Tip #9: Common Census

by Abby Glann

Sticking with the theme of sources, one great source to use to start filling in a lot of blanks fast is a census. Most areas use some sort of census to keep track of the growth of their population. The most recent one available in the US is the 1940 census, while Canada and the UKs most recent released is the 1911 (following their 100 year rule). The kind of information these usually give you is the head of the household, the spouse or if the head was widowed, and the children living in the house at that time. Though you can’t depend on them 100 percent, they are fantastic sources to start with. From them you get a general idea of the birth year-most are estimates unless the taker specifically asked for the year, where they were born, an occupation, where their parents were born, and if you take the time to look at the neighbors, you’ll often find other relatives or future in-laws.

All this information, even when just an estimate, can be quite helpful for finding future sources and ancestors. A great place to access many census is through FamilySearch.org (it’s free!). If you know your great grandparents’ names, general birth dates, and places you can usually find them in a census somewhere. Depending on your age, you may even find your parents or grandparents. The US has census data back to 1790, but the most useful censuses, especially for beginners, are from 1850 and after. The UK started taking them regularly in 1801, and every ten years after. Check out familysearch.org (or if you have a subscription somewhere else like Ancestry.com) and find your family!

If you know of a great site to access the census data for another country, let us know about it in the comments and we’ll add the links to this post. We know we tend to be US-centric, but want to make sure we’re helping *all* of our cousins.

Family History Month Challenge Day 3: Visit a Cemetery

by Eowyn Langholf and Abby Glann 
Hi Cousins!

October 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 3? Here it is: Visit a cemetery you haven’t yet to find the headstones of some of your ancestors. Take pictures. Post them on that collaborative site you joined!

Here are some great tips for visiting a cemetery.

Do you enjoy photographing tombstones? Both WikiTree and Geni have cemetery projects you might be interested in joining!

Family History Month Challenge Day 2: Start a One Name Study

by Eowyn Langholf and Abby Glann 
Hi Cousins!

October 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 2? Here it is: Start a One Name Study for one of your unique family names or one of your favorites.

A One Name Study is a project researching a specific surname rather then a particular line (such as ancestors or descendants).

Both Geni.com and WikiTree.com have projects dedicated to One Name Studies and could help get you started!

Hi Cousins!

October 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 1? Here it is: – See more at: https://globalfamilyreunion2015.blogspot.com/#sthash.n63YaHLn.dpuf

Hi Cousins!

October 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 1? Here it is: – See more at: https://globalfamilyreunion2015.blogspot.com/#sthash.n63YaHLn.dpuf

Family History Month Challenge: Day 1

by Eowyn Langholf and Abby Glann

Hi Cousins!

October 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 1? Here it is:  Join a collaborative genealogy site to start sharing your research with others.

Not sure where to join? There are several great collaborative sites to try out and see what works best for you.  Here are a few:

Tip #8: Source the Stories

by Abby Glann

One thing that will keep coming up when you run with genealogists of any sort are sources, like we talked about last time. They are just *that* important. No matter what the source, be it the 1790 United States Census confirming your fifth great grandpa’s home in Virginia or the back of the cereal box that told you George Washington’s mother’s name was Mary Ball or the parish records from Zbiroh, Bohemia showing your second great grandmother’s birth date, you need to put it in your notes. That includes family stories.

Family stories can be great for little clues to big finds. One thing I have loved to do for years is to take my notebook (or smartphone for you savvy sorts) with me to visit relatives and take notes about the stories they tell. When your grandfather starts talking about his grandparents living in Sweden, their profession, what their trip over on the ship was like, where they settled, that child who died in infancy, the other one who married the doctor in that small town in Minnesota, and so on, all of that is great to use for clues in your search for where your family was at certain times. Sources tend to lead to other sources, and family stories are great for that. 
One caution with family stories-they aren’t always true! That doesn’t mean they won’t help, though. My family had a story about my third great grandfather that had been in the family for ages and was rather beloved. I was the unfortunate bearer of bad news as I got further into researching our heritage. The story was that that grandfather had been a member of the Scottish navy and had gone AWOL while on leave in Nova Scotia, changing his name from Saxton to Brown and starting a family there. Well, his name was always Brown and he immigrated from England, not Scotland, with his young wife to be a miner and raise a family. No navy. No name changes. But there was truth there-he did live in Nova Scotia, he was an immigrant, and his name was Brown. All those correct clues helped me find the truth and add to my family lines. 
No matter the story-that you’re descended from Thomas Jefferson or that your great Uncle Jim Bob owned the service station is Sapulpa-they are sources, and should be put down as such. They make great additions to your own story, too, giving you an idea of who your ancestors were. Every member and detail to your story you can add will help get you one step closer to finding how you’re a cousin to all of us.
 (image courtesy of Twisted Twigs on Gnarled Branches)

Tip #7: Sources, Sources, Sources

by Abby Glann

By now, you have a great jump on your family research. One important thing to look for or ask for when tracing your family is sources. Sources. Sources. Sources. What’s the big deal?

Sources make all the difference when someone is looking at your research, or YOU are looking at your research later, in telling you how do you know what you know. This may seem like a tedious step but it will help you and those who look at your tree so much.  How do you know that Jim Jones is your grandfather? You know him personally. Put that in a “sources” section whereever you have your research. He was born in 1936 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. How do you know that? He told you and showed you his birth certificate. Put that in the sources section. 
We’ll talk more about places to find sources later, but for now, just put down how you know what you know. Don’t let anyone tell you a source isn’t good enough, at least for now 🙂 The most important thing is you know where you found your facts. Later, if you find a different source and want to compare, or find a differing point of view, you’ll be so glad you did and the other folks out there researching their families will be happy you did, too!

Global Family September Newsletter

Hello Cousins,

Hope your branch of the family is doing well.

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

We’ve added tens of thousands of relatives to the Big Family in the last month, including Napoleon, Annie Oakley and J.R.R. Tolkien.  So please say hi (bonjour/howdy/suilad) to your new cousins.

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

The Global Family Reunion has gotten some amazing coverage  in the last month, including NPR, BuzzFeed and The Guardian (where we figure out how Obama is related to dozens of senators on both sides of the aisle).

GFR host, author A.J. Jacobs, also has a column in People magazine where he interviews a notable cousin every month. (This installment: Valerie Bertinelli, where she talked about her Quaker roots, Jeffrey Dahmer and her bad British accent).

We continue to book interesting speakers and performers to make sure all our cousins are thoroughly entertained and thought-provoked on June 6.

NPR Weekend Edition host Scott Simon will be giving a talk in praise of adoption. Spencer Wells of the National Genographic project will speak about DNA. Singers Lisa Loeb and Paul Williams – among more to be announced soon — will rock out.

Oh, and we’ve also booked George Washington, who is A.J.’s aunt’s fifth great aunt’s husband’s great uncle’s wife’s great nephew. Maybe not the actual George Washington. But the best GW re-enactor in America. We want some historical figures at the reunion too.

The Global Family Reunion will, in fact, be Global. We’re helping to organize branch parties all over the world. (Get it? Branches, as in Family tree?) So far, among others, we have the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Clayton Library Center in Houston, Texas, Allen County Public Library in Wayne, Indiana and the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri. If you want to get involved in a branch party, please contact info@worldfamily.us.

We want to get more people on the tree – and help battle Alzheimer’s at the same time. Note to genealogists: We are donating $1 to battling Alzheimer’s for every connection made. See here for details.

A growing number of great organizations have joined us as partners.  Most recently, we want to welcome FamilySearch to the, uh, family. FamilySearch is huge and helpful, with more than a billion records.

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

–Send us stuff!  Okay, not just any stuff, but we are collecting stories, photos, videos and recipes.  For more details see here.

Become a GFR Ambassador and help spread the word via social media and blogging!

–Check out all the different opportunities to volunteer!

Thank you, my cousins. Looking forward to meeting you all soon!

A.J. Jacobs and the Global Family Reunion team.

Note: The photos are of cousins Christina Hendricks (actor), Chris O’Dowd (actor) and Abraham Lincoln (president).

AJ Cousin Connection: Mary, Queen of Scots

by Eowyn Langholf

Today’s AJ Cousin Connection is Mary, Queen of Scots!

Also known as Mary Stuart or Mary I of Scotland, she reigned as Queen of Scotland from 14 December 1542 to 24 July 1567.  She was only 6 days old when her father, King James VI died and she acceded to the throne.

Some interesting facts about Queen Mary:

1. Mary Stuart was very fond of white and insisted on wearing that color for her first wedding to Francis II even though white was regarded as the color of mourning in 16th century France.

2. After the death of Francis II, Mary wore black to indicate her mourning for the loss of her husband and loss of the French crown.

3. Mary led a very active life and loved horse riding and dancing. She would dress up as a stable boy and escape at night into the streets of Edinburgh incognito.

4. Though often depicted otherwise in more contemporary art, Mary was tall (nearly 6 ft) and beautiful.

5. Mary had a fiery personality. She was generous, forgiving and a sociable being. She loved the open air and animals. However, she was also criticized for acting on impulse and being tactless.

6. Mary was the first woman to practice golf in Scotland. She even caused a scandal when she was seen playing the game at St Andrews within days of her husband Darnley’s murder.

7. Mary’s last night was spent drafting an elaborate will in which all her servants were remembered. On the day of her execution, she appeared in her customary black cloak and with a white veil over her head. She then dropped the cloak to reveal a crimson red dress.

8.  Mary’s last words before the axe fell over her head were: “Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit”.

Mary I, Queen of Scots is A.J. Jacobs’ aunt’s 7th great aunt’s husband’s aunt’s husband’s great aunt’s husband’s half sister. 

Here’s what that looks like:

Chart courtesy of Geni.com

1. https://www.marie-stuart.co.uk/facts.htm 

AJ Cousin Connection: Richard the Lionheart

by Eowyn Langholf
Today’s AJ Cousin Connection is Richard the Lionheart (Richard I of England).  He was born on this day, September 8, 1157 and ruled from 6 July 1189 until his death on 6 April 1199.

Some things about King Richard:

1. He was the third of five sons of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

2. He was called Richard the Lionheart because of his reputation as a great military leader and warrior.

3. Richard also ruled as ruled as Duke of Normany (as Richard IV), Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Poitiers, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes and Overlord of Brittany. Phew!

4. By the age of 16, Richard the Lionheart had taken command of his own army and was putting down rebellions against his father.

5. A Latin prose narrative of the Third Crusade describes him as “… tall, of elegant build; the colour of his hair was between red and gold; his limbs were supple and straight. He had long arms suited to wielding a sword. His long legs matched the rest of his body.”

AJ and Richard the Lionheart have 26 degrees of separation.  Here’s what that looks like:

Chart courtesy of WikiTree

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_I_of_England

Cousin Connection Tip #6 – Location, Location, Location

by Abby Glann

Another week, another opportunity to find more cousins! Last week we talked about dates. Those dates are super useful for finding your family, especially if you’re using a collaborative genealogy site. Something else that is handy is finding out places. Especially when you are dealing with popular names, places can make all the difference. Ask your family where folks lived, worked, were born, married, or died. These are all helpful clues that can point you to possible sources to back up your family information.

An example of this being important is if you have an ancestor named Michael Armstrong born in 1915 and married to Margaret Perry. Later, when we start looking for sources, say we find two sets of Michael and Margaret Armstrongs, with birth dates around 1915. 

How do we know which ones are our ancestors?
We look at the places associated with them. Michael and Margaret number one were living in Baltimore, Maryland when the 1940 US Census rolls around. Michael and Margaret number two were living in San Francisco, California during that census. Say that your grandpa is Joe Armstrong born in 1941 in Baltimore to Michael and Margaret. Chances are, the family you want is the one in Baltimore. 
Places help so much in tracking down your family. They can also give you an idea where to look for the family if they tended to move a lot. Dates are a great first step, places are just as important, and not just for births. Find out where people lived!

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