Archive for the ‘Celebrations’ Category

ANZAC Day – April 25th

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

ANZAC Day - April 25th

Death, Halloween, and Family Traditions (It’s Almost October!)

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Halloween celebrations have increased through the years, and have become more fun and less morbid. But, like family history, Halloween is still very much about the dead.

Throughout October we’ll bring you several blog posts about death and the dead, some serious and some not. We’ll talk about finding and using death records (such as the SSDI), wills, obituaries, etc., in our family history work, as well as some of the things we ourselves should not leave undone as we contemplate our own eventual deaths. In preparation, we’ve been collecting Halloween memories and traditions from colleagues, families, and friends; playfully inviting coworkers to design their own tombstones (there’s a web app for that) and write their own epitaphs; and even interviewing morticians.

All that’s coming, but first, here’s some background.

A Bit of History

The word Halloween itself is a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve — the eve of All Saints’ Day, celebrated November 1 by much of Western Christianity, especially in Scotland and Ireland. Traditionally, it was believed that the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints’ Day, before moving on to the next world, making Halloween their last chance to take vengeance on the living. The living, in turn, wore masks and costumes to avoid being recognized, and used fire (which turned over time into Jack-o-Lanterns) to ward off the spirits of the dead. There are also some pagan influences.

Learn more of the history of Halloween from this video at

The spooky side survives, now more secular than religious in feeling, but for most people Halloween is great fun, with costumes, trick-or-treating for youngsters, and parties for youth and adults. The day of the dead is alive with fun and family traditions. (more…)

Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day)

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

The month of August may seem like a quiet month with no major holidays, and can be a month of transition from summer to fall. But August is an important month globally, especially when it comes to military history. Did you know Emperor Horhito announced Japan’s surrender, ultimately ending WWII in the month of August? On August 15th, 1945, the Japanese accepted the Potsdam Declaration- which had called for the surrender for the Empire of Japan from World War II. The declaration stated that if Japan did not surrender, they would face “prompt and utter destruction.”  News spread of the Emperor’s announcement, and by 7 P.M. daylight time, U.S. President Harry Truman sent out a nation-wide broadcast announcing the surrender, and that the war would formally end on September 2, 1945. September 2nd came, and a ceremony was led aboard the battleship USS Missouri, where the papers were signed- making the surrender of Japan official. In Japan, V-J day is called “the day for mourning of war dead and praying for peace”, and in Korea it is called “Liberation Day.”

Victory over Japan day (also known as V-J Day) is recognized on August 15th in the UK, Japan, and Korea- because that is the day it was announced by Emperor Horhito. Whereas the U.S. recognizes V-J Day on September 2nd, when the papers were signed- making the surrender official.

Do you have ancestors who fought in World War II, or any war for that matter? Search over 20 million military records to find who you are looking for!

Search our records specific to World War II -

Search our Military records-

Were Your Ancestors on the Titanic?

Friday, April 17th, 2009

By Whitney McGowan,, Inc.
On April 15, 1912 the Titanic sank deep into the freezing Atlantic after hitting
an iceberg approximately two hours and 40 minutes earlier (on April 14th). At the
time, the Titanic was the largest passenger steamship in the world.

Approximately 1,517 people died. The overall survival rate for men was 20 percent,
for women it was 74 percent, and for children, it was 52 percent. Fewer men survived
as there was a policy of allowing women and children to board the 20 lifeboats first.
These boats consisted of 14 lifeboats each designed to carry 65 passengers; 2 emergency
boats, each with a capacity of 40 passengers; and 4 collapsible boats, each with
a capacity of 47 passengers. Unfortunately, all of the boats were not filled to
capacity as some of the Titanic passengers were reluctant to leave what they thought
was a safer ship.

The Titanic began its voyage from Southhampton, England in hopes of reaching New
York City, New York. Edward J. Smith was the captain of the Titanic. After crossing
the English Channel the Titanic stopped at Cherbourg, France, and then Queenstown,
Ireland. Approximately 2,240 people were on board when the Titanic set out for New

Many prominent people at that time were traveling in first class. Some of these
people included: John Jacob Astor IV and his wife Madeleine Force Astor, industrialist
Benjamin Guggenheim, Macy’s owner Isidor Straus and his wife Ida, Denver millionairess
Margaret “Molly” Brown, Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and his wife couturière Lucy (Lady
Duff-Gordon), George Elkins Widener and his wife Eleanor; cricketer and businessman
John Borland Thayer with his wife Marian and their seventeen-year-old son Jack,
journalist William Thomas Stead, the Countess of Rothes, United States presidential
aide Archibald Butt, author and socialite Helen Churchill Candee, author Jacques
Futrelle his wife May and their friends, Broadway producers Henry and Rene Harris
and silent film actress Dorothy Gibson. (List of prominent names taken from:

To view a list of the Titanic passengers and crew, click here.

To view a list of only the first-class passengers and crew members on the Titanic, click here.

At you can find many historic newspapers that cover the story
of the “unsinkable” ship, the Titanic. You may even find a record of one of your
ancestors who was on the Titanic.

Here are examples of just a few:

Waterloo Evening Courier:
Titanic, Largest Steamer Ever Built, Strikes Iceberg and Calls Help

Titusville Morning Herald:
Liner Titanic Struck an Iceburg on Sunday: Greatest Ship Afloat on her Maiden Voyage
is Damaged

Abilene Daily Reporter:

Loss of Life on the Titanic May Be Greater Than First Estimated

A partner of, Find A Grave, has a page containing the full listing
of Titanic graves, as well as a page for Titanic passengers.

New, Inc. Corporate Site

Thursday, January 29th, 2009, Inc. recently launched a new corporate site: We’re excited to provide you with information about our current projects, blog posts, articles in the press, and more!

When you visit, you can also see what jobs are available. For example, today we posted a job description for the new position of chief genealogy officer. We are also looking for a systems administrator/architect, and an outbound sales consultant. If you think you may be a good fit for any of these jobs, please go to

If you are interested in advertising with, Inc. you will find information at

We hope you enjoy the new site!

Genealogical New Year’s Resolutions

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

By Whitney Ransom McGowan

It’s 2009, and if you are like many people throughout the world, January is a time to set some goals and aspirations for the new year.

I once heard the expression, “May your troubles last as long as your New Year’s Resolutions.” I hope you are able to make and reach the goals you set at the start of this year. A few ways I have found to keep my New Year’s Resolutions is to write them down; make small, measurable goals, and then share them with a friend or family member.

If you are a genealogist, here are a few resolutions you may want to put on your list for this year….

1. Start keeping a journal.
2. Interview a family member about his or her life.
3. Write names, dates, and places on the back of your photos.
4. Digitize your photos and share them online (also helps in case something happens to your hard copies).
5. Break down at least one brick wall.
6. Share your research with a family member or friend… or even with someone who is researching the same name.
7. Attend a genealogical conference. (Pre-register for the conference to take advantage of an early bird price.)
8. Join a genealogical society.
9. Convert your VHS tapes to DVD or CD.
10. Plan a road trip to visit a cemetery, court house, or relative.
11. Enroll in a genealogy course. Genealogy courses are available for beginners, experts, and everyone in between.
12. Become a certified genealogist.
13. Purchase a subscription to

Regardless of your goals, I hope you will set some, specifically in the genealogical area and make some progress. Happy New Year!

The Rich Heritage of Christmas Traditions

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Family traditions, especially traditions associated with holidays, help form the heritage of each individual. Along with the pedigree charts, group sheets, and family histories that naturally come with genealogy work, a rich resource that could uncover new perspectives on your ancestors is to discover more about their family traditions.

Perhaps your ancestors were immigrants to a new country and brought with them traditions from their native land. This Christmas season we suggest you search out a Christmas tradition from the country of one of your ancestors, and document it for future generations.
Here are some examples of Christmas traditions from around the World to help get you started.

One of the most unique traditions we discovered in our search happens a in Finland. Just before the start of Christmas festivities, families and friends go to the sauna and then dress up in clean clothes for a Christmas dinner, which is usually served from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

In Central Europe countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, and Hungary, the main celebration happens on Christmas Eve. During the day, individuals usually don’t eat. In some areas children are told they’ll see a golden pig if they can make it until dinner. The actual meal served varies from country to country. For example, in the Czech Republic their meal includes a fish or cabbage soup and breaded roasted carp with potato salad. In Poland, the meal often includes Golabki filled with Kasza, Pierogies, Borscht, and pickled Herring. A wonderful common holiday tradition in these countries is for people to gather together as families. Many families bring their grandparents into their homes during Christmas.

One of the best resources we found online (besides Google!) to learn more about Christmas traditions around the word is Wikipededia at

Share what you find with your family! Celebrates 2-Year Anniversary

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 recently celebrated its two year anniversary and is looking forward to many more years of celebration! On October 4, 2006, sold its first membership with 21 online databases. Now, two years later, has more than 1.2 billion names in more than 11,000 databases. Thank you for making one of the most popular online destinations for people tracing their ancestral lines. We especially want to thank the tens of thousands of you who have subscribed to, helping to fund the services we offer today and their ongoing growth and refinement. was originally founded by Paul Allen and several key members of the original team. The current president of the company is Steve Nickle. Under Allen and Nickle’s direction, the company has pursued its goals of becoming the world’s largest gateway to family discovery and expression and to facilitate your desire to connect with family and family roots. When began, one of the main strategies Allen set was to partner with as many companies as possible to acquire valuable genealogical content, while sharing revenues and royalties with these content providers. In September 2007, DearMYRTLE wrote, “With all the partnering, special offers, combined sign-ups and such, WVR clearly wins the award for the most prolific agreement-signing genealogy website of the year.”

More than 30 companies have partnered with, such as FamilySearch, Quintin Publications, British Origins, The Statue of Liberty Foundation/Ellis, Eneclann,SmallTownPapers®, Genealogical Publishing Company, Accessible Archives, Archive CD Books Australia, NewspaperARCHIVE, Find A Grave, and Find My Past. Everton Publishers was the first company to partner with World Vital Records.

As part of the partnership, all of Everton’s content including the Genealogical Helper and Everton’s Pedigree Files and Family Group Sheets became available at World Vital Records. World Vital Records adds new content every business day. Some of its most popular databases include Everton’s Genealogical Helper and Family Group Sheets and Pedigree Files , and the World War II Army Enlistment Records. The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) , the Ellis Island Passenger Arrival Records, Find A Grave death records, and SmallTownPapers® newspaper collection are free to access and frequently viewed.

Each week sends out a newsletter containing upcoming databases, industry news, genealogical tips, articles on recent databases, and more. For those who are new to the site, is part of a family of services that includes,, and We’re Related and My Family on Facebook. We look forward to continually helping you find your ancestors. At, we are dedicated to meeting your needs. With your continued support and feedback, our service will continue to improve over time. We can accomplish much together to improve genealogical research. If you have feedback on how we can better meet your needs, please send it to Whitney at Thanks for your support this past year at

Paul Allen and Dan Lynch Featured on KSL NewsRadio Genealogy Show

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

Recently, Paul Allen and Dan Lynch from, Inc. were featured on the KSL NewsRadio Relatively Speaking Radio Genealogy Show with radio personality and genealogy author Mary Slawson.

Click on the links below to listen to Allen and Lynch.
Part 1:
Part 2:

Celebrate Family History Month

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Since September 26, 2001, October has been recognized as the Family History Month. This initiative was passed by unanimous consent from the Senate more than seven years ago.

Click here to read the press release from Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah that describes the bill which was passed to commemorate October as Family History Month.

There are many ways to celebrate Family History Month. Here are a few suggestions from

* Share a story with your children about your childhood. If you don’t have children, share a story with your spouse or parents.
* Encourage your children to write in a journal.
* Start writing your personal history.
* Record one of your relatives talking about his or her life.
* Add a new page to your scrapbook.
* Sort through and label your pictures.
* Ask one of your relatives for a family recipe. Make it and share it with your family.
* Start a family website.
* Perform some searches for your ancestors on
* Plan a family trip.
* Attend a family reunion.
* Write a letter to one of your relatives. If you are searching for some information on your family, ask for it. If you have done the research, share it.
* Watch a home video of your family. If you don’t have one, make one.
* Convert some old VHS or 8 mm to DVD. Make copies and share them with your family.
* Start or add to your family tree.
* Make a family calendar for Christmas that includes photos of your family and important dates.
* Visit a cemetery where one of your relatives is buried. Take pictures of the cemetery and upload them to Find A Grave (if the photo is not already there).
* Trace your family medical history.
* Make copies of important family documents. Put the copies in a safe place, and share them with other family. Making the copies digital and putting them online is also recommended.
* Tell a friend that it is family history month and send them these tips!