Posted by Crista Cowan on November 23, 2011 in Website, World Archives Project

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. By this time next week I expect I will be overstuffed on turkey, overloaded on football and overjoyed at spending a long weekend with my extended family.  I will also have spent the entire month posting (almost) daily status updates on my personal Facebook profile about the things I am grateful for.  I hope to be overwhelmed with gratitude.

At the beginning of November, in preparation for a month of gratitude, I spent some quiet time really thinking about the things in my life for which I am deeply thankful.  You made the list!  Yes, you.  As did my ancestors, some of my other relatives, different technologies, and family – old and new, in all shapes and sizes, warts and all.

Today I offer a part of that list to you. In return, I’d love to hear what you are thankful for this Thanksgiving week.

  • I am thankful for the wonderfully generous genealogy community, online and offline.
  • I am thankful for the 30,365 databases on that allow me to research large parts of my family tree from the comfort of my own home at any hour of the day or night. Wait…30,366 databases…30,367…I can’t keep up.  And, that makes me VERY thankful.
  • I am thankful for new genealogists who aren’t afraid to ask questions and I am thankful for seasoned genealogists who generously share their experience.
  • I am thankful for distant cousins who post their family trees online, with attached records and sources.
  • I am thankful for the 90,000 Ancestry World Archives Project contributors who have indexed over 100 million records, including over 700,000 records pertaining to the Holocaust and victims of Nazi persecution.
  • I am thankful to my mom and dad and my Uncle Karl who nurtured my interest in family history from a very young age.
  • I’m thankful that I can send a quick email or write a post on a message board and get, virtually, instantaneous responses to my genealogy queries instead of having to wait by the mailbox for weeks on end.
  • I am thankful for my parents and their parents and their parents and…you get the idea. The more I learn about my ancestry, the more grateful I am for the lives they lived and the choices they made that brought me to be who I am and where I am today!

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!  What are you thankful for?

Until next time – Have fun climbing your family tree…

Crista Cowan

Crista has been doing genealogy since she was a child. She has been employed at since 2004. Around here she's known as The Barefoot Genealogist. Twitter


  1. You reminded mehow thankful I am for the advances in technology research that have made my genealogy research so much easier than it was years ago. Thanks.

    Best wishes to all my genimates in the US for a happy Thanksgiving from Australia.

  2. Tsipoura

    “… I spent some quiet time really thinking about the things in my life for which I am deeply grateful.”

    This is perfect example of the commercialism of Thanksgiving … or Easter or Christmas.

    You forgot to be thankful to Ancestry for paying your salary to write a really tacky blog.

  3. BobNY

    From the blog header:
    “Here you will find informational, and sometimes fun, posts from the folks behind the scenes here at”

    Actually, what we have been currently finding are annoying come-ons for Facebook from the ACOM Prince of Social Media and even more annoying trivialization and commercialization of holidays like Veterans’ Day and Thanksgiving by assorted ACOM staff.

  4. But Bob…
    “trivialization and commercialization of holidays like Veterans’ Day and Thanksgiving” are ‘The American Way’ – and have been for quite some time.

  5. Rose Sanmarco

    so thankful for all in helping me find ancesters I didn`t know about,and allowed me to do things I allways wanted to do LOOK UP ANCESTERS

  6. Donna Smeall

    I am truly thankful for my family, all of the lost loved ones I had the good fortune of being able to find with the help of FB and’s many resources. Plus I am grateful for the FHLs around this country that house many of the records I am so in need of to verify and confirm my genealogy.
    I am so thankful to be able to hear, to see, to smell, to taste, and just live in the richness of my world.
    I am truly thankful to have a soulmate who loves me as much as I love him and that we can share some beautiful moments together this Thanksgiving with our boys.

  7. Chuck Muller

    Yesterday I took two of my 10 grandchildren to see “Mummies of the World” here in Charlotte NC. As I looked at these Mummies from the different parts of the world and thought about the technologies that are used to determine their cage, their customs, what they ate, how they lived, etc., I thought about my family genealogy and how we are all related no matter how distant or how close. I am thankful for this interrelationship back to the 6500 year Peruvian child and my two grandsons. We were and are all God’s children created in His image.

  8. Pat Secord

    My comment echoes those of #’s 1, 5, 6, & 7. I had wanted, for years, to start the genealogy of my family, and had no idea where to start. Thru Ancestry, I’ve not only found many records, but connected with people who have helped me fill in gaps, told me how to find sources, etc, and reconnect with a couple of family members.
    To those who want to complain of “commercialization” -are you kidding?
    Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

  9. BEE

    I thank God each and every day for my life, my parents who gave me life, my grandparents, great-grandparents and all those who came before me. I thank God for my husband, children, grandchildren, and sisters. I pray for all my nieces, nephews and cousins, all the remaining cousins of my parents, and all the new-found relatives and acquaintances I have met through ancestry since I started on this search for the history of my family.
    A Very Happy Thanksgiving to all – we have so much to be thankful for!

  10. scwbcm

    I am glad that you made this post. I know it is easier and more fun to be critical and I agree with the issues about commercialism, for this and all of the holidays.

    However, I am grateful for my generous family members who have been willing to share information with me through the years.

    And I am especially amazed that from my Mayflower ancestors to the present there is now a diverse group of descendants. When I starting researching my family I knew I would be looking back. I did not realize I would be looking forward and finding that my extended family now have members whose roots come from many cultures around the world. It has been fascinating to see what we share and what makes us unique. Have a great Thanksgiving.

  11. Gayle

    Bee # 9 Thank you!Many month’s ago I put a question on here about the pronounciation of my polish family name. You responded, so my family can now say our name the correct way.Have a good one to all.

  12. Rebekah

    I am thankful for Ancestry’s MyCanvas division that enabled me to produce two “coffee table beautiful” books on my mother’s family and on my husband’s family. They are treasures to pass down to the generations. The process was user-friendly and the quality of the finished product is wonderful.

  13. unhappy 99 percenter

    how about you greedy turds opening up your databases one day on each holiday for us folks without ANY money

  14. Pat Secord

    #13…..why don’t you just go look up records the old fashioned way? It’s very inconvenient and time-consuming but won’t cost much. There ain’t no free lunch my friend.

  15. Betsy

    I am grateful for people who write things down: journals, letters (yeah, those things that get sent with stamps), autobiographies. I treasure the ancestor’s writing, and I’m trying to do the same for the future.
    I’m grateful for the people who go out and scour the world for more records which are then made available to us one way or another.
    I’m grateful for Ancestry that saw the potential for a profitable business in the needs of genealogists: every time I find data in an obscure source from a faraway place I SAVE the price of my subscription. Over and over and over.
    To the sad people who are spending so much time being resentful: please, choose to be happy. We in this country have so much but have so little gratitude.

  16. Alexandra N Shinn

    We met at the Skirball seminar last weekend.
    My husband and I sat at your table during lunch. We want to hire you to do some research privately, but I can’t find how to communicate with you privately and directly. Please email your contact info to me. Thank you.

  17. Kathleen Riley Jasmin

    I am thankful for all my cousins that I have found through Ancestry-family I didn’t know I had. Ancestry,Family and Thanksgiving go together.Thank You

  18. Phyll

    I’m afraid this years gratitude list didn’t include genealogy. In the area of Genealogy, I am grateful my Profs hammered good historical research into me with secondary and primary sources [the original document or someone who has read the original]. They taught me how to think and to dig. Once ancestor is not as bad as one fragment of an ancient Stele. I am grateful to this site for providing place to let us put up scans or photos of the original. That taught me a lot. I avoid common mistakes that I see. I look for sources. And the biggie: Once upon a time a silly little captain in the navy said to me “Be grateful for what this country has done for your family” No Captain. Every last branch of my family arrived no later than 1770s and a lot were here to welcome that century. They built this country from the ground up with their blood from the very beginning. I am grateful for them. We were great because of them.

  19. Phyll

    And about the databases that you can’t afford to access, you might very well be disappointed. 95% of my sources come from outside the site because it is much easier for me to locate via the search engines outside of here. Then I come back here and see if the database is lurking around to attach it. BUT I also copy the page into my photos on the original site if they provide a scanned copy and enter it that way first. Fixed the family tree a couple times when the ones here for hints went way off base and the databases had me circling the drain. Never rely on just one source and ALWAYS go outside that area of source. Else they give you a F on your paper. [Sorry remembering my historical research]

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