In addition to hosting the TV show, Oz continues to serve as vice-chairman and professor of surgery at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. He also branched out into a new form of media in 2014 with the launch his own lifestyle magazine.

AJ will appear on Dr. Oz’s show tomorrow, Friday, November 14th, to talk about the Global Family Reunion and the importance of family history to your health.

Dr. Mehmet Oz is A.J.’s’ aunt’s ex-husband’s fourth great aunt’s husband’s aunt’s husband’s fifth great nephew’s wife’s first cousin’s husband’s second cousin’s husband.

About Global Family Reunion

The Global Family Reunion will take place June 6, 2015, and aims to be the biggest, most inclusive and most entertaining family reunion in history. Everyone is invited. It will include presentations by celebrities, genealogists, and famous scientists, music, comedy, games, interactive exhibits and food. The main event will be held on the grounds of the world’s fair in New York, but there will be simultaneous parties around the world. The Global Family Reunion was founded by author A.J. Jacobs, who became fascinated with the idea that every person on Earth is related to every other after entering his name in several genealogy websites and finding he was connected to people all over the globe. “Once we realize we’re all related,” he says, “we can solve the big problems, like Alzheimer’s”.

He is using the event to collect donations, which will be distributed to Cure Alzheimer’s Fund and the Alzheimer’s Association NYC Chapter. The Global Family Reunion will be the topic of Jacobs’ next book and the subject of a documentary by Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me). Among those participating are actor Daniel Radcliffe, President George H.W. Bush and comedian Nick Kroll. The event has already been featured in the New York Times, People Magazine, NPR and Good Morning America. If you are interested in attending, please see our event website for more information. Plus, take a few minutes and watch Jacobs’TED talk The world’s largest family reunion…we’re all invited!

Win a FREE 3-day Pass to RootsTech 2015!

Would you like to attend the upcoming RootsTech 2015 conference, February 11-14, in Salt Lake City for free? Enter our RootsTech 2015 Giveaway and you could win a FREE 3-day pass ($239 value) for the Conference!

PD10052142_RT_badges_ambassadorRootsTech is an inspiring family history and technology conference has something for everyone. Hosted by FamilySearch, this annual event has become the largest of its kind and every attracts thousands of participants from around the world!  It’s an event where people of all ages learn to discover, share and celebrate their family connections across generations through technology. At RootsTech, there is something for everyone, no matter your experience in family history or your skill level in technology.

Entering our contest is simple:

Just answer this question:  “What does family mean to you?”  Send your response to globalfamily2015@gmail.com.

Responses must be received by November 30th, 2014.  A winner will be randomly selected for the submissions and announced on December 3rd, 2014.  We’ll share some of our favorite responses on our blog and social media!



Cousin Connection Tip #10: Can I Get An Estimate?

by Abby Glann

unnamedSticking with our census theme, keep in mind census data is usually going to give you estimates. Even so, using averages, you can *usually* come to something close to the truth. If you find a census where your great Aunt Joan’s birth year comes to 1888, another where she is born 1887, another at 1888, then another at 1889, you can estimate she was born in 1888. Now, she may have been born in 1887 or 1889, but 1888 is still a great guess that is going to help you get closer to the truth. One tool I use when searching censuses for someone is to give myself around a 5 year range to look, if I have a good idea of when they were born.

So for Aunt Joan, I would use a range of 1886 to 1890 when searching, considering that her birth could be listed as any of those years.

Don’t discount those finds you make that look like they may be the right person but the year is off a bit in census data. Look closer-it may be who you’re looking for!

image courtesy of Twisted Twigs on Gnarled Branches on Facebook

November 2014 Global Family Newsletter

Hello Cousin,

Hope your branch of the family is doing well.

We wanted to give you the latest on the Global Family Reunion, the biggest, most inclusive, most entertaining family reunion in history (all to benefit the battle against Alzheimer’s.)

The Global Family Tree continues to grow. We’ve now connected Beyonce to Brahms, and King George III to George Clooney.

If you haven’t yet been connected to the mega-tree, don’t worry: our awesome research team is working on it. (We’ve been delightfully overwhelmed with requests, but we’re plowing through them).

The Global Family Reunion has received some great coverage from our cousins in the media. Dr. Oz taped an episode about the GFR that will air in a few weeks.

And GFR host A.J. Jacobs continues his column in People magazine where he interviews a notable relative each month. The latest installment: Jim Bob Duggar, the father of 19 and star of the reality show “19 Kids and Counting” on TLC.

(Fun fact: If all 19 of their kids have 19 kids, and the pattern continues, there will be 2 billion Duggars in nine generations).

A.J. also spoke at the delightfully-named World Domination Summit, and his speech is now online. The WDS is a great conference held in Portland, and contains no shortage of Portlandish touches (put it this way: There was a unicyclist in a kilt with a bagpipe. Oh, and he was playing Star Wars theme music. And there were flames shooting out of the bagpipe).

We continue to book wonderful speakers and entertainers to make sure all our cousins are properly entertained and enlightened.

Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings will be writing the Ultimate Family Trivia Quiz for the Global Family Reunion. We’ve got humorist Andy Borowitz of the wildly popular Borowitz Report and Maud Newton, who wrote a cover story on genealogy for Harper’s magazine. We’ll also be offering a family storytelling workshop by the group Writopia.

The Global Family Reunion will have simultaneous parties around the world with a live-stream of the talks and entertainment. In addition to some we announced last month — the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah and the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri – we’ve added a bunch more locations, including ones in Germany, Hungary and Australia.

If you want to be involved with or know more about Branch Parties, check out our Branch Party FAQ!

We’re thrilled to announce that A.J. will be a keynote speaker at the biggest genealogy conference in the world, RootsTech, held in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 11-14, 2015. Another keynote speaker there? Donny Osmond, who is A.J.’s aunt’s third cousin four times removed’s husband’s granddaughter’s husband’s great nephew.   

And don’t forget cousin Morgan Spurlock will be filming a documentary about the Reunion!

Our family of partners grows! We’re excited about teaming up with the Federation of Genealogical Societies, an umbrella group of several hundred societies around the world. We’ve also joined forces with the culinary website Food52 to launch a Global Family Reunion recipe contest.

We have hundreds of volunteers working to connect people to you and the Global Family, to spread the word via social media, to coordinate activities and food for the event, to reach out to societies and organizations to get them involved. We want to thank them all, whether they are first cousins or 14th cousins.

–If you haven’t sent in the names of your grandparents and great grandparents (along with birth dates please!) then shoot an email to us at info@worldfamily.us.

–Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Global-Family-Reunion/223798427785665

–Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GlobalReunion15

–Check out all the different ways you can be involved in this epic event!

–Let 10 of your family members and friends know about the Global Family Reunion.

Stay tuned for more updates coming soon!

Your Cousins,
AJ Jacobs and the Global Family Team

“I Am A Cousin”: Lynn Coleman

I Am A Cousin……….don’t hold it against me!

IMG_0410My name is Lynn Coleman (nee Reilly). I was born in San Francisco, CA in 1950. I worked in the medical field for 25 years and retired from it. I have two children, one grandson and 3 granddogs. My husband and I have been together for over 40 years and we’re still talking! We are fortunate to live in a truly beautiful area of northern California.

Genealogy has become a favorite (addiction) I mean hobby of mine and with it, history. I spend time reading about the times some of my relatives lived through and areas they came from. It has helped me have more understanding and appreciation of where I came from and the life I am lucky to have.

As far as having a favorite ancestor well, I wouldn’t be able to pick one. My 7xgrandmother was a British citizen, being raised in New Hampshire and was kidnapped by Indians under the French command. She lived but, most of her family were killed. It was called the Oyster Bay Massacre. They took her to Quebec and was adopted by a French family.


Image Credit: Wikipedia

If I could be related to anyone in history…I’m not sure who that would be. Would it be a sibling to Ben Franklin, sitting at the kitchen table trading bon mots? That is, if any of his cleverness had rubbed off on me. Maybe, Josephine Bakers sister/ backup dancer…seeing Paris in the 1920’s! Maybe, an artist and brother to the dean of admissions for the art school Adolf Hiltler had applied to and was turned down. I could convince my brother to let him into the school, rewrite history! Instead of an exceptionally horrible person to deal with, we would have just another mediocre artist! OK, that was a little convoluted…..how about, Albert Einsteins’ smart brother, the one with good hair!

No, I’m mostly kidding but, the premise of being able to affect a change not just witness history is a good one…(as long as we’re dreaming)!

I did not come from a large family and my folks are long passed. Recently I met a dna distant cousin and oddly enough we felt a real connection.

If AJ could invite anyone, I would be thrilled to see Michele and Barack Obama!

I love the concept of the Global Family Reunion. I have had my dna done. We really are all related. If we really grasped that maybe we could be more accepting of our differences.

I would like to attend and we are talking about it. We will have to see how 2015 unfolds. Aldous Huxley once said “in large crowds, I scarcely glimmer” but, since we’re all family we’ll all shine!

See you next June, Lynn

Family History Month Challenge Day Twenty-Nine: Start A Newsletter

by Eowyn Langholf and Abby Glann
Hi Cousins!

gfr challengeOctober is Family History Month so for fun we’re giving a challenge every day of the month relating to ways you can celebrate your family, your lineage and your heritage!

Ready for Day 29? Here it is: Do you send an annual holiday letter summarizing the activities of you, your spouse and your kids for the past year? If not, no time like this year to start!  File each one with your family history research, or keep a notebook of letters that you’ve written and received from others. In Eowyn’s family, they keep a big binder of letters that each family contributes every year. 

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