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The Genealogue

FamilySearch Blog

Discover your personal and family heritage

40+ Journal Prompts to Capture Memories and Discover Yourself

2021. szeptember 25., szombat 23:00:00

Have you ever pulled out an old puzzle only to realize at the very end that you’re missing pieces? The same thing happens to memories over time. Bits and pieces start to fade as time passes. Journaling helps preserve those little details so you’ll always remember them.

Along the way, many people discover a sense of self and see improvements in their daily lives. Studies have found numerous benefits to journaling, including the following:

  • Better sleep
  • Relieved tension
  • Improved mental health
  • Increased awareness
  • Heightened immune system

How does it work? Writing out your thoughts and feelings gives you the opportunity to work through them. The process can stimulate your immune system and lighten your mental load.

Getting started can feel a little awkward, and forming a new habit takes practice. Try using these journal prompts to get you going. FamilySearch Memories also offers a free and easy platform to write your journal and preserve it alongside your favorite pictures.

a man begins writing from a journal prompt.

Quick and Easy Journal Prompts

If you’re just getting started, these quick and light-hearted prompts might be the perfect place to try your hand at journaling. Or if you’ve had a long day, light topics can be just the thing to get your mind off things as you write.

  • What was the best thing that happened today?
  • What are your favorite and least favorite flavors of ice cream?
  • What are you excited about in the next week?
  • Create a list of your favorite foods, hobbies, movies, songs, and so on.
  • Name a place you hope to visit one day. What would you like to do there?
  • If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?
  • Who’s your favorite character from a TV show?
  • What would your ideal pet be?
  • What’s your favorite season of the year?
  • If you could choose a fictional world to live in, which would it be?
a girl writes in a journal.

Journal Prompts to Capture Your Early Memories

Nostalgia is a powerful force with many benefits. It can alleviate stress and anxiety and help you feel happier. Capture some of those early memories to strengthen your ties to your past.

Don’t shy away from difficult memories either. Working through those emotions can help you accept them and move on.

  • Describe your childhood home. Do you miss anything about it? What did your room look like? Did you move around?
  • What were your favorite meals as a child? Have you made any of them recently?
  • What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? Include specific memories.
  • Who was your best friend as a child? What did you do together? Are you still in touch today?
  • What schools did you go to? What was your favorite subject? Did you have a favorite teacher?
  • What do you remember about your hometown? Do you still live there? If not, have you ever visited?
  • Who did you look up to as a child?
  • What’s your most embarrassing memory?
  • What was your favorite book as a child?
a girl writes with her mother.

Journal Prompts to Capture Your Family

Exploring family memories and history opens avenues to discovering who you are. Finding family and cultural roots fosters a sense of belonging, which brings with it increased self-worth and resilience. Writing about your family is one of the many ways you can strengthen those ties.

If you’re interested in further exploring your family roots, try learning about your family tree.

  • Describe your parents. What did they look like? What did you do together? How do you feel about them?
  • Do you remember your grandparents? What type of relationship did you have with them?
  • What did your parents do for work?
  • If you have siblings, what memories do you share?
  • Describe your current family relationships. Who do you feel closest to?
  • What are your favorite family memories?
  • Did you ever have family reunions? Describe them.
  • Describe challenges you’ve faced with your family. How did your family navigate those challenges?
  • How does your family show love to one another?
  • If you could say anything to your family, what would it be?
  • What are your family’s cultural roots?

Personal Journal Prompts

a woman journals on a hike.

Journaling provides an outlet to work through your thoughts and feelings. Try writing about what’s going on in your life right now and your feelings. You may find the experience to be a needed release.

  • What do you hope to accomplish this year? In the next five years?
  • When do you feel the happiest? The saddest?
  • Has anything bothered you lately?
  • What’s your current profession? Are you satisfied in your job? If not, what would you like to change?
  • What’s on your bucket list? How can you achieve those dreams?
  • What are your fears? Why do they scare you?
  • What is your favorite place in the world?
  • How do you make important decisions?
  • What is something you would like to learn to do? What’s holding you back?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • Share any regrets you have and what you would do differently.
  • What motivates you?

Hopefully this list of journal prompts helps you get started on the path to recording your personal story. Journaling is a fantastic way to explore your past, your family, and your sense of self. This list just scratches the surface, so continue finding new topics to write about.

How to Start a Journal

2021. szeptember 25., szombat 2:00:00

Knowing how to start a journal might seem a bit overwhelming. Maybe your mind conjures up the idea of long handwritten pages, daily written in a leather-bound book. Though that is certainly a way to do it, it is not the only way. There are literally dozens of ways to start and keep a journal. In fact, you can start today!

Why Should I Start a Journal?

Journaling, writing a diary, calendaring, scrapbooking…these are all words and phrases that mean similar things. They are ways to record your daily events, declutter your mind, or keep and share a personal history of your life. Some are created by your written words, some may be a list of activities you have done for the day, and some may be a book of pictures or memorabilia that represent your life’s happenings. But journaling specifically has a special relationship with the mind and body. Starting the habit of journaling can be life changing.

a woman starts her journal.

The benefits of journaling have been studied and written about for decades. Writing in a journal, also referred to as journaling or expressive writing, has been shown to reduce stress, improve memory, and create a greater sense of confidence. Writing your deepest thoughts and feelings has also been proven to make your body heal faster and helps the mind to overcome trauma and adversity.

The link between writing our thoughts and feelings and the healing of the mind is just one benefit of journaling. Writing in a journal allows you the opportunity to play around with language, create new ways of expression and communication, and invent. Some of the world’s greatest thinkers, like Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Marie Curie were also avid journal writers.

diary entry from a little girl.

How to Start a Journal

Whether you are 5 or 95, anyone can start a journal. Keeping a journal can be done in many forms. It might be something as simple as a lined notebook and a pen with a few paragraphs of what you did today. Or perhaps you might like journaling online or using an app on your smart device. Even parents can help their young children to journal by helping them write a few sentences on a picture they drew.

Steps for How to Start a Journal

  1. Start with a goal. The first step in forming a habit of journal writing is setting a goal. Are you going to write each day? Each week? How long would you like to write? Many beginners find it helpful to start with 3 to 5 minutes of writing each day.
  2. Pick your type of journal. Will you be keeping a journal of your daily happenings, what you ate that day, or a gratitude journal? There are lots of different types of journals and you don’t have to pick just one.
  3. Be consistent. Any habit requires consistency. If you want to keep a journal, be consistent. You might even pick a certain time each day or week and set it aside just for journal writing. Place your journal somewhere you will see it often to help you remember to write.
  4. Preserve your journal. You might not think so now, but your journal is going to be very important to someone someday. You might consider digitizing your journal (if you are keeping a handwritten one) and backing it up to a thumb drive or the cloud. If you are using an online journaling site, remember to read over the fine print to make sure you can download, print, or save your writing if the website becomes obsolete. One of the best ways to preserve your precious memories and journal writings is to upload them to FamilySearch Family Tree Memories.
A man starts writing in a journal.

What to Write in Your Journal

There is no limit to what can be written in a journal. It can be a bullet list of what you did that day or several paragraphs about what you felt or experienced. You can write from your own perspective or the perspective of others. Christine shared,

“Our extended family met each Sunday for dinner. We would share the latest happenings of what was going on in our individual families, something funny one of the kids did, or challenges that had creeped up. I thought it would be a great idea to start recording these conversations, so I created a family journal! Each Sunday evening, I would go home and record in the journal what everyone had shared.”

A woman writes in her journal.

Here are a few ideas of what you might write about in your journal:

  • The day’s events
  • How you felt about the day’s events
  • Who you saw today
  • What chores did you do today
  • Who did you serve today
  • What did you eat today
  • What are you grateful for

Journaling is a wonderful way to learn more about yourself and to preserve and share the important events in your life. Whether you use a simple or modern way to write, decide to write daily or weekly, it doesn’t matter. Journals are a piece of your personal history your family will treasure.

Middle Eastern Food from Etiquette to Recipes

2021. szeptember 23., csütörtök 23:00:00

If you’ve ever enjoyed pita bread, hummus, or falafel, you’ve ventured into the wonderful world of Middle Eastern food. But there’s much more to the cuisine than these iconic staples—it has a range of flavors and styles to offer. 

If you have Middle Eastern heritage or want a deeper understanding of the region, a great place to start is the food. Authentic food from any given place packs with it more than just the flavors. It provides insights into the lives of the people and the history of the region. 

But what exactly is considered Middle Eastern food, and why is it significant?

What Is Considered Middle Eastern Food?

Middle Eastern food stems from a variety of cultures around the Mediterranean, Red, Arabian, and Caspian Seas. It includes Arab, Israeli, Moroccan, Syrian, and Turkish cuisines, just to name a few. In reality, a long list of countries and cultures are included.

While Middle Eastern food encompasses a variety of cuisines, it’s generally characterized by fragrant and copious spices, nuts, olive oil, and creamy elements. Mutton, lamb, and goat are traditional meats. Chicken, camel, beef, fish, and pork are also used, but less frequently. 

a smattering of middle-eastern foods.

Traditional Middle Eastern Foods

Early civilizations in the Middle East paved the way for modern farming and cooking. This area of the world was among the first to keep farm animals and cultivate plants, including wheat, sheep, goats, and cattle. Middle Easterners also developed the process of fermentation, which has permeated worldwide cultures to leaven bread, make alcohol, and create unique flavors.

As a result of its unique location between Europe, Asia, and Africa, the Middle East became a hub for the exchange of goods and culture as international trade expanded through the ages. Spices, ingredients, and new dishes were all exchanged, shaping the food of the Middle East and surrounding areas alike.

middle eastern spices

Local ingredients and religion have also played key roles in shaping the food in the region. Dates, fava beans, chickpeas, and barley are staples as locally sourced ingredients, while lamb and mutton became the predominant meat as a result of religious laws banning pork.

Religious practices in the area also paved the way for a worldwide staple: coffee. The stimulating drink was brewed to help people stay awake for evening worships, particularly during Ramadan.

Ramadan: A Month of Fasting

Ramadan is a holy month of fasting in Islamic culture. It has deep ties to the Qur’an and holds spiritual significance for Muslims around the world. Throughout the month, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, only eating after a prayer at sunset.

The evening meal that follows is often a social event shared in homes or mosques. Shops and restaurants stay open late into the night to accommodate daily fasts, creating a lively nightlife. In the morning, drums and bells sound before dawn, warning Muslims to eat their last meals before the next day of fasting.

A family shares an Eid al-Fitr feast.

When the month ends, everyone celebrates with a large feast and festivities known as Eid al-Fitr. Pastries and sweets are served in abundance alongside other celebrations, such as gift giving and family visits.

Etiquette at Middle Eastern Mealtimes

Dining etiquette varies by region in the Middle East, so it’s difficult to pinpoint hard and fast etiquette rules. Generally, food is either shared from a central, communal plate or served by the host. If a host is serving you food, be prepared for second helpings the moment your plate is cleared. Leaving some food on the plate can signal that you’re full. 

Arab countries typically favor finger foods, so utensils are not always used. Areas such as Turkey do use utensils. Arab countries also avoid using the left hand while dining, as it is culturally the hand used to do unhygienic tasks. Floor cushions and low tables are also common in some regions.

a family shares middle eastern food.

Middle Eastern Recipes

Use these recipes to taste some of the best dishes of the Middle East from your own home. While there’s no substitute for actually visiting the Middle East, food can help you experience some of its elements from afar. Try this list to get started:

Hummus: Probably the most famous dish originating from the Middle East, hummus is a creamy and versatile dip made from chickpeas.

Manakeesh: This flatbread is a popular choice for breakfast. It’s topped with a flavorful heap of cheeses and spices.

Manakeesh, a middle eastern food.

Foul Mudammas: For this dish, fava beans are stewed with spices and herbs to create a flavorful and hearty meal.

Falafel: Falafels are fried balls made of chickpeas and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.

Fattoush: This light bread salad is refreshing and flavorful, the perfect addition to any meal.

Umm Ali: This Egyptian dessert is similar to bread pudding and is served with nuts and other fillings.

Shawarma: Shawarma is a crowd favorite, the marriage of slow-roasted chicken and the famous pita bread.

Schwarma, a middle eastern food.

Shish Tawook: Don’t miss out on this tender, marinated chicken skewer.

Dolma: These stuffed grape leaves can be filled with a variety of options.

Kofta: Skewers of meat are popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, and koftas are a great choice for beef and lamb kebabs.

Mansaf: The yogurt sauce for mansaf makes this dish. Lamb is cooked in it, and it’s often served over a bed of rice. 

Baklava: Baklava is probably the most famous dessert from the Middle East. It’s made with ground nuts, honey, and layers of filo dough.

Knafeh: Knafeh is another Middle Eastern dessert. It’s made with a cheese filling that’s surrounded by shredded filo dough and topped with a syrup.

knafeh, a middle eastern food.

Masgouf: This grilled carp dish is the national dish of Iraq.

Pita: The popularity of pita bread speaks for itself. It’s a flatbread characterized by a pocket of air in the center.

If you have Middle Eastern heritage, try looking for or sharing family recipes through FamilySearch Memories.

FamilySearch Completes Massive Microfilm Digitization Project

2021. szeptember 21., kedd 16:00:00

Huge news: after 83 years of filming the world’s historical genealogical records, FamilySearch has completed digitizing its 2.4 million rolls of microfilm.  The best part? The archive, which contains information on more than 11.5 billion individuals, is now available for free on

Over 200 countries and principalities and more than 100 languages are included in the digitized documents. All types of genealogically significant records are included—censuses, births, marriages, deaths, probate, Church, immigration, and more. Now that the project is completed, it’s much easier for users to find members of their family tree and make personal discoveries within these records.   

Want to check out these digitized microfilms for yourself? Explore FamilySearch’s free collections of indexed records and images by going to, and then search both “Records” and “Images.” The Images feature will let you browse digitized images from the microfilm collection and more. You will need a FamilySearch account to access digitized records—but don’t worry, signing up is completely free!

a roll of microfilm

What Is Microfilm?

A microfilm is a roll of film, like what would be used in an old camera—it just holds a lot more images per roll. However, instead of storing photos of treasured memories and loved ones, microfilms are designed to store documents that are shrunk down into miniature. These historic records are captured on the roll of film and reduced in size for easier storage. Before digital preservation, microfilm was an effective and space-conscious way to preserve historic documents and make them widely accessible.

Microfilm has been used since 1839, but its biggest breakthrough and popularization occurred in 1928.

FamilySearch, back when it was still called the Genealogical Society of Utah, began microfilming in 1938. It was one of the first major organizations to embrace the use of microfilm imaging for long-term record preservation. FamilySearch’s microfilm collection eventually grew to more than 2.4 million rolls. 

FamilySearch ended its microfilm distribution to family history centers in September 2017 when it began its transition to a free, all-digital, online access approach. FamilySearch’s physical microfilm collection will continue to be preserved, but the information that the rolls contain can now be easily viewed and searched online. 

a woman on a microfilming computer

Technology Allows for Rapid Microfilm Digitization

In 1998, FamilySearch began digitizing its microfilm collection—a project that, at the time, was anticipated to take over 50 years to complete. However, advances in technology cut the estimated time to completion by nearly 30 years.

Microfilm scanning began with about 5 employees. As the process developed and evolved, it grew to as many as 30 employees using 26 scanners. This work continued even during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

FamilySearch is committed to collecting, preserving, and providing access to the world’s genealogical records to help individuals and families worldwide discover and connect with their family histories. It continues to capture the images of original records at an ever-increasing rate—but digitally, bypassing the need to transfer the information from film.


a woman works with microfilm in the family history library

Although the digitization of FamilySearch’s microfilm collection is completed, the digitization of new records worldwide continues. FamilySearch is also working to outsource the digitization of its large microfiche collection, which should be completed several years from now.

Check out FamilySearch’s digitized microfilm collection—and all of its other freely accessible record collections!

Family History Can Be a Whale of a Tale—Just Ask Genealogist David Allen Lambert

2021. szeptember 20., hétfő 23:00:00

When renowned genealogist David Allen Lambert was a child, his grandmother gave him a gift that kept on giving—tales about his ancestors. These stories set a course for his life that combined his passion, hobby, and livelihood all in one.

Stories about his great-grandfather, who had been a whaler, hooked him in particular. In elementary school, David had read a child’s version of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. He comments, “I was intrigued with the idea that someone in my family had been like someone in a book.”

Family Stories Are What Make Family History Fun

David felt like a genealogist-in-the-making as soon as he was introduced to his family tree. “I started young to try to find where my family came from,” he says.

While finding the names and vital data about an ancestor is rewarding, it’s the details surrounding that individual that keep genealogists digging. Those details add something to the one-dimensional name. “Everyone has a story, and genealogy is like a 1,000-piece puzzle that you keep adding to bit by bit. [Those stories] are what keep our ancestors in our lives,” David continues.

Illustration of King Cerdic of Wessex

One of David’s own family lines has been linked back to King Cerdic of Wessex, who reigned from 519 to 534 AD. He is considered by historians to be one of the most effective of England’s early rulers.

And note that it was genealogical researchers, for instance, who found that Prince Harry of England and his wife, Meghan Markle, are distant cousins. Their common ancestors are Sir Philip Wentworth, who died in 1464, and his wife, Mary Clifford. “We’re all cousins sooner or later,” notes David.

David’s Love of Genealogy Expanded to Helping Others

David Allen Lambert portrays a Union Civil War soldier at age 7

David was 11 years old when he began seriously looking into his own family genealogy. His passion for finding the bits and pieces of his family history led to a steady progression and then a dedication to help others do the same. David joined the Stoughton Historical Society, a local history and genealogy organization, and he was named assistant curator and vice president just 4 years later at age 15.

David’s current position is chief genealogist for American Ancestors by New England Historical Genealogical Society (NEHGS). Founded in 1845, New England Historical Genealogical Society is the oldest genealogical organization in the country. It is also regarded as a premier source of genealogical services.

David joined the prestigious nonprofit organization in 1993. He describes one of his early jobs of filling requests to borrow books from their genealogy collections as for genealogists. He adds, “The former circulating library gave me a strong understanding of our collections.”

One of his proud moments in a lifetime of notable contributions came when a small genealogical library in Brockton, Massachusetts, was named in his honor.

In addition to these accomplishments, David is an internationally recognized speaker and writer on the topics of genealogy and history.

Sharing Data and Technology Make Family Research Easier  

David says he has enjoyed congenial relationships with like-minded people in the FamilySearch community. Collaboration in finding data and sharing it with the ever-growing number of people seeking family history keeps him returning to Utah frequently. The strong connections between the NEHGS and the FamilySearch community include shared databases that bring billions of items of information within reach of even novice researchers.

The advent of DNA testing to establish a person’s genealogical past has also been a boon to those researching their own histories. DNA is one of many notable advancements and events that have contributed to David’s enthusiasm for family history. “It’s a never-ending story with you in the middle,” he adds.

Advice on How to Get Started Yourself 

When asked what advice David can offer those wanting to start learning about their family history, he suggests the following:

  • Start now.
  • Identify items with family relevance, particularly photos.
  • Identify someone to protect and cherish genealogical items so they are not “thrown out with the trash” upon your passing.
  • Interview yourself. You are an important part of your genealogy. 

If you do as David suggests, you will soon marvel at your own great family heritage.

Portrait of Genealogist David Allen Lambert

David Allen Lambert Biography 

David Allen Lambert has been on the staff of NEHGS since 1993 and is the organization’s chief genealogist. David is an internationally recognized speaker on the topics of genealogy and history. His genealogical expertise includes New England and Atlantic Canadian records of the 17th through 21st centuries; military records; DNA research; and Native American and African American genealogical research in New England. He has also published A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries (NEHGS, 2018) and other titles.

David has published many articles in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, the New Hampshire Genealogical Record, Rhode Island Roots, the Mayflower Descendant, and American Ancestors magazine.

David is an elected fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston and a life member of the New Hampshire Society of the Cincinnati.

He is the state historian of the Massachusetts Sons of the American Revolution; state registrar for the Massachusetts Sons of the American Revolution; state registrar for the Massachusetts chapter of the General Society of the War of 1812. David is also the tribal genealogist for the Massachusett-Ponkapoag Indians of Massachusetts.

He is co-host for Extreme Genes: America’s Family History Radio Show. He is also co-host of the podcast Virtual Historians, which deals with history, technology, and virtual reality.

The Benefits of Journaling

2021. szeptember 18., szombat 1:17:17

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

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

Journaling to Preserve Personal History

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

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

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

Telling Untold Stories

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

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

Personal Reflection through Journaling

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

Online Journals

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

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

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

Celebrating Constitution Day Together

2021. szeptember 9., csütörtök 23:00:00

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

What Is Constitution Day? 

Artist depiction of the historic signing of the U.S. Constitution by the Founding Fathers.

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

Why Is Constitution Day Important? 

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

Because of the Constitution, the U.S. has become a place of refuge for individuals all over the world.

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

How Does Constitution Day Affect My Family History? 

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

This Constitution Day, discover your relatives who lived in the early U.S. or immigrated there from another country.

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

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

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

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

Coming Together to Remember 9/11

2021. szeptember 8., szerda 1:32:35

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

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

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

Remembering Those We Lost on 9/11

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

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

Remembering the Heroes of 9/11

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

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

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

9/11 memorial where the world trade center stood

Remembering How the World Came Together

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

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

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

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

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

an american flag on the 9/11 memorial, in order to remember 9/11

Ways to Remember 9/11

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

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

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

With our deepest love and kindness,

The FamilySearch family

Monthly Record Update for August 2021

2021. szeptember 3., péntek 22:00:00

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

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

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

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

Jewish Holidays

2021. szeptember 3., péntek 1:00:00

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

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

The Jewish Calendar

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

a girl sets the table for Shabbat.

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

What Is Rosh Hashanah?

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

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

Children eat honey and apples during Rosh hashanah, a Jewish holiday.

What Is Yom Kippur?

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

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

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

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

What Is Passover?

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

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

A Jewish family eats a passover dinner.

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

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

What Is Hanukkah?

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

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

A family celebrates Hannukah.

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

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

Celebrating Jewish Heritage

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

Building Family Bonds by Celebrating Grandparents Day

2021. augusztus 31., kedd 23:00:00

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

How Did Grandparents Day Get Started? 

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

Grandparents Day is a day to spend time with grandparents, give them gifts, and honor them in many different ways.

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

Fun Facts about Grandparents Day 

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

The Purpose of Grandparents Day 

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

Grandchild spends time with his grandparents on National Grandparents Day.

How Do You Celebrate Grandparents Day? 

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

10 Ways to Celebrate National Grandparents Day

10 ways to celebrate national grandparents day

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

20+ Questions to Capture Grandma’s Story

20+ questions to capture grandma's story

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

Holding a Family Tree Gathering

honor grandparents by holding a family tree gathering

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

Preserve the Stories of Grandparents Forever with These Expert Tips 

preserve the stories of grandparents forever with these expert tips

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

How to Stay in Touch with Grandparents Who Live Far Away

how to stay in touch with grandparents who live far away

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

Vintage Halloween Costumes Your Grandparents Wore

vintage halloween costumes your grandparents wore

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

What Do You Call Grandma

what do you call grandma?

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

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

Arabic Calligraphy through the Ages

2021. augusztus 28., szombat 1:00:00

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

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

The History of Arabic Calligraphy

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

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

a man writes arabic calligraphy.

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

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

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

Two women write in a book.

Calligraphy Tools

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

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

Calligraphy Design

Arabic calligraphy on a wall.

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

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

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

Calligraphy in Architecture

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

Arabic writing on the side of a dome.

Preserving Arabic Calligraphy

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

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