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Another Mystery Location

The Generations Project is visiting cities and countries all over the world filming episodes for Season 2.
Can you guess where we are filming in this picture?

Whoever can guess closest will win a free DVD of an episode from Season 1

Submit your guess under "comments".
If you are the winner you will be contacted to receive your DVD.
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Another Mystery Location

The Generations Project is visiting cities and countries all over the world filming episodes for Season 2.
Can you guess where we are filming in this picture?

Whoever can guess closest will win a free DVD of an episode from Season 1

Submit your guess under "comments".
If you are the winner you will be contacted to receive your DVD.

Posted September 30, 2010
* The correct location is the Pocahontas Exhibition Coal Mine in West Virginia. Sam Reed from Georgia, is learning what working in a coal mine would have been like for his African American ancestors. Sam's episode will air as part of Season 2 of The Generations Project, coming January 2011.
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The House My Ancestors Bought at Sears

By: Nephi Henry

As I imagine a lot of people do, I used to think of genealogy as one of the blandest, most tedious things a person could do. The endless list of names and dates to be memorized, the stale pedigree charts, the distant places with names I couldn't pronounce—genealogy was too much for my busy 21st-century brain to keep track of, the kind of thing I'd have to store away in spreadsheets and could never really find a way to sink my teeth into.

Then, one day, that very same 21st-century brain gave me my breakthrough into how personal and real genealogy can be. I called my dad, who lives on the other side of the country, and due to my habitual multitasking I was also browsing the Web on my laptop. Dad started talking about his grandparents, my great-grandparents, whom I don't remember ever meeting or even seeing pictures of. They lived in a little white farmhouse near Canton, Illinois, and Dad reminisced at length about the idyllic summers he spent there as a boy, walking the fields and drinking fresh milk straight from the dairy cows. He tried to describe the house for me, but his memories were vague and sparse.

Dad then mentioned casually that his grandparents had bought their house—or rather, the kit for their house—from the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog. Frankly, I was astonished: I knew Sears had essentially revolutionized American consumerism with its mail-order catalog, but I had no idea that the company had ever dealt in anything as big as houses. So on a hunch, I opened a Web browser and searched for "Sears houses."

Lo and behold, there were entire websites dedicated to these houses, complete with scans of original catalog pages featuring the kits, their exteriors, and their floor plans. It turns out that like my great-grandparents' old farmhouse, many of these decades-old kit homes are still standing today. As landmarks of an American sociocultural phenomenon, they create quite a niche community online.

Soon Dad booted up his home computer and we were looking together through page after page of the houses. Within a few short minutes we found the very one my great-grandparents had built on the Illinois plains—the Starlight. And as we looked at the floor plan and the pictures, it was as though a dam broke. Memory after memory came back to him; he hardly had time to share one with me before the next came rushing into his mind.

About a week later, I got an email from Dad and found that he'd attached a dozen photographs of faces I'd never seen, but I could tell almost at once they were relatives: the great-grandparents I'd never known, along with my grandmother and her siblings. And there behind them was the house Dad had struggled to recreate in his mind. I'm not sure where he found the pictures, but I'm pretty certain he went looking because we'd found that old farmhouse using some very 21st-century technology.

How have you mixed the old and the new in genealogy? Has technology unexpectedly opened doors to your own family history?
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Billy the Kid Wasn’t Left-Handed, and Other Family History Truths

By: Rob Burt

Have you ever heard the expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? That is definitely true for family history work. You can learn lots of valuable information from family and historical photographs . . . as long as you interpret them correctly.

Take the following picture as an example. It is a well-known photograph of Henry McCarty, alias Henry Antrim and William H. Bonney—better known as Billy the Kid.

For years, historians, writers, and aficionados of the West used this image to argue that the infamous Western outlaw was a minority in the gunfighter community—a left-hander. This idea was so common that a film titled The Left-Handed Gun on the life of Billy the Kid and starring Paul Newman was released in 1958, and many history books note that he was a southpaw.

In this picture, the rifle Billy is holding is a Winchester Model 1873. If you look closely at the gun, the loading gate (where bullets are put into the rifle) appears on the left-hand side of the gun. (See highlighted area below.)

However, an observant historian eventually noted a problem with the picture: the 1873 Winchester didn’t have a loading gate on the left side—only on the right side. The picture was reversed! In the early days of photography, most negatives were produced backwards as a result of the technical process used in the first cameras. If the technicians were not careful when developing the film, they would produce a mirror image of the actual scene. This is what happened to the famous photo of Billy the Kid.

The correct image, depicting Billy as a right-hander, is shown below.

This example illustrates how important family photographs can be. Not only do they give us an image of our ancestors, but important clues about the past can be found in the details surrounding them. Clothing, hairstyles, pins, military awards, automobiles, even rocks and plants can all help tell our ancestors' stories, even if they have not left a lot of written information for us. Some of these details are easily identified; others are more difficult and may need a specialist’s eye in order to be fully understood. Regardless, a picture may be worth a thousand words of an ancestor’s life story, so don’t delay! Pull out those old pictures and see what they may tell you about the lives of your loved ones.

Have you found interesting facts from old photos? Tell us about it, leave a comment.

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Coming Soon on The Generations Project

Here's a sneak peek at what's coming January 2011. Don't miss Season 2 of The Generations Project.

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Best Movies About Family?

Perhaps no art form can capture the complexity of family dynamics more than film.

This was the first thought that occurred to me after I watched the 1991 remake of Father of the Bride. It's a great example of the hilarity and insanity that runs wild within the family unit. It's also a very touching film at its core. (Rated PG)

It also got me thinking about other movies I've enjoyed that explore these odd little units we call families.

A quick google search pulls up many movies classified as "family relationship" movies.

The Parent Trap
The Incredibles
The Godfather
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Finding Nemo

and so on.

Why do you suppose there are so many movies about family? What makes them resonate with us? Why do we love so many of them?

Here are some I love:

In America
The Sound of Music
The Incredibles
Kramer vs Kramer
The Lion King

What are your favorite family-centric films?