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Brazilian Dual Citizenship and Brazilian Nationality

Sat, 12/14/2019 - 12:54

If your parents came from Brazil or if you were born on Brazilian soil, you might be eligible for Brazilian dual citizenship. If your ancestors were Brazilian or if you would like to live in Brazil, there are also ways you can become a citizen of Brazil.

Whether you are interested in citizenship because of your heritage or other reasons, this article will introduce you to the basics of Brazilian citizenship so you can get started.

Dual Citizenship, Citizenship, and Nationality

“Dual citizenship” simply means holding citizenship in two countries at the same time. When applying for dual citizenship, you are simply applying for citizenship in a second country, and every country may have slightly different rules for who is eligible.

In this article, the terms citizenship and nationality are used as synonyms. In other situations, that may not be the case, and those terms can have different meanings. 

Brazilian Nationality by Birth

As in most other countries in North, Central, and South America, Brazil adopts jus soli1 as a founding concept of its nationality laws. This concept means that being born in Brazilian territory is the easiest way to become a Brazilian citizen, regardless of whether your parents are citizens (unless your parents are in Brazil in service of their own country, as foreigners).2

But what if you weren’t born in Brazil?

According to the Brazil constitution, children born abroad of Brazilian citizens are legally viewed as if they were born in Brazil, as far as citizenship eligibility is concerned. This concept is called jus sanguinis, or citizenship by blood. Unlike for other countries that practice jus sanguinis, you can’t apply for Brazilian citizenship by simply presenting a line of descent to any Brazilian ancestor. Brazilian nationality by blood is acquired by parentage, either directly through a Brazilian father or a Brazilian mother or both.

Persons able to claim citizenship by birth still need to register for citizenship, even though they are automatically eligible  at birth.3 If your parents are Brazilian citizens, you can apply for citizenship at any time by registering your birth certificate (even as an adult). To register, the person or one of the parents can go to a vital records office (a public office or a private office that provides public service) or a consulate outside of Brazil.

Note: If a child is under 16 years of age, registration for citizenship must be done by a legal representatives (parent or guardian). If a child is between 16 and 18 years of age, he or she must apply together with a legal representative. Read here for more on requirements for minors.

Because this type of eligibility relies on parentage, you most likely won’t need to do genealogical research when applying for Brazil citizenship (as you might for Italian citizenship and other nationalities).

What happens if you don’t have Brazilian parentage?

Brazilian Citizenship by Naturalization

If you have a love for Brazil or want to return to the land of your ancestors and become a Brazilian citizen, it is possible!

In this case, you can obtain Brazilian citizenship by naturalization.4 To be eligible, you need to fulfill certain requirements, such as living in the Brazilian national territory for a minimum of 4 years. The number of years, however, can be reduced if you fit certain circumstances, such as if you are married to a Brazilian citizen, have Brazilian children, have provided relevant service to Brazil, or are recommended for your professional ability.5

You can find a list of requirements that will help you make plans for your own naturalization here.

Learn more about your ancestors for free on!

Discover if you have Brazilian heritage, start your family tree, and more.

Useful Websites End Notes
  1. The Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988, Article 12.
  2. The Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988, article 12, I.a.
  3. The Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988, article 12, I.b–c.
  4. The Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988, article 12, II.
  5. The acquisition of Brazilian nationality by naturalization is currently regulated by Law 1345 of May 24, 2017 and by Decree 9199 of November 20, 2017.
Discover Your Brazilian Heritage on!

All about English Pancakes

Thu, 12/12/2019 - 18:00

Did you know that pancakes have held a spot in England’s history for centuries?  I was surprised to learn that the universal favorite has had its own day—Pancake Day—since before the beginning of Christianity. When I read about the celebration, I imagined my medieval ancestors whisking eggs, flour, and milk to make the tasty, crepe-like treat our family loves today.

Pancake Day has its origins as a pagan holiday celebrating the arrival of spring. Making and eating hot, round pancakes symbolized the sun. By eating them, people believed they received power, light, and warmth.

As Christianity spread across Europe, the holiday became identified with Shrove Tuesday. It was a day of repentance, celebration, and feasting in preparation for the 40-day fast for Lent that required giving up bad habits and pleasurable foods such as meat, fatty foods, sugars, eggs, and dairy.

English pancakes were first featured in 1400s cooking books. And, according to the 17th-century “Pasquil’s Palinoda”, the act of flipping the pancakes is nearly as old as the cooking process itself. It says, “And every man and maide doe take their turne, and tosse their Pancakes up for feare they burne.”

English pancakes—which are much thinner than American pancakes—are traditionally eaten rolled up, with sugar and a squeeze of lemon, but it’s fun to experiment with jam, syrup, honey, chocolate spread, or whatever sounds good. We even tried them filled with chicken salad, and they were delicious!

I doubled the Foolproof Traditional English Pancake recipe and was happy with the results. The biggest challenges were to flip the pancakes (it worked every time!) and to cook them as fast as they were consumed. They immediately became a family favorite.

Do you know what traditional recipes were your ancestors’ favorites? As a family activity, you might consider researching and trying foods of the times and places your ancestors lived, or add your own family recipes to FamilySearch Memories.

Add your family’s recipes Foolproof Traditional English Pancakes (adapted from The Spruce Eats) Ingredients
  • 16 ounces (453 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 5 cups milk
  • 4 teaspoons melted butter, plus extra for cooking
  1. Sift flour into a large bowl, and add salt.
  2. Make a well or an indentation in the center of the flour. Add eggs, and beat until smooth.
  3. Add half the milk and 4 teaspoons of melted butter. Beat until smooth.
  4. Add the remaining milk, and stir. Let the batter rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Lightly grease a frying pan with oil or butter. Heat until very hot.
  6. Add a ladleful of batter so it evenly and thinly coats the base of the pan. Cook until set and lightly golden.
  7. Slide the pancake to the edge of the pan, and toss it over to cook it about 30 seconds more. You can also use a spatula, but it’s not as fun.
  8. Slip the pancake from the pan onto a plate, and continue as above until all the batter is gone.

The Significance of the Battle of the Bulge in WWII

Thu, 12/12/2019 - 13:00

This month marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge—one of the most important events of World War II. What follows is a brief account of certain details that show the significance of the Battle of the Bulge.

Why It’s Called “Battle of the Bulge”

To understand where the word “bulge” comes from, picture a map of Belgium, Luxemburg, and northern France in late 1944, with a vertical battle line drawn down the middle of it. This line was the front, with American and British troops on one side and Germany’s army on the other.

Hitler’s Final Push

On December 16, 1944, Adolf Hitler tried to smash through this line and reconquer Western Europe, just as he had done in 1940, at the beginning of the war. For the first several days of the battle, it looked like he might be successful. The battle line “bulged” westward as the German army advanced in infamous, blitzkrieg style.

The attack happened so quickly that thousands of American soldiers were cut off from the main body of the United States Army. This is what happened in the Belgium city of Bastogne. On the morning of December 22, German soldiers waving white flags approached the American camp there, with a demand that the Americans surrender. The American commander in charge sent the messengers back with a typed response that was only one-word long. “NUTS!” it said.

The German military leaders had a difficult time understanding the message, but the fact that the Americans continued fighting made the meaning fairly obvious. As it turned out, the troops in Bastogne were soon rescued by United States General George S. Patton and his fast-moving 3rd Army. 

In the end, the battle line bulged—hence the name—but it never actually broke. American and British soldiers pushed back, and the quest to liberate Europe from Nazi control went on.  

What about the Battle Was Unique? Casualties

For the United States, it was the largest and deadliest battle of the war, resulting in nearly 90,000 casualties. The battle was just as deadly for Germany, however. It was the “decisive struggle that broke the back of the Nazi war machine,” as one historian put it, commenting on the significance of the Battle of the Bulge. The Nazi army spent the remaining five months of the war retreating to Berlin.

Forest of Ardennes and Bad Weather

As movies, photographs, and documentaries show, much of the Battle of the Bulge took place in the Forest of Ardennes, in snow and freezing rain and in arctic-like cold. Many soldiers quickly succumbed to illnesses such as pneumonia and trench foot and had to be evacuated.

The German army, for its part, was counting on the bad weather to help them. Initially it did. Thick cloud cover kept American air support—fighters and bombers and even reconnaissance planes—out of the sky. On Christmas morning, the clouds disappeared, however, and from then on, American war planes were in complete command of the air.

Learn More about Your Ancestors Who Lived through World War II

Were any of your ancestors involved in the Battle of the Bulge? If they were in western Europe from December 1944 to January 1945, then the answer is likely yes! Search our World War II records to learn more about your ancestor’s participation in the war.

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It’s not uncommon to know that one of your ancestors participated in an important historical event but not to have any photographs or stories to show for it. If that is the situation you find yourself in, try documenting your ancestor’s experience another way—with stories and photographs that you find on the Internet.

For example, you could collect a few newspaper articles about the Battle of the Bulge and save them as PDFs that you upload to your ancestor’s profile page. You could do the same for photographs and other images you come across.  

Even though these items don’t come directly from your ancestor, they will still add color and excitement to his or her story. And did you know that learning about the challenges your ancestor had to face can help you and the other members of your family with the challenges you face? It’s true, so be sure to preserve the memories—even if you have to be creative in how you document them.

New Records on FamilySearch from November 2019

Wed, 12/11/2019 - 18:46

FamilySearch expanded its free online archives in November of 2019 with nearly 19 million new indexed family history records and over 760 thousand digital images from all over the world. New historical records were added from American Samoa, Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, England, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Venezuela, and the United States, which includes Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas. The United States Native American Census Rolls, United States GenealogyBank Historical Newspaper Obituaries 1815-2011, and United States Recruits for the Polish Army in France are included as well. Digital Images came from Chile and New Jersey.

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.

CountryCollectionIndexed RecordsDigital ImagesCommentsAmerican Samoa American Samoa, Vital Records, 1850-19723,2010Added indexed records to an existing collectionArgentinaArgentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635-1981844,2440Added indexed records to an existing collectionBeninBenin, Civil Registration of Deaths, 1891-20142500Added indexed records to an existing collectionBrazilBrazil, Rio de Janeiro, Civil Registration, 1829-2012739,4470Added indexed records to an existing collectionBrazilBrazil, Santa Catarina, Civil Registration, 1850-19998,0500Added indexed records to an existing collectionCanadaManitoba Church Records, 1800-1959180Added indexed records to an existing collectionChileChile, Catholic Church Records, 1710-19286,3800Added indexed records to an existing collectionChileChile, Cemetery Records, 1821-20150347,205Added images to an existing collectionColombiaColombia, Bogotá, Burial Permits, 1960-199137,7990Added indexed records to an existing collectionCroatiaCroatia, Delnice Deanery Catholic Church Books, 1725-19262,8700Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland and Wales, National Index of Wills and Administrations, 1858-195749,8300Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Cambridge Parish Registers, 1538-1983 468,0630Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Essex Parish Registers, 1538-1997159,7750Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Herefordshire Bishop’s Transcripts, 1583-18985,8450Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Oxfordshire Parish Registers 1538-190429,4400Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Surrey Parish Registers, 1536-199212,3430Added indexed records to an existing collectionEnglandEngland, Yorkshire Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1613-18871,5280Added indexed records to an existing collectionFranceFrance, Haute-Garonne, Toulouse, Church Records, 1539-17934,6860Added indexed records to an existing collectionIrelandIreland and Britain, Transatlantic Migration from North America, 1858-187042,6950New indexed records collectionIrelandIreland Civil Registration, 1845-19132,6730Added indexed records to an existing collectionIrelandIreland, Thom’s Irish Who’s Who, 19232,3560New indexed records collectionIrelandIreland, Thom’s Official Directory of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, 1894, Irish Section121,1810New indexed records collectionIrelandIreland, Thom’s Official Directory, 1910131,7340New indexed records collectionIrelandIreland, Treble Almanac & Dublin Directory 17838,2010New indexed records collectionIrelandIreland, W.P.W. Phillimore & Gertrude Thrift, Indexes to Irish Wills 1536-1858, 5 vols32,4830New indexed records collectionItalyItaly, Chieti, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-19309,2990Added indexed records to an existing collectionNetherlandsNetherlands, Archival Indexes, Vital Records591,9540Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Huánuco, Civil Registration, 1889-199714,0730Added indexed records to an existing collectionPeruPeru, Prelature of Yauyos-Cañete-Huarochirí, Catholic Church Records, 1665-20181,9070Added indexed records to an existing collectionPortugalPortugal, Aveiro, Civil Registration, 1911-19152020Added indexed records to an existing collectionPuerto RicoPuerto Rico, Catholic Church Records, 1645-196945,8320Added indexed records to an existing collectionRussiaRussia, Samara Church Books 1748-19341000Added indexed records to an existing collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Cape Province, Cemetery Records, 1886-2010817,2730New indexed records collectionSouth AfricaSouth Africa, Transvaal, Civil Death, 1869-195497,7110Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesAlabama Deaths, 1908-19747070Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesAlabama, County Birth Registers, 1881-19305,5880Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesAlabama, Friends of Magnolia Cemetery, Funeral Books, 1911-19655,6490Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesAlabama, Jefferson County Circuit Court Papers, 1870-191641,0890Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesAlaska Naturalization Records, 1884-19914,8220New indexed records collectionUnited StatesArkansas, Sevier County, Record of Voters, 1868-1966212,7160New indexed records collectionUnited StatesCalifornia, County Marriages, 1850-195248,3680Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesCalifornia, Lassen County, State Board of Health, Burial Permits, 1931-1988150Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesFlorida, County Voter Registration Records, 1867-190525,4530New indexed records collectionUnited StatesGeorgia Probate Records, 1742-199070Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesGeorgia, County Delayed Birth and Death Records, 1870-19601,6140Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Board of Health, Marriage Record Indexes, 1909-198959,1500Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Death Records and Death Registers, 1841-192533,5930Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesHawaii, Hansen’s Disease Records, Kalaupapa Census Index, 1839-19706,7530New indexed records collectionUnited StatesIdaho Naturalization Records, 1892-199015,7510New indexed records collectionUnited StatesIowa, Black Hawk County, Waterloo, World War I Pledge Cards, 1917-191844,0570New indexed records collectionUnited StatesIowa, Monroe County, Card Index of Births, Deaths & Marriages from Newspaper Clippings, 1898-2015173,8620Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesKentucky Death Records, 1911-19653,8050Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesKentucky Death Records, 1911-19653,8050Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesLouisiana War of 1812 Pension Lists2,8570Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, New Orleans Index to Passenger Lists, 1853-1952151,8940New indexed records collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, New Orleans, Interment Registers, 1836-197235,1110Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesLouisiana, Orleans Parish, Birth Records, 1819-190669,3020Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMaryland, Kent County, Voter Registration Records, 1853-1898400Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMassachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001374,6900Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMississippi, Adams County, Natchez Death Index, 1835-19052350Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesMontana Naturalization Records, 1868-19997,4850Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNew Jersey, Church Records, 1675-19700413,237Added images to an existing collectionUnited StatesNew Mexico, County Death Records, 1907-19521950Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNorth Carolina, Department of Archives and History, Index to Vital Records, 1800-20002,509,4340Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNorth Carolina, Voter Registration Records, 1868-189815,0590New indexed records collectionUnited StatesNorth Carolina, Wake County, Death Records, 1900-19093870Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesNorth Dakota, Naturalization Records, 1868-19241,8640New indexed records collectionUnited StatesOklahoma, Church Records, 1897-19849340New indexed records collectionUnited StatesPennsylvania, Register of Military Volunteers, 1861-186512,3860New indexed records collectionUnited StatesPennsylvania, Wayne County, Court of Common Pleas, Naturalization Records, 1799-190613,9630New indexed records collectionUnited StatesRhode Island, Vital records, 1846-1898, 1901-195386,7120Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesSouth Carolina, Charleston County, Charleston, Birth Registers, 1901-19265090Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesSouth Carolina, Charleston District, Bill of sales of Negro slaves, 1774-1872245,7550New indexed records collectionUnited StatesSouth Carolina, Charleston District, Estate inventories, 1732-1844398,4960New indexed records collectionUnited StatesSouth Dakota, Church Records, 1875-19933,7590New indexed records collectionUnited StatesTennessee, Shelby County, Memphis, Board of Health Death Records, 1848-191342,7330Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesTexas, Harrison County Delayed Birth Records, 1860-19331,0570Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States, California, List of United States Citizens Arriving at San Francisco, 1930-1949434,9950New indexed records collectionUnited StatesUnited States, GenealogyBank Historical Newspaper Obituaries, 1815-20118,829,6220Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States, GenealogyBank Historical Newspaper Obituaries, 1815-2011326,9540Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States, Native American, Census Rolls, 1885-1940276,7330Added indexed records to an existing collectionUnited StatesUnited States, Recruits for the Polish Army in France, 1917-19194,3210Added indexed records to an existing collectionVenezuelaVenezuela, Catholic Church Records, 1577-1995154,7360Added indexed records to an existing collection

24 Fun Facts about FamilySearch You May Not Know

Wed, 12/11/2019 - 16:00

FamilySearch celebrated its first 125 years of family discovery in November 2019! Founded in 1894 as the Genealogical Society of Utah, FamilySearch has grown through the years and experienced many wonderful advancements. We wanted to share some interesting tidbits about FamilySearch and its fascinating history. Did you know these fun facts?

1. In 1894, the Genealogical Society of Utah (now FamilySearch) started its library with a collection of 300 books. FamilySearch now has over 453,000 digital books and 4.84 billion searchable records. 

2. In 1896, the Genealogical Society of Utah (now FamilySearch) charged an entrance fee of $2 per day for library access. You can now search over 7.5 billion names for free! 

3. In 1934, the Genealogical Society of Utah had nearly 6,000 life members and hundreds of additional annual members. Today, there more than 13.7 million registered users!  

4. In 1963, patrons could check out only 1 roll of microfilm at a time for research. Now you can search billions of records published online from your home computer or mobile device. 

5. Microfilming began in 1938 with one camera and the aid and experience of Ernst Koehler, a native of Germany. Now there are over 300 cameras digitally preserving records around the world.

6. In 1968, the first oral genealogy interviews were conducted in Samoa. Today, users of the Family Tree app around the world can record their own audio memories and save them to their family trees. 

7. In 1964, branch libraries had just begun to be established. In just 55 years, there are now over 5,100 family history centers in 139 countries worldwide. 

8. In 1998, FamilySearch began digitizing genealogical and historical records. The online FamilySearch catalog now contains over 1.72 billion digital images! 

9. In 1999, the name “FamilySearch” was introduced as the organization ushered in a new era of online research.

10. was launched on May 24, 1999. There are now over 7 million page views each day on

11. In 2007, the first digital images from the vault were published on Now millions of people worldwide use those digital images to learn about their deceased family members.  

12. In 2010,’s new Record Search launched with over a billion names and millions of images. 

13. In 2017, web-based indexing started. Since then, more than 1.8 million online indexing volunteers have participated.

14. In 2014, FamilySearch began sending record hints to its patrons. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been able to discover more about their deceased family members using FamilySearch records. A special thank you goes out to all the wonderful people that have made record hinting possible! 

15. In 2019, more than 15,000 individuals attended RootsTech (the world’s largest genealogical conference, which is sponsored by FamilySearch) in Salt Lake City from 38 countries and all 50 states in the United States.

16. The first international RootsTech was held in London, England, in October 2019. 

17. Commercial partnerships have provided approximately half of the 7.5 billion searchable names on that enable new discoveries through historical records. Thank you, partners!

18. More than 7.4 million people received FamilySearch emails in 2018, which included personalized hints, messages about specific ancestors, and other invitations to discover more about their families. 

19. The new All about Me experience helps patrons discover fun facts about the meaning of their name and what life was like during the year they were born.

20. The new Compare a Face experience shows patrons the ancestors that they most resemble. Who do you look like in your family? 

21. You can add both audio recordings and photos as memories to the Family Tree.

22. Now you can see how you are related to other users by enabling relationship viewing in settings.

23. Family history does not always require technology. Many fun and engaging in-home activities are available for the whole family on

24. You can sign in to for a collection of great questions to help you record your stories and save them directly to Family Tree. Everyone has a story. Share yours!

We look forward to the future as we strive to create inspiring experiences that bring joy to all people as they discover, gather, and connect their family—past, present, and future. 

Now that you know a little bit more about FamilySearch, we invite you to learn a little bit more about yourself! Discover new information about your surnamecreate and explore your family tree, or learn some fun facts about your own history using FamilySearch discovery experiences.

Share your experiences about what you have found at FamilySearch using the hashtag #FoundatFamilySearch on social media and see what others have found here.

Learn More about You

21 Things to Do in Finland to Discover Your Heritage

Mon, 12/09/2019 - 20:00

Finland is known for its stunning forests and winter beauty. The country is characterized by two main seasons (summer and winter) and majestic natural landscapes.

Its relatively untouched natural scenery and vibrant cities filled with history make Finland the perfect destination to get in touch with your Finnish ancestry and heritage. You can experience Finland’s natural beauty in much the same way that your ancestors did and visit some charming historical sites to gain a better understanding of your cultural heritage. 

Below is a list of many things you can do while in Finland to experience the culture and scenery of Finland.

Cultural Experiences in Finland

Finland’s culture has been influenced by the various surrounding areas, as well as its famed countryside. Here are some ways that you can experience Finnish culture.

1. Saunas

Saunas are an integral part of Finland’s culture and can be found dotted across the country. Find a sauna, and relax in true Finnish style.

2. Siida Museum

Visit Siida to learn a full history of the Sámi, a seminomadic native tribe. You can also see shows about the northern lights at its theater.

3. Käpylä and Vallila

Visit these historic wooden districts in Helsinki to gain an idea of what Finland looked like back in the day.

4. Market Square

Market Square in Helsinki has been a gathering place for merchants since 1889. Enjoy the outdoor market year-round.

5. Ijahis idja

Ijahis idja means “Nightless Night” and is a festival in August that honors the music of the indigenous Sámi. 

Nature in Finland

Finland’s natural phenomena are some of the main draws to visitors, and for good reason. Finland offers some of the most spectacular sights, including the northern lights, beautiful lakes, breathtaking forests, and amazing coasts. Here are a few of the top nature sites to see on your trip.

1. Lake Saimaa

As the largest lake in Finland and with the longest coastline in the world, Lake Saimaa offers plenty to explore. It is dotted with over 13,000 islands and features a unique and beautiful species of seal called the Saimaa ringed seal.

2. Högberget Cave

This cave dates back to the Ice Age, and its naturally rounded shape gives it the nickname “Womb of Mother Earth.” It is situated in an area full of beautiful hiking trails.

3. Koli National Park

Koli National Park offers beautiful scenery with rolling hills and lakes. It has fittingly been featured in the work of many artists.

4. Kummakivi Balancing Rock

This large, 8,000-year-old boulder perches precariously atop another rock, looking as though it might fall. Legends say that giants placed the rock there.

5. Oulanka National Park

At Oulanka National Park, you can hike many trails and see some of the most impressive waterfalls Finland has to offer.

Summer in Finland: Top Things to Do

Finnish summers are drastically different than Finnish winters. Summer days are long and warm, with a single “day” lasting around two months, which is to say that the sun never fully sets during the peak of summer. Nights during this time are called “white nights,” since daylight or dusk light remains throughout the night, depending on where you are in Finland. No wonder it is called the “Land of the Midnight Sun.”

Try some of the following activities during your summer visit.

1. Nuuksio National Park

Visit Nuuksio National Park to go berry and mushroom picking, a true Finnish experience. Bilberries, cloudberries, and lingonberries are tasty and nutritious.

2. Hietaniemi

This area located outside of Helsinki is nestled along the coast of Finland. Enjoy the beach along with local shops, restaurants, and saunas.

3. Seurasaari

Known for its open-air museum featuring old, wooden buildings, Seurasaari is a wooded island outside of Helsinki.

Winter in Finland: Top Things to Do

Winter in Finland serves a stark contrast to the summers. In northern Lapland, the sun does not rise through all of December, and it rises for only six hours a day in southern parts of the country.

Despite the bleak result of little to no sunlight, Finland is a magical destination in the winter. Here are some of the best ways to make use of your time in Finland during the winter:

1. Northern Lights

Visit Lapland between the months of September and March for your best chance to see the northern lights, or aurora borealis.

2. Salla Reindeer Park

Salla Reindeer Park offers some of the last-remaining reindeer populations that are still traditionally herded. Appreciate these majestic native animals along with sleigh rides, ice fishing, and ice swimming (if you’re brave enough).

3. Lumilinna

This castle is made entirely of ice and is rebuilt every winter.

4. Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

Located in a quiet wooded area, this resort is famous for its glass igloos, which allow you to look directly up at the northern lights. 

Historic Sites in Finland

From medieval castles to museums, Finland has a range of historic sites that can give you a picture of its history. Here are some of the best to visit.

1. Olavinlinna

This famous 15th-century castle was built in the center of a lake to offer it more protection from enemies. Cross a number of bridges to get to the castle and take guided tours to learn its history.

2. Suomenlinna

Take a ferry from Helsinki to visit this impressive fortress that was built by the Swedes in 1748. It spans eight islands with six kilometers of walls that protect around 290 buildings. There are also six museums inside its walls.

3. Lampivaara Amethyst Mine

This amethyst mine is the only surviving mine of its kind in Europe. Hike or snowmobile to the mine to learn its history, and dig for your own amethyst.

4. Pike’s Gut

Pike’s Gut, a narrow channel between two islands, served as a safe haven for sailors who would wait out bad weather. On the coasts of the islands, you’ll find rocks marked with etchings from travelers since the Middle Ages. 

What is cultural heritage, and what can you do to further honor your ancestors as you prepare to visit your country of origin? Learn more here, and take some time to discover more about Finland and your family story.

23 Things to Do in Mexico to Discover Your Heritage

Sat, 12/07/2019 - 16:00

Mexico offers a wide array of rich cultural traditions, beautiful natural landscapes, and delicious foods. If you have Mexican ancestors, one way to discover your heritage is to visit Mexico. You can engage in Mexico’s fascinating history and indulge in native culture with some of the top things to do in Mexico listed below.

Learn more about what it means to connect with your cultural heritage and how to do it, or discover more about Mexico’s history and culture as you seek to understand your Mexican heritage.

Learn More about Your Heritage Cultural Experiences and Festivals in Mexico

Embracing cultural celebrations and activities can help you feel connected to your ancestors in a new way because many celebrations and activities date back generations.

1. Fiesta de la Candelaria

For the Fiesta de la Candelaria, thousands flock to Tlacotalpan at the beginning of February for a religious celebration featuring the Virgin of Candelaria floating down the river. As an added bonus, a 3-day music festival called Son Jarocho coincides with the Fiesta de la Candelaria.

2. Palacio de Bellas Artes

This domed palace located in Mexico City features Mexican and international artists. It is the perfect place to immerse yourself in Mexican fine culture.

3. Las Posadas

For the nine days leading up to Christmas Eve, posadas celebrate and honor the birth of Christ. Posadas are filled with traditional food, reenactments of religious scenes, socialization, and piñatas. 

4. The National Museum of Anthropology

The National Museum of Anthropology holds an invaluable collection of historical artifacts from Mexico’s history.

5. Día de Muertos

For two to four days at the beginning of November, Mexicans honor and celebrate their deceased family members. This colorful celebration is the perfect time to remember and honor your Mexican ancestors.

Historic Sites in Mexico

The following are some of the most well-preserved ancient architecture and top archaeological sites Mexico has to offer.

1. Coba

This ancient Mayan city rests on the Yucatȧn Peninsula. The largest network of Mayan roads meets here, and the city contains ceremonial engravings and a climbable pyramid.

2. Tulum

Tulum is the site of ruins of an ancient Mayan port city. A large, stone building called “El Castillo” sits atop a rocky cliff and looks out over white sand and a turquoise ocean.

3. Centro Historica de Morelia

Pink-stone buildings from the 1500s fill this city center, which serves as a cultural hub, with theaters, museums, cathedrals, and more.

4. Teotihuacan

This ancient Mesoamerican city is estimated to have been the sixth-largest city in the world at its height. It covers eight square miles and features multiple pyramids.

5. Chichėn Itzȧ

Chichėn Itzȧ, one of the largest Mayan cities, is famous for its multiple architectural styles. Experts speculate that its population was the most diverse out of the Mayan cities, and the diverse architecture hints at cultural diffusion.

6. Metropolitan Cathedral

This impressive cathedral located in Mexico City features multiple styles of architecture and took over 200 years to build. Sadly, it sits atop the sacred grounds of the ancient Aztec Templo Mayor, which was destroyed during the construction of the cathedral.

Nature in Mexico

Mexico offers a diverse set of natural landscapes and parks. Here are some of the top choices to see.

1. Isla Espiritu Santo

These protected and uninhabited islands can be reached by boat from La Paz. They boast diverse sea life, gorgeous beaches, and birds.

2. Santa Rosa Wall

The Santa Rosa Wall is a popular dive site near Cozumel that features a steep drop-off, cave, reef, and tunnels, along with amazing marine life.

3. Huasteca Potosina

This region is filled with tropical landscapes, stunning waterfalls, swimming holes, rivers, slopes, and gardens. It is a must-see for its diversity and beauty.

4. Cenote Chaak Tun

Located near Playa del Carmen, this cenote was believed to be a sacred portal to the underworld by the Mayans. It features impressive stalactites, a swimming hole, caves, and more.

5. Parque Ecologico Chipinque

This mountainside park near Monterrey offers everything from hikes to biking to a museum and insect house. It is favored for its breathtaking views.

6. El Arco de Cabo San Lucas

This distinctive rock formation rests at the tip of the Baja California Peninsula and marks the beginning of the Gulf of California.

Mexico’s Food

Food is an integral part of almost any culture, and Mexico is no different. Savor the food on your visit to taste a piece of Mexico’s culture. Here are some of the top must-have cuisines on your trip:

1. Elote

Elote, or corn on the cob, is ever-popular in Mexico and can be found on virtually every corner. It’s traditionally boiled and served on a stick with chili powder, mayonnaise, Cotija cheese, lime, butter, salt, sour cream, and other toppings. 

2. Mole

Famous as the spicy chocolate sauce from Mexico, mole actually doesn’t always include chocolate. Rather, the staples of a traditional mole sauce are chilis, fruits, nuts, and spices. Chocolate, when used, is added at the end.

3. Tamales

Tamales are stuffed doughs that have been steamed in either corn husks or banana leaves. You can find both savory and sweet varieties of tamales.

4. Pozole

Thought to originally have been used in ritual sacrifices, pozole is a soup made from corn, meat, and spices that have been stewed for several hours. The result is an irresistible stew that can be topped with lettuce, chilis, seasonings, lime, cheese, salsa, or avocado.

5. Chilaquiles

This traditional breakfast consists of a fried corn tortilla topped with red or green salsa, scrambled eggs, shredded chicken, cheese, cream, and refried beans. 

What do you most look forward to seeing on your trip to Mexico? Remember the significance of your cultural heritage to help you grow closer to your ancestors and family’s story.

Learn More about Your Family Story through FamilySearch

Share Your Family’s Holiday Traditions

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 16:01

Does your family have holiday traditions? If so, you may not even know how they started; they have just always been a part how your family celebrates. Your family’s holiday traditions are one of the most special parts of the season, and you may consider them part of your personal heritage.

Traditions also create a family bond that can connect generations. Consider sharing your family’s holiday traditions on FamilySearch Memories to preserve them for future generations. Sharing these traditions can inspire others, both in your family and beyond.

Share Your Holiday Traditions 12 Holiday Tradition Ideas from Families around the World

If your family is new or looking for new traditions to start, here are some examples of traditions from families around the world. Use them as inspiration to start your own holiday celebrations!

The ideas below have been edited for space and clarity, and some names have been changed for privacy.

1. Decorate your home as a familyAdriano Almeida, Brazil

Every year we have the beautiful tradition of setting up our Christmas tree and putting ornaments on it so it looks beautiful and bright in our home, and we organize our nativity scene with baby Jesus! My children are always very excited about this tradition, and it is a joy and a sacred occasion for us.

2. Read nightly holiday stories—Megan Coalwell, United States

Our family has a book of Christmas stories we read during the month of December! Every day before we go to bed, my family gathers and takes turns reading the stories. They usually have some sort of cheesy but meaningful message that reminds us of the Christmas spirit.

3. Decorate a unique Christmas tree for each person—Leticia, Mexico

My family includes my parents, my big sister, and me. Each year, we decorate three trees to show our different personalities and likes, but we all help each other. Mom and Dad’s tree is the main tree in the living room. It is usually the fanciest, a traditional green tree with silver and gold decorations. My sister goes a bit more wild and sometimes puts up a pink tree! Mine is usually all white with simple decorations because I love minimalism, though one year Mom gave me the idea of decorating it with all my videogame plushies!

4. Put out holiday lanterns—Allyson Gustaveson, United States

When we were younger, my family and I used to light luminaries all along the sidewalks of our home on Christmas Eve. Every year we had a few casualties (with a bag or two catching fire), but it was a lot of fun. It was a great way to bring the Christmas spirit into our home.

5. Have an advent calendar that leads to Christmas—Toril Åkerblom, Sweden

My parents had a painting of our house with a nisse on it (a very tiny Santa that lives in barns and looks after animals—basically elves, but in the wild). They glued matchboxes in a circle around the house and decorated them with blue felt paper. Each box had a number from 1 to 24 spelled out in silvery glitter to make a countdown calendar. Every day leading up to Christmas, our parents would hide pieces of candy in the house and leave a small rhyme in the calendar for us to decipher. After finding the treat, we would have breakfast together while listening to the advent calendar special on the radio.

On Christmas day (December 24th in Sweden), we would find a sock filled with candy next to our bed. In the final matchbox, there was another clue. After deciphering it, we would find the end of red yarn and follow it to the Christmas tree, where we would find a Christmas morning gift.

6. Make a meal together—Liseth Malmborg, Venezuela

My family makes hallacas, which is a dish made of corn, stew, and banana leaf. It is a symbol of family union, roots, and celebration in Venezuelan families. Every Christmas and New Year, members of my family—including my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins—always get together to make them. Some of us are in charge of washing the leaves, others make the stew, and others tie the hallacas. Although our whole family is not always present nowadays, it is nice to get together with friends and family to preserve and share this tradition.

7. Reenact holiday stories—Leslie Castillo Lacunza, Ecuador

Since my daughters’ father is from Ecuador, we make the “Advent Wreath.” This tradition begins on the first Saturday or Sunday of the month of December with all the family, and we tell the story of Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem. In total, in the four Sundays before Christmas, we sing, read passages of the Bible, and light three candles to remember the virtues to improve on in life: generosity, humility, and love.

When my daughters were small, I dressed them up, and we acted out the manger scene. Their father was the donkey. He got down on all fours and carried one of my daughters, dressed as Mary, on his back all over the house. The other daughter was the star, and I was the narrator.

8. Throw a holiday party—Alison Ensign, United States

My favorite tradition is my family’s Christmas Eve party! The whole family gets together, and we play games, eat delicious food, have a talent show, and have other fun activities. Then we end the night by reading Luke chapter 2 and driving around to see the best Christmas lights in town. 

9. Go caroling together—Nuria Jiménez, Spain

Our family traditions include our children making their own nativity scenes on the 24th of December. They also go to sing on the streets, going from house to house, store to store, or cafeteria to cafeteria, stopping for people on the street and singing to them so that they can receive money. With this money, many go paintballing, to the movies or camping, or to drive go-karts.  Before this, they give food and sweets to someone who needs them.

10. Give meaningful gifts—Raychel Skinner, United States

We give three gifts: a want, a need, and a gift “of the heart” (which is usually a book). Each kind of gift is wrapped in a different color. Gold is want, green is need, and red is the gift of the heart. These are the gifts Santa brings.

11. Enjoy special food, and have a family “Secret Santa”—Claudia Brandão, Brazil

We always have a seasoned type of chicken called “Chester” for Christmas dinner. This type of chicken is found in the supermarkets only at Christmas season. For dessert, during the holidays, we have “rabanada.”

We do a Secret Santa or “Amigo Oculto” (“secret friend”), as it is known in Brazil. When it is time to give the presents, the gift giver often describes the person until everyone guesses who that person is before the gift is given. Exactly at midnight, we hug and greet each other, wishing everyone a happy Christmas.

12. Hold “Pajama Day” after the holidays—Kate Niederhauser, United States

We started “pajama day” to have a fun family celebration. Everyone gets fun games and toys for Christmas, but we always want to spend Christmas Day with cousins and extended family. So pajama day started. We keep the house all cozy, stay in our PJs, play our new games, and watch movies. We have crepes for breakfast, and sometimes I make a big dinner. The only rule is that we all have to be together.

What about you? What are your family’s traditions? Share them in the comments below, or preserve them on FamilySearch Memories. Have a wonderful holiday season!

Heritage Tourism: Create a Personalized Travel Experience

Mon, 12/02/2019 - 17:00

Heritage tourism is traveling to understand the cultures and places of the past—including those of your ancestors. Here’s how to make heritage tourism the ultimate vacation!

One of the best ways to understand history—including your family history—is to go to a place where you can relive it. This kind of travel is called heritage tourism, or “traveling to experience the places, artifacts, and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present. It includes visitation to cultural, historic, and natural resources.”1

Though many places offer heritage tours that you can pay for and join, you can also create a personalized heritage tour—and save some money—with just a little research and preparation. Here are some tips for creating a heritage tour that is customized to your personal history and heritage.

Tips for Creating Your Own Heritage Tour Try finding the exact location of your ancestor’s home or property.

Look for street addresses in census records, civil or draft registrations, vital records, correspondence, old family address books, and newspaper articles.

Need a place to start? Here’s a quick how-to on searching records. You can also start here by typing your ancestor’s name and any details you know about his or her life.

Identify other places of interest associated with your ancestor’s life.

Study records about your family to find the names of workplaces, churches, schools, cemeteries, or other landmarks. Locating and visiting these places, if they still exist, may build your sense of connection to your ancestors.

Visiting an ancestral grave can be an especially poignant experience. You may be able to find the location of your ancestors’ graves using this Find a Grave Index.

Look for maps from your ancestors’ time period.

Compare these maps with Google Earth. See what has changed and what has not. Try to pinpoint the modern locations of sites that are key to your family’s history. Borders may have changed; so may have the names of streets and towns and even house numbers.

Make a list of traditional, authentic recipes you want to try.

Eat what your ancestors ate! Research what food was available to your ancestors at the time they lived there. For example, what local food was grown? What animals were raised? What spices did locals use? Look up traditional recipes of the country and region, and be sure to try them during your visit.

Read up on the history of the region.

Before you travel, research the culture and history of your ancestral homeland, keeping in mind that this history is part of your history. Make a list of historic sites and museums to visit so that you have a better idea of what your ancestors’ may have experienced.

Watch for industrial museums, mining or logging camps, restored homes or villages, decommissioned military posts, or religious landmarks. Don’t ignore the exhibits of small historical societies near your ancestral home. These may have displays or artifacts especially relevant to your family’s story. Some museums and historic sites even offer living history or interactive experiences that more fully immerse you in the past.

Consider contacting a local history expert or someone associated with an ancestral place.

You may be able to schedule a tour or conversation with someone while you are there. That person may even be able to connect you with relatives who still live in the area.

Can’t make a personal visit? Try taking a virtual tour of your ancestor’s neighborhood or village.

If visiting your ancestral homeland isn’t possible, you can also try to find an immigrant community or cultural heritage society near you with the same ethnic roots. You may be able to visit ethnic neighborhoods, churches, restaurants, festivals, or clubs where that heritage still thrives.

You don’t need to travel to your ancestors’ homeland to connect with your heritage and learn more about your family history. Right at home, you can discover your family story through searching records, starting a family tree, and exploring and preserving important family memories.Create a Free FamilySearch Account

Feeling Nostalgic? 2 Ways You Can Reap the Benefits

Mon, 12/02/2019 - 13:39

It doesn’t take much to begin feeling nostalgic: listening to an old song on the radio, seeing your childhood home, eating an old family recipe.

This feeling of wistfulness, of longing for the past—commonly known as nostalgia—is not unusual. And while it is often bittersweet, nostalgia can be a positive experience for those who learn how to make the most of it.

Want to Feel Nostalgic? Try Answering These Questions Why People Feel Nostalgic

Nostalgia is a universal human emotion; everyone will feel it at some point and likely more than once. Nostalgia is typically triggered by things such as songs, smells, photographs, and even loneliness.

Some people are more prone to feeling nostalgic than others, such as chronic worriers, who may see reminiscing as an escape from present anxiety. Those undergoing a life transition, such as people in their 20s and people over 50, also report feeling more nostalgia. During major life transitions, people often find themselves asking “Where am I going?” and “Where have I been?” That kind of reflection is ripe for nostalgia!

The Benefits of Nostalgia

Up until the last hundred years, nostalgia was considered negative experience—even a psychiatric disorder by some doctors. However, now scientists recognize the benefit of feeling nostalgic. Here are just a few reasons why nostalgia now and then can have a positive effect on your life.

Cope with Negativity

Nostalgia is shown to help people cope with negativity and help them self-soothe when feeling anxious. By recalling special, positive memories of the past, people can better deal with current problems.

Develop Greater Self-Continuity

One study found that nostalgia can also help people gain greater self-continuity. When nostalgically reminiscing, people can feel more connected with their past and can recognize a consistency in their personality over time.

Feel More Socially Connected

The same study also found that nostalgia helped people feel more socially connected. According to Scientific American, “Sentimental recollections often include loved ones, which can remind us of a social web that extends across people—and across time.”

A Healthy Way to Reminisce

One way to make the most of nostalgia is by reflecting on and recording the memories you cherish. Not only will you be able to reap the benefits of nostalgia better, but recording the past will also give you peace of mind in knowing that experiences are preserved!

Record Your Memories

At FamilySearch, we offer a free, secure, and permanent place for you to store your memories.

All you have to do is go to the FamilySearch Discovery page, and select Record My Story from the options. On this page, you can choose from a selection of categories and questions that prompt you to record your experiences (though you can also record your memories independent of these prompts). You are given the option either to record audio or type your responses.

When you have finished, these responses will be saved on your My Storiespage and on your FamilySearch Memories page.

Record Your Story Preserve Important Photographs

If you find yourself feeling nostalgic as you look at old photographs, don’t forget to preserve those too!

Also consider taking photos of your childhood home, your favorite place in nature, your close friends and family—anything that you will want to remember and preserve. Not only can you upload these images to FamilySearch Memories, but at, you can record an audio description of the photograph or an audio clip of you reminiscing and have it automatically attach to the photo you are uploading.

Preserve Your Memories

After you have recorded your memories, you can revisit the past and reminisce about it, knowing that every important detail is preserved!

3 Challenges in the Genealogy World and How FamilySearch Is Helping

Mon, 12/02/2019 - 10:45

The global genealogy community enjoys unprecedented growth but faces major challenges too. Here’s what FamilySearch is doing about three of the most crucial needs.

In a keynote address at the recent BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy, FamilySearch executive Stephen J. Valentine reported on the ongoing efforts of the world’s largest nonprofit genealogical organization.

“FamilySearch has been helping you discover your ancestors since 1894, when it was the Genealogical Society of Utah,” he told a packed lecture hall on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah. “Whether it was our pioneering work microfilming records in archives in 1938, our libraries, digitizing our vast microfilm collection and more records around the world, or building the FamilySearch Family Tree, we have been meeting the challenges and needs of family historians for 125 years.”

Today, family historians enjoy unprecedented access to resources that help them reconstruct the stories of their ancestors. But there’s still much to be done, said Valentine. He described three pressing challenges facing the global genealogy community and what FamilySearch is doing to meet them.

Preserve Records around the World before They Disappear

“There is an urgent need for record preservation,” said Valentine. “We take for granted that old records will always be there. But they won’t. The information you may need about your family history may be deteriorating in an archive right now, or it may sit in the path of a coming natural disaster. It’s a race against the clock.”

Valentine described several dire archival situations encountered by FamilySearch staffers around the world. “In the Congo, we raced against termites that were eating the records we were trying to preserve,” he recalls. He also described a room in an Italian facility filled wall-to-wall by a heap of manuscripts piled waist high on the stone floor.

FamilySearch staffers and volunteers identify, prioritize, and gain permission to digitally preserve the most important—and most vulnerable—records. On any given day, around 300 FamilySearch camera crews operate around the world. They offer digital copies to the records custodians and store preservation copies safely in another location. Preservation copies are updated to new file types as needed to keep current with changing technologies.

FamilySearch’s efforts to preserve the past sometimes require more creativity. “In some places in Africa, there aren’t as many written records,” Valentine explained. “Oral traditions hold the history of the people. There is a saying that when the village elder dies, the town library burns down. And urbanization is pulling young people out of the villages, so they don’t have that heritage.”

For the past few years, FamilySearch volunteers have been interviewing village elders across Africa, capturing the genealogies and stories held only in memory. Valentine told of 95-year old Opanin Kwame Nketia, who shared a family tree stretching back 12 generations. “He died the day after we interviewed him. We must capture these memories now, before they disappear.”

Valentine shared another example of records that would have disappeared forever without FamilySearch’s intervention. “In the Philippines, a civil archive was destroyed by fire, along with all its records. But we had digitized many records there and were able to provide a copy of their records back to them.”

Make More Records More Accessible—Faster

All these record imaging projects, as well as the ongoing digitization of previously-microfilmed records, have produced a mind-boggling repository of digital data. Valentine reported that FamilySearch currently houses 18 petabytes of digital storage—“72 times what is in the Library of Congress.”

The digital images keep coming—about 150 million of them per year from paper documents around the world. Valentine shared exciting projects happening in China, Brazil, Italy, Demark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Mexico. “It’s a constant flow of data,” Valentine said, displaying a long list of FamilySearch updates just from the previous two days.

This enormous stream of data produces another problem: how to keep up with it. The workflow required to process incoming images—uploads, quality checks, metadata editing, corrections, and more—can take one to three years. “But what if we could do it in 24 hours?” posed Valentine. He reported promising results in testing that kind of turnaround with a project in Peru. “Imagine if we can get these digital images flowing to you that quickly.”

“But another problem with records access is still searchability,” he acknowledged. “Browsing images is tough.” He described a partnership with BYU involving teaching computers to extract data from old records. “We’ve been training the computer to recognize the content, such as names and places, and even to correctly interpret a phrase like, ‘This name is the son of that name.’” Applying this technology to 23 million obituaries, he said, “It took only 8 hours to process 100 million names out of them. Now we have a pipeline built for new obituaries.”

Advances have also been made in teaching computers to read old handwriting. “We have a lot of examples for the computer to learn from, for example, many variations in old handwriting that all say ‘Stephen.’ As we run trials of this technology, we need indexers more than ever who can enhance and edit what the machine is reading.”

“Now think again about that flow of digital images we hope to do in 24 hours,” he concluded.  “If we can run it through a language processor [to extract the genealogical data] and then you quality-check it as an indexer to confirm that it’s accurate, we have sped up access to that collection by several years.”

Awaken New Interest in Family History, Especially among Young People

A final challenge FamilySearch is addressing is that of introducing the joy of family history discoveries to new audiences. “Some who haven’t participated in this activity before might ask, ‘What’s the point?’” said Valentine. “They need to have their own discovery and connection experiences.”

In 2017, FamilySearch launched an interactive family history discovery exhibit at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Guests of all ages can enjoy high-tech engagement with touch-screen monitors, virtual-reality platforms, and state-of-the-art booths for recording oral histories. Since then, companion centers have opened in Layton and Lehi, Utah, and in Seattle, Washington. While Valentine acknowledges lively interest in these exhibits, they don’t reach everyone.

That’s why FamilySearch launched its online family history activities portal earlier this year. “‘All about Me’ has been one of most popular experiences in the libraries. You can learn what was going on the year you were born and how many people share your name. Now you can do this online, with your kids or grandkids.”

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has also extended its hours in an effort to reach more people. “All of the people traveling through Salt Lake City on Sundays were frustrated at not being able to visit the Family History Library,” Valentine said. “People wanted to bring their families in on Monday nights.” The main floor is now open Sundays from 1:00 to 5:00 pm, and the entire library remains open on Mondays until 9:00 pm.

Efforts such as these are working, reports Valentine. “We are seeing an incredible growth of new people coming into this industry and engaging in family history.”

The BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy is held annually and offers classes for genealogists and others wanting to learn about their ancestors. Keep an eye on the BYU conference page for announcements about next year’s schedule and when registration opens.

Read More from BYU Genealogy Conference Archives

St. Andrew’s Day: A Scottish Celebration

Fri, 11/29/2019 - 12:30

St. Andrew’s Day is a national holiday in Scotland that is celebrated with feasts on November 30. It is also Scotland’s national day, marking the beginning of Scotland as a nation. Variations of the holiday are also celebrated in Romania, Germany, Austria, Poland, and Russia.

Holiday traditions are an important part of global cultures as well as family identities. Learn more about holidays around the world and their cultural impact.

Holidays Around the World

You can use FamilySearch Memories to record stories about your culture’s holidays or the traditions your family has over the holidays. allows you to share these stories with your family members and save them for future generations.

Who Was Saint Andrew?

Saint Andrew appears in the New Testament as an Apostle and disciple of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Andrew started as a fisher by trade, along with his brother Peter. Peter and Andrew were fishing in the Sea of Galilee when Jesus called out to them, saying “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Both Peter and John left their boats to follow Christ and become two of his Twelve Apostles. 

In another account, Andrew is listed as a disciple of John the Baptist. Upon meeting Christ, he immediately recognizes him as the Messiah and introduces his brother Peter to Christ, saying “We have found the Messias” (John 1:41).

In some Christian denominations, Andrew is now the patron saint, or heavenly advocate, of Cyprus, Scotland, Greece, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and more. He is hailed as the “First-Called,” as he was the first Apostle named.

Why Does Scotland Celebrate St. Andrew’s Day?

According to legend, Óengus II, king of Picts and Scots, led an army against the Angles, a Germanic people that invaded Britain. The Scots were heavily outnumbered, and Óengus prayed the night before battle, vowing to name St. Andrew the patron saint of Scotland if they won.

On the day of the battle, white clouds formed an X in the sky. The clouds were thought to represent the X-shaped cross where St. Andrew was crucified. The troops were inspired by the apparent divine intervention, and they came out victorious despite overwhelming odds.

True to his word, as the legend goes, Óengus named St. Andrew the patron saint of Scotland, and St. Andrew’s Day marked Scotland’s victory and new nationhood. Scotland’s flag, a white cross over a blue background, is also likely the result of this legend and has been named St. Andrew’s Cross.

St. Andrew’s Day Celebrations

Scots and others celebrate traditional Scottish culture on St. Andrew’s Day with Scottish food, music, recitations, dancing, and more. The day isn’t as widely celebrated in Scotland as some other holidays, such as St. Patrick’s Day, but it is a grand celebration nonetheless. Some towns, such as St. Andrews, even throw weeklong celebrations.

St. Andrew’s Day also marks the beginning of winter festivals such as Hogmanay and Burns Night.

St. Andrew’s Day Food

St. Andrew’s Day is all about celebrating Scottish culture, and food is a big part of that celebration. Traditional dishes served might include cullen skink, haggis, lamb, neeps and tatties, and more. 

Cullen skink is a creamy fish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes, and onions. Lamb can be served in a variety of forms, such as meatballs or soup. Haggis, a traditional food in Scotland, is a savory pudding steamed in a casing and made from sheep’s lung, onion, oatmeal, and other ingredients. Neeps and tatties are yellow turnips and potatoes that have been boiled and mashed.

St. Andrew’s Day Music

Ceilidh (pronounced “kay-lee”), coming from the Gaelic word meaning “to party” or “to visit,” is a traditional Scottish country dance that’s all about fun. These events, often held on St. Andrews Day, involve Scottish folk music mixed with modern pop music, dancing, and storytelling. As an added touch of flair, people often wear the traditional iconic kilt. Who would miss this lively event?

Have you celebrated St. Andrew’s Day? Let us know in the comments below how you have celebrated this holiday, or record your stories in FamilySearch Memories to share with the rest of your family.

Your Scottish Heritage

Discover Your Welsh Heritage

Wed, 11/27/2019 - 19:00

Do you hail from Wales? Welsh heritage is rich and vibrant—one of its nation’s symbols is even a dragon! The dragon appears on the Welsh flag and has been an important symbol of the country since medieval times. It is a central figure in many Welsh legends, along with daffodils and leeks. This wide variety of symbols shows the variety of life found in Wales and its culture.

Wales is a country located in the western part of Great Britain. Although it shares some of its culture with its neighbor, England, much of its culture is uniquely Welsh. The culture has Celtic roots, and the land was even once part of the Roman Empire! During the Middle Ages, Norman knights led the country, but it was conquered by England between 1277 and 1283. The country was formally united with England by Acts of Union in 1536 and 1542. As a colony of England, Wales became a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain when it was established in 1707.

Some say the name “Wales” comes from the term “wealas,” a word used to describe the people of Britain who spoke Brittonic—a Celtic language that was used in Britain. That language later developed into Welsh, Cornish, Breton, and other languages. Others say that “Wales” is a variation of the Proto-Germanic word “walhaz,” which meant “foreigner” or “stranger.” It was used in this way by the Anglo-Saxons.

Learn about Your Welsh Heritage

If you have Welsh ancestors, you can search for them in FamilySearch’s Welsh records. You can also learn more about your Welsh heritage in a variety of articles on the FamilySearch blog.

Welsh Heritage

Learn enhanced details about your Welsh heritage, including how to preserve your memories, look for historical records, work on your family tree, and much more. Get started here.

Welsh Food

The Welsh culture has a treasure trove of delicious foods and recipes. From baked goods such as Welsh cakes and breads, to special cheeses and leeks, to the famous Welsh rarebit, there is something to suit all tastes!

Welsh Names

Have you ever thought about integrating names from your ancestry when naming your children? Often, knowing popular names from your native lands helps you find your ancestors as well. This article will help you understand a bit more about Welsh names current and past, plus a bit of the meaning behind them.

How Do You Say That?

Wales has its own language! While it is written with a similar alphabet as English, there are some different elements of Welsh that are fun and interesting.  Learn how to pronounce Welsh words, and download a handy Welsh pronunciation guide.

Learning about the history of your ancestors is rewarding and comforting. Learning about their culture, the foods they ate, and interesting landmarks gives a flavor of what life may have been like. There is much to discover about Wales. Enjoy the journey!

Family History Centers

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 13:00

At FamilySearch, we’re doing everything we can to make all the tools and resources we have available to us also available to you—from your computer or even your phone! With so much information and access literally a screen tap away, you may question why people would visit a local family history center.

On the other hand, maybe you’ve never even heard of a family history center and are wondering what one is. Either way, you’re in luck. This article is about to tell you!

What is a Family History Center?

Family history centers are branches of FamilySearch and the Family History Library. They provide resources for research and study of genealogy and family history.

A typical family history center offers you: 

  1. A computer or device to use as you search for ancestors. 
  2. One-on-one support from a real person when you have questions or get stuck. 
  3. Special access to genealogical websites that may not be available to you from your home.  
Where Can I Find a Family History Center?

Family history centers are located around the world, usually in a building or church owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In fact, there are currently more than 5,000 operating family history centers in more than 140 countries! Use this locator to find the one that’s nearest you.

One thing to keep in mind is that this locator includes FamilySearch affiliate libraries, which are public, special, or university libraries that have partnered with FamilySearch. These affiliate libraries provide similar benefits to a family history center.

Find a Family History Center What If I Am Not Near a Family History Center?

Maybe you checked the Family History Center locator and can’t find a center near you. No worries! Suggest to your local library that they become an affiliate with FamilySearch. This collaboration will make records and services available to you and to your community, giving more people the chance to discover the magic and joy of their own family’s history.  

When Can I Visit a Family History Center?

Every family history center has different operating hours. It’s a good idea to check in advance when the center you plan to visit is open and maybe even to call and make an appointment. 

This is especially true if you have a specific question or problem you need help with. Perhaps one of the volunteers has the background or expertise you need. You’ll want to visit when he or she is present.

Why Should I Visit a Family History Center? One-on-One Genealogy Help

Your local family history center is staffed by volunteers who want to help you. These volunteers aren’t necessarily experts in family history, but if they can’t answer your questions, there’s a good chance they will know someone who can.

Access to Computers, Internet, and Genealogical Resources

You can use any of the technological resources that the center has to offer—computers, printers, and access to the internet—to work on your family history.

In family history centers, you also have access to premium genealogical websites that you may not have available to you at home.


Sometimes you have to be at an official family history center to view or access a particular record. Currently, family history centers and affiliate libraries have access to about 400 million original records in a digital format.

A Great Place to Start Family History

A family history center is a great place to register for an account with If you’re reading this article, you probably already have an account. But what about your friend, neighbor, or relative?

Maybe you can invite that person to accompany you on a little field trip to the local family history center. If you do, you’ll find technology, volunteers, and a friendly atmosphere—everything you need to make this first foray into family history a positive and inspiring experience.

Learn more about your local family history center today. 

This Is the Place!—To Read Summaries of the Annual BYU Genealogy Conference

Mon, 11/25/2019 - 11:25

For more than half a century, family history enthusiasts from around the world have been gathering in Provo, Utah, each year for the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy.

And not just enthusiasts! Whether you are an expert in genealogy or just beginning to make your first pedigree chart, the annual BYU family history conference is an experience you don’t want to miss. (Check out the conference home page each year for dates and registration information.)

But if a trip to the bustling Utah city named after Etienne Provost (a French explorer) isn’t able to appear on your calendar any time soon, then be sure to bookmark this blog article. It’s about to become an important resource for you. 

Conference Archives—Long-Distance Learning

Each year, the FamilySearch blog team sends its finest and brightest writers to attend the BYU Genealogy Conference, and then they write about it—so that no matter where you live, you too can enjoy some of the fruits from this truly inspiring event.

Recent conferences have included forays into such topics as DNA research, African American research, the latest and greatest in genealogy technology, deciphering military records, having fun with 16th Century Danish Land Records. . . . The list goes on.

But really, you’ll have to explore the archive for yourself to see what interests you. You’re sure to find something worthwhile. Maybe something will help you make that big breakthrough you’ve been hoping for, the one that connects you to your ancestral homeland and dozens, if not hundreds, of ancestors. 

Be sure to check back every now and then for updates. This is a living, breathing, growing archive—with new summaries, highlights, and other content from past conferences being added all the time.

Highlights from 2019 An Inside Look at Relative Race 3 Challenges in the Genealogy World Bringing Family History to Life 2019 BYU Genealogy Conference Full Archives

More from Past Conferences 2018 BYU Genealogy Conference Recap 2015 BYU Genealogy Conference Archives 2017 BYU Genealogy Conference Archives 2016 BYU Genealogy Conference Archives

Fish and Chips Recipe

Sat, 11/23/2019 - 19:00

Whether you call it “Fish and Chips,”  “Finger Chips and Fish,” or simply “Fish Fry,” very few culinary traditions are more British than a combination of battered and fried fish accompanied by thick crispy fried potatoes. This favorite takeaway food has been borrowed and adapted in countries all around the world.

Where Did Fish and Chips Come From?

Potatoes were part of British diets for generations, especially for poorer classes, but oddly enough, the combination of fried potatoes and fish may have been an accident. The chip may have been introduced as a substitute for fish when no fish could be had, and inventive housewives cut potatoes into fishy shapes and fried them in lard or beef drippings to provide a filling meal for hungry families.  

In the 16th century, Jewish immigrants from Spain and Portugal introduced the British to the practice of dipping fish in flour and frying it. It was only a matter of time for cooking practices to marry potatoes with fried fish to create the earliest fish and chips. In 1845, Alexis Soyer noted this cooking method in his first edition of a cookbook entitled A Shilling Cookery for the People.

By the 1860s, the first chip shops brought the happy pairing into a commercial setting. Joseph Malin, a Jewish immigrant, opened his first combined fish and chip shop in East London. John Lees, an entrepreneur opened his “chippie” shop in a wooden hut around the same time in Mossley Market near Oldham in Lancashire. The debate regarding who came first continues to be hotly contested.

The Industrial Revolution accelerated the growth of the fish and chips trade. Fishing trawlers increased production, and railroads brought fresh fish from the North Sea over rail to fish markets in English cities. Ice machines meant fish were fresh and readily available. Fish and chip shops multiplied, reaching a peak of around 35,000 in 1927 as savvy Brits seized business opportunities. Old newspapers were the standard presentation because the paper absorbed oil until newsprint was banned because the ink contained lead!         

Fish and chips were so important to the economy and so much a part of culinary culture in England that government ministers, in the interest of keeping morale high during World War I and World War II made keeping supplies of fish and potatoes a priority. Both were exempted from rationing.

Share Your Family’s Recipes on

If your ancestors left England as emigrants, they likely brought recipes with them and adapted cooking techniques to their changing circumstances. If you have a recipe you have made your own, it is likely that your children and grandchildren would want to know where it came from and how your cooking methods came to be part of your heritage.   

A fish and chips recipe found in FamilySearch Memories.

Take a minute to upload your recipe to Memories on, and tell the story of how it entered your family food traditions.

Share your Family’s Recipes

The following recipe, adapted from Simple Healthy Kitchen, is easy to make in an air fryer or an oven.

Healthy Fish and Chips

This recipe features crispy potatoes begun in the microwave, coupled with tender, moist, white fish wrapped in a crunchy flavorful coating that doesn’t add a lot of unwanted calories from deep-fat frying. It is a delicious and healthy way to enjoy fish and chips.

  • 2–3 medium potatoes (use a naturally low-moisture variety, such as russet potatoes)
  • Coarse salt, a savory pepper blend, and paprika
  • Light-flavored olive oil
For the Fish
  • 2–3 fish filets of any skinless white fish (such as tilapia, cod, flounder, pollack, or halibut)
  • ¼ cup self-rising flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon cultured buttermilk powder
  • ½ cup unseasoned panko crumbs
  • ½ cup crushed, sliced almonds (Pulverize in a food processor, or use a meat mallet to crush nuts in a plastic bag.)
  • Coarse salt, savory pepper, and fish seasoning (Old Bay, Herbs de Provence, or Beau Monde)
  • Olive oil cooking spray (You can use a travel-size spray bottle to create your own cooking sprayer or spritzer.) 
  1. Scrub potatoes with a vegetable brush, and microwave whole on high for 1 to 1 ½ minutes per potato.
  2. Remove, and let cool enough to handle. Potatoes should still be firm, but starting to become translucent.
  3. Cut in half lengthwise, and cut each half into thirds or fourths lengthwise.
  4. Season with spices in a mixing bowl, and drizzle 1–2 tablespoons of oil, tossing to coat evenly.
  5. Transfer to air fryer, and cook at high temperature (400 degrees Fahrenheit) for 18–20 minutes, shaking once or twice to redistribute in a fryer basket during cooking time.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the fish. When chips are crisp and golden, remove chips, and keep warm.
For the Fish
  1. Thaw fish in the microwave; cut in portion-size pieces. Use paper towels to wick excess liquid from defrosted fish. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  2. Gather 3 shallow bowls. In the first, mix flour and cornstarch. In the second bowl, beat the egg white until it has a foamy consistency, and then add 1 tablespoon of buttermilk powder. In the third bowl, mix nuts, panko crumbs, and spices.
  3. Dip fish fillets in the flour or cornstarch mixture, and shake off excess; dip in egg and buttermilk mixture, and then roll in coating mixture.
  4. Spray lightly with olive oil cooking spray.
  5. Place into air fryer basket with the temperature set to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry 4–6 minutes on one side, and then turn the pieces over, and fry for an additional 3–4 minutes. More oil can be sprayed on the second side if desired, but for safety reasons don’t use any aerosol cooking sprays with a hot air fryer.  Completely remove the frying basket from the heat source to spray or drizzle cooking oil on food.  
  6. Return chips to air fryer for 2–3 minutes more just before serving the fish and chips. Serve with lemon wedges, vinegar and salt, or tartar sauce.
For the Oven

When using the oven method, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, but start potatoes in the microwave, 1 minute on high per potato. Cut into wedges, season, and toss to lightly coat with olive oil. Place in a shallow baking pan, and arrange the chips so they are minimally touching. Fry chips in the oven for 20–30 minutes until golden crispy on the outside but moist and soft on the inside.    

Prepare fish as before, spray with olive oil, and place in a shallow baking dish with a rack in your oven. Fish and potatoes can fry together, but turn down the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit when adding the fish to the oven, and bake for 15–20 minutes. You can drizzle more oil halfway through for a crispier coating. Fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.

36 British Sayings

Fri, 11/22/2019 - 19:00

Have you ever stopped to wonder where phrases such as “have a gander” come from or what they mean? There are hundreds of British sayings, idioms, and expressions used in England and Great Britain that can tell you a lot about English culture and heritage. Let’s look at a few!

Before we do, does your family have any inside phrases or expressions? Do you know where they started? Share the stories with the rest of your family using FamilySearch Memories, where you can record some of your favorite family sayings, jokes, or stories and their origins.

Record Your Family Sayings 36 British Sayings and Their Meanings “Chuffed to bits”
  • Meaning: Very pleased
  • I’m chuffed to bits about how charming this English expression is.
“Bits and bobs”
  • Meaning: Various items
  • One might say, “Gather your bits and bobs before you leave.”
“Throw a spanner in the works”
  • Meaning: To prevent something from happening smoothly or to bring a plan to a halt
  • This idiom refers to the disastrous effects of throwing a wrench into moving gears.
“Brass monkeys”
  • Meaning: Very cold weather
  • “It’s brass monkeys out here today.”
“Bob’s your uncle!”
  • Meaning: “There you have it” or “ta-da!”
  • This phrase is usually used to end a list of simple instructions, such as “Walk down the street, turn left, and bob’s your uncle!”
  • Meaning: Feeling extremely upset or disappointed
  • A chef on the Great British Bake Off might feel gutted when a dish turns out poorly.
  • Meaning: Exhausted
  • You might be knackered after a long day at the office.
“Cream crackered”
  • Meaning: Extremely tired or exhausted
  • “Cream crackered” is far from literal and started being used as a rhyme of “knackered,” which also means exhausted.
“Have a gander”
  • Meaning: Take a look
  • Picture a male goose, or gander, craning his neck to look at something.
“Lost the plot”
  • Meaning: Lost the ability to cope or behave rationally
  • This unique phrase started cropping up regularly in the 1980s.
“Throw a wobbly”
  • Meaning: Become very angry or throw a tantrum
  • This British saying often refers to a childish and angry outburst.
  • Meaning: A good chat or gossip with someone
  • “Chinwag” draws on the imagery of a person’s chin wagging like a dog’s tail when talking a lot.
“Curtain twitcher”
  • Meaning: A nosey neighbor or friend
  • “Curtain twitcher” originally referred to a person caught peering at their neighbors through the curtains.
“Full of beans”
  • Meaning: Lively or full of energy
  • This British expression could derive from the use of coffee beans to perk someone up.
  • Meaning: Crammed full or crowded
  • “Chockablock” often refers to a full street or shop.
“Not my cup of tea”
  • Meaning: Not my favorite thing
  • As one of the most common drinks in the world, with an array of flavors, tea is a fitting comparison to describe a personal preference.
“Spend a penny”
  • Meaning: Use the restroom
  • Public restrooms originally charged a penny for their services, thus creating this charming phrase.
“Take the biscuit”
  • Meaning: Particularly bad or annoying
  • “I’ve seen bad prices, but this really takes the biscuit.”
“Put a sock in it”
  • Meaning: Be quiet
  • This rude phrase uses the idea of sticking a sock in something loud or annoying to quiet it down.
“On your bike”
  • Meaning: Go away
  • Ever feel like telling someone to get lost? What better way to go than “on your bike”?
  • Meaning: Nonsense
  • “Codswallop, if you ask me.”
  • Meaning: Tasty
  • “Scrummy” could be a combination of “scrumptious” and “yummy.”
  • Meaning: A clumsy patch or repair
  • Think duct-taped tennis shoes or plastic-covered broken windows.
  • Meaning: Crazy or daft
  • Ever think your family was going barmy?
  • Meaning: Stress-induced stomach pain or queasiness
  • “Collywobbles” is a fun word for a not-so-fun sensation.
“Donkey’s years”
  • Meaning: A long time
  • This English idiom is an extension of “donkey’s ears,” which are long.
  • Meaning: Loud, opinionated, and offensive
  • As an example, “They didn’t like him because he was gobby.”
  • Meaning: A contagious but not a serious illness
  • “Lurgy” is thought to originate from a 1950s radio show called The Goon Show.
  • Meaning: An expression of surprise
  • “Blimey” is derived from “God blind me,” dating back to the 1800s.
  • Meaning: Shocked
  • “Gobsmacked” references clasping your face, or gob, in disbelief.
  • Meaning: A confrontation over differing views
  • Harry Potter gets himself into a number of kerfuffles, and the word fittingly pops up in the fifth book.
  • Meaning: Athletic shoes
  • Tennies, trainers, sneakers—all the same shoes, right?
  • Meaning: Stake a claim
  • Someone might call “bagsy the front seat” to claim the front seat before getting in a car.
  • Meaning: Waste time on something unproductive
  • “Faff” comes from the 17th century word “faffle,” which means to flap about in the wind—“We can’t faff around all day.”
“Knees up”
  • Meaning: A party
  • Typically a lively event involving dancing, or knees up.
  • Meaning: Ditch or leave early
  • “Skive” is derived from the French “esquiver,” meaning “to slink away.” Kids might say they “skived off school” if they ditched school.
Family Sayings

Now that you’ve learned these British sayings, think about the phrases used by your own family. If your family uses unique phrases or idioms, record them using FamilySearch memories to share with the rest of your family. Even if the expressions aren’t unique to your family, share why certain phrases are meaningful. A funny memory, significant tradition, or inside joke can add a layer of meaning to common sayings. Recording your stories can preserve special memories for future generations or extended family.

Record Your Family Sayings

5 Thanksgiving Activities the Whole Family Will Love

Fri, 11/22/2019 - 16:06

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year to come together as family and friends and eat delicious food. But we also know that, between cooking, hosting guests, watching children, and catching up with loved ones, Thanksgiving can be a bit hectic!

As one way to reign in the chaos, we’ve provided some simple, minimal-supply Thanksgiving activities that are both fun and a great reminder of what this holiday is all about—enjoying the company of those we love and showing gratitude for what we’ve been given.

Name That Baby

Gather old baby photos of you and your family, and ask guests to send old childhood photos as well. Print these images, and put them somewhere everyone can see, such as on a wall or spread out on a table. Put numbers next to each photo, and have people write down their guesses about who is in each numbered image. Whoever gets the most correct guesses wins!

Guess What I’m Grateful For

This Thanksgiving activity is sure to bring out some laughs! If you and your guests are a fan of Telephone or Pictionary, this game is for you. Here are the basic rules:

Person 1: Writes something she is grateful for.

Person 2: Draws an image of what person 1 wrote.

Person 3: Writes what he thinks person 2 drew, without looking at the original word.

Person 4: Draws what person 3 wrote.

This pattern continues until everyone has had a chance to either write or draw. As for supplies, you can play this game with a small notebook, writing what you are grateful for on the first page and the next person drawing it on the following page, and so on. Each person should look only at the previous page. Or, if you want to play it simple, you can fold a piece of paper, making sure to cover earlier guesses and drawings as you go along.

You can play this game at the dinner table, passing around a single notebook between bites. Or, if you want a more involved game, you can give participants a notebook or paper to start their own chain. The game ends when everyone has his or her notebook back.

At the end, you can see how far off everyone was from the original word and enjoy all the fun family drawings!

Family Trivia

Do you know how your parents met or what your sister’s favorite hobby is? Play this fun trivia game at the dinner table to learn more about each other! The rules are simple:

  1. Give everyone a piece of paper or small whiteboard. This is what members of the group will use to write their answers on.
  2. Have participants ask a question about themselves, such as “What is my favorite color?” The others must then write down what they think the answer is.
  3. After writing down the answer to the question, they all share their answers. Each person who wrote down the correct answer gets a point.
  4. Rotate around the room so that each person gets a chance to ask a question.

Participants can either come up with their own questions, or they can check out sites such as this one with a long list of “get to know you” questions that are perfect for this game.

Who Looks More Like Who?

Ever wondered if you look more like your dad than your mom? We have a fun and easy Thanksgiving activity that will quickly settle the debate! FamilySearch’s Compare-a-Face feature allows you to upload and compare facial features between you and your family members. You can even compare some of those baby photos from the Name That Baby activity!

Not only can you compare two uploaded images, but if you already have a FamilySearch account with uploaded family images, you can compare your face to the faces of relatives and ancestors! Here’s a quick how-to.

I’m Grateful for T.H.A.N.K.S.G.I.V.I.N.G.

This game is a lot like Scattergories, but with a Thanksgiving twist. Hand out a sheet of paper to all your family members or guests with the word “Thanksgiving” down the side, like an acrostic. Then explain these rules:

  1. While being timed, write down something you are grateful for that begins with each letter in the word Thanksgiving. For example, you might write for the first letter of Thanksgiving that you are grateful for “Turkey.”
  2. After the timer is up, participants share what they wrote for each letter in Thanksgiving. You get a point if you wrote down something that no one else wrote. You don’t get a point if there are any repeats—even if it was repeated later in the acrostic.

Set a timer for 3–5 minutes—3 minutes if you want a challenge, 5 minutes if you and your family need a little more time. If your family enjoys this game, you can try the same game using other words such as “Turkey” or “Gratitude.”

Download T.H.A.N.K.S.G.I.V.I.N.G. Worksheet

For more Thanksgiving activities—and family activities for any occasion—check out FamilySearch’s In-Home Activities page.

Why Is It Called D-Day?

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 13:00

On June 6, 1944, Allied forces invaded German-occupied beaches of Normandy, France. This significant day in history became commonly known as “D-Day,” though the actual meaning of the nickname isn’t as well understood.

Naming Theories

There are a few conjectures as to what the “D” stands for. Some have said it is an abbreviation for “departure” or “decision.” Others claim that it stands for “doomsday.” However, according to the United States military, the origin of the popular nickname has more to do with their terminology.

The Meaning of “D-Day”

The phrase “D-Day” was used by the Army to designate a specific starting date for field operations. Other phrases, like “D+2” would have referred to two days after the initial “D-Day.” This designation suggests that the letter “D” doesn’t stand for anything in particular outside of “Day” and that it served only as a point of reference.

A similar term was used to refer to the designated hour on D-Day when the attack would begin. It was called “H-Hour” and “H-4” would have referred to four hours before the planned invasion.

Using this kind of shorthand military terminology dates back to recorded field orders in World War I, and an equivalent can be found in many countries. For example, you may have heard of “Zero Hour,” which is used by the British in conjunction with “Z-Day.” The term would be “Dan D” in Slovakia and “Lá L” in Ireland.

Do you have family who served in the military? Consider asking them about different military terms and stories and recording their responses in FamilySearch Memories. You might be surprised by what you discover!

RootsTech London 2019 Recap

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 16:46

RootsTech London 2019 is over now, but it won’t soon be forgotten. The conference was full of fun activities and classes. And it always delivers the latest information about family history-related DNA services and genealogy discovery technologies.

Nearly 10,000 people from 42 countries attended RootsTech London; an additional 1,300 tuned in through the conference’s online livestream. More than 60 exhibitors demonstrated their products and services in the exciting exhibition hall.

Even if you couldn’t attend, don’t worry; you can still watch RootsTech London sessions online.

RootsTech London 2019 Keynote Addresses

FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwood and celebrities Kadeena Cox, Dan Snow, and Donny Osmond were keynote speakers at the 3-day event held at the ExCeL London. Each provided unique insights into how their personal family history has impacted their lives.

Steve Rockwood

In his keynote, FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwood spoke of the importance of each individual in the work of genealogy. He emphasized that family history work cannot be done alone and that it’s all about connection, not just for us, but for the next generation.

Rockwood also recounted the history of FamilySearch, how it began as a small community of people searching for their ancestors and has since developed into a large nonprofit with a growing partner network and over 5,000 family history centers around the world.

Kadeena Cox

Kadeena Cox’s story is one of unrelenting determination, courage, and hard work.

Cox, a decorated British Paralympic athlete, talked about her journey as a professional athlete after experiencing a stroke and being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Her family story has deep roots in Jamaica, where her mother’s side of the family still lives. Her mother was born there, and her grandmother was the first to leave the island for Leeds, England. In England, her grandmother set up shop and eventually brought her children to the United Kingdom.

Dan Snow

Popular British historian Dan Snow shared stories of his youth. He described growing up listening to history and stories shared by his parents and grandparents. He shared vulnerable and painful stories about his own family history, including a difficult story about his grandfather’s disappointing role in the Battle of Sommes.

Snow believes finding imperfections in our ancestors as we build our family tree is a common reality and that each of us can learn from our family’s mistakes and improve.

Donny Osmond

The crowds started gathering early in the morning on the final day of the convention to vie for the best seats for Donny Osmond’s RootsTech London keynote. The world-renowned entertainer recounted and performed a number of his favorite songs, shared personal stories and video clips, and told anecdotes about his own ancestors while inviting RootsTech participants to record their own stories for posterity. 

Catch up on RootsTech London 2019

Still want to watch some of the action? Watch and listen to all these speakers and more in the RootsTech video archive. Want to view even more of what you might have missed at RootsTech London 2019? Purchase a virtual pass to watch the video archive of classes.