Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Top Ten Greatest Moments in Genealogy

10. 4500 B.C. — Genealogy is invented in Mesopotamia when a man asks his parents for their names.

9. Jan. 7, 1847 — The premier issue of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register hits the newsstands, with handy tips for ridding your family of recent immigrants.

8. June 18, 1860 — Illinois census taker Jabez Crowley is fired for writing too legibly.

7. Sept. 2, 1893 — At a DAR luncheon in Washington, D.C., Mrs. Amelia Wetherbee reveals that her ancestors were Loyalists, whereupon she is promptly eviscerated.

6. Jan. 8, 1918 — Donald Knuth comes up with the idea of Soundex when he realizes that his surname sounds a lot like "Kennedy."

5. Jan. 10, 1921 — The 1890 U.S. federal census is burned by hoboes trying to keep warm.

4. June 12, 1951 — The first genealogy computer program is written. It costs $5 million and stores up to seven names.

3. May 29, 1953 — Hugh Hefner's dream of publishing a genealogical journal is put on hold when he stumbles upon nude photos of Marilyn Monroe.

2. January 1976 — Alex Haley's Roots is released, leading millions of readers to wonder if they too are descended from fictional characters.

1. Nov. 24, 1998 — DNA tests confirm the centuries-old suspicion that Thomas Jefferson's slave Sally Hemings founded the University of Virginia.

Family History Hat

I enjoyed reading through these and wondered if I can utilize them in some way for a free class I'm teaching next week.


Feel free to use the list for any non-commercial purpose. Just include my name and the address of this website.

John Wylie

You forgot the momentous event that took place on 11 February 1999 at the FHL when a blue haired little old lady was found using a microfilm machine wearing sandles. The FHL staff immediately ejected her from the Library instructing her to return only after she had changed to tennis shoes.


These are very amusing but it sounds more like "Top Ten Greatest Moments in American Genealogy"? :-)


As a typical American, I refuse to recognize that the world exists beyond our borders. Except when I need oil or a safe place to dump my toxic waste.

Jason Presley

Mesopotamia is between Indiana and Ohio, right?


Yes, otherwise known as the Fertile Crescent of the Midwest Industrial Belt.

Kathleen O'Hara

I laughed so loud at #6 that the dog woke up.

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