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The Genealogue

FamilySearch Blog

Stay current with genealogy and family history topics by reading the FamilySearch blog. Find out insights into our future and our past.

Heritage Tourism: Create a Personalized Travel Experience

2019. december 3., kedd 0:00:42

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.

A man walks through a graveyard

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.

A father and daughter make a heritage recipe

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.

An older woman and a young girl point out a building

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

2019. december 2., hétfő 20:39:54

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.

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.

A man listens to music on his earphones, feeling nostalgic

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.

personal questions screenshot, feel nostalgic with this activity

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

Preserve Important Photographs

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

FamilySearch Memories screenshot

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 FamilySearch.org, 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.

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

2019. december 2., hétfő 17:45:18

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.

National archives in Kinshasa.

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

Stack of digital storage servers.

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.”

Collection of obituaries from FamilySearch.
Example of an indexed obituary.

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.”

Family activities on FamilySearch.org.

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.

Discovery Center in downtown Salt Lake, UT.

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

Brigham Young University clock tower in Provo, UT.

St. Andrew’s Day: A Scottish Celebration

2019. november 29., péntek 19:30:32

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.

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

a painting depicting St. Andrew and Christ.

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

traditional st andrews 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

a scottish man plays bagpipes

Discover Your Welsh Heritage

2019. november 28., csütörtök 2:00:28

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.

a graphic showing fun facts about Wales
a graphic showing welsh populations worldwide.

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

a welsh grandmother embraces her grandchild

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

a welsh family eats dinner together.

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

a welsh family smiles together.

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?

a welsh woman laughs with friends

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

2019. november 26., kedd 20:00:23

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?

Girl smiles at computer

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.

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

Two girls help each other on computers

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.

Records

A woman asks a man at a desk for help

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 FamilySearch.org. 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

2019. november 25., hétfő 18:25:49

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

Girls attending The BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy.

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


More from Past Conferences


Fish and Chips Recipe

2019. november 24., vasárnap 2:00:06

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.  

a historic image of a girl outside of a fish and chips shop.

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 FamilySearch.org

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 on in FamilySearch Memories.
A fish and chips recipe found in FamilySearch Memories.

a fish and chips recipe found on in FamilySearch Memories.

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

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.

INGREDIENTS

For the 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.) 
Fish and chips.

INSTRUCTIONS

For the Chips

  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

2019. november 23., szombat 2:00:08

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.

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.
a boy plays in the snow, a weather that would be considered brass monkeys.

“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!”

“Gutted”

  • Meaning: Feeling extremely upset or disappointed
  • A chef on the Great British Bake Off might feel gutted when a dish turns out poorly.

“Knackered”

  • 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.

“Chinwag”

  • 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.
a woman peers through her curtain, much like the british saying curtain twitcher.

“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.

“Chockablock”

  • 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”?

“Codswallop”

  • Meaning: Nonsense
  • “Codswallop, if you ask me.”
two boys eat ice cream

“Scrummy”

  • Meaning: Tasty
  • “Scrummy” could be a combination of “scrumptious” and “yummy.”

“Bodge”

  • Meaning: A clumsy patch or repair
  • Think duct-taped tennis shoes or plastic-covered broken windows.

“Barmy”

  • Meaning: Crazy or daft
  • Ever think your family was going barmy?

“Collywobbles”

  • 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.

“Gobby”

  • Meaning: Loud, opinionated, and offensive
  • As an example, “They didn’t like him because he was gobby.”
A woman has a lurgy, an example of the british slang.

“Lurgy”

  • Meaning: A contagious but not a serious illness
  • “Lurgy” is thought to originate from a 1950s radio show called The Goon Show.

“Blimey”

  • Meaning: An expression of surprise
  • “Blimey” is derived from “God blind me,” dating back to the 1800s.

“Gobsmacked”

  • Meaning: Shocked
  • “Gobsmacked” references clasping your face, or gob, in disbelief.

“Kerfuffle”

  • 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.

“Trainers”

  • Meaning: Athletic shoes
  • Tennies, trainers, sneakers—all the same shoes, right?

“Bagsy”

  • Meaning: Stake a claim
  • Someone might call “bagsy the front seat” to claim the front seat before getting in a car.
a woman faffs around.

“Faff”

  • 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.

“Skive”

  • 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.

5 Thanksgiving Activities the Whole Family Will Love

2019. november 22., péntek 23:06:51

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.


family holds babies and looks at photos

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!


Little boy draws while father helps him

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 plays thanksgiving activity, sits around the table smiling

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.


Compare-a-Face screenshot

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.


family writes on piece of paper at table together

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.”

thanksgiving activities 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?

2019. november 21., csütörtök 20:00:39

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.

Ships landing on D-Day

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

2019. november 20., szerda 23:46:46

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 convention center.

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.

conference attendees listen to an address at RootsTech London 2019.

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. 

donny osmond attended rootstech london 2019.

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.