Blog The official blog of Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:39:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What We Are Reading: September 19th Edition Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:39:52 +0000 Amy Johnson Crow Read more]]> Migrating ancestors, deciphering legalese, and an usual death involving a cow. It’s just some of what we were reading this week.

Ancestors on the Move,” by B. Rogers, on When I Was 69. B. considers the reasons that our ancestors moved.

Extracting Data From a Biographical Sketch – Part 1,” by Wendy Littrell, on All My Branches Genealogy. Wendy gives some practical advice on how to keep track of who is whom when you’re reading those long and flowery biographies in old county histories.

Genealogy Tip: Trouble Transcribing? Google the Legal Boilerplate,” by Tim Graham, on Photo Restorations By Tim G. Do you have a hard-to-read document with standard legal wording on it? Help yourself by using Google (or whatever your favorite search engine is) to find what the boilerplate says. The personal names, of course, are up to you to figure out!

Humphrey Atherson’s Quaker Curse?” by Pam Carter, on My Maine Ancestry. Was Humphrey Atherson’s unusual death divine retribution for his persecution of Quakers?

Unusual Regional Words,” by Kirsty Gray, on Family Wise Ltd. Not only are some phrases unusual, but they may also be specific to one region.

"Working Girls of all Nationalities Making the Best of the Spare Evening Hours. Boston 1915 Exhibit. Location: Boston, Massachusetts." Library of Congress Photo Collection, 1840-2000.

“Working Girls of all Nationalities Making the Best of the Spare Evening Hours. Boston 1915 Exhibit. Location: Boston, Massachusetts.” Library of Congress Photo Collection, 1840-2000.

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Talk Like a Pirate and Improve Your Research Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:25:07 +0000 Amy Johnson Crow Read more]]> pirate-ship-flagIt’s Talk Like a Pirate Day – that day when people get in touch with their inner pirate and pepper their sentences with words like “Arrrrrr,” “avast,” and “bilge rat.” (It’s a good day when you can work “bilge rat” into friendly conversation.) Facebook even has a language setting for “English (Pirate).” Don’t want to go that far? Maybe a basic tutorial on key phrases will get you through the day.

For all of the silliness that is Talk Like a Pirate Day (TLAPD), there is something about it that can help us with our genealogy. No, it’s not some newly-uncovered pirate manifest. It’s how we talk. Part of the fun on TLAPD is talking outside our normal way.  What if we did that with the names that we’re researching?

We tend to have a way of “hearing” words when we read them. But what if how we hear that word or that surname isn’t how our ancestors pronounced it – or how someone else heard it?

One of the surnames I research is Daubenmeyer. It’s easy to pick out a few variant spellings – Daubenmeier, Dobenmeyer, Daubenmyer, etc. But what if we pronounce it like they might have, with a strong German accent? We could easily lose the second syllable – and it becomes Daubmeyer. That D at the beginning? It sounds a lot like a T; suddenly you have Taubmeyer. I have seen these variations as well.

Place names are also something that you should play around with. There’s a town in Ohio named “Piqua.” When you read that word, did you “hear” it with a short “A” (pick-wah) or with a long “A” (pick-way)? Although we pronounce it with a short A today, it started out with a long “A.” That might not seem like a big deal until you find a record that says your family was living in “Pickway, Ohio.” Is that a misspelling of the town of Piqua (in northwest Ohio) or the county of Pickaway, which is in the south-central part of the state? You could be putting them in the wrong place if you don’t consider how pronunciation can cause these variant spellings.

So let’s celebrate TLAPD not by greeting everyone with “Ahoy!” or drinking grog. (Who really wants to drink grog, anyway?) Instead, let’s celebrate by playing with our words and seeing what new words or new spellings we can come up with. It might help you consider names and places you hadn’t thought of before.



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Behind-the-Scenes with Who Do You Think You Are? Production Crew Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:41:18 +0000 Kristie Wells Read more]]> We recently sat down with Jim Albarano, Line Producer, and Vicky Bramley, Production Manager, from Shed Media US, the production company behind the hit Who Do You Think You Are? show to ask them a few questions.

Jim and Vicky have a long history with Who Do You Think You Are? and they have experienced all sorts of challenges while filming.

From tornadoes to massive snowstorms, weather can play a critical role when trying to film a scene. One episode can take up to two weeks and sometimes involve traveling to multiple countries, so when Mother Nature starts to act up, it can wreak havoc on their schedule. But weather also gave them a once in a lifetime opportunity during the filming of Gwyneth Paltrow’s episode when a massive snowstorm rolled through New York and basically, shut the city down. They were scheduled to film inside the New York public library and after a few phone calls, received permission to open the library up for a couple of hours to get the shot they came for.

We also discussed how much time goes into researching the episode, their favorite part of the job, places they wish to travel, and so much more. See what they had to say in the interview below or watch it directly on our YouTube page,

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Throwback Thursday: Dolls and Other Toys Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:31:17 +0000 Juliana Smith Read more]]> Family-Christmas 1971Now that my daughter is off to college, I’ve been doing some heavy duty house cleaning and going through some of her old toys that for some reason I’ve hung onto. I guess I figured if we hung on to them, we could hang on to some of her fleeting childhood. But it’s time to go through some old boxes that have been stored and determine what’s worth keeping and what we should donate. As I reminisced over some of her toys, I was thinking back to some of the toys we had growing up, so that’s the topic for this week’s Throwback Thursday post.

Growing up in a home with three sisters, dolls were a big part of playtime. We had Barbie dolls, cupie dolls and other assorted baby dolls, including some that talked or cried when you pulled a string. Then there was the Crissy doll, whose hair could be lengthened or shortened with the push of a button. That feature could have come in handy for those of us who did a little hair styling of our own. I cut my hair once with pinking shears. Not the best tool for cutting hair.

We also had a Doctor Doolittle doll. When you pulled his string, he said, “I talk to the animals.” My sister hated that doll and we might have tortured her a bit with it. We got in trouble for that.

With the Barbie dolls came accessories, like those tiny shoes that would somehow always find their way into the soles of your bare feet. Like socks disappearing in the dryer, we could never find a matched pair, so our Barbie dolls typically just went barefoot.

We had a lot of stuffed animals too. One of the early favorites was a Cuddly Duddly doll,that came complete with a cardboard house. I slept with him so often that eventually all the stuffing in his neck was gone and his head just drooped to the side. The black poodle in this picture was a later favorite. I named him Frenchie.

One of the more unusual toys we had was a Roulette wheel. Don’t remember where we got it, but it seems strange in retrospect. I guess it was an effective tool at discouraging gambling because we learned at an early age how impossible it was to actually pick the number that came up.

We also had a pet rock the year they were all the rage. We had to share though. I seem to remember my dad not being thrilled with us spending money on a rock.

One of my favorite pastimes was working on jigsaw puzzles. I had one of a Venetian painting that I worked and re-worked so many times that I practically knew it by heart. Since family history research is often compared to putting together a jigsaw puzzle, I guess it’s not too surprising that I was (and am) drawn to them.

What about you? What toys did you play with growing up? Did you play more indoors or outdoors? Share your memories with us, and more importantly, write them down and share them with your family.

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Utah’s ABC 4 Takes a Deeper Look at One Anchor’s Family History Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:53:08 +0000 Anna Swayne Read more]]> Learning from others helps to inspire us to do more for our own story. In this three piece segment, Utah’s ABC 4 news anchor Nadia Crow discovered her story using the tools on Ancestry. Each video follows a different step in her journey and includes some behind-the-scenes footage of Ancestry’s scanning technology.

Click on the links below to watch the three part series,

Getting started on your family tree [Video 1]

Nadia Crow








What you can find out from the records [Video 2]

Nadia Crow









DNA is another tool for your research [Video 3]

Nadia Crow









Want to begin your family history research journey? Start with Ancestry or by taking a DNA test.

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Star of stage and screen Martin Shaw is next on Who Do You Think You Are? (UK) Wed, 17 Sep 2014 09:23:41 +0000 Brian Gallagher Read more]]> Actor Martin Shaw is the next celebrity to explore his family history on tomorrow night’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are?

Question mark


Born and raised in Birmingham, the eldest of two children, Martin now lives in Norfolk. The star of over 100 films, plays and television shows, Martin is curious to discover the truth about what happened to his grandfather, Edwin.

‘‘As far as I know, at about 1930 or at the beginning of the 1930s Edwin vanished,’’ said Martin.

Keen to unravel the mystery, the Who Do You Think You Are? team arrange for Martin to meet with a military historian who starts him on his journey to explore his grandfather’s military career. They discover that he enlisted in the Royal Marines at age 18. He went on defend Birmingham from the German air assault during the Second World War.

Was there more to Edwin? What will Martin Shaw discover on his journey through his families past?

‘‘Grandparents are usually there in your memory, but I don’t know what kind of man he was. It would be wonderful to find out now who he was, what he did – mysterious Edwin,’’ said Martin.

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.

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And The Winner of the August Branch Out Contest is… Tue, 16 Sep 2014 15:03:54 +0000 Jessica Murray Read more]]> ACOM_BranchOut250x250_badge

We’d like to thank everyone who submitted entries in the August round of our Branch Out contest! We received thousands of submissions, which included some inspiring stories from our community.

We have randomly selected our August winner and that lucky person is…

Tina Davis from New Mexico!

Tina is most interested in tracing her grandfather who fought for England in WWII and became a prisoner of war. She has had difficulty finding records for him or his family, and we hope to provide some additional color to his life and story.

Tina will be working closely with our ProGenealogists team over the coming months and we’ll be sure to provide a recap of her discoveries once the project is done!


Want your chance at winning a family history package? Stay tuned for details on our next contest that kicks off on October 1st!



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Happy Birthday to Lots of You! Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:19:01 +0000 Amy Johnson Crow Read more]]> Happy birthday! If your birthday is September 16, chances are you know someone else with the same birthday as you. It is the most common birthday in the United States for those born between 1973 and 1999. (If you’re a visual data/infographic geek like I am, check out the heat map that Andy Kriebel put together based on data by the New York Times.)

Not only is September 16 the most common birthday, but September has the top 11 most common birthdays. (In order, September 16, 9, 23, 17, 22, 24, 21, 15, 10, 18, and 25.) So why the popularity in September birthdays? One theory: the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. (I’ll leave it up to you to figure out why that might play into it.)

My dad and my niece just missed sharing a birthday, but the occasionally share their cake.

My dad and my niece just missed sharing a birthday, but they occasionally share their cake.

This got me thinking about the clusters of birthdays in my family. My dad and my aunt (Dad’s sister) share the same birthday – September 9. No, they’re not twins; they were born three years apart. (And they have a brother between them!) My niece missed their birthday by just 10 hours. Two pairs of my first cousins share birthdays (two on August 21 and two September 6). My son and my oldest sister have the same birthday. In a weird twist, my daughter was born on my brother-in-law’s birthday.  (I hope my other sister and brother-in-law don’t feel left out.)

Expanding the family a little bit and there are a ton of November birthdays in my family. (Let’s hear it for us Scorpios!) Once, my grandma mused aloud, “I wonder why there are so many November birthdays.” My dad, ever the quick one, replied, “Because February is a darn cold month.” Grandma was rather scandalized by that observation.

How about you? What clusters of birthdays exist in your family?

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Ancestry Weekly Roundup: September 15th Edition Mon, 15 Sep 2014 14:43:31 +0000 Anne Gillespie Mitchell Read more]]> Blog Posts


From the Barefoot Genealogist:

Between The Leaves

Five Minute Find

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5 Things You Might Not Know About Colorado Sat, 13 Sep 2014 15:17:17 +0000 Juliana Smith Read more]]> Colorado2Colorado joined the U.S. in the country’s centennial year and has had a colorful history, before and after being admitted as the 38th state. Here are five things you might not know about the “Centennial State.”

1. In 1860, during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush, the greatest number of immigrants to Colorado came from Ohio, followed by Illinois, New York, Missouri, and Indiana. That year, the population of Colorado Territory was 34,277, of which only 1,586 were women.

2. Zebulon Pike never made it to the top of the mountain peak that bears his name. Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to see it and they called it “El Capitán.” The name Pike’s Peak was a beacon to gold rush settlers who flocked to the area with the slogan “Pike’s Peak or Bust.”

3. Colorado sent 8,000 men to serve the Union during the Civil War, although there were also pockets of Confederate sympathizers throughout the state. Among their contributions, Colorado volunteers made an important stop of Confederate forces at Glorieta Pass in 1862.

4. The discovery of silver at Leadville led to a silver boom in the state of Colorado in 1879 further fueling the state’s booming population. Between the 1870 and 1880 censuses, the population of the state swelled by 387% and increased by another 112% by 1890.

5. Rocky Mountain National Park was created in 1915, just 15 years after a fire raged in that same area. The park now encompasses 415 square miles of breathtaking landscapes.

Want to learn more about the history of Colorado and what resources are available to help you discover your Centennial State heritage? Check out our latest free state research guide for Colorado.

No Colorado ancestors? There are research guides for 37 states. If your state isn’t listed, stay tuned. It’s coming soon!

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