Blog » Site The official blog of Thu, 28 Aug 2014 21:16:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mrs. Brown’s Boys funnyman Brendan O’Carroll is next on Who Do You Think You Are? ( UK ) Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:14:51 +0000 Brian Gallagher Read more]]> Mrs. Brown’s Boys star, Irish comedian Brendan O’Carroll is the next celebrity to get the  Who Do You Think You Are? treatment tomorrow night. Brendan now lives in Florida, but still calls Dublin home.

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Brendan has heard from family members that his grandfather was shot during the Irish War of Independence in 1920. Acutely aware that family stories can be embellished, Brendan is keen to get to the truth of that story. What happened? Why was he shot? Was he fighting for Irish freedom? Who shot him?

“I would like to find out just what happened that night,” said Brendan.

During the show the Who Do You Think You Are? team uncovers a sworn statement from a British spy that identifies the man who shot Brendan’s grandfather. He was shot by a decorated World War One soldier, who was operating as a British intelligence officer in Ireland.

British intelligence had been seeking information on his two sons. When he refused to pass on information about his sons, he was warned that he would be shot if they did not surrender!

Tune in for what promises to be an exciting and emotional episode of Who Do You Think You Are?


Who Do You Think You Are? airs on  BBC1 this Thursday at 9pm. Join us on Twitter and Facebook to share your thoughts or questions.


Image courtesy of Karen Ellot. Flickr/creative commons.

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Happiness and Sadness in Equal Measure in this Week’s “Long Lost Family” Sun, 24 Aug 2014 08:27:02 +0000 Brian Gallagher Read more]]> Join Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell as they take on the challenge of uniting families in the penultimate episode in this season of Long Lost Family.









John Farrell

John Farrell is a 46-year old catering manager and Army reservist. His childhood was marked by feelings of inadequacy and he never felt as though he belonged. When he turned thirteen he found out that the man he was raised to believe was his father was not his biological father. His mother offered to tell him about his father but he didn’t want to know. He now regrets not asking about his father at that time.

Having three children has changed his outlook. John is determined to be the best father he could for his children. He often thinks of his own father and the connection he wishes they had. Twenty years ago John started to search for his father. His mother told him that he was a former soldier called Cyrill Smith. Cyrill was married to another woman when John was born.

Sharing the background of military service, John served in Afghanistan and feels a great sense of pride. When he returned home he was met with handshakes and the admiration of well-wishers. For John, the only person he wanted to be proud of him was his father. When Long Lost Family took on the search they were able to track down John’s two half-siblings from his father’s marriage. John was moved to tears to know his siblings want to meet him.


Patricia Hart

Patricia grew up in small community where everybody knew everybody and there were no secrets. In 1954, when Patricia was just 17, she signed up for three years in the Women’s Royal Army Corps. She embraced her freedom and was excited to see the world beyond her small community. She met a man and began a relationship while stationed in Hampshire. Eight months into the relationship Patricia’s time in the army came to an end and she returned home to Yorkshire. It was then that she discovered she was pregnant.

With no support from her boyfriend, Patricia told her parents. She knew that they would support her, but felt she could not put them through the shame. She decided that she would give her baby up for adoption, a decision which has haunted her every day since. In March 1959, Patricia gave birth to a baby girl she called Christine and they spent six precious weeks together.

Now 75, Patricia is a great-grandmother and lives in South Yorkshire surrounded by her close-knit family. Her only fear is that she will die before she has a chance to meet the daughter that she gave away all those years ago. The Long Lost Family team tracks down Patricia’s daughter and the reunion is not to be missed.


Long Lost Family will air on ITV this Monday August 25th at 9pm. Join us on Twitter and Facebook to share your thoughts on this episode.

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Tamzin Outhwaite Discovers a Rags to Riches Tale on “Who Do You Think You Are?” (UK) Wed, 20 Aug 2014 11:09:01 +0000 Brian Gallagher Read more]]> New Tricks actress Tamzin Outhwaite will be the next celebrity to discover her family history on  Who Do You Think You Are? tomorrow night. Tamzin has gained fame for playing London characters and her parents are from London’s East End. However, she is also aware that she has Italian roots.

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“I do know that there is definitely an Italian influence within the family. I’d like to get much more in touch with my Italian roots”, said Tamzin.

The former EastEnders actress remembers her Grandfather Remo but knows little about his family. The Who Do You Think You Are? team uncovers the genuine rags-to-riches story of her great-grandfather Adelmo. Although he started with nothing, Adelmo went on to become a successful business owner and ice cream maker. There was a time when he could not pay for the funeral of one of his sons. The community came together to pay for the funeral and this kindness was never forgotten by her great-grandfather. Later in life Adelmo bought some land and turned it into a playing field for the community who had been so kind to him in his hour of need.

Tamzin is shocked to learn that during World War Two things were not easy for the Italian community and that they often faced prejudice. Adelmo and his eldest son, Peter, were interned at a camp on the Isle of Man in 1940. Having spent twenty years raising a family in the UK, he found himself labeled as a fascist simply because he was Italian.

“My great-grandfather and great-uncle would have been made to feel like criminals. They made ice cream. Goodness me”, said Tamzin.

Who Do You Think You Are? airs on  BBC1 this Thursday at 9pm. Join us on Twitter and Facebook to share your thoughts or questions.


Image courtesy of Karen Ellot. Flickr/creative commons.

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MyCanvas Finds a New Home in Alexander’s Tue, 19 Aug 2014 14:00:24 +0000 Eric Shoup Read more]]> This past June, we announced that we were retiring the MyCanvas website and service in September 2014.

We’ve heard from many people who love MyCanvas and hate the idea of it going away. Well, we have some good news for you: It’s not going away after all! We were successful in finding a new home for the service at Alexander’s.


Founded 35 years ago, Alexander’s is a Utah-based printing production company that has been the long-term printer of MyCanvas products including its genealogy books, calendars, and other printed products. This makes the transition of MyCanvas to Alexander’s a natural fit.

It’s our hope that this agreement will not change the experience for MyCanvas customers. In fact, Alexander’s plans to make some exciting improvements we think you’ll love. Additionally, MyCanvas will continue to be available from the website as we believe in the importance of sharing family history discoveries and see MyCanvas as a way to deliver this ability to our customers.

The transition of MyCanvas will take about six months. But in the meantime, all MyCanvas projects will remain accessible on until it moves over to Alexander’s next year. We will continue to communicate details as the transition moves forward.

We want to thank our loyal MyCanvas customers for all the projects you have built and printed with us over the years. We’re excited about this new owner of MyCanvas—and we think you will be too.


Have more questions? Please check out the FAQs.

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Painful Memories and Warm Embraces in Episode Five of Long Lost Family. Sun, 10 Aug 2014 00:40:49 +0000 Brian Gallagher Read more]]> Last week’s episode of Long Lost Family was probably the most emotional yet. But it doesn’t stop there. This week Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell worked tirelessly to reunite more long-separated families. In episode five we’ll witness two reunions that are healing the pain of the past.


Sheila Thomas and Jacqui Denton

Growing up in London, Sheila was raised in a working household. She left school at age 15 to work as a receptionist and it wasn’t long before she fell madly in love with a married man. She became pregnant and at only 17, she was frightened and unsure of what to do. Unable to ask her boyfriend for help she told her parents everything.

They quickly took charge of the situation and Sheila had to quit her job and leave her boyfriend. She was sent to a mother and baby home and it was there, on Boxing Day 1967, that she gave birth to a baby girl she named Jacqueline. It never dawned on Sheila that her baby would be taken from her. She was distraught when she realized that her precious child would be given up for adoption. She never recovered and despite going on to be happily married, she never had any more children.

Sheila felt unworthy to be a mother and never forgave herself for allowing her baby to be taken without a fight. Now 64, Sheila has longed to give her daughter a hug and know that she is happy. Long Lost Family tracked down Jacqueline, who was overwhelmed to hear that her birth mother was looking for her. Her adoptive parents kept her name and when Jacqui met Sheila, her adoptive mother came too. The meeting has given Sheila the strength to move on and put the pain of the adoption behind her.

Stephen Andrews and Janet Johnson

Stephen was adopted in 1964 by Terrance and Betty Andrews. He found out that he was adopted when he was eight-years-old, but it wasn’t until his teenage years that he questioned why he was given away. Now 49 and married with three children, he longed to answer the questions that have plagued him all these years.

When his adoptive mother died, he decided to face his past and see if he could track down his birth mother. His adoption file raised more painful questions. It stated that his birth parents planned to get married, sparking the question again, why did they give him away?

Long Lost Family tracked down Stephen’s birth mother, Janet. She was overjoyed to hear that he was looking for her. She explained that she was only 15 when she got pregnant and that she was frightened and unsure how she was going to support her baby. She went on to marry Stephen’s father and have two more sons. When Davina met Stephen to tell him she had found his mother, he was shocked to hear that he has two full brothers. Davina reassured him that he was not forgotten and when he meets Janet for the first time, she explained in her own words the circumstances of the adoption. Stephen can finally begin to get over the hurt and shame he has felt all these years.

Long Lost Family will air on ITV this Monday August 11th at 9pm. Join us on Twitter and Facebook to share your thoughts on this episode.

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The new season of Who Do You Think You Are? (UK) opens with Julie Walters Thu, 07 Aug 2014 11:14:43 +0000 Brian Gallagher Read more]]> Actress Julie Walters kicks off the new season of  Who Do You Think You Are  tonight. She is hoping to find some skeletons in her closet and the show does not disappoint.


In researching her Irish ancestry she makes several discoveries. Her great grandfather Anthony Clarke was one of the early founders of The Land League. It was formed to protect farmers from being thrown off their land in the 19th century. The Land League eventually went on to win the right to buy land for the tenant farmers and in later years, many had their own plots of land. However, she is shocked to hear that he was accused of murder after attacking a man with a knife.

But while her great grandfather Clarke fought for the land rights of farmers, Ms Walters discovers another relative -  great great great grandfather Cummins Buchanan, stole land from others for his employer when they fell behind their rent and also voted against any reforms which would have helped the poorest in Ireland.


Julie goes through a range of emotions as she is confronted with the good and the bad in her family history.


Who Do You Think You Are? Returns to BBC1 this Thursday at 9pm. Join us on Twitter and Facebook to share your thoughts or questions.

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Two searches, one family! Get ready for another episode of Long Lost Family Sat, 02 Aug 2014 09:18:15 +0000 Brian Gallagher Read more]]> The inspiring stories on Long Lost Family have brought us to tears on more than one occasion, as Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell worked tirelessly to reunite long separated families. In episode four we will witness a first for the Long Lost Family team.


Inge Dart

Growing up in Kenya, Inge’s life was overshadowed by her domineering mother. It was the last days of the British Empire and Inge was very much in love with her childhood sweetheart, Jeremy. When she became pregnant at 19, her mother banished her half way across the world to have the baby in secret.

Her mother sent her to Surrey in the UK where she was taken in by a couple who looked after her until her daughter was born. She cared for her daughter for ten days knowing time was running out. Jeremy visited and the young couple were overjoyed to be able to spend time with their daughter before she was taken away.

Now sixty-six years old, the loss of her baby has haunted Inge ever since and she now craves the peace she knows will only come when she sees her daughter once more. In one of the most extraordinary searches ever undertaken by Long Lost Family we see a mother looking for the daughter she had to say goodbye to when she was only ten days old. From Colonial Kenya to Northern France, watch what happens when they end Inge’s search and, in a first for Long Lost Family, they take on her daughter’s search for her father Jeremy, who has spent a lifetime yearning for the chance to give his daughter a hug.  

Long Lost Family is broadcast on ITV this Monday August 4th at 9pm. Join us on Twitter and Facebook to share your thoughts on Inge’s emotional journey.

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Be The Star of Your Own Who Do You Think You Are? Show Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:35:42 +0000 Jessica Murray Read more]]> WDYTYA Star Contest

WDYTYA Star Contest

Have you watched Who Do You Think You Are? and wished you could travel the world to discover more about your own ancestors’ past? Then we have a giveaway for you!

We are picking one lucky winner for the ultimate Who Do You Think You Are? experience, which includes a trip to your family’s homeland plus time with a professional genealogist to help research your family history, just like the stars on the show.

Watch the Who Do You Think You Are? episode airing tonight on TLC at 9p|8c that features Jesse Tyler Ferguson, then visit the Be A Who Do You Think You Are? Star contest page where you will be asked to answer a question about the episode you just saw and enter for a chance to win this family history prize.

The Grand Prize Winner receives

  • Accommodations for two to the land of your ancestors
  • Access to a personal historian just like the celebrities on the show
  • $2,000 in spending cash!
  • Additional prizes will be awarded each week

This Grand Prize package has an approximate retail value of $15,488.

Final entry period ends at 11:59:59 p.m. ET on August 29, 2014 and you must be 21 years or older and agree to the official rules here.

Enter to win here and good luck!

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Six Things to Look for in City Directories Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:29:13 +0000 Juliana Smith Read more]]> City directories are incredible sources. In many cities, they were published annually, which can give us a lot of detail about our ancestors. Here are six things to look for in city directories.

1. Your Ancestor and Other Family Members

Sure, you’re going to look for your ancestor, but look for other family members, too. Some of them may have lived nearby, others across town. Then follow the family year-by-year to note changes in occupation, living arrangements, even deaths of a head of household. Add it all to a timeline so you can keep track of the family’s comings and goings.

2. Streets and Maps

Street names can change over time. So can house numbers. To get a real look at your ancestor’s neighborhood, look for street directories inside city directories. In some cases you may even find maps of the city or town. Street directories will typically give you cross streets, which you can use to orient you on modern day maps. This sample lists the right and left side of the street and the house number that corresponds with each intersection.

Brooklyn, New York, 1877


Mobile, Alabama 1890

You may also find a reverse directory that lists residents by address, as well as cross streets. Use these to look through the neighborhood when searching for your ancestor’s name just isn’t working. It’s also a good way to see who is living nearby.

3. Churches and Clerics

Religious records are incredibly valuable for discovering dates, places, and family relationships. For the years before states were required to keep records of births, marriages, and deaths, churches may be the only place to find that information. Use city directories to find the churches nearest to your ancestor and churches that may be affiliated with his or her ethnic background.

If you find the name of a cleric on records associated with your family, research the cleric in city directories, too. Use his address and compare it to the address of local churches to determine church affiliation. Also look to see if the directory you’re viewing has a list of churches and synagogues that includes the names of clerics.


Chicago, Illinois, 1900

4. Cemeteries

Check city directories for cemeteries near where your relatives lived. They may point you to burial locations, possibly even a family plot, where you’ll find details about more than one family member. This directory from Mobile, Alabama in 1890, gives the cemetery locations and even the name of the sexton.


Mobile, Alabama, 1890

5. Advertisements

Look at the ads carefully. You may discover more information about a family member’s business or place of business, names of photographers, banks, organizations and other details that  could appear elsewhere in your family’s history. Advertisements were a big source of revenue for directories and this Buffalo directory calls its index of advertisers the “Honor Roll.” Page numbers in the final column will take you directly to the ad.


Buffalo, New York, 1939

6. Historical Information

City directories often included histories of the area, some with images of the city, too. That same Buffalo directory from 1939 includes an Introduction that spans 21 pages with photographs of the city and its landmarks, and sections on early history and settlers, historic sites, street names, statistics, and more. There are even sections outlining the history of several ethnic groups in Buffalo (Polish, German, Italian, Irish, and Jewish). All of this can give you a little more background on your family and their home life.


Buffalo, New York, 1939

Search U.S. City Directories on

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And The Winner of the June Branch Out Contest is… Wed, 16 Jul 2014 18:53:22 +0000 Kristie Wells Read more]]> ACOM_BranchOut250x250_badge

If you entered the June round of our Branch Out contest, we’d like to thank you for participating! We received thousands of responses that included some incredibly inspiring stories from our community!

We have compiled all of the entries and randomly selected our next winner. That lucky person is…

Robin Martin from Montana!!

Robin is tracing her German line and will begin working with our ProGenealogists to try and add more stories and facts to her current research, so stay tuned for an update from our research team.

There will be more chances to win when we launch the next cycle of the Branch Out contest, starting on August 1st – so stay tuned for that announcement and in the mean time, help us congratulate Robin!

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