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Genealogy This Week - 9 January 2010


Our weekly compilation of interesting new tools, resources and stories for genealogists:

Celebrating Christmas at the White House – This one is a bit late, but the blog 44-Diaries has written a fascinating and detailed history of how Christmas has been celebrated at the White House since the time of George Washington in 1789. All the presidents are listed along with their Christmas traditions and activities. Who knew that President Theodore Roosevelt would ban live Christmas trees in the White House in 1901 (an environmentalist ahead of his time?) only to have his children sneak a real Christmas tree into the White house the following year. [Link]

Australians Descended from English Aristocracy? – Ancestry.com.au surveyed 1,000 genealogists in Australia to estimate what percentage of the population actually descended from convicts. It turns out that 23% of Australians are descendants of convicts and a further 17% were descended from soldiers. Surprisingly, 11% of Australians were descended from English aristocracy. A further 13% of Australians were descended from a famous historical figure and 13% from someone rich. The survey also found that 44% of Australians were aware of their family history (i.e. someone in their extended family had traced the family tree).

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Surnames Traced on Facebook – Apparently, Facebook has been applying statistical sampling techniques to the surnames of its users in an attempt to estimate the ethnic breakdown of the Facebook community. At stake is the ability to target advertising to the Facebook user based on their surname. [Link]

Victorian Diary Now Online – Since the beginning of 2010, the city of Westminster (London), UK has been serializing online the diary of a Victorian clerk named Nathaniel Bryceson. A new diary entry is posted everyday on the website that mirrors today’s date, except the diary was written in 1846. You can read about daily life in 1846 as Nathaniel walks around Victorian London buying bread, reading newspapers and … witnessing executions. It is fun to trace Nathaniel’s walking routes with a map of modern London. [Link]

Interactive Map of Native American Place Names – National Geographic has posted online a fascinating interactive map of America showing all sorts of Native American place names and their meanings. For example, we found out that Manhattan (New York) means “wood for bows”. This map is fun, very addictive and makes a great source for small talk at your next genealogical society meeting. [Link]

Google Real-time Search Really is Real Time – Google has recently started doing real-time search updates of social network sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc. This article talks about how quickly Google’s real-time search capabilities pick up an actual event, in this case an earthquake in the San Francisco area. It took Google just six minutes to pick up the news. Wow! [Link]


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