Archive for April, 2009

“What wakes you up at night?”

Monday, April 6th, 2009

At the recent Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University March 13-14 in Provo, Utah, keynote speaker Susan Easton Black posed the question “What wakes you up in the night?”

For Black, a world-renowned author of over 100 books on genealogy and history, she is “up at night” with genealogy. After telling the audience she finds “great joy” in doing genealogy every day, she remarked to the at-capacity crowd, “It’s obvious I’m not alone!”

At we know there are many people just like Black who find joy in searching for their ancestors and are “up at night” about genealogy and family history. And they are not alone. We are also “up at night” working with content partners from all over the world to digitize and index genealogical and historical data. Each day we add new content at to help you in your quest. (We will soon open up our new genealogy portal site called GenSeek to provide access to millions of genealogical references from the Family History Catalog.)

We searched for some of our colleagues whom we know are “up in the night” over genealogy and found a few short vignettes we thought genealogy lovers would enjoy. Click on their story links to read and hear.

Many genealogy enthusiasts are familiar with Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, a popular writer and speaker on genealogy. According to her Web site, she is an “incurable genealogist” and “does all she can to get the g-word out there and inspire others in their quest for roots.” She tells of a memory from when she was five years old that kept her searching for over 22 years for her ancestors.

Devoted genealogists for over a quarter century, Leland and Patty Meitzler have many tales to tell. Leland gives a good example of why genealogists should check every possible source they can for information about their ancestors.

Since 2003, one of the largest oral history projects in the world, has collected over 35,000 stories from individuals who have shared their stories. We picked out a story of a mother and a son talking about their struggles as migrant workers.

Connecticut Databases Now Online: Middletown and Portland Directories, Well’s City Directory for Hartford, and Winsted and Torrington Directory

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

By Whitney McGowan,

This week’s major collection at includes ten databases from Godfrey Memorial Library. This special collection includes Middletown and Portland Directories ranging from 1887–1896. The collection also includes Well’s City Directory for Hartford, 1848, and Middletown and Portland Directory, 1893–1894. Two of the databases listed below are free to access for ten days. The records included in this collection are from Connecticut.

Middletown and Portland Directory, 1887-1888
(available March 26, 2009) Free for 10 Days!

Middletown and Portland Directory, 1894-1895 (available March 26, 2009)

Middletown and Portland Directory, 1888-1889 (available March 27, 2009)

Middletown and Portland Directory, 1895-1896 (available March 27, 2009)

Middletown and Portland Directory, 1889-1890 (available March 30, 2009)

Middletown and Portland Directory, 1896-1897 (available March 30, 2009)

Middletown and Portland Directory, 1891-1892 (available March 31, 2009)

Well’s City Directory for Hartford, 1848 (available March 31, 2009)Free for 10 Days!

Middletown and Portland Directory, 1893-1894 (available April 1, 2009)

Winsted and Torrington Directory, 1890-1891
(available April 1, 2009)

We’re Related on Facebook Platform Fools Millions

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Many individuals throughout the world question, “Am I really a fourth cousin once removed to Barack Obama?”

PROVO, UT, April 1, 2009 – Nearly 19 million people woke up this April Fool’s morning with an email from We’re Related, a service of, Inc., informing them that President Barack Obama confirmed them as a cousin on the We’re Related application on Facebook Platform. The landing page included a family tree of Obama, complete with the recipient’s name and photo at the bottom, connected with Obama.

“I am looking at snow in Seattle & I am a Barack’s cousin on April Fool’s day. I have been fooled by God & the president,” posted one We’re Related user.

The April Fool’s joke resulted in We’re Related’s biggest day ever, with five times more traffic than average. At 6 a.m., more than 137,000 people had visited the application. By 10 a.m., We’re Related had more than 500,000 unique visitors, with the numbers still climbing (3 million visitors this afternoon). The overwhelming response validates the interest people have in discovering new family relationships (especially notable ones)!

“Our traffic has skyrocketed to 5 times our normal traffic. Hundreds of thousands of people are visiting the application per hour. Plus we have become a trending topic on Twitter,” said Jason McGowan, chief social officer,, Inc. and developer of We’re Related, “I am ecstatic that it has been so successful, with so many positive comments about the joke.”

We’re Related is the fourth most popular application on Facebook Platform, and the number 1 social application for families, with an audience of 34 million people who have defined nearly 200 million family relationships using the application. We’re Related helps individuals stay in touch with their families by connecting them to their possible relatives, and also through photo sharing, news feed, birthday reminders, gifts, and more. The email sent this morning mimics the typical relative confirmation emails sent by, Inc. to its We’re Related customers.

Thousands of people have put their comments about the joke on Twitter, blogs, Facebook, and other Internet sites. Reactions relating to this so-called association with President Obama range from extreme excitement to anger.

For example, since the email went out, many have expressed crushes they have on President Obama:

“Whew!!! I’m glad Barack Obama is not my cousin cause I have a major crush on him.”

“Barack Obama confirms you as a Cousin. The real April Fools joke is me saying I’ll stop being sexually attracted to him bc we’re related.”

Many We’re Related users hoped this new relationship with Obama would give them privileges:

“Facebook App information ‘Barack Obama confirmed you are a cousin on We’re Related’. Crumb, no robe for me – nepotism-free administration.”

“Just got a Facebook notification that Barack Obama has confirmed me as a cousin. I’m really looking forward to the family Christmas card.”

“Barack Obama (Washington, DC) has confirmed you as his fourth cousin once removed on We’re Related. Yaaa! Babe, Washington here I come!”

“We’re related to Obama. So I guess I’m going to college after all.”

“Barack Obama confirmed you as a cousin on We’re Related (from Friendface) I thought this was real. Lincoln bedroom, here we come.”

Some individuals have stated their disdain for being related to the President:

“For the record: I am not Barack Obama’s cousin no matter what Facebook says.”

“Boy am I glad this is an april fool’s joke, isn’t today his birthday?”

Since the joke, some individuals have begun to question their family relationship:

“Just got this email from Facebook; “Michael, Barack Obama confirmed you as a cousin on We’re Related” …. uhhh Mom????”

“Hey Barack Obama just confirmed me as his COUSIN on Facebook. Must be the ears.”

“Obama asked ME to confirm that he’s a cousin. If we’re both Obama’s cousins, that means WE’RE related. WOOT!”

We’re Related is a free application on Facebook and can be installed here:

Click here to read the process of the We’re Related April Fool’s joke.

Click here to read more tweets posted about Barack and the cousin relationship.


About, Inc.

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Media Contact
Whitney Ransom McGowan
Corporate Communications Director, Inc.
(801) 377-0588

The Process of Fooling 19 Million People in One Day

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Here is the message we sent this morning to 19 million of our 34 million users:

1. Email subject line said: Barack Obama confirmed you as a cousin on We’re Related

The body of the email said:

2. Once they click on the link above, they get sent to the following landing page:

3. Once they click on anything on the page, they discover that they have been fooled! Here is the page they see:

Fun Facts About the April Fool’s Joke:

· We’re Related on Facebook received 3,000,000 unique visits today, largely as a result of the April Fool’s joke

· This traffic is 5x higher than traffic for this same period on the application’s previous best day

· The email mimics the typical relative confirmation emails sent by, Inc. to its We’re Related Customers

· We’re Related on Facebook has an audience of 34 million people who have defined more than 150 million family relationships using the application

· We’re Related is the #3 most popular application on Facebook and the #1 social application for families

· The email validates the interest in people discovering new family relationships (especially notable ones!)

· Reactions have been extremely positive (94%), but have ranged from warnings about fraud/viruses to sheer delight, with hundreds of thousands of people falling for the joke