Archive for 2009

Introducing Family Stream on We’re Related

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

We’re Related on Facebook users may have noticed a simplified user interface with a new, “Family Stream” button . Family Stream is located on the top left hand side of your We’re Related toolbar, next to the Find Relatives feature.

What is Family Stream?

Family Stream allows you to quickly send messages to your family. First, click on the Family Stream button. Once you do, you will see a box that says, What’s Happening? Share with your whole family. All you need to do is type a message that you want to send to your family and click, Share. As soon as you click on that button, your family can immediately see your message. You don’t even need to refresh your page.

Using Family Stream you can also share links with your family. This button is titled Add Link. Once you click on these words, another box will open up that Know a good site? Share with your whole family. Simply type in the url you wish to share with your family members and click, Share.

Who will see the messages and links I post?

The only people who will see the messages and links you post are the individuals whom you have invited as your relatives. The messages and posts will not be uploaded to your regular Facebook profile. Thus, if you want to share a something with just your family, you can easily do it using Family Stream.

Easter Around the World

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

By Whitney McGowan,, Inc.

In America, children often associate Easter with brightly colored eggs, the Easter Bunny, and Easter egg hunts. In fact I heard on the radio yesterday that the Utah Jazz Bearwill host Utah’s largest Easter egg hunt this Saturday with more than 20,000 Easter eggs hidden for children to find!  These events are fun and exciting for children; however, a few years ago I had the opportunity to spend Easter in Romania and had a delightfully different experience. Although I do not have any ancestors from Romania, I still enjoyed learning about some of the traditional Easter traditions and customers in Romania.

Easter in Romania is the most important celebration of all of the holidays, in which they celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ with many celebrations and rituals. Romanians dye eggs red to represent the blood of Jesus Christ. Some eggs, as shown in the picture above, are also painted with fine artwork. When you greet someone around Easter time in Romania, one person says, “Hristos a inviat,” which means Christ is risen. The other person follows with, “Adevarat, a inviat,” which means, “Truly, he has risen.”  Mass is also held, as well as a candlelight vigil where each person brings a candle. During the mass, one person lights his or her candle, and then lights another person’s candle. This process continues until every person’s candle has been lit. They carry the light home with them to bring not only physical, but spiritual light to their homes.

Following are traditions that are currently being practiced in other countries. Perhaps your ancestors did some of these same things:

Easter in German begins with individuals covering the cross on Good Friday. The also eat a variety of fish delicacies. Germans attend Easter mass and have a traditional Easter dinner complete with colored eggs and lamb-shaped cake. Germany is typically known for beginning the typical traditions such as the Easter bunny. German who immigrated to America brought these traditions with them, and shared them with their family and friends. Germans also celebrate something called the “Easter fire” in which all of the Christmas trees are collected in a central place, and then burned, representing a closing of winter and new preparations for spring.

Easter in Brazil involves Holy Week rituals including the blessing of palm branches, complete with patterns woven in crosses, banners, and other sacred objects. Processional walks are typical. Brazilians also eat a special Easter food that includes ground peanuts and sugar. In some places, natives stage a Biblical passion play, a tradition that has been occurring since 1950.

Easter in Mexico is filled with Christian rituals and Indian traditions. The people of Mexico combine Holy week and also Resurrection Sunday. On Palm Sunday, many people hang elaborate woven palms on their doors. In many places in Mexico one can often see Passion Plays. One of the largest traditions in rural areas is when a Judas effigy is filled with firecrackers and burned.

So, what Easter traditions did your ancestors celebrate? I encourage you to take some time to find out, and perhaps even adopt some of these traditions. Happy Easter to you all!

New Databases From England, Scotland, and the United States

Friday, April 10th, 2009

By Whitney McGowan,, Inc.

The major collection this week includes nine databases from Anguline Research Archives containing content from England, Scotland, and the United States. Dates in these databases range from 1825 to 1910. Anguline Research Archives is an organization dedicated to bring rare books on CD at an affordable price, to the local history researcher and to the family history researcher.

Highways and Byways in Buckinghamshire (online 4/2/09)

Contemporary review-WORLD : “A thoroughly delightful little volume. Mr. Frederick L. Griggs contributes a copious series of delicately graceful illustrations.” Over 80 illustrations plus map. By Clement Shorter.

Loretto Register 1825 to 1925 (online 4/2/09) Free for 10 Days!

The registers of Scotland’s oldest boarding school, Loretto, contain biographical details about the scholars, including date of birth, listings of various sporting teams and competitions.

Highways and Byways in Hampshire (online 4/3/09)

This book is always popular with those having Hampshire ancestors. Published in 1919 it gives a tour around all of the towns and villages, with their history and antiquities, churches, and people. Absolutely fascinating reading, and great background information for your family history. Lots of excellent illustrations too. High quality scanned images of the whole of the original book. A wealth of information and a snapshot in time. Contemporary review-WORLD: “Mr. Moutray Read has written a well-nigh perfect guide-book.” STANDARD: “In our judgment, as excellent and as a lively a book as has yet appeared in the Highways and Byways Series.”  Over 90 illustrations by Arthur B. Connor, plus map.

History of Richmond, Yorkshire (online 4/6/09)

Including a description of the castle, friary, Easby Abbey and other remains of antiquity in the neighbourhood.  By Christopher Clarkson. Printed by and for T. Bowman at the Albion Press.

The History of Four West Yorkshire Co-operatives (online 4/6/09) Free for 10 Days!

This database includes the following: 1) History of the Castleford Co-operative Industrial Society Ltd., 1865–1915. By John Platt Jackson. Published in 1925.

2) Batley Co-operative Society Limited —A Brief History of the Society, 1867–1917. By W.H. Childe. Published in 1919.  3) Half a Century of Co-operation in Keighley, 1860–1910. By Jos. Rhodes. Published in 1911.  4) Fifty Years of Co-operation in Bingley—A Jubilee Record of the Bingley Industrial Co-operative Society Limited. By W. Hartley. Published in 1900.  Each book is full of fascinating information and illustrations.

Old English Customs Extant at the Present Time (1896) (online 4/7/09)

By P.H. Ditchfield. An account of local observances, festival customs, and ancient ceremonies surviving in Great Britain. Descriptions of the ancient folk-customs still being performed in villages across the British Isles.

The Annals of Wakefield House of Correction for three hundred years (online 4/7/09)

A fascinating history of the West Riding House of Correction (Wakefield Prison), one of the most important in England. Also includes notes of ancient prisons and obsolete punishments, particularly the Manorial Gaols and customs of Yorkshire; the County Prisons of York Castle, Northallerton, Beverley etc. and the Township Kidcotes of the West Riding. Embracing a general survey of the social and moral history of Yorkshire from the time of Queen Elizabeth I to the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. Complete with indexes of persons and places. By J. Horsfall Turner. Published in 1904.

England in Days of Old (online 4/8/09)

By William Andrews, published in 1897. An entertaining and instructive study of the social and domestic life in England in times past. Includes attractive line drawings

How to Decipher and Study Old Documents (online 4/8/09)

By E.E. Thoyts. Published in 1903. A guide to help the historian recognize and interpret the format and palaeography used in early records. Covers the handwriting and characteristics used in parish registers, manorial records, deeds, monastic charters etc. Illustrated with some examples. Also includes common abbreviations used.

“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 Ranked Among 50 Most Popular Genealogy Websites for 2009

Monday, March 30th, 2009

At the BYU Computerized Genealogy Conference held March 13 and 14, Kory Meyerink, MLS, AG, FUGA, presented the “50 Most Popular Genealogy Websites.” received a high ranking again this year. To read the entire list, please click here.

According to Meyerink,This list was created in the first quarter of 2009. It was developed from a list of criteria explained in an article published in the Digital Genealogist, edited by Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens. The 2008 ranking is given in parenthesis after the website description. Sites new to the list for 2009 are marked with *.”

Finding Census Records at

Friday, March 27th, 2009

By Whitney McGowan,, Inc.

Recently I received an email from a member who said the following, “I do a lot of work with censuses. On, I have not been able to find a successful way to search for a particular family. An ability to click on ‘SEARCH CENSUS’ (and even a way to specify what year as an option within that) would be great.” To help answer this individual’s question, this week’s feature article will discuss the type of census records that are available at and how to access them.

What Census Records Are Available at currently has more than 110 census databases, including information for Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Some of the most popular census collections include: The 1851
Dublin City Census, Ireland
; UK 1841 Census; UK 1861 Census; UK 1871 Census, UK 1881 Census; UK 1891 Census; 1880 United States Census (First Installment); Allcensus 1790 U.S. Census Images; CAN 1871 Canadian Census.

How Do I Access the Census Records at

There are several ways to access the census records at Here are instructions on how to access the census records by record type, place, title, and advanced search.

Finding Census Records by Record Type

  1. Go to
  2. Click on Record Types.
  3. Click on Census Records.
  4. Type in the information you know in the Search box and click Search, or scroll down to the specific database you wish to search. Then type in the information you know in the Search box and click Search.

 Finding Census Records by Place

Suppose you want to look at the census records from the United Kingdom. Here are instructions on how to find these records.

  1. Go to
  2. Click on Places.
  3. Click on the United Kingdom icon (if you are searching for a different country, click on the icon for the country you wish to search).
  4. Click on the letter of the first word of the census you wish to search. In this case, I would click on the letter U.
  5. Click on the specific United Kingdom census you wish to view.
  6. Type in the information you wish to search and click on Search, or browse the database. You may want to start by typing in the year of the census you wish to search.

Finding Census Records by Title

Suppose you know the title of the census database you wish to search, for example, the 1871 Canadian Census. Here is how you find that database by searching by title.

  1. Go to
  2. Click on Record Types.
  3. Click on Search by database title

4. Type in Can 1871 Canadian Census and click Search.  If you don’t know the exact title, type in a word you know that is in the title. For example, if I type in Canadian Census, it will still bring up the 1871 Canadian Census.

Finding Census Records by Advanced Search

Suppose I am looking for the Allcensus 1870 U.S. Census Images and want to access this database using an advanced search. Here is how you can find this database:

  1. Go to
  2. Click on Search (located in blue at the top, middle section of the home page).
  3. Type in the information you know. If I just know that the year was 1870, I can type 1870 into the Year box +/- zero years.
  4. Click on Search.
  5. Scroll down to Census and Voter Lists.
  6. Click on the Allcensus 1870 U.S. Census Images link.

Records of the Town and Churches in Coventry, Connecticut, 1711–1844 and Geer’s Hartford City Directories

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

This week’s major collection comes from Godfrey Memorial Library and includes births, marriages, baptisms and deaths from the Records of the Town and Churches in Coventry, Connecticut, 1711–1844 and Geer’s Hartford City Directories.

Godfrey Memorial Library has scanned the original residential and business directories for Hartford, Connecticut from 1850, 1852–1853, 1853–1854, 1854–1855, 1856–1857, 1858–1859, 1860–1861, 1862–1863, and 1906. These records are now available at This publication was originally compiled by Elihu Geer and published by the Hartford Steam Printing Co.

The databases below contain “every kind of information valuable for reference to strangers and citizens with an engraved copperplate map of the city from May 1850- to May 1851. Also contains engravings of the new railroad station in Hartford, and all the railroad routes in Connecticut which have been drawn and engraved expressly for this directory.” – Taken from the front page of Geer’s Hartford City Directory for 1850.

Click on the links below to access each database. Note: This week there is one free database that is free to acess for ten days.

Geer’s Hartford City Directory for 1850 (online March 22, 2009)

Geer’s Hartford City Directory1852–1853 (online March 23, 2009)

Geer’s Hartford City Directory, 1853–1854 (online March 24, 2009) Free for 10 Days!

Geer’s Hartford City Directory, 1854–1855 (online March 18, 2009)

Geer’s Hartford City Directory, 1856–1857 (online March 19, 2009)

Geer’s Hartford City Directory, 1858–1859 (online March 22, 2009)

Geer’s Hartford City Directory, 1860–1861 (online March 23, 2009)

Geer’s Hartford City Directory, 1862–1863 (online March 24, 2009)

Geer’s Hartford City Directory, July 1906 (online March 19, 2009)

Births, Marriages, Baptisms and Deaths from the Records of the Town and Churches in Coventry, Connecticut, 1711–1844 (online March 18, 2009)

“Prior to 1675, the Indians used the land of what is now the Town of Coventry, as a hunting ground. It was annually burned over to give fresh feeding place for wild animals, thus furnishing food for the Mohegans. The land in this way was denuded of timber, so that, it is said, when the town was first settled, an ox-cart could be driven over most of the young timber lands, which had sprung up since the yearly fires of the Indians had ceased. In the early part of the year 1676 — Joshua, third son of Uncas, chief of the Mohegans, made a will in which he bequeathed to Captain Joseph Fitch, of Windsor, and to fifteen others, all the tract of land which includes the present towns of South Windsor, Bolton, Vernon, Andover, Hebron, Coventry, Mansfield, Hampton, and Chaplin. This donation was approved by the General Assembly. The legatees conveyed their rights, so far as the town of Coventry was concerned, to William Pitkin, Joseph Talcott, William Whiting, and Richard Lord, to be a committee to lay out the township and settle on the lands. This committee was appointed by the General Assembly on May 9, 1706. On October 11, 1711, this committee was reappointed, and Nathaniel Rust, who had already settled on the lands, was added to the committee, to carry into execution the designs of the former appointment. At the same session of the General Assembly the township was named Coventry.

Nathaniel Rust and some others settled in the town about the year 1700. In the spring of 1709 there came a number of good householders from Northampton, Essex County, Mass., Hartford, Conn., Reading and Lancaster, Mass., Stonington, Killingworth, Windham, Conn., and some other towns. The region was then a pasture ground for the horses of Hartford. These horses were branded and turned loose into the wilderness to the east. The town was laid off 6 miles square, October 11, 1705. The first survey of land was made April 8, 1708, by Mr. Caleb Stanley, Colony Surveyor. The town was laid off into 78 allotments by the committee above named. The first proprietors, 15 in number, each received 5 allotments, and 3 allotments were reserved for the support of religion and schools. The town was incorporated at the May session of the General Assembly, in 1712.

The settlement of the town is usually dated from 1709, when, as before said, there arrived quite a number of families from the towns above named. At that time there were but two towns in what is now the County of Tolland, viz., Mansfield, settled in 1703, and Hebron, settled in 1704. The first house in the town seems to have been built by Samuel Birchard, on the south side of Wangaumbaug Lake — near the house now owned by Henry F. Dimock, formerly occupied by his father, the late Dr. Timothy Dimock. In the valley of the Hop River, near the house known as the Cyril Parker place, there was a village of savages. The religious community was for about 30 years embraced in what is known as “The first Church and Society in Coventry.” This is in what is known as South Coventry. Rev. Joseph Meacham, of Enfield, commenced preaching here as early as 1713. The church was formed and he was ordained its pastor October 8, 1714. The first settler in the Parish of North Coventry was John Bissell, who came from Lebanon, Conn., in 1716. A church was organized in the North Parish October 8, 1745, and the following day the first pastor, Nathan Strong, was ordained. The records of the first church, prior to the year 1766, have either been lost or destroyed. No records of the Second (North Parish) Church seem to have been kept until about 1800.”

This database contains 4,063 births, 816 baptisms, 2,648 marriages, and 2,084 deaths.” – Taken from the description in the original book for this database.

About the Godfrey Memorial Library

The purpose of the Godfrey Memorial Library is to promote the study of family history by:

- Inspiring individuals in all sectors of society to study their heritage and their own place in history.

- Supporting educational activities that create enthusiasm for family research.

- Making genealogical and historical resources available to all on a national and international level by continuing the expansion, modernization, and distribution of the collection of print, electronic manuscript, and other information media as technology develops.

Presently, Godfrey Library has approximately 200,000 books and periodicals in its collection including: state and local histories, international resources, family histories, biographies, records by religious organizations, church records, funeral records, cemetery records, military records, maps, etc.