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The Benefits of Journaling

Fri, 09/17/2021 - 17:17

Do you keep a journal? A diary? Notes of what is happening in your life, right now? Many people use journaling to relieve stress, capture treasured memories while they are fresh, record the historic times they are living through, and just as a way to make use of some found time. 

The benefits of keeping a journal are both personal and historical. As we mention in our previous article, keeping a journal can help you manage anxiety. Even if you aren’t going through a stressful time, keeping a journal is an important way to record the stories of daily life today for the generations of tomorrow.

Journaling to Preserve Personal History

Have you ever found a letter or recipe, handwritten by one of your ancestors? The personal touch to these little snippets of history can make us feel a much deeper connection with the people who lived before us. Be it your great-great-grandmother noting that you should replace half the shortening with butter because that’s how she likes to make it, or your distant uncle complaining that his uniform has not been dry in three weeks due to bad weather where he is stationed with the army, these voices from the past are much more genuine than history books or official documents.

Our daily lives don’t always seem significant. We know what kind of clothing we wear, how we get to work, and what kind of flowers we have in our garden. But have you ever looked at old photographs? Look at the setting, the clothing, and the objects that made up the lives of the people in those photos. They tell a personal story.

While it may not seem like anyone would want to read about our personal lives, put yourself in the shoes of your great-great-grandchildren, or imagine how fascinating it would be to read the personal thoughts and daily experiences written by a 13th-century farmer.

Telling Untold Stories

Journals give voices to those who sometimes are not heard. Everyone has a unique experience, even during a globally important event. There will be many records kept and many intellectual articles written about the global pandemic that began in 2020, but just as important are the chorus of voices who lived through that difficult time.

If you have read or heard of Anne Frank and The Diary of a Young Girl, you know the power that a personal voice can bring to a historic event. As Nella Last wrote in her own diary, “I can never understand how the scribbles of such an ordinary person […] can possibly have value.” Nella’s journals telling of her experiences in Britain during World War II are now a popular book trilogy. Whether they are published or just preserved by family members, journals offer insight into the real experiences of real people. As both Nella and Anne’s diaries show, the benefits of journaling are sometimes for others.

Personal Reflection through Journaling

Not every journal is meant to be shared. Journaling can be a wonderful source of personal reflection, even years after the words were written down. In the end, when you journal, you are writing for yourself, and you can choose if and how you want to share those memories later. You may want to one day share your story with your family or in a memoir, and personal journals are a great way to remember things.

Online Journals

We live in a time where personal stories appear frequently in the form of short commentaries on social media and status messages, selfies, and photos of food. All of these snapshots tell a story about us and the world we live in today.

Online journaling is a way to share your experiences in a deeper and more detailed way. FamilySearch Memories is an easy way to begin creating your own online journal. You can include photos and organize your thoughts and memories by topic. Once you have added something, you can choose to share it or not.

Have you tried FamilySearch Memories? Do you plan to start keeping a journal, or do you already do so? However you choose to journal, know that expressing your voice can have untold benefits for you and others.

Celebrating Constitution Day Together

Thu, 09/09/2021 - 15:00

Constitution Day is one of the most significant holidays in the United States of America, and yet it goes uncelebrated by many Americans each year. This might be because it is not recognized by paid time off work or by a large local or national firework celebration. But if it’s such an important holiday, why don’t Americans celebrate it?

What Is Constitution Day? 

Constitution Day occurs on September 17 each year, and it’s meant to celebrate the historic day in 1787 when the United States Constitution—the most influential document in American history—was signed by the Founding Fathers. The day the Constitution was signed plays a significant role in United States history and global history. Although the National Constitution Center offers free museum tours and online history classes to learn about the U.S. Constitution and celebrate the occasion, not much else is done to celebrate this globally historic day.

Why Is Constitution Day Important? 

Constitution Day isn’t just important for Americans; its impact has been felt globally. In addition to becoming a new country that was completely independent from British rule, the United States of America also became a place of refuge for those seeking religious freedom, escaping famine and socioeconomic distress, and searching for the opportunity to own land of their own. 

The United States became a melting pot of culture as more people immigrated to this new country. Today, the U.S. has become one of the largest global influencers and is defined in part by its lack of cultural independence. Americans’ food, traditions, and day-to-day lives are heavily influenced by the many cultures and people residing in the country.

How Does Constitution Day Affect My Family History? 

The official signing of the Constitution marks the day that the United States became a unified and unique country. Since the Constitution’s signing in 1787, the government has diligently collected census records, immigration papers, property deeds, and more. All these documents are helpful in finding our ancestors and tracing the course of their lives.

Perhaps the best way to celebrate Constitution Day is by searching these historical records and learning more about the lives of those who have preceded us or who lived in the early days of the United States. We can trace our relatives online to the date they may have immigrated to the U.S., and then we can track how their lives progressed there over time. Did they purchase land, trek out west, or return to the land from whence they came? Did they help build the railroad or own a farm, or did they receive an education? Did they obtain their citizenship? How many children did they have, and were all of those children born in the U.S.?

Answering these questions can help us come closer to our heritage and allows us a unique look into living through the early days of a new country. As most countries are significantly older than the United States, examining the U.S.’s history and genealogical documents gives us a special glimpse at the issues the new country faced and how that affected the lives of the people who lived there.

We can celebrate Constitution Day from around the world as we look for ancestors who immigrated to the United States, created new lives for themselves, and did their best to chase the “American dream.”

Check out FamilySearch’s vast collection for free U.S. records or our collection of United States census records to get started!

Coming Together to Remember 9/11

Tue, 09/07/2021 - 17:32

The year 2021 marks 20 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States of America that shook the world. These attacks, which targeted the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and a third unknown location, resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and affected nearly every member of the world family. As we remember 9/11 two decades later—including the lives lost, the sacrifices made, the selflessness shown, and the heroism that unified the world in a time of unbelievable tragedy—we stop to say thank you.

Thank you to the brave first responders, many of whom gave their lives to save victims of the attacks. Thank you to the families, friends, and loved ones who helped those who needed it most. Thank you to those whose hearts were drawn so close in empathy to everyone who was suffering and in need. We remember you.

To help share goodness in spite of tragedy, we have compiled some ideas to help us and others remember 9/11. Sharing the stories that give us hope can bring joy and comfort.

9/11 Memorial and Museum 9/11 Pentagon Memorial 9/11 Flight 93 Memorial Site Remembering Those We Lost on 9/11

Although the exact number of lives lost in the September 11 attacks is not conclusively known, the official number is 2,977. Additionally, over 6,000 victims were injured. More than 78 countries lost citizens to the attacks, and memorials have been constructed worldwide in honor of the fallen.

Remembering tragedy can be painful; in some ways, it can make the loss feel as raw as the first day you felt it. However, there can be healing and strength found in reflection. Celebrating the lives of loved ones, recalling fond memories with them, and recording your experiences with them ensures that their legacy is never forgotten.

Ideas for Celebration of Life Ceremonies Science-Backed Ways to Build Resilience How to Relieve Stress Through Writing Ideas on how to Remember a Loved One Remembering the Heroes of 9/11

Hundreds of people, first responders and ordinary citizens alike, put others before themselves to rescue those who were injured and trapped after the attacks on September 11, 2001. Each of these selfless individuals gave of themselves with no regard for their own safety; some reentered the structurally unsound World Trade Center towers over and over again in their attempts to rescue as many people as possible.

One man, Rick Rescorla, is credited with saving thousands of lives by organizing the evacuation of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Thanks to his actions, over 2,700 people were able to escape.

Members of Flight 93 gave their lives when they fought to regain control of their plane. Though the target of the intended attack is unknown, there is no doubt that the bravery and sacrifice of those on Flight 93 saved numerous innocent lives.

Remembering How the World Came Together

Shock, horror, and sorrow resounded as the world struggled to grasp why and how the tragedy of 9/11 took place—however, so did love. As the United States grieved, other nations wept with them in touching demonstrations of support and solidarity.  

In France, locals opened their homes to passengers who were stranded when the United States airspace closed after the attacks. Several other countries offered their airspaces and airports to house diverted planes.

Cities and towns across Canada took in passengers from grounded planes until the United States airspace reopened. One of these towns, Gander, Newfoundland, saw its population nearly double with the influx of planes. The community donated food, clothing, and shelter to the “plane people” until they were able to return home.

At Buckingham Palace in the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II broke protocol—something that had never happened before —and had the United States’ national anthem play at the changing of the guard ceremony. In Germany, 200,000 citizens held a memorial service to show their love and sympathy.

The Maasai tribe in Kenya didn’t hear what had happened until months later. However, they still gave what they could to the United States: 14 cows, considered to be incredibly valued and sacred, as a gift to “wipe the tears of the American people.”

Ways to Remember 9/11

There is no one right way to commemorate or remember 9/11. Perhaps take a moment of quiet reflection. If you haven’t already, write in your journal your memories of the day. If you were born after 9/11 or are too young to have memories of it, ask an older relative, friend, or neighbor what they remember and how they felt about what they were experiencing at the time.

If you want to do more, perhaps do what those who first witnessed the tragedy did: find ways to serve others. Look for volunteer opportunities in your community or start your own project. Reaching out in service to others within your spheres of influence helps build bonds and extend kindness. Both can provide much-needed healing for the giver and the receiver. 

We hope you find inspiration as you discover your own family story and help share your story with future generations.

With our deepest love and kindness,

The FamilySearch family

Monthly Record Update for August 2021

Fri, 09/03/2021 - 14:00

FamilySearch expanded its free online archives in August of 2021 with over 44 million new indexed family history records from all over the world. New historical records were added from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, England, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Jamaica, Kiribati, Liberia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and the United States, which includes Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. Records from the United States Bureau of Land Management and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were included as well.

Find your ancestors using these free archives online, including birth, marriage, death, and church records. Millions of new genealogy records are added each month to make your search easier.

Don’t see what you’re looking for? Check back next month and, in the meantime, search existing records on FamilySearch. And if you want more exciting genealogy content, peruse over 1,000 free, on-demand sessions from RootsTech Connect 2021.

CountryCollection Indexed Records Digital ImagesCommentArgentinaArgentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635-1981                 73,2630Expanded collectionArgentinaArgentina, Capital Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1737-1977                 11,3840New collectionArgentinaArgentina, Catamarca, Catholic Church Records, 1724-1971                    1,3740New collectionArgentinaArgentina, Cemetery Records, 1882-2019                 38,6240Expanded collectionArgentinaArgentina, Chaco, Catholic Church Records, 1882-1955                    5,7710New collectionArgentinaArgentina, Chubut, Catholic Church Records, 1884-1974                    2,0850New collectionArgentinaArgentina, Córdoba, Catholic Church Records, 1557-1974                 23,4500New collectionArgentinaArgentina, Corrientes, Catholic Church Records, 1734-1977                 75,3640Expanded collectionArgentinaArgentina, Entre Ríos, Catholic Church Records, 1764-1983                 18,1470Expanded collectionArgentinaArgentina, Jujuy, Catholic Church Records, 1662-1975                 20,1360New collectionArgentinaArgentina, La Rioja, Catholic Church Records, 1714-1970                 23,9650New collectionArgentinaArgentina, Misiones, Catholic Church Records, 1874-1975                 20,2010Expanded collectionArgentinaArgentina, Neuquén, Catholic Church Records, 1883-1977                    3,2310New collectionArgentinaArgentina, Río Negro, Catholic Church Records, 1880-1977                    1,7220New collectionArgentinaArgentina, San Juan, Catholic Church Records, 1655-1975                 40,2920New collectionArgentinaArgentina, Santiago del Estero, Catholic Church Records, 1581-1961                    9,8440Expanded collectionArgentinaArgentina, Tucumán, Catholic Church Records, 1727-1955                       8390Expanded collectionAustraliaAustralia, Victoria, Wills, Probate and Administration Files, 1841-1926                    7,7220Expanded collectionAustriaAustria, Carinthia, Gurk Diocese, Catholic Church Records, 1527-1986                    4,9190Expanded collectionBoliviaBolivia Catholic Church Records, 1566-1996                       9170Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Bahia, Civil Registration, 1877-1976                 50,6980Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Cemetery Records, 1850-2021                 97,9650Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Minas Gerais, Civil Registration, 1879-1949                 13,4950Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Paraná, Civil Registration, 1852-1996                 29,0910Expanded collectionBrazilBrazil, Santa Catarina, Civil Registration, 1850-1999                    1,3730Expanded collectionCanadaCanada, Ontario Tax Assessment Rolls, 1834-1899               151,8240Expanded collectionChileChile, Catholic Church Records, 1710-1928               270,5720Expanded collectionCosta RicaCosta Rica, Catholic Church Records, 1595-1992                    3,9400Expanded collectionCroatiaCroatia, Delnice Deanery Catholic Church Books, 1571-1926                    2,7530Expanded collectionDominican RepublicDominican Republic Miscellaneous Records, 1921-1980                 21,0040Expanded collectionDominican RepublicDominican Republic, Catholic Church Records, 1590-1955                    9,7470Expanded collectionEcuadorEcuador, Catholic Church Records, 1565-2011                    3,6610Expanded collectionEcuadorEcuador, Cemetery Records, 1862-2019                 22,7850Expanded collectionEl SalvadorEl Salvador Catholic Church Records, 1655-1977               210,6640Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Cambridgeshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1538-1983                 11,7960Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Essex Non-Conformist Church Records, 1613-1971                 17,4810Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Gloucestershire Non-Conformist Church Records, 1642-1996                          440Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Herefordshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1583-1898                       1470Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Middlesex Parish Registers, 1539-1988               265,7720Expanded collectionEnglandEngland, Northumberland Non-Conformist Church Records, 1613-1920                 14,0130Expanded collectionFinlandFinland, Passport Registers, 1900-1920                    4,1480Expanded collectionFranceFrance, Haute-Vienne, Census, 1836                 34,7150Expanded collectionFranceFrance, Saône-et-Loire, Parish and Civil Registration, 1530-1892                       8680Expanded collectionFrench PolynesiaFrench Polynesia, Civil Registration, 1780-1999                       8240Expanded collectionGermanyGermany, Saxony, Church Book Indexes, 1500-1900                    9,8390Expanded collectionGuatemalaGuatemala, Alta Verapaz, Civil Registration, 1877-1994               132,0960Expanded collectionGuatemalaGuatemala, Baja Verapaz, Civil Registration, 1877-1994                 30,3410Expanded collectionGuatemalaGuatemala, Catholic Church Records, 1581-1977                       3670Expanded collectionGuatemalaGuatemala, Chimaltenango, Civil Registration, 1877-1994                 72,1600Expanded collectionGuatemalaGuatemala, El Progreso, Civil Registration, 1877-1994                 18,2410Expanded collectionGuatemalaGuatemala, Escuintla, Civil Registration, 1877-1994                 51,9770Expanded collectionGuatemalaGuatemala, Huehuetenango, Civil Registration, 1877-1994                 87,6610Expanded collectionGuatemalaGuatemala, Izabal, Civil Registration, 1877-1994                 41,0670Expanded collectionGuatemalaGuatemala, Jalapa, Civil Registration, 1877-1994                 16,3560Expanded collectionGuatemalaGuatemala, Retalhuleu, Civil Registration, 1877-1994                 24,6820Expanded collectionGuatemalaGuatemala, Sololá, Civil Registration, 1877-1994                 29,9910Expanded collectionIrelandIreland, Merchant Navy Crew Lists, 1857-1922               832,7700New collectionIrelandIreland, Prison Registers, 1798-1928           3,127,5940New collectionJamaicaJamaica, Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880                    4,6470Expanded collectionKiribatiKiribati, Vital Records, 1890-1991                    5,9520Expanded collectionLiberiaLiberia Census, 2008               820,0130Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Aguascalientes, Catholic Church Records, 1601-1962                 80,5680Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Campeche, Catholic Church Records, 1638-1944                    3,6350Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Chiapas, Catholic Church Records, 1557-1978               258,9040Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Chihuahua, Catholic Church Records, 1632-1958                 42,4410Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Coahuila, Catholic Church Records, 1627-1978                 31,4810Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Colima, Catholic Church Records, 1707-1969                 52,3500Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Distrito Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1514-1970               286,1180Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Durango, Catholic Church Records, 1604-1985               167,3500Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Guanajuato, Catholic Church Records, 1519-1984                 37,9730Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Guerrero, Catholic Church Records, 1576-1979               203,7200Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Hidalgo, Catholic Church Records, 1546-1971               105,7740Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Jalisco, Catholic Church Records, 1590-1979           6,222,8820Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, México, Catholic Church Records, 1567-1970                 47,7060Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Michoacán, Catholic Church Records, 1555-1996           2,576,5710Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Morelos, Catholic Church Records, 1598-1994                 23,5330Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Nayarit, Catholic Church Records, 1596-1967                 33,8050Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Nuevo León, Catholic Church Records, 1667-1981               328,1400Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Oaxaca, Catholic Church Records, 1559-1988                 63,0860Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Puebla, Catholic Church Records, 1545-1977           1,752,8600Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Querétaro, Catholic Church Records, 1590-1970                 18,7810Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, San Luis Potosí, Catholic Church Records, 1586-1977               603,1560Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Sinaloa, Catholic Church Records, 1671-1968               423,7570Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Sinaloa, Civil Registration, 1861-1929                 42,9480Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Sonora, Catholic Church Records, 1657-1994                 60,7580Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Tabasco, Catholic Church Records, 1803-1970               131,3860Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Tamaulipas, Catholic Church Records, 1703-1964                 19,2060Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Tlaxcala, Catholic Church Records, 1576-1994               290,3550Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Veracruz, Catholic Church Records, 1590-1978               743,7070Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Yucatán, Catholic Church Records, 1543-1977               100,9070Expanded collectionMexicoMexico, Zacatecas, Catholic Church Records, 1605-1980               200,5550Expanded collectionNetherlandsNetherlands, Bibliothèque Wallonne, Card Indexes, ca. 1500-1858                            30Expanded collectionNicaraguaNicaragua, Catholic Church Records, 1740-1960                    2,2250Expanded collectionNorwayNorway Church Books, 1815-1930         17,901,1590New collectionNorwayNorway, Probate Index Cards, 1640-1903                 15,0120Expanded collectionPanamaPanama, Catholic Church Records, 1707-1973                 13,2780Expanded collectionPapua New GuineaPapua New Guinea, Vital Records, 1867-2000                 66,8150Expanded collectionParaguayParaguay, Catholic Church Records, 1754-2015                 69,1450Expanded collectionParaguayParaguay, Military Records, 1870-1965                 16,5620Expanded collectionPeruPeru, Catholic Church Records, 1603-1992                    2,1960Expanded collectionPeruPeru, Diocese of Huaraz, Catholic Church Records, 1641-2016                    6,2060Expanded collectionPeruPeru, Huancavelica, Civil Registration, 1915-2003                    9,5150Expanded collectionPolandPoland, Lublin Roman Catholic Church Books, 1784-1964                           –  1,848Expanded collectionPuerto RicoPuerto Rico, Catholic Church Records, 1645-1969                 50,3830Expanded collectionSamoaSamoa, Vital Records, 1846-1996                 13,6790Expanded collectionSierra LeoneSierra Leone, Civil Births and Deaths, 1802-2016                    7,8210Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Cape Province, Civil Records, 1840-1972                    5,8530Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Dutch Reformed Church Registers (Cape Town Archives), 1660-1970                 13,7220Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, KwaZulu Natal, Vital Records, 1868-1976                 25,5820Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Netherdutch Reformed Church Registers (Pretoria Archive), 1838-1991                          140Expanded collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Reformed Church Records, 1856-1988                    5,0440Expanded collectionSpainSpain, Catholic Church Records, 1307-1985               162,0060Expanded collectionSpainSpain, Diocese of Albacete, Catholic Church Records, 1504-1979                    9,5720Expanded collectionSpainSpain, Diocese of Cartagena, Catholic Church Records, 1503-1969                 85,4790Expanded collectionSpainSpain, Province of La Coruña, Municipal Records, 1648-1941                 10,3650Expanded collectionSwedenSweden, Örebro Church Records, 1613-1918; index 1635-1860                 12,4040Expanded collectionSwedenSweden, Stockholm City Archives, Index to Church Records, 1546-1927                    1,3530Expanded collectionSwedenSweden, Västerbotten Church Records, 1619-1896; index, 1688-1860                    6,9710Expanded collectionSwitzerlandSwitzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1850                    4,8510Expanded collectionSwitzerlandSwitzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1880                    4,6040Expanded collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Devon, Plymouth, Plague Rate, 1626-1629                       6590New collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Hertfordshire, Marriage Bonds, 1682-1837                       3310Expanded collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Lancashire, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1746-1799                 12,8520Expanded collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Lincolnshire, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1574-1885                       3730Expanded collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Navy Allotment Records, 1795-1812               485,01752,892Expanded collectionUnited KingdomEngland, Nottinghamshire, Church Records, 1578-1937               720,3770Expanded collectionUnited KingdomUnited Kingdom, British Royal Navy Ships’ Musters, 1739-1861               280,3570New collectionUnited StatesArizona, Various County Divorce Records, 1877-1937                          240Expanded collectionUnited StatesCalifornia, Los Angeles, Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery/Crematory Records, 1884-2002                    2,4540Expanded collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, Military Discharge Records, ca.1890 – ca.1966                 72,3590Expanded collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, Tax Digests, 1787-1900               272,1110Expanded collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Registrar of Bureau of Conveyances, Deed Records, 1846-1900                    1,4450Expanded collectionUnited StatesIndiana Marriages, 1811-2019                 51,0270Expanded collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, Orleans and St. Tammany Parish, Voter Registration Records, 1867-1905               525,1690Expanded collectionUnited StatesMassachusetts, Boston Tax Records, 1822-1918               571,4630Expanded collectionUnited StatesMassachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001               501,3780Expanded collectionUnited StatesMississippi, Voter Registration, 1871-1967                          250Expanded collectionUnited StatesNew Jersey, County Naturalization Records, 1749-1986                            30Expanded collectionUnited StatesNew Jersey, Death Index, 1901-1903; 1916-1929                       9690Expanded collectionUnited StatesOregon, Center for Health Statistics, Birth Records, 1903-1918               193,7360New collectionUnited StatesOregon, Oregon State Archives, Births, 1842-1917               105,9830New collectionUnited StatesOregon, Oregon State Archives, Marriage Records, 1906-1968               290,8010Expanded collectionUnited StatesTexas, Grimes County, Deed Records, 1869-1917                       7220New collectionUnited StatesThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Church Census Records (Worldwide), 1914-1960                            10Expanded collectionUnited StatesUnited States Bureau of Land Management Tract Books, 1800-c. 1955                 49,6040Expanded collectionUnited StatesUtah, County Marriages, 1871-1941                    1,4890Expanded collectionUnited StatesWashington, County Death Registers, 1881-1979                 16,1220Expanded collectionUnited StatesWisconsin, County Naturalization Records, 1807-1992                 22,4950Expanded collectionUruguayUruguay Civil Registration, 1879-1930                    3,7870Expanded collectionVanuatuVanuatu, Vital Records, 1900-2001                 46,8720Expanded collectionVenezuelaVenezuela, Catholic Church Records, 1577-1995                 36,4820Expanded collectionZambiaZambia, Archdiocese of Lusaka, Church Records, 1950-2015                 30,0260Expanded collectionZimbabweZimbabwe, Voter Registration, 1938-1973                    2,7480Expanded collection

Jewish Holidays

Thu, 09/02/2021 - 17:00

Have you ever wanted to learn more about Jewish holidays? Maybe you have a friend or colleague who is Jewish, or you’ve recently learned you have Jewish heritage yourself. You have likely heard of Hanukkah and Passover, but some of the most important Jewish holidays are less common in popular media. For example, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur receive far less recognition from non-Jewish communities despite being much larger celebrations.

The Jewish calendar has many holidays; however, it is important to realize that these holidays follow a different calendar from the lunar calendar followed in the Western world. This is why Jewish holidays do not occur on the same day and month every year.

The Jewish Calendar

The Jewish or Hebrew calendar is a lunisolar calendar. There are 12 months each year, corresponding with the 12 lunar cycles. However, on leap years a 13th month is observed. The Jewish calendar is of great importance in Jewish traditions because it determines not only when holidays will fall, but on what days other important traditions and religious activities are to take place. On the Jewish calendar, hours are always one-twelfth of the daylight hours, which means they will vary in length depending on the time of year.

The Jewish calendar has a 7-day week, which begins on Sunday and ends on Saturday. Saturday, called Shabbat or the Sabbath, is the day of rest in Jewish tradition. The Sabbath is a weekly holiday during which Orthodox Jews do not work or travel. Traditions practiced on this day include lighting candles at sundown on Friday when the Sabbath begins, reciting prayers, singing songs, wearing traditional clothing, and having festive meals.

What Is Rosh Hashanah?

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. According to Jewish tradition, it is the day that God created the first human. It does not correspond with the start of the Jewish year; in fact, it is on the first of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. On the Gregorian calendar, it usually occurs sometime in September or October.

The observance of Rosh Hashanah lasts two days. This is a time of celebration and joy as well as personal renewal and great spiritual reflection. Jews gather in synagogues to listen to services and prayers, and they gather with family for meals of traditional foods, such as apples dipped in honey. Another tradition practiced during Rosh Hashanah is Tashlik, which is the throwing of breadcrumbs into the river to represent the sins of the past year being cast away.

What Is Yom Kippur?

Yom Kippur is the most holy day on the Jewish calendar. It is a day of atonement, a solemn day in which Jews seek to be cleansed of their sins. It is observed on the 10th of Tishrei, shortly after Rosh Hashanah.

This day is spent fasting, reciting prayers, and attending services at the synagogue. Jews will often wear white garments on this day to represent purity.

On this day, healthy adults and teenagers do not eat or drink anything, they do not bathe or wear perfume, and they do not wear leather shoes. Girls begin observing these traditions at age 12, and boys begin at age 13. One purpose of enduring these discomforts is to allow oneself to understand the pain that others feel.

Yom Kippur is the final day of the High Holy Days, or the Days of Awe, which begin with Rosh Hashanah. These 10 important days are the anniversary on the Jewish calendar of the last 10 days Moses spent on Mount Sinai. While there are two major holidays on either end, the Days of Awe are all spent reflecting and seeking forgiveness for misdeeds done over the past year.

What Is Passover?

Passover, called “Pesach” in Hebrew, is a holiday that celebrates the Jews’ freedom from enslavement by the Egyptians. Moses led them, following God’s word, as the Egyptians faced 10 plagues to demoralize their king as he refused to let the Jews go.

The name Passover refers to how the last plague passed over the homes of the Jewish people, only bringing harm to their enslavers. Despite the plagues, the Egyptians pursued the escaping Jews. This is when Moses parted the Red Sea and the Jewish people walked across the seafloor to their freedom.

Because they were forced to flee so quickly, their bread did not have time to rise; in memory of this, Jewish people today eat a flatbread called matzah on Passover. During Passover, which lasts 8 days, Jewish people do not eat any foods that contain leaven, or wheat that has been fermented in water. In fact, even having such foods in one’s house goes against the traditions of Passover.

The messages of Passover teach that it is important to be kind to immigrants and to stand up for justice in communities everywhere. In addition to matzah, during Passover Jews honor the holiday by drinking wine and eating bitter herbs and leafy greens.

What Is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is one of the most well-known Jewish holidays to people outside of the religion. While it is a smaller holiday than many of the others, it is still an important celebration for many Jewish families.

Hanukkah celebrates having light in darkness and rededicating oneself to one’s beliefs. It is fitting that this holiday occurs in winter, during the darkest time of year in the Northern Hemisphere. Hanukkah does not come from the Bible, rather it is in memory of the Maccabean Rebellion, which stopped the religious oppression by the Greeks over the Jews in Jerusalem.

After the victory of the battle, Judah Maccabee, leader of the rebellion, rededicated the temple to the Jewish faith and the worshipping of one God. He had only enough oil left for one night, but after he lit the menorah with it, it burned for 8 days and nights. This is why Hanukkah is an 8-day celebration.

Lighting the candles on the menorah, or hanukkiah, is the main way this holiday is celebrated, but songs, family gatherings, playing with the traditional dreidel, and eating fried foods in honor of the oil that burned for 8 days is also part of the holiday.

Celebrating Jewish Heritage

Do you have Jewish heritage? Share with us your memories and traditions from these and other Jewish holidays. If you’re interested in learning more about your Jewish heritage, check out these resources.

Building Family Bonds by Celebrating Grandparents Day

Tue, 08/31/2021 - 15:00

There’s nothing as genuine as the smile of a grandparent holding a newborn grandbaby. From that moment, a lifelong bond is formed. There are many ways to strengthen that important relationship, including celebrating National Grandparents Day on Sunday, 12 September 2021.

How Did Grandparents Day Get Started? 

This year will mark the 43rd year that Grandparents Day has been observed in the United States, but its founding didn’t come easily. In 1978, after almost 9 years of lobbying from citizens, President Jimmy Carter officially proclaimed the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day.

The decision was influenced by dedicated people who believed the nation should revere grandparents and the elderly. In 1961 Jacob Reingold, head of the Hebrew Home nursing home, honored grandparents for their important role in the lives of families. It became an official holiday in the borough of the Bronx by 1963. In 1969 Russell Capper, a 9-year-old boy, sent President Richard Nixon a letter asking him to create a holiday to celebrate grandparents. He received a “thanks, but no thanks” letter of rejection from Nixon’s secretary. Michael Goldgar spent thousands of dollars of his own money to lobby for the holiday, and in 1973, mother and housewife Marian McQuade convinced politicians in West Virginia to proclaim the first Grandparents Day in the state. She continued to lobby for national observance until it was finally proclaimed. She was later named the founder of Grandparents Day.

Fun Facts about Grandparents Day 
  • Since 1978 at least 22 countries have adopted Grandparents Day.
  • Poland has celebrated a separate Grandmothers Day and Grandfathers Day since 1964.
  • The beautiful, blue flower the forget-me-not is the symbol of Grandparents Day.
  • In 2021 Pope Francis announced the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly to be celebrated each year on the fourth Sunday of July.
  • In the United States, about 4 million greeting cards are sent each year for Grandparents Day.
The Purpose of Grandparents Day 

The connection between grandparents and grandchildren is unlike any other relationship. Science shows that grandparents live longer and kids are more emotionally resilient when they spend time together. Close inter-generational relationships also help kids to have a stronger sense of personal identity. Speaking of grandparents, Pope Francis said, “They remind us that old age is a gift and that grandparents are the link between generations, passing on the experience of life and faith to the young.”

How Do You Celebrate Grandparents Day? 

The whole family can be involved in planning Grandparents Day activities, from a fun get-together to Zoom or FaceTime calls. The possibilities are endless. For creative ideas, check out the following articles.

10 Ways to Celebrate National Grandparents Day

These suggestions are great for Grandparents Day, but they are also ideal throughout the year.

20+ Questions to Capture Grandma’s Story

What do you know about your grandmother? Here’s some questions you can ask your grandma to get to know her better.

Holding a Family Tree Gathering

One way to honor grandparents is to talk about their family heritage.

Preserve the Stories of Grandparents Forever with These Expert Tips 

A how-to article about staying connected with grandparents and helpful tips for using the Family Tree app to save grandparent stories for generations to come.

How to Stay in Touch with Grandparents Who Live Far Away

No matter how much distance lies between families, this article explains ways to stay connected.

Vintage Halloween Costumes Your Grandparents Wore

What Halloween costumes did your grandparents wear? A discussion could lead to some entertaining stories.

What Do You Call Grandma

Learn what people from all over the world call their grandmas.

Make lasting memories on Grandparents Day by sharing favorite old-time songs, creating a new tradition, or making up jokes with your grandparents. If you have fun together, it won’t matter whether you’re together in one place or meeting virtually. And don’t forget to record those precious memories on FamilySearch Memories!

Arabic Calligraphy through the Ages

Fri, 08/27/2021 - 17:00

The flowing, beautiful nature of the Arabic alphabet makes it the perfect language for calligraphy, or artistic handwriting. This gorgeous art has been passed down generation to generation and can be found in architecture, art, and other designs. Because of this intertwinement of decor and writing, Arabic calligraphy has become an essential aspect of the culture. An Arabic proverb even says, “Purity of writing is purity of soul.”

Over the years, Arabic calligraphy has evolved, transformed, and developed into many different styles, each distinct in its form and usage.

The History of Arabic Calligraphy

Al-Jazm is an early script originally used in the Arabian Peninsula. It has roots in Persian, Syriac, and Nabatean scripts. It’s considered one of the predecessors to the Arabic alphabet and likely originated around AD 300.

Today Al-Jazm is one of the most widely used alphabets in the world. Multiple languages and Islamic calligraphies use the alphabet. Arabic calligraphy, known in Arabic as khatt, is only one of these Islamic calligraphies.

Kufic, the oldest Arabic script, was named after the ancient Mesopotamian city Kufah. Kufic is recognizable because of its long, horizontal lines and angular design. In line with its controlled appearance, it was used for religious and other official documents. Most surviving examples, such as ancient copies of the Qur’ān, appear to be the work of professional scribes. 

Other early scripts followed less rigorous rules. Cursive was used in Egyptian papyri. It was used every day as a more common and quick hand. Experimentation over time led to a wide variety of scripts and styles.

Naskhī, a cursive script, is one of the most commonly used today. It’s even used in most printed publications, such as newspapers. This script isn’t as loose and informal as older cursive scripts. Instead, it calls for precise ratios of the letters to maintain the desired look.

Calligraphy Tools

To achieve varying styles and line thickness, calligraphers use an array of pens and tools. The most common pen in Arabic calligraphy is the qalam, dried reed cut at an angle, which allows calligraphers to create fluid lines with varying thickness. Because of calligraphy’s prominence, the qalam represents wisdom and knowledge in Islamic culture. 

Other pens serve different purposes. The java pen, for example, is used for small scripts with tight turns. The celie pen, on the other hand, is a hardwood pen best used for large writing.

Calligraphy Design

The Arabic alphabet is written from right to left and consists of 28 letters. Some of the letters can connect with adjacent letters, similar to cursive in English. This only adds to its unique, flowing appearance. Capital letters aren’t used in Arabic, creating a uniform look. 

Calligraphy is often used in conjunction with geometry and ornamental designs to create artwork. Stylized scripts appear on ceramics, walls, doors, scrolls, coins, and more. Historically, calligraphers have been so respected for their craft that rulers sought them out.

Modern artists continue to explore the boundaries of Arabic calligraphy. The practice has been seen in abstract, cubist, and other movements.

Calligraphy in Architecture

Arabic calligraphy has long been used as a decorative element in architecture, particularly in religious architecture. Calligraphers were often commissioned to inscribe verses of the Qur’ān in religious buildings. These verses were thought to enlighten followers. You can find intricately decorated scripts used throughout architecture in stone, wood, stucco, tile, and more.

Preserving Arabic Calligraphy

Calligraphy is an integral part of Arabic culture. It’s so respected that people have been collecting examples of beautiful calligraphy for generations. Some are even stored in museums. If you have Arabic ancestors or family members, it’s worth saving your family’s collections or penmanship. The deep cultural roots will be meaningful for generations to come.

Save Your Family’s Calligraphy with FamilySearch Memories

Learning the art of Arabic calligraphy for yourself might help you feel connected with your heritage and ancestry. You can share your progress and creations on FamilySearch Memories as well.

What Is Labor Day? History and Meaning

Wed, 08/25/2021 - 15:00

Labor Day is different than other holidays around the world. It isn’t associated with a religious observance in the way that Christmas, Passover, or Ramadan are. Nor does it commemorate an important day in history in the way that Cinco de Mayo does for Mexico or Bastille Day does for France. And though people do fun things on Labor Day, the holiday itself isn’t known for any specific traditions like giving gifts on Christmas or setting off fireworks for the New Year. All of this raises an interesting question: what is Labor Day exactly, and why do we celebrate it? 

What Is Labor Day? 

For those living in the United States, the first Monday in September, Labor Day, is undoubtedly a highlight of the year—a three-day weekend marking the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. Often, the weather is perfect—not too hot and not too cold—and it’s a great day to be outdoors with family, flip burgers on the barbecue, and maybe even light a firework or two once the sun goes down. 

At the same time, something about the day is bittersweet. June is long gone. July and August, too. Summer is over, and there’s nothing any of us can do about it. Perhaps it’s this small sense of loss, of long days coming to a close, that makes Labor Day so important. If summer wasn’t everything you wanted it to be, you have one last day to make up for it! 

Of course, none of the emotions described here have anything to do with the origin of Labor Day in the United States or other countries of the world. The people who suggested it, advocated for it, and signed it into law probably weren’t that concerned with summer vacations ending or kids going back to school. Instead, they were looking for an opportunity to celebrate working class Americans—men and women who spent long days in factories, train yards, mines, and mills earning a living for their families. Labor Day was intended as a day of rest and relaxation for people who hardly ever had time for either. 

How Did Labor Day Start in the U.S.? 

To better understand Labor Day’s place in history, consider for a moment what life for most people was like in the mid- to late 1800s, especially in the cities, where the Industrial Revolution had transformed the jobs and day-to-day activities of millions of people. In places like New York and Chicago, men and women—and in many cases small children—could be expected to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, with only short breaks for lunch and other meals. The word “weekend” hadn’t been invented yet, and “vacation” referred to a few spare minutes at home—as opposed to time away from home. 

Work conditions weren’t just unsafe, they were often downright treacherous. If someone got hurt, a replacement wasn’t hard to find.   

As is often the case, change didn’t happen overnight, nor did it come easily. During this period, labor strikes and riots were an all-too-common occurrence. Workers demanded not just better pay but more humane working conditions. By today’s standards, their requests seem more than reasonable, but at the time, they were unprecedented. The act that was passed by the United States Congress on 28 June 1894, making Labor Day a legal holiday, was evidence that their voices were being heard. 

Labor Day around the World 

In most countries, Labor Day is known officially as International Workers’ Day. It isn’t in September, though. It’s on May 1, which is why it’s also referred to, in many instances, as May Day. This includes countries in Africa, Europe, South America, Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania. 

As it turns out, taking time to honor the contributions of workers is a tradition that people of nearly all cultures, countries, faiths, and heritages have in common. And so is the way that people celebrate the holiday, which almost always includes a picnic or other meal with loved ones, usually outside in the sun. 

Of course, spending time with family is an important part of almost every holiday. But in this case, it seems more than fitting, considering that family is one of the primary reasons most of us go to work each day—to provide the necessities of life for those we love! 

Image by National Archives and Records Administration Discover Your Ancestors’ Occupation This Labor Day 

Learning your ancestors’ occupations can be a thrilling discovery, especially on Labor Day. Did your ancestors have the same interests as you? The same talents and abilities? Maybe an ancestor’s job was something difficult that you, yourself, would never want to do, but your ancestor did it anyway to support his or her family. Learning about what your ancestors did for a living can be an inspiring experience. 

At FamilySearch, there’s a good chance you can find out what some of your ancestors’ occupations were. FamilySearch provides access to millions of historical records from around the world, many of which may offer clues to your ancestors’ occupations. If you’re new to searching, don’t worry—we have lots of help to walk you through the process. 

This Labor Day, celebrate the contributions of workers in your family tree by discovering your ancestors’ occupations