Acquiring a Second Passport Based on Ancestry

As we move more and more towards a globally-based economy, people everywhere are finding it in their best interests to relocate for professional reasons. This often includes moving to, and working in, a foreign country.

Of course, a big hurdle in a venture of this sort is attaining all of the necessary documentation such as work visas, permits and licences. As a foreigner, these permits can be difficult, if not impossible to get. Or from a different perspective, perhaps you just have an urge to travel. Maybe you’d like to spend some time in Brazil, visit the pyramids in Egypt, or enjoy an extended stay in Europe. As an American citizen, you surely can do these things, and visit all of these places, but again, more time and effort is involved.

Filling out paperwork, submitting it, and waiting for it to be processed – and hopefully approved, is all a part of the game. And in the case of visiting the Middle East, presenting yourself as a citizen of the United States is not always to your advantage.One way to overcome these obstacles is to use a passport from a foreign country. For example, if you have a passport from any member state of the European Union, you have the right to live and work in any of the other 27 countries of the EU (Croatia became the 28th member state on July 1, 2013).

You can also travel freely between all of those countries, and stay as long as you wish. And traveling with an Irish passport, for example, removes the need for a travel visa to Brazil, and will probably arouse less attention in a place like Egypt – though your accent, or lack thereof, may give you away.

Active and Passive Approaches to Citizenry

So how can you go about getting a second passport? Holding a passport from a country signifies that you are a citizen of that country. In nationality law, there are two main paths to citizenry – active and passive.

The active track can involve lengthy procedures and requirements that demand effort on the part of the applicant. This can include, for instance, maintaining a legal residency for several years, learning the language and culture, marrying a citizen of the host country, or investing in property.

The passive approach, on the other hand, is more of a birthright. Although in the case of a primary nationality this comes with little to no work required, when you wish to be considered for a dual citizenship, some effort is needed, and it could become quite an undertaking.

Citizenship via Jus Soli vs. Jus Sanguinis

When considering birth rights to citizenship, there are two options – jus soli (right of the soil) and  jus sanguinis (right of blood).

  • Jus soli citizenship is awarded based on your place of birth. For example, any child born in the United States is automatically considered an American citizen, regardless of his or her parents nationality.
  • Jus sanguinis, on the other hand, is citizenry based on family relations. That is, a child’s nationality is determined by the nationality of his or her parents.
  • A little more than 15% of the world’s countries grant jus soli citizenship. Most of the rest of the countries base citizenship on a jus sanguinis approach. Several countries choose a mixture of jus sanguinis and jus soli, including the US, Canada, Israel, Germany, Ireland and Greece.
  • For children born in a jus soli country, like say – Canada, Argentina or Mexico – with parents from a jus sanguinis country like Thailand or Switzerland, they are automatically awarded dual (even triple) nationality right out of the womb.

Citizenship by ancestry is not always this easy, however. There is almost always paperwork that needs to be filed, even for the child described above, to assure that the multiple nationalities are maintained. Even when all the proper registers are filled, dual citizenship is not assured.

Though the United States has allowed their citizens to hold multiple nationalities since the 1970’s, many countries do not. In fact, most countries base citizenship on long term residence, and several, like Italy, consider taking the American Oath of Citizenship, or any similar gesture as a voluntary surrender of (in this case) Italian nationality.

EU Passports and Other Frauds

It should be noted that as this trend towards dual citizenship grows in the public sphere, so does the number of “professionals” willing to help out those folks looking for this advantage.

Though it may be true that there are qualified people out there that can help out with this pursuit, there are several scams of which to be wary. First of all, there is no such thing as an EU passport or EU citizenship. You can rest assured that anyone offering you either of these is a fraud.

The European Union leaves nationality matters to each of its member states. Anyone with citizenship in any of the 28 EU countries (or non-member partners Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway) have the freedom to move about, work and live anywhere in the EU.

Much like the United States, the EU operates as one large body, but each individual state retains its own borders and laws.

Also be wary of anyone with what seems like grandiose opportunities. A handful of countries such as Ireland and Italy (and more recently Germany), will allow citizenship through an extended ancestral line, but its only a handful.

Often it depends on the actions of your parents (and their parents) when, and even before, you were born. Most countries with jus sanguinis rules for nationality do not extend citizenship rights beyond that from parent to child, and many of those countries do not allow dual citizenship, or relinquish citizenship without proper registration for all generations.

In the United States, for example, citizenship by ancestry only reverts back to your parents, as with most countries. When there are references to a connection through grandparents, it is usually because the parents have died, and the grandparents then serve as surrogates or legal guardians.

In your quest for information about this subject, you may find it stated frequently that claiming citizenship through your ancestry is the easiest path to take, and that is true – to an extent.

If you were born in a foreign country, or are the first generation descendant of a foreign national, reestablishing your citizenship in that country will not be a big problem. However, it may involve you moving back to that country permanently, and revoking any other citizenry. If that is your intent, then even having an extended ancestry line that ties you back to a country is beneficial. Though the doors aren’t automatically opened wide for you just because your great-grandfather was born in a foreign country, the naturalization process can be greatly simplified.

Quite often, countries will shorten the required period of residence and remove other conditions such as language fluency for applicants with a traceable heritage.

Ancestral Citizenship in the Emerald Isle and the Boot

Ireland’s citizenship by ancestry program is probably one of the best known around the world. For a country so small, with a population of just four million, the presence of the Irish overseas is incredible.

In the United States alone, over 35 million people claim to be of Irish descent. Worldwide, that number is estimated to be around 70 million. Ireland is as proud of these scattered sons and daughters as the descendents are to be Irish. The result of this is one of the best ancestral citizenry plans available.

Ireland (image courtesy of Tallis Keeton on flickr)

Ireland (image courtesy of Tallis Keeton on flickr)

  • The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) can help you gain Irish citizenship, even if you were born and live outside of Ireland.If either one of your parents was an Irish citizen (born in Ireland) at the time of your birth, you are automatically an Irish citizen, regardless of where you were born, and whether your parents were married at the time of your birth or not.If you were not born in Ireland, and at least one of your parents is an Irish citizen who was also born outside of Ireland, you are entitled to Irish citizenry if any of your grandparents were born in Ireland.

    You must register your birth in the Foreign Births Register maintained by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs. This can be done at your local Irish embassy or consulate. A list of these is available on the Department of Foreign Affairs website. Citizenship is effective as of the date of registration.

    For subsequent generations born outside Ireland, Irish citizenship is also available. However, all previous birthlines must be pre-established in the Foreign Birth Register.

    In other words, the parents of the child seeking Irish nationality, who established their Irish citizenship by recording their own birth in the Foreign Birth Register, must have done so before the child seeking citizenship was born.

  • Probably the next most popular (arguably the most popular), and equally expansive ancestry citizenship program belongs to Italy.As stated above, Italy considers taking the American Oath of Citizenship a voluntary relinquishment of one’s Italian citizenship. However, if that immigrant had children in the United States before being naturalized, then those children remain Italian citizens by the rule of Italian law.So, if say, your great-grandfather came to America and became a citizen, but your grandfather was born in the states before then; your great-grandfather relinquished his Italian citizenship, but your grandfather was born with dual Italian and American citizenship that was then passed on to your father, and subsequently, to you.

    Also by law, Italian citizenship does not cancel any other citizenship, but in the eyes of the Italian government, it comes first (i.e. your primary nationality for legal purposes is Italian)

    If you fall into one of the following categories, you probably qualify for Italian citizenship:

  1. Your father was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth and you never renounced your rights to Italian citizenship.
  2. Your mother was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth, you were born after January 1, 1948 and you never renounced your rights to Italian citizenship.
  3. Your father was born in the USA, his father was an Italian Citizen at the time of his birth and neither you or your dad renounced your rights to Italian Citizenship.
  4. Your mother was born in the USA, her father was an Italian Citizenship when she was born and you were born AFTER January 1, 1948 and neither of you renounced your rights to Italian citizenship,
  5. Your paternal or maternal grandfather was born in the USA, your maternal or paternal GREAT grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of his/her birth, neither you nor your father/mother nor you grandfather/grandmother ever renounced rights to Italian Citizenship.
    (source: http://www.italconschicago.org/english/zcitizenship.htm)

If you find yourself on this list, and wish to apply for Italian citizenship, you must turn in all of the necessary documentation to the nearest Italian embassy or consulate. Here is an Italian consulate list

You will notice that most of the websites on that list are in Italian. If you look next to the search option in the upper right hand corner of the page, you’ll see an English button. Try clicking on that for the English version of the site. Be forewarned, it may not work.

You can find an English version of the Chicago consulate’s web page about citizenship here.

  • Slovenia is another country that recognizes a long line of ascendence – up to four generations removed.Those who have emigrated from Slovenia (and their descendents) may be naturalized after just one year of residence in Slovenia.  Renunciation of any other citizenship is not required in this case.A person of “Slovenian origin” that can show direct descent to up to four generations may acquire Slovenian citizenship without any residence requirements. This can be done by filing an application with the Slovenian consulate.

    To qualify for this type of citizenship, the applicant must demonstrate continued involvement with the Slovenian community and culture abroad. This includes active participation in Slovenian organizations, language skill classes and the like.

  • According to the Jamaican Constitution, anyone born in or outside of Jamaica to Jamaican parents is automatically granted Jamaican citizenship.They can also apply for citizenship through their grandparents.Proof of lineage in the form of birth, death and marriage certificates is required. A Citizen Application form must also be submitted. You can pick up a copy of the application at a local consulate, or download it from the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency website (PICA).

    More information is available on the government sponsored Jamaican Information Site.

  • Greece also offers citizenship to children and grandchildren born outside of Greece, if they can prove lineage through the Greek registry.Being born to one or more parents who were born in Greece does not automatically make you a Greek citizen, but you are recognized as a Greek national, meaning you are bound by policies and rights conferred by the Greek government.If you are a male age 19 to 45 applying for citizenship, you are eligible for draft by the Greek military, and may be asked to serve up to four years before your citizenship certificate is issued. If you are over 28, you may be able to fulfill this requirement with some paperwork.

    In order to be considered a citizen of Greece, your parents or grandparents (who must have been born in Greece) must have registered you in the Greek registry, and filed for citizenship on your behalf.

    If you are only entered in the family’s oikogeneiaki merida, that means a record of your birth and relationship was established, and will make attaining citizenship later in life easier, if you so desire.

    The link above is for a .pdf in English which describes Greek nationality law. You can also visit the official government site (in Greek).

    Greece (imager courtesy of Dennis Jarvis on flickr)

    Greece (imager courtesy of Dennis Jarvis on flickr)

  • You can apply for citizenship of Malta if you are a direct, second or subsequent generation descendent of an ascendent born in Malta, whose parents were also born in Malta.This is true regardless of whether you were born in Malta or abroad. For subsequent generations, the parents must also have been registered for Maltan citizenship.The parent’s citizenship certificate must be submitted along with birth and marriage certificates for everyone from the applicant back through to the ancestral link born in Malta. In some cases, death certificates may also be required.
  • The UK does allow dual citizenship, but has some restrictions.For example, you must be a member of the Commonwealth, so citizens of the US need not apply.However, Commonwealth citizens with UK ancestry may be able to apply for permission to live and work there. Requirements are that the applicant is at least 17 years old, and is able to, and plans to work in the UK at a wage adequate to support themselves without public assistance.

    They must also prove that at least one grandparent was born in the UK (including the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, and what is now the Republic of Ireland (if they were born before 1922)), or on a British registered ship or aircraft.

    It doesn’t matter whether the ancestor was born in or out of wedlock, but you cannot claim ancestry through step-relatives. Adoptive relatives are acceptable.

  • Since 2001, Sweden has accepted dual citizenship.Now, anyone seeking Swedish citizenship may retain their current nationality (as long as that country allows it), and Swedish citizens can retain their nationality even after claiming another.They do not, however, have extensive rights to citizenship through blood relations. Any child born to a mother with Swedish nationality automatically is a Swedish citizen. Anyone born to a Swedish father in Sweden is a citizen.

    If a Swedish man marries a foreign woman, any of their children born before they were married becomes a citizen, if they are under 18 and unmarried.

    A child born abroad whose father has held Swedish citizenship since the child’s birth may attain citizenship by notification from the father before the child turns 18. Extension beyond first generation relatives are generally not recognized.

  • Germany has changed their immigration laws recently for a number of reasons.With the fall of the Soviet Union, and, of course the Berlin Wall, Germany opened its borders to many of those looking for greater opportunities. As might be expected, there was a huge influx of immigrants, which soon became hard to maintain.As a result, Germany has updated their Immigration laws in 2000, 2005 and 2007. The purpose of the 2005 act was to provide provisions on the entry of foreigners into Germany and their residence in the country.

    Amendments added in 2007 allowed for the implementation of EU directives, to enhance internal security and prevent sham applications for citizenship. But most importantly, provisions were included to help integrate immigrants into the population.

    As part of this integration, Germany tries to prevent multi-nationalism, and usually requires new citizens to forfeit their previous citizenship(s). However, there are exceptions to this rule.

    For example, special rules apply to the elderly and politically persecuted. Also, if it would prove to be too expensive or legally complicated to renounce a current citizenship, it can be forgiven.

    The same is true if losing an existing citizenship would bring serious consequences, especially in regards to financial situations including property and assets. Regulations have also been relaxed for most citizens of EU nations.

    You may live outside of Germany and file for citizenship, but must show mastery of the German language, and show proof of substantial ties to Germany, amongst other regulations.

    In terms of citizenship by ancestry, if a person is born of a parent with German citizenship at the time of the child’s birth, they are automatically a German citizen. Place of birth is no longer a consideration.

    However, a child born in a foreign country will no longer receive German citizenship automatically by birth, if his/her German parent was born after December 31, 1999 in a foreign country and has his/her primary residence there.

    Exceptions are made if the German parent registers the child’s birth within one year of birth to the responsible German agency abroad. Further generations can be used to claim citizenship, but you must be able to trace your lineage back to a relative who hasn’t claimed citizenship by ancestry.

    In addition, many people were expunged and stripped of their German citizenship as a result of the Third Reich. Some of these people can have their citizenship reinstated without returning to Germany, or renouncing their current citizenship. This also holds true for the descendents of these displaced persons.

 

Reinstating Citizenship to Members of a Diaspora

This final German example illustrates another way jus sanguinis comes into play – for those people who are themselves, or descendents of, a member of a diaspora.

That is, if you (or your ancestors) were forced to leave your homeland along with a large population of the country, you may be able to regain citizenship of your motherland. These events are usually the result of war, or the aftermath thereof.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, many former Soviet states have been opening their doors to different groups of former citizens and their descendents who were expelled by Soviet rule and stripped of their nationality.

Hiking on and around the Grossglockner, Austria (image courtesy of Jeroen Fossaert on flickr)

Hiking on and around the Grossglockner, Austria (image courtesy of Jeroen Fossaert on flickr)

  • Many Austrian citizens were forced to leave the country for racial or political reasons prior to 1945.They may have either faced persecution under the NSDAP or authorities of the Third Reich, or feared retaliation because they defended the Republic of Austria.Often these displaced persons have since gained citizenry elsewhere, and therefore lost their Austrian citizenship. These people and their descendents may reclaim their Austrian nationality by declaration, without giving up their current citizenship.

    Documentation including birth and marriage certificates, proof of former Austrian citizenship and foreign citizenship, and more are required to complete the process.

  • Polish citizenry is passed on to children, as long as at least one parent has established Polish citizenship.In addition, exceptions are made for many Poles and their descendents that were purged during Soviet rule. In 1967-68, many Jews traveling or emigrating to Israel were issued so-called travel documents, rather than passports.This allowed them the right to travel, but not to return, effectively having their Polish nationality renounced by the then Soviet state. This practice was deemed illegal by the Supreme Administrative court of Poland in 2005, and those people are now considered to be Polish citizens as well.

    Repatriation of other Poles dispersed under communist rule is also underway, but is limited to current citizens of former Soviet states who wish to move back to Poland.

  • Croatia, the latest member of the EU (admitted July 1, 2013), has had a tumultuous history over the centuries.Most recently, they became a member of Soviet ruled Yugoslavia after World War II. That situation was never very comfortable for the region, and a series of wars followed the collapse of the Soviet Union and destabilization of the region.This ultimately led to the formation of the independent Croatian state in 1991, which has made continued progress as an independent state, both politically and fiscally, as evidenced by its acceptance into the EU.

    Croatia now allows those of Croatian origin and their descendents to regain nationality upon return to the country through a simplified process.

    Or, for those of Croatian ethnicity living abroad, citizenship is available with a letter explaining why they are seeking citizenship, their familiarity and position on Croatian culture and examples of how they have served Croatia abroad.

    Information on their relatives living situation before leaving Croatia, and when, where and how they settled abroad is also required. Specific information is needed, as some of the new citizenship laws of Croatia are part of International treaties.

    Croatia (image courtesy of eGuide Travel on flickr)

    Croatia (image courtesy of eGuide Travel on flickr)

  • The Estonian population was decimated and dispersed as a result of the Soviet takeover in 1940.During the turbulent years of 1940-1949, approximately 60,000 members of the 1.1 million population were either killed or deported to Siberia and other disparate regions of the Soviet Union. Almost the same number of citizens fled to the west.At the same time, thousands of Soviets were moved into the country under forced migration laws. By 1988, less than two-thirds of the citizenry of Estonia were ethnic Estonians.

    Since regaining its independence in 1991, the Estonian government has increased efforts to correct this problem, making gaining Estonian citizenship much easier. Re-establishing the Citizenship Law of 1938 in 1992, Estonia automatically made all people who held Estonian citizenship before June 16, 1940 – and their descendents – Estonian citizens.

  • Latvia is another country whose history and population was upturned by war and occupation.Formed as an independent state in 1918, it was first consumed by the Soviet Union in 1940, invaded by the Germans in 1941, reoccupied by the Soviets in 1944, and remained part of the USSR until 1991.Now, people who were citizens of Latvia prior to 1940 (and their descendants) are eligible for Latvian citizenship, as long as they did not gain citizenship of another country after May 4, 1990.
  • Lithuania is another Baltic state that suffered the similar fate of claiming independence in the aftermath of World War I, only to have it stripped away by both the Germans and Soviets during World War II.They also regained their independence in 1991, and now recognize dual citizenship, provided the applicant meets at least one of the following conditions:
  1. He has acquired citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania and citizenship of another state at birth and he has not reached 21 years of age;
  2. He is a person who held citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania before 15 June 1940 or his descendant (child, grandchild or great-grandchild), who were forcibly expelled from Lithuania by decisions of institutions or courts of occupation regimes in the period from 15 June 1940 to 11 March 1990 for reasons of resistance to occupation regimes, political or social reasons or reasons of origin and acquired citizenship of another state;
  3. He is a person who held citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania before 15 June 1940 or his descendant (child, grandchild or great-grandchild), who left the current territory of the Republic of Lithuania before 11 March 1990 to reside permanently in another state, if their permanent residence on 11 March 1990 was outside Lithuania and acquired citizenship of another state;
  4. adopted by citizens (citizen) of another state before reaching 18 years of age and, as a result of the adoption, acquired citizenship of that state;
    (source : http://ny.mfa.lt/index.php?2029108161)
  • Hungary has a colored and storied history dating back to its establishment in 895 as a federation of tribes.Over the centuries, the country has gone through several changes. After several wars with the Ottomans, over hundreds of years, they emerged as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which at one time held control over one of the largest land areas in Europe, second only to Russia.The dual monarchy was decimated as a result of World War I, and Hungary’s union with Austria was dissolved in 1918.

    In World War II, Hungary first entered the war on the side of the Axis Powers, joining Germany in the war against the Soviet Union. However, by 1943, they had suffered enough losses, and tried to negotiate a surrender to the Allies. Instead, this resulted in the all too familiar pattern of being invaded first by Germany, then the Soviet Union.

    In the years following the war, the Soviet Union completely took over Hungary, making it a communist satellite state. In the process, nearly a million Hungarians were purged from the country – exiled, imprisoned or executed.

    In 1956, after a particularly brutal administration under Mátyás Rákosi, the Hungarian people revolted, and the country temporarily withdrew from the Warsaw Pact. The Soviet Union quickly retaliated leading to the death of 20,000 Hungarians and the exodus of nearly a quarter million more.

    The result of this chaotic history was a new nationality law introduced in 1993.

    By the rule of this law, anyone who was a Hungarian citizen before 1920 (or their descendents), and speaks Hungarian, can become a Hungarian citizen, regardless of whether they live in the country or not.

    In addition, anyone who may have lost their citizenship due to expatriation, or because of various laws enacted between 1947 and 1990, can apply to have their citizenship reinstated. Hungary allows for dual citizenship, so any other citizenry may be maintained.

    Budapest (image cortesy of Patrick Nouhailler on flickr)

    Budapest (image cortesy of Patrick Nouhailler on flickr)

    Budapest, Hungary (image cortesy of Patrick Nouhailler on flickr)
  • Armenia is another ancient country that has faced centuries of warfare.In more recent times, the Ottomans carried out an Armenian genocide in World War I, leading to the original Armenian diaspora. Armenia was annexed by Bolshevik Russia, and became part of the Soviet Union in 1922.As the communist empire began to crumble, Armenia was the first of the Baltic states to declare its independence, and they did not do so peacefully. The ensuing war, and the conflict with Azerbaijan soon after resulted in at least a million more displaced Armenians.

    The Declaration of Independence of Armenia (1989) says Armenians living abroad are entitled to citizenship of the Republic of Armenia, and their Constitution (1995) states that those of Armenian descent living abroad are entitled to procure citizenship through a simplified procedure.

    This includes proof of Armenian descent, birth and marriage certificates (as applicable), a letter to the President of the Republic requesting citizenship, and an application filled out in Armenian. Knowledge of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia is required, but proficiency in the language is not.

    They also allow for the right of return to the Armenian diaspora. Dual citizenship has been acknowledged in Armenia since a constitutional amendment was passed in 2007.

Changing Rules and Further Exploration

With the current state of chaos in both economic and political realms worldwide, along with the growing paranoia involving terrorism, many countries have implemented or are seeking stricter immigration laws.

At the time of this writing, an immigration bill is fighting its way through the US Congress. Chances are, whenever you may be reading this, the debate is still going on in some form. It tends to be a very sticky subject.

Obviously, the safety issues are paramount, even if the concerns may be overblown. However, a bigger part of the equation is a financial concern. Of course, this applies more to the “undesirable masses” fleeing their own countries and overwhelming the resources of another.

While countries do not want to be callous to refugees, they also don’t want to support millions of people that aren’t contributing to the system. And, especially in times of economic stress, the last thing people want is more competition for the few jobs that are available, and opening up citizenship to foreigners threatens just that.

Clearly, there are exceptions to this. Factory and business owners are often encouraged to gain citizenship in many countries because of the job and financial opportunities they offer. Similarly, other people who prove their worth to a country (financially or otherwise) can gain or retain citizenship for that reason.

Most countries do have exceptions for people seeking citizenship with ancestral roots in that state, but often this is dependent on the applicant returning to that country to live, and relinquishing all other citizenry.

Plainly, this is far from a complete list of the world’s many nations, and most of these are based in the EU. We focused on this region because it tends to be the area of greatest interest, and because citizenship in one EU member state allows free access to most of Europe.

This article is meant only to show that the possibilities are out there, and give you a starting off point in your search.

Knowing the Language and Getting Help

While you pursue your investigation, remember, you are working with foreign governments, most of whom have a native tongue that is not English.

Many of the websites and other information you’re looking for may not be in English. Also, be aware that most of the documents you will be filing are required to be in the native language of the country to which you are applying.

Frequently, fluency, or at least proficiency in a country’s language is a prerequisite to citizenship, though this is sometimes waived for applicants filing under jus sanguinis – for example, if they are from a foreign country, are minors, or suffer from mental deficiency.

Furthermore, the information on any given embassy/consulate website can be outdated, incomplete, or just wrong. The best thing to do is to contact the nearest consulate directly, and deal with an actual person with both knowledge and authority.

As stated above, there are people out there who are more than willing to help you with this inquiry – for a fee. Again, be very careful using these resources, and verify their validity before spending any money.

You shouldn’t require a lawyer to complete any of this, but a translator or other facilitator may help. Either way, expect to put in a good bit of work. The benefits will surely be worth it.

Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

50 Genealogy Resources Found on Facebook

Everybody loves Facebook because it allows us to reconnect with old friends and family. Many of these people are from so far back in the past, we may have even forgotten about them until their name popped up on the recommended list. In much the same way, there are many resources on Facebook to track down your family history. Unless your family has been keeping a scrupulous record of your ancestry, chances are there are a few surprises to be found.

Genealogy has been emerging as one of the most popular pastimes in recent years, and as it is meant to do, Facebook reflects this reality. Until recently, you had to travel all over the country and/or world to have access to concrete genealogy information. Now it is available to you in your own home, with a few clicks of your mouse. There are well over 1000 pages on Facebook that are related to genealogy and ancestry research. Obviously, it would be impractical to list all of them here. Instead, we’ve decided to supply a small sampling of what can be found on Facebook.  Here’s a breakdown of 50 pages to get you started.

The Workhouse (image courtesy of Paul Townsend on flickr)

The Workhouse (image courtesy of Paul Townsend on flickr)

  1. GenealogyBank has been around for about five years now. As a division of NewsBank, Inc., a top information provider for over 35 years, they have an ever growing database of newspapers from all 50 states, dating back to 1690. Newspapers are the heart and soul of tracing your ancestry. Much information can be garnished searching through the database of obituaries, birth and wedding announcements, news articles and more. In addition, they offer access to other helpful resources, including military records, casualty lists, revolutionary and Civil War pension requests and much more. Additional contact information is available on their Facebook page.
  2. Genealogy Beginner offers an eight week class and unlimited access to live Genealogists to help you get started in your pursuit of your family heritage. This community is offered to everyone from newbies to seasoned professionals who just wish to share the wealth of their experience. They offer a wide range of research materials as well, including: a free 6-generation family tree chart, getting started lessons and tutorials and other charts, guides, and beginner research tools. If you just want to check out the community, a free, no-obligation two week trial membership is available.
  3. Sponsored by GenealogyBank, Genealogy Tip of the Day (GTotD) is a blog post maintained by genealogist Michael John Neill. It is a treasure trove of helpful hints to aid you with your genealogy search in ways you may never have considered otherwise. These include such things as not narrowing a census search to just the person in question, but encompassing close relatives as well, in case the name you are looking for doesn’t show up for some reason. Michael also gives practical tips such as watching out for poison ivy in graveyards,  and remembering that different places will have different rules for access, so you need to always ask! In addition to these helpful tips, GTotD offers links to other online resources, webinars, and a newsletter with case studies to give you more ideas you can use in your own search. The daily tips are posted on the Facebook page as well.
  4. Facebook is a great resource for finding genealogy events in your area. The study of family ancestry has become so popular that there are classes, seminars and other events happening all over the country, all the time.  Some examples of events happening at the time of the writing of this article include: Southwest Florida Germanic Genealogy Society MeetingMonaghan Genealogy Training, and Genealogy Class . While you read this, these events may  have passed, or are not happening in a location near you. However, chances are something is happening, at least in your state, in the near future. Try your own search using broad terminology to start. That is type in ‘genealogy’ and maybe your state and hit enter. When the page list comes up, narrow it to events to find what’s happening near you.
  5. RootsMagic is a software company that has been developing family-uniting software for over 20 years. They offer a number of different products. RootsMagic will help you with researching, organizing and sharing your family history. Personal Historian helps with the daunting task of translating the volumes of information you’ve collected into an interesting narrative. Both of the products are also available in the Essentials edition, which is a free version of the software, and comes with fewer features. Family Atlas is a fun way to follow your heritage around the globe, and Family Reunion Organizer will help you prepare for those special events.
  6. Genealogy Inc is a virtual smorgasbord for any level of genealogist. It is stuffed full of useful tips not only on how best to begin your search, but to keep you going throughout your ancestral pursuit. In addition, there are links to more resources and societies than you could possibly imagine. Access to birth records, marriage licenses, divorce and death records, census reports, and court, cemetery and obituary records are all available. But that’s just the beginning. Access to information is available on a state to state, and even county to county basis. Larger databases for military records and other government records are easily accessed as well.
  7. Genealogy: LOST and FOUND is a Facebook group maintained by Alicia Woolridge Morgason. This group has a more specific purpose than many of the other resources available here. Namely, this is where people can post images or information about items that they have or are looking for, that relate to family history. It is also open to browsing for those searching for items such as photographs, letters, bibles, postcards, etc. Maybe you found a box full of interesting trinkets or memorabilia at a rummage sale, antique store, or in grandma’s attic. This is a good place to try to gather more information on what you found. Or, this could turn out to be that special location where you find your own long lost treasure.
  8. Genealogy Trails is a free online resource of all sorts of genealogy related information, and extra little tidbits. Started in Illinois back in 2000, Genealogy Trails is completely staffed by volunteers. They never have been, nor will they ever be, associated with any for-profit organization. Their volunteers transcribe data from numerous sources that may be useful to those interested in unearthing their family history. In 2006, they expanded to other states. They now have websites encompassing all 50 states and Washington, D.C. They require all of their sites to have continual updates, to assure the information is fresh, and they are always looking for more eager contributors.
  9. This  Genealogy page is a simple Facebook interest page, created automatically by Facebook software, based on the interests of multiple users. First, it gives a very detailed definition of genealogy, taken from Wikipedia. The page is fleshed out with links to books, related groups and related pages. Though, in and of itself it is not a very informative source, it does serve as a good starting off point. It can give you an idea of some of the groups and pages available on Facebook that are related to genealogy. This page does not have a comprehensive list of pages in itself, but it can give you more ideas for search queries, and many of the pages offered will have good leads into family tree tracing. If you are new to the whole process, this is a good place to start.
  10. GenealogyBuff.com is a free resource of all types of records that can be useful in a genealogical search. Though it consist mostly of obituaries, it also includes marriage records, birth and death records, military records and even school yearbooks. Additional support includes a newspaper directory and research tools like the surname search tool. Extra sections are added for user-submitted data and obituaries as well as breakdowns of information by county and city. Links to each individual section of the website can be found of their Facebook information page.

    family tree (image courtesy of Broderick on flickr)

    family tree (image courtesy of Broderick on flickr)

  11. Founded in 1999, Genealogy Today offers help to those tracking their family roots in a number of ways. They provide a wiki of useful genealogy terminology, a search tool powered by the Live Roots search engine, which accesses over 200,000 sources – including major repositories like Ancestry.com, articles pertinent to those interested in – or actively pursuing – their bloodline, and a database of rare and unique information from sources like Masonic rosters, rural school and college catalogues, railroad seniority rosters, fraternal group and business member associations, all sorts of clubs and societies and more.
  12. Irish Genealogy is the official facebook page for from-ireland.net, an extensive directory of information for those interested in Irish ancestry, genealogy and family history. It is a free resource of data from Irish sources including marriage, death and birth records, photographs and more. It goes even more in depth with frequent updates, adding a variety of materials like church and court records, including interesting murder cases, funeral details and more. In addition, extra help is provided in other forms, such as instruction on cemetery and grave marker terms.
  13. The Genealogy Tree Community is actually a place to register when you try out the facetree app. This app allows you to use facebook to build your own family tree through your connections. You simply enter the information to build the “trunk” of your genealogytree-facetree, and add as much information as you can, then invite and share with family members (or your facebook family, if you prefer), to allow them to add and modify the tree, so you can watch it grow.
  14. JewishGen Genealogy is the facebook page for jewishgen.org, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. JewishGen is the premiere website for Jewish genealogy. It was founded in 1987, as a bulletin board with only 150 users. Today it is powered primarily by over 700 volunteers worldwide, who contribute constantly to the ever growing database, and currently hosts more than 20 million records. In addition, they provide a series of tools and resources set up to assist those interested in tracing their Jewish ancestry.
  15. GenealogyWise has a fan page on facebook that supplies users with chat notices and a link to the site. The site itself was compiled by the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, and is actually a genealogy social network that combines community interaction with tools and resources for people interested in tracing and sharing their family history. You can set up your own page (and view others), join groups, take courses, participate in forums (and as mentioned above, informative and fun chat sessions) and view and post blogs, videos and photos and more. There is even a store for archival supplies, charts and forms, and several other genealogy related products and services.
  16. MY Genealogy Services is a full service genealogy company formed by Madeline Yanov and Karla Henderlong. Both women have experience in the legal field, and many of the investigation skills they developed in that profession aid in their current endeavor – offering research, document retrieval, family locator services, and personalized genealogy products. They have experience with inquiries in ten states, including Native American research, and tracing European lineage back to Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, and Russia. These traces have gone back as far as the 17th and even 10th century. They also offer adoption research services. More information on their skills and qualifications are available on their website
  17. GenealogyMagazine.com is the current portal of Datatrace Systems. They have been producing quality genealogical research and publications since 1985. They first published American Genealogy Magazine from 1987 to 1999, and now maintain this presence on the web. The website is used as a reference for major organizations, and has been named one of the top ten online genealogy magazines. This site provides access to a large database of records and photographs, numerous publications and articles about all areas of ancestry research – including techniques, advances and people in the field – which are available both for purchase and online perusal.
  18. Genealogy Links UK is a site run by a mother and daughter team based in Lancashire, that specializes in supplying genealogical and probate research services. Utilizing databases worldwide, they can help you build your family tree, track down a missing relative or help with uncovering missing and/or unclaimed assets. Though there is no professional regulation of probate genealogists, the women of Genealogy Links UK have professional memberships with Heir Hunter and Private Investigation services, as well as belonging to the Society of Genealogy. To further comfort their customers, they are also registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and Companies House.
  19. Olive Tree Genealogy supplies several unique databases and research tools to help you track down those hard to find relatives. They specialize in ship’s passengers lists (with ship search), and certain specific heritage lines like German Palatines, Huguenots and Walloons, Mennonites, New Netherlands (New York) and more. They also offer histories of these cultures, as well as data sources specific to each one. An array of specialized search engines is also available for users to target information lists within Olive Tree, or other databases online. Additional resources to help with your bloodline research are available as well, and best of all, it’s all free.
  20. Genealogy Freelancers offers a specialized service to people interested in tracing their family history. Their site allows you to enter the parameters of your project, and submit it to a team of professional genealogist and other ancestry specialists around the globe. These experts will then review your project and submit a bid, letting you know the price for their services. In this reverse auction method, users are able to shop for the consultants they need, at the price they want, without conducting an exhaustive web search. This makes the entire process of ancestral search that much easier by knocking down that first big hurdle – where to start.

    family tree (image courtesy of takato marui on flickr)

    family tree (image courtesy of takato marui on flickr)

  21. ‘Onward To Our Past’ Genealogy and Family History Services offers up a multitude of free genealogy tips, family history learning and ancestry fun, via Genealogical Historian, Scott Phillips. Unique resources are available for Bohemia (Czech Republic), Italy, Cornwall and Kent, the UK and US genealogical research. With his emphasis as an historian, Phillips focuses almost as much on the history of the times, society and location of the ancestors being studied as the raw data, creating a much more robust picture than traditional genealogy. With this information, and several tools and articles close at hand, ‘Onward to Our Past’ aims to make the whole process of ancestral tracking both rewarding and fun.
  22. AfriGeneas ~ African Ancestored Genealogy is one of the top sites available for African American genealogy and African ancestry research in general. They maintain huge surname and death record databases, as well as large marriage and slave record collections. In addition, census schedules, cemetery listings and an extensive document and article library are available for perusal. And to enhance the entire process, the website contains multiple forums and regular chats, and offers a number of mailing lists to create a complete and easy experience for anyone interested in tracing their African roots.
  23. Similar to finding local events, Facebook is a great resource for genealogical communities and groups. Several are regional, like Michigan Genealogy Research, Mexico Genealogy Research, Tennessee Genealogy Research, and Genealogy of Wyoming Co WV . However, these are not limited to location. Some are dedicated to a certain heritage like Irish Genealogy , German Genealogy and Norwegian Genealogy. And there are many others open to anyone and anything, like Twisted Twigs On Gnarled Branches Genealogy Again, start with a simple search for ‘genealogy’ and maybe another single word. When your results appear, narrow the search to groups and see what you find. Play with your search words for more options.
  24. West Kentucky Genealogy collects and posts research on the Jackson Purchase area of Kentucky and surrounding areas. They post the photos, ask for any information anyone may have available to help identify them, and offer them up for sale. They scan all the photos they purchase and store them in a database, to keep a digital record of them. Though they will sell CDs of photos to anyone who requests them, originals are sold only to those who have proper claim to them. That is the main purpose of the site – to return vintage photos to their rightful owners. Since most items have been purchased from auctions, antique shops and the like, in the case the family comes forth to claim their pictures, WKG asks only to be reimbursed the cost they paid for the items.
  25. findmypast UK actually began as Title Research way back in 1965, long before the concept of keeping records online was even conceived. A team of genealogists worked diligently for years tracking and transcribing records from microfiche. Years later, in 2001, the idea of transferring these records online was entertained, and after attaining the proper licensing, in 2003, the first website was launched, and became findmypast in 2006. Today, they are one of the top family history suppliers on the planet. With an ever growing database of over 1.6 billion records, and always using – and sometimes creating – cutting edge technology, they make searching for ancestry history in the UK easy and fun.
  26. Genealogy Guys Podcast is the longest running genealogy podcast in the world. It features George G. Morgan and Drew Smith. In production since 2005, the site has been listed in the top 101 best websites by Family Tree magazine in both 2012 and 2013, as well as in the top 40 blogs list in 2010 by the same magazine. Each show is an hour long, and every podcast dating back to September 2005 is available for download. They feature everything to do with genealogy – news, book reviews, interviews, and conference and product announcements. In addition, at least two main topics pertaining to ancestral searches are discussed, and listeners emails are answered. George and Drew also share their own stories, experiences and whimsy, to both teach and entertain.
  27. Ireland Genealogy Projects is a collection of websites, broken down by counties, and one for the entire country of Ireland and outlying areas. Each website varies slightly in its format and what is offered, but all are intended to help anyone trying to trace their Irish ancestry. The resources on each page include items such as: Vital records (birth, marriage, death), church records, cemetery records, court records, education, emigration, family histories, land records, military and constabulary service records, and newspapers (including obituaries). In addition, miscellaneous information and local histories are given to flesh out the picture of Irish culture and history.
  28. The Genealogy Gems Podcast is the popular online genealogy newscast hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke, the owner of Genealogy Gems, a multi-media genealogy and family history company. Lisa also works closely with Family Tree magazine, writing articles and producing and hosting the Family Tree podcast. She also works as a curriculum builder and teacher at Family Tree University. Her podcast is full of genealogy news, interviews with stars in the field, research strategies and general inspiration for aspiring genealogists in the 75 countries worldwide that receive the show. The podcasts can be found on the website (along with many more helpful resources), on itunes, and through the Genealogy Gems app and the free Genealogy Gems toolbar.
  29. Gould Genealogy is a family run business started in 1976 as a hobby by Alan and Anthea Phillips. Since then it has grown steadily into the booming behemoth it is today. They currently offer over 10,000 genealogy related products to customers living in (or with ancestors from) Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland, most of Europe and the United States. In addition to record access, they offer genealogy software and books, as well as a blog and newsletter for all the latest genealogy news. Sister sites offer information on events, services, ebooks, a family photo album and other resources – even a genealogy conference/cruise!
  30. Genealogy Researcher is a company based in Jefferson/Lewis county in New York. Tanya Stringer is a certified genealogist and member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, with over 25 years experience. She has extensive experience with histories in Canada, England and the United States, and specializes in surname research. Tanya is available for consulting, if you just need a fresh pair of eyes, or help with a brick wall. She can be more hands on as well, helping with locating documents (possibly even gravestone rubs in New York) and she even offers a complete compiling, research and organization package.

    Birth Records (image courtesy of Government & Heritage on flickr)

    Birth Records (image courtesy of Government & Heritage on flickr)

  31. Scotlands Genealogy is a good resource for people interested in their Scottish heritage. Chris Halliday is a professional genealogist based in Edinburgh. He turned a 30 year hobby into a career by earning his MA in Scottish cultural studies, and his MSc in genealogy. He also belongs to several genealogy societies and associations, and is registered for data protection. Mr. Halliday is available for helping build your family tree with both pre- and post-1855 research (1855 is when Scotland began compulsory registration of vital records), finding the history of land or property in Scotland, transcribing old Scottish documents, taking photographs of desired sites, and will even help you apply for a Scottish Coat of Arms.
  32. Israel Genealogy Research Association is a genealogy society based in Israel that is open to all. Their aim is to make documents in Israel available to people all over the world. They work with many nationalities, and in as many languages as possible. They are continuing to build a database of documents in Israel from the Ottoman period to the early years of the state of Israel, and combining it with data from countries where relatives lived before moving to Israel. They work with people outside of Israel to help them find relatives living in Israel, especially if they were separated in the Holocaust. In addition, a number of teaching aids to help people with their ancestral search are available including webinars, mentoring, hands-on visits to document archives, regional meetings and seminars.
  33. The German Genealogy Group was established in 1996 by a team of experienced genealogists to assist anyone interested in researching their Germanic ancestors. They offer easy to use database searches that are always available to anyone at anytime. For members, there are additional resources available including a monthly newsletter, a surname directory, mentoring programs, a new member pack filled with valuable information, a lending library, monthly meetings, and special events such as dinners and day trips to places of interest. The German Genealogy Group is based in Hicksville, NY. For members outside the area, some materials that are not available online can be mailed to them.
  34. Foxhound Genealogy is the family history research firm created by Joseph Fox. Based in West Virginia, Mr. Fox is available for on-site investigations in all of West Virginia, as well as parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. With over ten years experience, he has a strong background in West Virginia history and early American family history throughout the east coast. Free consultations are available to discuss your project needs and desires to determine the right plan of pursuit. Document lookup is available to those who just need to track down certain information on their own search, as is cemetery and grave marker photography. Adoption Search Services are available as well.
  35. Italian Family Genealogy is managed by Karen Baleno, an Italian genealogist based in Italy. She will work with clients to help unravel their family history through on-site investigations. She will supply much more than a bare bones, names and dates genealogy. Rather, she will paint a much fuller portrait of your ancestors, including their job and life before emigration, why they left, a taste of the culture and land they enjoyed while still in Italy and more. She will work with you to customize the search to your desired results. Karen is a member of several genealogical organizations including: The Association of Professional Genealogists, the New England Historical Society, Sons and Daughters of Italy and Casa Italia.
  36. Genealogy for Kids is a special mission for genealogist and founder of Generations, Jennifer Holik. She has been researching and writing about genealogy and history for over 20 years, and is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and other professional societies. In addition to extensive research and writing services, Ms. Holik offers lectures and workshops for both children and adults on various genealogical subjects. She will also work with parents, teachers, home schoolers, libraries and whomever else would like training in teaching genealogy practices to kids. In addition, Jennifer has written several books on family tree tracing. Her Branching Out series offers lessons for everyone from first graders to adults, and Engaging the Next Generation: A Guide for Genealogical Societies and Libraries was written specifically for groups interested in starting their own youth genealogical studies programs.
  37. Social Genealogy LLC is a family history research firm founded and run by Jason Victor. Jason has been conducting genealogical research for several years, but he puts an interesting twist on it, showing clients how their ancestry affects them socially, culturally and psychologically. Going beyond the bare bones of the who, where and when of a search, Jason also includes the social, cultural and psychological (including mental health and medical conditions) history of his client’s ancestors. This gives a much better picture of their lifestyles and motivations, and makes for a much fuller biographical study. Mr. Victor works closely with each individual, and under the scrutiny of their guidelines, to ensure personal satisfaction.
  38. GenealogyU is a relatively new player on the scene, having only launched in December of 2012. The idea behind the site is to create a collaborative network of contributing genealogists and family tree historians. You can sign up for the weekly newsletter or tips, tricks and how-tos for ancestral research. A focus is placed on the use of computers, the internet and improved family tree research. They are currently looking for contributing authors with genealogical experience, for both guest post and regular contributor levels of commitment. In the meantime, as the online magazine grows, the GenealogyU facebook page is updated on a regular basis, and newsletters are being sent out.
  39. Evidentia Genealogy Software helps take out much of the guess work involved in an ancestral search, and supports your research by guiding you through the Genealogical Proof Standard, by which acceptable conclusions are judged. If you have conflicting sources, Evidentia lets you view them all on one screen, so you can more easily discern the facts. If you aren’t sure about the strength or validity of a source, Evidentia can help identify the gaps in the story. Using this type of software not only makes your genealogical work easier and more fun, it gives you comfort of mind that the family tree you’ve constructed is more fact than fiction.
  40. Inishbofin Genealogy is the living result of a project Marie Coyne began almost 25 years ago, researching the families of Inishbofin, surrounding islands, mainland and overseas. She began this arduous task by traveling home-to-home in person, writing down and compiling names and information for many, many years. She then bought an online “Family Tree Maker” software package, which she diligently filled with the mountain of information she had compiled. Since that was published, it has travelled the globe and been used extensively by people with roots in Inishbofin. If you are interested in conducting your own family search, contact Ms. Coyne for information.

    Deaths (image courtesy of Government & Heritage Library, State Library of NC on flickr)

    Deaths (image courtesy of Government & Heritage Library, State Library of NC on flickr)

  41. K.B. Genealogy & Research is the company Kelly Leary founded, after discovering her passion for genealogy while uncovering some information for her grandfather’s 91st birthday. Ten years and dozens of ancestry searches later, Kelly is well versed in the techniques required for genealogy, and continually hones her skills through continuing education classes. She is a member of several professional organizations, including the Association of Professional Genealogists. Kelly makes sure to interweave all of the aspects of data she collects to produce the most compelling story she can create for her clients. She also specializes in assisting clients with obtaining Irish Citizenship by Descent.
  42. *****Genealogy Pieces (Family Quilt Genealogy) is an “all Inclusive” family ancestry research facebook page created by Terry Marie Varela. Posts on this page include anything and everything involved with genealogy. Terry shares information on genealogical tools, blogs, softwares, search engines, other websites, literature (both digital and not), family history stories, seminars, conventions and more.
  43. The Allen County Public Library (ACPL)  Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana has been serving the genealogy community since 1961. The ACPL Genealogy center is a versatile and viable resource for not just the Northwest Indiana population it was initially intended to serve, but rather the entire global genealogical community. This facility not only maintains one of the largest research collections available – which incorporates data collected worldwide, but they also have a staff that specializes in genealogy and is always available to answer questions and help solve problems. This is not just some spectacular claim, ACPL actually employs eight librarians that are genealogy specialists to help you trace your personal family history.
  44. Free Genealogy Resources helps ease the financial burden of genealogy study. This site was developed by an individual who wanted to trace his roots. Before he began, he believed that his search would be very costly. As he progressed through his research, he found more and more free resources for his inquiries. He felt that it was incumbent upon him to share the knowledge he had gained in his search. In addition, he adds some tips and tricks he has come across that may save fellow genealogists some time. This in-depth blog offers many useful tips to any do-it-yourself family tree builders.
  45. Alaska Genealogy is quite simply, an extensive resource of worthwhile record resources for doing a genealogy search in Alaska. All of the records are neatly organized by county, town and record type. All sorts of records are available, including: birth records, cemetery records, census records,  church records, city directories, death records, genealogies, land records, marriage records, military records, newspapers, obituaries, probate records, school records and, of  course, vital records. The information is presented in a very straightforward and easy to access format, making it an essential resource for anyone tracing Alaskan ancestry.
  46. The Arizona Genealogical Advisory Board (AzGAB) states their mission as: “facilitating education and communication among organizations and individuals who are dedicated to the promotion of genealogy and history.” In this spirit, AzGAB aims to improve communications among genealogical societies, libraries with genealogical collections, professionals, and the general public. It is also concerned with records preservation and public access to records. Open membership is offered to all genealogical societies, groups, libraries, professionals or individuals sharing these goals. In addition to access of public records, membership in AzGAB offers a bi-monthly newsletter publishing current information, contact with other societies throughout Arizona, and knowledge of programs and seminars throughout Arizona.
  47. The Colorado Council of Genealogical Societies (CCGS) contributes to the needs of the Colorado genealogical community by supporting and contributing information to member organizations. The goals of having groups become members of this group are to encourage new and growing genealogy organizations, to promote the collection, preservation and dissemination of genealogical knowledge and information, keeping all member groups informed on upcoming events to avoid overlap, upholding genealogical standards, keeping member organizations up to date on current legislation and encouraging each member group in their individual missions. In addition to these goals and providing vital information, CCGS will sometime sponsor genealogical projects and issue awards to outstanding members.
  48. Usgenweb Archives Genealogy Project is the central domain for access for public domain records across the United States. There are links available to all state resources in both html and ftp format, as well as contact information for the individual maintaining each state’s information. As each state is individually maintained, there are some differences in format and content, but they all follow a similar template. Each state is broken down into counties, and within each county public domain records such as obituaries, marriage records, census, cemetery records, photos and many others can be found. The project is run by volunteers and provided as a free resource for genealogy research
  49. The Big Sandy River Genealogy Club was created to preserve the stories of the past, including photos and information about the pioneers and present day families who settled in the Big Sandy River watershed. Over the course of time, the focus of this group has centered primarily on counties that have or had borders on the Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia lines. This is currently a closed group to control an overflow of extraneous information. However, membership can be attained through request and approval.
  50. Bloodlines of Salem ~ Descendants of the accused of witchcraft in 1692 is the place users can go to share information and ideas about the Salem Witch Trials (most notably those held in 1692) including those who participated and their families. Many of the members have proven direct lineage or personal relation to the participants, However, as students of the Salem Witch Trials, members are not only interested in direct lineage, but the overall implications of the event in the studies of history, law and religion. To this end, the forums are open to anyone with useful information, while the website serves as a storehouse for all the information contributed thus far.

Once again, this is very, very far from an exhaustive list. As we all have our own family trees, we all have our own requirements to find the information that pertains to us specifically. Use the Facebook search tool, and play with words and search options to find the resources that will best serve you.

50 Celebrities Whose Past May Surprise You

As a culture, we find ourselves fascinated by both celebrity and gossip. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all are intrigued, at least to some extent, by other people’s dirty laundry. It helps us put our own lives into perspective. Perhaps we feel a sense of security when we see someone of prominence take a hit, because it helps us realize no one is immune to the prat falls of life. Maybe we just like to laugh at others troubles and think, “Better them than me!”  And then there is our kinder side that feels for those who are suffering. After all, these are people we have taken into our homes in one form or another, and rational or not, we consider them friends and family. And then of course are the tales of inspiration – learning how some of our favorite people overcame devastating odds to become the success we know.

Whatever the reason, it’s always entertaining to find out more about our favorite celebrities’ families and past. In that spirit, we present this list of 50 celebrities with backgrounds that may surprise you. If nothing else, it should be able to distract you from real life for a while.

  1. Oscar winning actress Charlize Theron carries herself with such grace and charm that she makes it look natural, almost as if she came from a life of elegance and refinement. However, quite the opposite is true. She actually grew up in a South African farming community with an abusive, alcoholic father. At the age of 15, she witnessed her mother shoot this man in self defense, after he threatened to kill them both. A year later she moved to Milan to start her modeling career, having won a contest to placate the urging of her mother. Read more about it in her interview with Oprah.

    Charlize Theron (image courtesy of jingdianmeinv on flickr)

  2. Woody Harrelson has built a reputation of playing a versatile range of characters, but has been particularly successful portraying grisly, shady and even violently psychotic characters like Mickey Knox in Natural Born Killers, and Charlie in Seven Psychopaths. Could it be he comes by some of these emotions naturally? It turns out, Woody Harrelson’s father, Charles Voyde Harrelson, was a contract killer, or at least that was the claim. He was convicted of killing U.S. District Judge John H. Wood, and grain dealer Sam Degalia, Jr., for money. However, Woody spent many years trying to get his father a new trial. Find out more here.

    Natural Born Killers (image courtesy of Rick on flickr)

  3. On April 22, 1937 in Neptune, New Jersey, June Nicholson brought forth unto this world the one and only, Jack Nicholson, star of movies too numerous to mention. However, young June was just 19 years old at the time, an aspiring actress, and unsure of exactly who her newborn’s father was. Her parents (Jack’s grandparent’s), John and Ethel May agreed to raise him as their own son, and he knew his mother as his sister. They all kept this secret to their grave, and it wasn’t until a TIME magazine reporter was writing a cover article on the famed actor that the truth was uncovered. Read the Jack Nicholson Biography to find out more.

    Jack Nicholson (image courtesy of TRF_Mr_Hyde on flickr)

  4. Robyn Rihanna Fenty, better known as R&B star Rihanna is an exotically beautiful recording artist, actress, and fashion designer. Born in Barbados, but now a worldwide sensation, Rihanna, as is the case for many celebrities, has had “secret” relatives crawling out of the woodwork. However, in her case, at least they started coming forth before she was famous. It seems Robyn’s father, Ronald was quite the philanderer before meeting her mother, Monica. The first surprise came when Rihanna was just 15, and 32-year old Kandy showed up on the doorstep, explaining to the stunned family just who she was. Since then, another sister, Samantha, 30, and a brother Jamie, 27 have also come forward to claim their father. Ronald and Monica have two other boys as well, Rorrey, 21, and Rajad, 15.

    Rihanna (image courtesy of oouinouin on flickr)

    Rihanna (image courtesy of oouinouin on flickr)

  5. Kevin Spacey’s older brother, Randall Fowler has maintained that his family has a dark and hidden past. According to the multi-oscar winner’s sibling, their father was an ultra-conservative sadist and child molester. What’s more, Randall says his father not only groomed his hair and moustache to resemble Adolph Hitler, but he was, in fact, a member of the American Nazi Party. Fowler further claims that he was a frequent victim of his father’s abuses, physical, mental and sexual. He says the only thing that kept him from killing himself was saving his brother from the same fate. Spacey, meanwhile disputes the stories. Read more about it here.

    Kevin Spacey (image courtesy of rivier50 on flickr)

    Kevin Spacey (image courtesy of rivier50 on flickr)

  6. Oprah Winfrey is recognized worldwide as not only one of the most powerful women in entertainment, but one of the most influential people in the world overall. This is no small achievement for a woman of African-American descent, and the story becomes even more remarkable when you learn the whole story of Oprah’s life. She was born into a broken family in Kosciusko, Mississippi, in 1954 – not the most opportune springboard for a black girl at that time and place. She was raised by her grandmother until the age of 6, and spent much of her childhood living in the ghetto outside Milwaukee with her mother and half-siblings. However, she attributes her success to the non-stop work ethic impressed on her by her father. Read more in Oprah’s Official Biography.

    Oprah (image courtesy of Alan Light on flickr)

    Oprah (image courtesy of Alan Light on flickr)

  7. To say Liv Tyler had an interesting childhood is quite an understatement. Her mother Bebe Buell, was a Playboy playmate in 1973, and had a habit of hanging out with eccentric artists and musicians. She was known to have relationships with the likes of Rod Stewart, Steven Tyler, and Todd Rundgren. In fact, she was living with Rundgren at the time her daughter was born and he was assumed to be the father. They named the girl Liv Rundgren. Liv went back and forth between joining her mother in this wild lifestyle, and the calmer surroundings of her grandparents home until her early teens. It wasn’t until she was at least 9 years old, when she met Steven Tyler and saw the resemblance between his daughter and herself, that she first suspected he may really be her father. By the time she was 11, this was confirmed. Find out more, not in the biography of Ms. Rundgren, but in that of Liv Tyler.

    Liv Tyler (image courtesy of Henry Burrows on flickr)

    Liv Tyler (image courtesy of Henry Burrows on flickr)

  8. Michael Jackson is the epitome of the rags to riches story. He was born the seventh of nine children to Joe and Katherine Jackson. Joe was a crane operator in Gary, Indiana in the 50’s. In a place and time where most black men were restricted from any type of professional advancement, so the family lived in squalor. Both parents had musical aspirations – Katherine with country and western leanings, and Joe yearning to be a bluesman. They not only instilled, but Joe literally pounded music into his children, forming the Jackson 5, made up of Michael and his brothers. They rocketed to fame in the 70s, and Michael went off on his own to create the groundbreaking Off the Wall  and Thriller, forever changing the pop world and creating the biggest musical icon since Elvis and the Beatles. Of course, that’s just the beginning of the story. Find out more from the Rolling Stone biography.

    Michael Jackson (image courtesy of Francesco on flickr)

    Michael Jackson (image courtesy of Francesco on flickr)

  9. Leighton Meester, the young actress who portrays Blair Waldorf on the popular television series Gossip Girl came into the world in a somewhat unusual way. Her mother was in prison, serving time, when the blessed event occurred. It seems Leighton’s mom, Connie – along with Leighton’s dad, Doug, and Connie’s sister and father as well – were all arrested for smuggling 1,200 pound shipments of marijuana from Jamaica in 1983. Leighton was actually born in a hospital, but her mother still had to serve out 16 months of her prison sentence afterward. Find out the rest of the story here.

    Leighton Meester (image courtesy of David Shankbone on flickr)

    Leighton Meester (image courtesy of David Shankbone on flickr)

  10. We’ve all had moments of panic and desperation, and the same is true for Tobey Maguire’s dad, Vincent. His sister died of cancer, and left him with not only the fear of having cancer himself, but the added responsibility of caring for her two children (in addition to Tobey), with the meager wages he made as a chef. So, he cooked up the half-baked idea to rob the bank across the street from his house, on foot, during the day, without a mask. Needless to say, he was apprehended very quickly. Because he was unarmed, and it was a first offense, he was only served two years in prison. Read the whole story here.

    Tobey Maguire (image courtesy of Eva Rinaldi on flickr)

    Tobey Maguire (image courtesy of Eva Rinaldi on flickr)

  11. Anyone who follows the Hollywood press knows that some celebrity relationships tend to raise eyebrows. However, Woody Allen took this to a whole new level when he married Soon-Yi Previn, a girl 35 years his junior, and the stepdaughter of his former lover Mia Farrow. Farrow first became aware of the relationship when she found nude pictures of her daughter, then 21, in Allen’s apartment. Several ugly and very public lawsuits involving Farrow and Allen’s children ensued, some accusing Allen of molestation. The actor/writer/director was cleared of all charges, but still has restricted visiting rights with his children.

    Woody and Soon-Yi (image courtesy of Rubenstein on flickr)

    Woody and Soon-Yi (image courtesy of Rubenstein on flickr)

  12. Many of us have dreamed of running away and joining the circus. However, this may not be the dream vocation many of us have envisioned. Take Christian Bale, for example. The star of American Psycho and the Dark Knight series was actually born into the circus lifestyle. His mother, Jenny, worked as both a clown and dancer. The family traveled extensively, and by the age of 15, Bale had lived in over 15 cities across Europe. This may have led to some of the problems he faced later in life, culminating in the accused beating of his mother and sister. Find out more here.

    Christian Bale (image courtesy of Asim Bharwani on flickr)

    Christian Bale (image courtesy of Asim Bharwani on flickr)

  13. Liev Schreiber’s latest character, Ray Donovan, is a bitter, father hating man. Schreiber was able to pull on some of his own love-hate relationship with his father for inspiration. Liev says that it’s not that he doesn’t love his father but they have a bit of a shady past. At the age of one, Schreiber’s WASP father and Jewish mother moved to a sex commune, and broke up soon after. Liev’s father hired detectives to track the boy down, and ultimately ended up kidnapping him from his mother. The boy was returned shortly after, but lived a hard life with his mother, despite his father’s affluent background. Read more of the story here.

    Liev Schreiber (image courtesy of Gage Skidmore on flickr)

    Liev Schreiber (image courtesy of Gage Skidmore on flickr)

  14. Just looking at Mark Wahlberg, most people would think he’s not the type of person you’d want to meet up with in a dark alley. There is a lot more truth to that than you might imagine. Wahlberg dropped out of school at the age of 14, already the victim of cocaine addiction for a year. He turned to a life of crime, surviving on the streets of Dorchester, MA, as a drug dealer, thief, and gang member. This lifestyle caught up with him at the age of 16, when he was arrested for attempted murder, for brutally beating a man after a botched robbery. Because he plead to the lesser charge of assault, he only spent 45 days in prison. Find out more about his story, and how he turned his life  around here.

    Mark Wahlberg (image courtesy of Eva Rinaldi on flickr)

    Mark Wahlberg (image courtesy of Eva Rinaldi on flickr)

  15. You might think that growing up with a celebrity as a relative would have its advantages. However, listening to Ashley Judd speak about growing up in the shadow of the mother-sister music act The Judds in her memoir: All that is Bitter and Sweet paints a much different picture. She writes that she attended 13 different schools from age 5 to 18, and was a victim of both neglect and abuse. She recalls feeling alone and depressed by age 7, and felt she not only had no one to turn to, but was exposed to much too much inappropriate behavior at a tender age, witnessing rampant drug and alcohol abuse, and having to fend off various sexual predators. She is now using what she’s learned to heal from her experiences to help other young women suffering similar abuses through Southeast Asia.

    Ashley Judd (image courtesy of Genevive719 on flickr)

    Ashley Judd (image courtesy of Genevive719 on flickr)

  16. In a list of interesting famous families, how could we not include the Osbournes? Father Ozzy is the famed frontman of Black Sabbath, and a solo artist in his own right. He met his wife Sharon, in Amsterdam in 1979, while he was still married to another woman, with whom he had two children. Shortly after, Ozzy was kicked out of Black Sabbath for his excessive drug use. Sharon offered to manage his solo career, and knew she was already in love despite the occasional presence of his wife. The two were married in 1982, and have borne two children of their own – Jack and Kelly. To say the family dynamic is a bit unusual doesn’t even begin to tell the story. MTV found it so interesting they turned it into a reality show. From there, the roller coaster ride just continued,launching the entire family into positions of fame.  What their future holds is anyone’s guess.

    Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne (image courtesy of Shankar S on flickr)

    Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne (image courtesy of Shankar S on flickr)

  17. The Kardashians are a prime example of celebrity families famous for being famous. Robert Kardashian was a successful attorney brought to prominence by his role in the O.J. Simpson murder trial. He married Kris Houghton and they had four children together: Kourtney, Kim, Khloe’ and Rob. The couple divorced, and Kris remarried former Olympic star Bruce Jenner in 1991. The Jenners had two daughters of their own: Kendall and Kylie. Kim worked as a stylist for the stars, (as did her sisters) and remained in the spotlight with high profile relationships to the likes of Nick Lachey and Ray J (who later released a sex tape of Kim and himself ). The entire family has since been brought into the national spotlight through their bewilderingly popular reality show Keeping up with the Kardashians, still running on E! entertainment television.

    Kim Kardashian (image courtesy of Eva Rinaldi on flickr)

    Kim Kardashian (image courtesy of Eva Rinaldi on flickr)

  18. Alana “Honey Boo-Boo” Thompson is the namesake of Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo, a reality TV show that has been criticized for dropping the bar of entertainment to a low thought unattainable. This, of course, means the ratings are through the roof. The show features Alana and her family – June “Mama” Shannon, Lauryn “Pumpkin” Shannon, Anna “Chickadee” Shannon, Jessica “Chubbs” Shannon and Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson. The family was first introduced on Toddlers in Tiaras another reality show based around junior miss beauty pageants and those who participate. Alana’s family was found to have a distinct appeal that’s been related to rubber-necking a horrible car accident. Their white-trash,Georgia redneck lifestyle has been recorded for austerity for the past two years, and been renewed for yet another season.

    Honey Boo-Boo (image courtesy of Lwp Kommunikáció  on flickr)

    Honey Boo-Boo (image courtesy of Lwp Kommunikáció on flickr)

  19. Nicole Richie gained fame through her FOX reality show The Real Life, where she and cohort Paris Hilton paraded outside the safety net of the posh life styles in which they were raised, to experience how the other half lives. It is widely believed that Nicole is the natural born daughter of Lionel Richie, given the shared surname, and even some similarities in appearance. The truth, however, is quite different. Born Nicole Escovedo, she is actually the daughter of Richie’s former bandmate, and moved in with the former Commodore front man and his wife at the age of 3, for financial reasons. Six years later, the Richies officially adopted Nicole. Find out more in her biography.

    Nicole Richie (image courtesy of Eva Rinaldi on flickr)

    Nicole Richie (image courtesy of Eva Rinaldi on flickr)

  20. Joaquin Phoenix was born the third of five children to John Lee and Arlyn Bottom in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The couple were married in 1968, and soon joined the controversial cult the Children of God, a mixture of free love culture and the love of Christ. They began traveling all over South America and soon built their family with their children River, Summer, Joaquin, Liberty and Rain all being born between 1970 and 1978. By 1978, the parents had grown weary of the cult, and moved back to the US. They changed their last name to Phoenix to symbolize their new beginning. The kids became street performers, and they faithfully sang and played instruments to provide food and support for the family. Before long, a talent agent was hired, and the kids entered the world of acting, to varied levels of success. Read the rest of Joaquin’s roller coaster ride of a career in this biography.

    Joaquin Phoenix (image courtesy of Stephanie Lenz on flickr)

    Joaquin Phoenix (image courtesy of Stephanie Lenz on flickr)

  21. Shania Twain has shown she’s got what it takes to be a top country star, and has 5 Grammys to prove it. But then, this troubadour has a wealth of experience to draw on for the heartfelt emotion portrayed in her songs. Twain’s mother, Sharon married her stepfather, Jerry Twain when Shania was four. Though there was love and support in the family, there often wasn’t money or food. As a result, the parent’s had a tumultuous relationship, and Shania was not only a witness, but sometimes even a victim of the violence that ensued. Then, in 1987, Twain’s parents were both killed in a car accident, leaving the 21 year old alone to raise her siblings. Over the next six years, the children grew up and moved on, and Shania was finally able to share her music with the world. Read more in her incredible biography.

    Shania Twain (image courtesy of Sara Collaton on flickr)

    Shania Twain (image courtesy of Sara Collaton on flickr)

  22. Kathy Griffin has made a career out of dishing out the dirt on anyone and everyone who crosses her path, from the nuns she experienced early in life, to the celebrities she tries so hard to harass on a daily basis now. It is good to see that she is not afraid to be candid about her own life as well – or at least her brother’s. In her memoir, Official Book Club Selection, Griffin reveals that her brother was a wife beater and pedophile who was sexually inappropriate with Kathy since she was a wee child. Read more about this and other snippets from her book here.

    Kathy Griffin (image courtesy of gdcgraphics on flickr)

    Kathy Griffin (image courtesy of gdcgraphics on flickr)

  23. MacKenzie Phillips is the daughter of famed musician John Phillips, founder of the Mamas and the Papas. MacKenzie came into acclaim of her own as a child actress, first starring in American Graffiti, and then for a run on the TV show One Day at a Time. However, she was fired from the latter because of a drug problem that spiraled out of control. Several years later, MacKenzie admitted to having a consensual sexual relationship with her father as an adult. She has since come to consider herself a victim of incest by her predatory father. Read more about her revelations here.

    MacKenzie Phillips (image courtesy of Greg Hernandez on flickr)

    MacKenzie Phillips (image courtesy of Greg Hernandez on flickr)

  24. Jason Sudeikis is one of many celebrities to participate in the television series Who Do You Think You Are? He wanted to find out more about his grandfather, who died when Jason’s father Nick was only two. However, Sudeikis got a much bigger surprise than he expected. Reviews of census reports from around the turn of the century through the 20’s revealed that Stanley Sudeikis, Jason’s great-grandfather, actually had a dual life, with a second family. Find out more about this strange twist here.

    Jason Sudeikis (image courtesy of Eva Rinaldi on flickr)

    Jason Sudeikis (image courtesy of Eva Rinaldi on flickr)

  25. At the age of 17, Jordin Sparks became the (then) youngest-ever contestant to win American Idol. Since then her life has been a whirlwind, filled by concerts with stars like Alicia Keys, Britney Spears and the Jonas brothers, as well as performing for both Presidents Bush and Obama. She has also racked up a number of awards and nominations. However, This little wunderkind is far from new to the shine of the spotlight. Her father is Phillippi Sparks, a former NFL corner back, who played for both the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

    Jordin Sparks (image courtesy of Christine Leiser on flickr)

  26. Rose McGowan has become an actress of some note, starring in the film Scream and TV’s Charmed, but she has not always led such a charmed life. The first nine years of her life were spent growing up in the controversial religious cult known as Children of God (now Family International). The group mixed the ideals of a free love culture with the love of Christ. Even at an early age, McGowan saw something suspicious in the cult’s practices. She saw that women were treated as sex slaves for the men, and knew she did not want to be one of those women. Her father pulled her out of the organization when the group began considering allowing sex between children and adults. Read the whole story here.

    Rose McGowan (image courtesy of gdcgraphics on flickr)

    Rose McGowan (image courtesy of gdcgraphics on flickr)

  27. Jaden Smith, though only just a teenager, has already made quite a name for himself as an up and comer on the Hollywood scene. He has already starred in three major movies that all opened at number one including The Pursuit of Happyness and The Karate Kid. He also earned a Saturn Award for Best Performance by a young actor for The Day the Earth Stood Still. Of course, the young star comes from sturdy acting stock. He is the son of actor Will Smith and actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, and older brother to another bright new face, Willow Smith. Though, they were born and raised in the glamor of Hollywood, their parents try to keep the kids grounded by having them work with charities, to help remind them how lucky they have it compared to so many others.

    Will and Jaden Smith (image courtesy of El Hormiguero  on flickr)

    Will and Jaden Smith (image courtesy of El Hormiguero on flickr)

  28. Miley Cyrus is a former child star cum pop diva with famous family roots. Her father is, of course, country music star Billy Ray Cyrus. Miley began her career early as an actress, with one of her most memorable characters being Disney’s Hannah Montana, a persona the songstress has been trying very hard of late to shake. But did you know that Miley has some seriously talented siblings as well? It’s true! Step-brother Trace is a tatted up rock star, and step sister Brandi has recently signed with Interscope Records as part of the pop duo Frank and Derol. You can read more about this talented family here.

    Miley Cyrus (image courtesy of benyupp on flickr)

    Miley Cyrus (image courtesy of benyupp on flickr)

  29. Robin Thicke has been tearing up the R&B charts lately, most notably with his multi-platinum album The Evolution of Robin Thicke. Though his younger fans might not see it, their parents probably instantly recognize the rock star as the son of songwriter/actor Alan Thicke. Robin not only shares his father’s name, but is a much better looking version of the elder Thicke as a young man. However, what you may not know is that Robin is also the son of daytime soap star Gloria Loring of Days of Our Lives fame. You can find out more about Robin here, or better yet, find out what his mother has to say about him.

    Robin Thicke (image courtesy of Ambika on flickr)

    Robin Thicke (image courtesy of Ambika on flickr)

  30. Robert Downey, Jr. is known worldwide as Iron Man’s Tony Stark, the genius son of Howard Stark – a genius entrepreneur in his own right. However, what few people realize is that Downey, Jr.’s namesake and father is also a Hollywood talent. Even though, like Tony and Howard Stark, Robert, Sr.’s star has not burned as bright as his son’s, Downey, Sr. has built up quite a cult following as a writer, director and producer, as well as an occasional actor. He did include his son in some of his earlier projects, including Pound, and perhaps his best known and most controversial work Greaser’s Palace. You can read more about the father here, and the son here.

    Robert Downey, Jr. (image courtesy of Alyssa Patton on flickr)

    Robert Downey, Jr. (image courtesy of Alyssa Patton on flickr)

  31. Drew Barrymore has been in the spotlight most of her life, having captured America’s heart at the age of 7 for her role in ET, directed by her godfather, Steven Spielberg. Not long after her film debut, she gained a reputation as an out of control party girl, gaining the reputation while still a young teen. She has since overcome her addictions and recovered in her career. She may have been forgiven for her trespasses somewhat because of her growing up in a famous Hollywood family. Her father was actor John Drew Barrymore, Jr., her grandparents John Barrymore and Dolores Costello, and her great-grandparents Maurice Barrymore and Georgiana Drew. Find out how this latest member of the Barrymore clan is carrying on her family’s tradition in her biography.

    Drew Barrymore (image provided courtesy of Ale Vergara Frade on flickr)

    Drew Barrymore (image provided courtesy of Ale Vergara Frade on flickr)

  32. Angelina Jolie is without question one of the most recognizable people anywhere, and possible of any time, and it is not without reason. Unquestionably, Jolie’s beauty places her solidly along side the most memorable Hollywood starlets, but she also has the acting chops to back up her reputation as one of today’s top stars. This is not really a surprise, considering she’s the offspring of Oscar winning actor Jon Voight – though their relationship has been admittedly strained over the years. Of late, Jolie has started a family of her own with partner Brad Pitt. Though the two announced their engagement in 2012, they said they won’t get married until same-sex marriage is legal everywhere. Still, the two have accumulated quite a brood over the years. Their kids include Phnom (adopted in Cambodia), Zahara (adopted in Ethiopia), Shiloh, Pax (adopted in Viet Nam), and twins Knox and Vivienne.

    Angelina Jolie (image courtesy of brandflair on flickr)

    Angelina Jolie (image courtesy of brandflair on flickr)

  33. Lindsay Lohan has built up quite a reputation for herself as a child star gone bad. She continually appears in the media in the most unflattering of situations. She has faced several criminal charges and battled with drug abuse. However, though people aren’t exactly forgiving of her behavior, they are at least somewhat understanding when her upbringing is more closely examined. And as if to stoke that fire, it recently became public knowledge that Lindsay has a secret half-sister, Ashley Kaufman, who is 17 years old, placing her right between Lindsay’s younger siblings Aliana and Dakota. Ashley is a product of Lindsay’s father’s infidelity, just one of the many factors in the star’s stormy childhood.

    Lindsay Lohan (image courtesy of jingdianmeinv1 on flickr)

    Lindsay Lohan (image courtesy of jingdianmeinv1 on flickr)

  34. Kiefer Sutherland has been a staple in Hollywood since the early 80’s starring in such films as The Lost Boys, Stand By Me, and  Flatliners. However, he is probably best known as Jack Bauer on TV’s 24. He was born the son of acting parents Donald Sutherland and Shirley Douglas in 1966 in London, England. However, when his parents divorced in 1971, Kiefer went with his mother to Canada, where he attended Catholic boarding school until the age of 15. At that time, the acting bug took over, and he left on his own to pursue a career in Hollywood.

    Kiefer Sutherland (image courtesy of Kristin Dos Santos  on flickr)

    Kiefer Sutherland (image courtesy of Kristin Dos Santos on flickr)

  35. Martin Sheen is an actor of great accomplishments, perhaps known best for his roles as U.S. Army special operations officer Captain Benjamin L. Willard in Apocalypse Now, and as the president we all wish we could have, Jed Bartlet, in The West Wing. Actually, Sheen has played the president several times, but this is probably the most favored role. But it seems leaving behind a lengthy list of film, stage and television credits wasn’t enough for Martin. He has also added to the entertainment industry his four children, Emilio, Ramon,Carlos, and Renee’. All of them have followed in their father’s footsteps in one way or another. They all work under their given names (surname Estevez) with the exception of Carlos, who adopted his father’s moniker, and is better known as Charlie Sheen.

    Martin Sheen (image courtesy of Lwp Kommunikáció on flickr)

    Martin Sheen (image courtesy of Lwp Kommunikáció on flickr)

  36. Christopher Walken was the son of Rosalie and Paul Walken, both first generation immigrants. Following their mothers dreams of stardom, Christopher (born Ronald) and his two brothers, Kenneth and Glen were child television actors in the 1950’s, launching Chris’ Hollywood career. For a short stint as a teenager, Walken had another father of sorts. There was a man who ran a circus, and had a lion taming act. He thought it would be great to have his son join him during performances. Unfortunately, he had no children. So he asked young Ronald (Christopher) to don the costume and play his son, which is how Chris Walken gained a second father and  became a lion tamer. Read more about this and more interesting Walken tidbits here.

    Christopher Walken (image courtesy of David Shankbone)

    Christopher Walken (image courtesy of David Shankbone)

  37. Tom Cruise grew up in a Catholic household filled with chaos. His father Thomas Cruise Mapother III, was an electrical engineer by trade, which led to the family moving about constantly. But more than this, his father was a manipulative and abusive man. Tom has called him a bully, a coward, and a “merchant of chaos”. Cruise’s mother divorced his father when he was 12, and took Tom and his sisters to the US. His mother remarried soon after, and his father died of cancer at the age of 49. Tom went to see his father on his deathbed. It was the first time they’d spoken in 10 years, and the elder Cruise only agreed to the visit on the condition they not speak about the past. Having made it through all the rough times, Cruise sees it as an important lesson in his life. But has it affected his ability to have a relationship? Find out here.

    Tom Cruise (image courtesy of Gage Skidmore on flickr)

    Tom Cruise (image courtesy of Gage Skidmore on flickr)

  38. Nicolas Cage first came on to the acting scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. A close inspection of the credits will not reveal a Nicolas Cage, however, but instead you’ll find Nicolas Coppola. That’s because Cage is the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola, and wanted to eliminate the appearance of nepotism in his career. Soon after Fast Times, he changed his name in honor of comic book character Luke Cage. However, his famous relatives stretch even further, including actress Talia Shire, actors Robert Carmine and Jason Schwartzman, and of course many more Coppolas. He has been married to both Patricia Arquette and Lisa Marie Presley. His current wife, Alice Kim, a former waitress, bore him his son Kal-El (after Superman’s Kryptonian birth name). Luckily, to maintain his legacy, Cage had a 9 foot tall pyramid shaped tomb built for his final resting place in New Orleans.

    Nicolas Cage (image courtesy of Kevin Tostado on flickr)

    Nicolas Cage (image courtesy of Kevin Tostado on flickr)

  39. Britney Spears was on the track to stardom from early on in life. She started attending dance classes by three, and was trying out for the Mickey Mouse Club when she was eight. At the time, she was rejected for being too young, but pushed into further training. By 11, she was a cast member and on her way to stardom. A blockbusting pop career followed, and then she tried to start a family. Her first marriage lasted 55 hours. In 2004, she married dancer Kevin Federline, and the two had two children, Sean in 2005, and Jayden in 2006. Pictures surfaced of Brittney driving with her son on her lap instead of a car seat, in February 2006. Both Spears and Federline exhibited outrageous behavior over the next several months, and were divorced in 2007. Federline unsuccessfully sued for custody of the children, though the couple leave many wondering if either is fit for parenthood.

    Britney Spears (image courtesy of Eva Renaldi on flickr)

    Britney Spears (image courtesy of Eva Renaldi on flickr)

  40. Toni Collette is an Academy Award nominated actress, most well known for her roles in The Sixth Sense and Little Miss Sunshine. Apparently, she came by acting quite naturally. She tells a story about fooling her doctors at age 11. It seems her mother had appendicitis when she was 11, and had told her daughter about the experience, including the symptoms. “I just wanted to fake my appendicitis and see what it would be like to be cut open,” she said. Collette faked appendicitis so well that doctors actually removed her organ.

    Toni Collette (image courtesy of Eva Rinaldi on Google Images)

    Toni Collette (image courtesy of Eva Rinaldi on Google Images)

  41. Few actors can claim a career as diverse as Leonardo DiCaprio. Starting as a bit player in several TV sitcoms, he moved into the movies with Critters 3 in 1991, at the age of 16. Six short years and several critically acclaimed roles later found him starring as Jack Dawson in the blockbuster Titanic, and his legacy as a Hollywood icon was sealed. He has his parents to thank for much of this. His father, George DiCaprio, was an underground comic book writer, publisher and distributor, and worked with the likes of Harvey Pekar and Robert Crumb. He and his wife recognized their son’s talent and ambition early, and got him signed with an agent as a young child. Leo has never forgotten their support, and recently brought his father with him to Cannes.

    Leonardo Di Caprio (image courtesy of Eva Rinaldi on flickr

    Leonardo Di Caprio (image courtesy of Eva Rinaldi on flickr

  42. Katey Sagal is probably best known as Peg Bundy from the TV show Married with Childre., She has also gone on to do much voice over work including Leela from Futurama. Previous to these engagements she had some success, but other family members beat her to the limelight. Her father was a director of films and TV shows, and she has twin sisters, Jean and Liz who were both actors as well. They were the twin cheerleaders in Grease 2, as well as starring in their own television show, Double Trouble.  They also starred in Wrigley’s long-running “Doublemint Twins” ad campaigns. Today they keep busy working mostly behind the scenes.

    Katy Sagal (image courtesy of Joella Marano on flickr)

    Katy Sagal (image courtesy of Joella Marano on flickr)

  43. Diane Lane has made a great acting career starting with movies like A Little Romance, The Outsiders, and Rumble Fish. More recent films include Unfaithful and A Perfect Storm. Lane says now that in some ways, her early life was a perfect storm. Her mother, Colleen Farrington was a Playboy Playmate of the Month (October, 1957) and nightclub singer. Her father, Burton Lane was a drama coach. The two split when Diane was just 13 weeks old. Her mother went to Mexico and obtained a divorce, maintaining custody of her daughter for six years. Her father regained custody when Lane’s mother moved back to Georgia. At 15, Diane declared her independence from her father and ran off to Los Angeles with Christopher Atkins. She soon regained her senses and returned to Manhattan, only to be kidnapped by her mother shortly after. Diane and her father successfully challenged her mother in court, and Lane was able to return to New York. She did not talk to her mom for another three years, though there has been some reconciliation since then. Read more in her biography.

    Diane Lane (image by Siebbi)

    Diane Lane (image by Siebbi)

  44. Demi Moore has been a popular actress for several years, first coming to prominence as the tragedy-wrought Jules in St. Elmo’s Fire. It’s possible Moore pulled on many of her own experiences to bring depth to this character. Demi’s biological father abandoned her and her mother before she was even born. Her mother soon married Danny Guynes, whom Moore assumed was her real father until she was an adolescent. Unfortunately Guynes was a gambler who couldn’t keep a job, and kept the family on the move constantly. To make things worse, both he and Moore’s mother were alcoholics and fought both verbally and physically. This culminated in Guynes suicide by carbon monoxide asphyxiation when Moore was 16. This finally pushed Demi, with encouragement from her friend Nastassja Kinski, to drop out of school and become a pin-up model, which soon launched her career. Read more in Demi’s biography.

    Demi Morre (image by David Shankbone on flickr)

    Demi Morre (image by David Shankbone on flickr)

  45. Eric Clapton is known as a master of the blues, and he has a background that certainly supports his right to sing them. Eric Patrick Clapton was born in his grandparent’s house in 1945. His mother, Patricia Clapton was just 16 years old, and his father was a married Canadian soldier named Edward Fryer, who was stationed in England during World War II. When the war ended, Fryer returned to his wife, and Patricia was left to raise their child alone, quite a daunting task for a 16 year old girl. Instead, her parents, Rose and Jack Clapp, stepped in as surrogate parents, and raised Eric as their own. Clapton’s last name came from his grandmother’s first husband, and Pat’s father, Reginald Clapton. Eric did not realize the woman he thought was his sister was actually his mother until he was 9 years old, though he always thought it strange that he signed his last name as Clapton, when his parent’s name was Clapp. Read more in Clapton’s biography.

    Eric Clapton (image courtesy of Alex G on flickr)

    Eric Clapton (image courtesy of Alex G on flickr)

  46. Keanu Reeve whose first name loosely translates as “cool breeze over the mountain” is known for playing brooding, emotional characters. Some of this may come from his early life issues. His mother was a showgirl and his father abandoned him as a toddler. A succession of stepfathers and moves around the world assured an unstable environment for the young man. He attended five high schools in just four years, and though even trying to finish school while acting, never attained a high school degree. Keanu’s life has continued to be marred with tragedy, despite professional success.

    Keanu Reeve (image courtesy of Y! Musica on flickr)

    Keanu Reeve (image courtesy of Y! Musica on flickr)

  47. Alexander Skarsgard is becoming a household name for his portrayal of Eric Northman on HBO’s True Blood. He is not new to the acting scene however, he worked for several years in Sweden, getting his first acting break at the age of seven by a director friend of his father and fellow actor, Stellan Skarsgard. Stellan has been a fixture in both Swedish and American media for over 40 years, in such films as Good Will Hunting and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Like Martin Sheen, apparently a strong body of work was not enough of a legacy. He also has six children, Alexander, Gustav, Sam, Bill, Eija and Valter, four of whom are also actors.

    Alexander Skarsgard (image courtesy of David Shankbone on flickr)

    Alexander Skarsgard (image courtesy of David Shankbone on flickr)

  48. Jennifer Aniston is known as “America’s girl next door” She once spawned the highest demand haircut in modern history, and is a permanent fixture in people’s minds as Rachel from TV’s Friends. Though her movies have never amounted to anything of particular note, she has managed to amass a significant filmography of at least somewhat profitable projects. One thing she can claim however, is that she’s managed to outshine her acting father, John Aniston. A native of Greece, John has been in and out of television roles for the past 50 years. He is best known for his role as Victor Kiriakis on Days of Our Lives, whom he has portrayed since 1985, though he has been a regular cast member since 1975.

    Jennifer Aniston (image courtesy of Pimkie on flickr)

    Jennifer Aniston (image courtesy of Pimkie on flickr)

  49. Josh Brolin was born to wildlife activist and aspiring actress Jane Agee and actor James Brolin, though he spent much of his time surrounded by the Hollywood lifestyle, he was determined not to follow in his father’s footsteps. In fact he spent much of his first 15 years trying to avoid it. However, after performing in a high school production of A Streetcar Named Desire, he had the acting bug. He has gone on to star in a number of movies including True Grit and Men in Black 3. His parents divorced when he was 16, and his mother was tragically killed in a car accident years later. Not that anyone could ever replace his mother, but his stepmother is none other than Barbra Streisand. Read more about Josh in this bio.

    Josh Brolin (image courtesy of gdcgraphics on flickr)

    Josh Brolin (image courtesy of gdcgraphics on flickr)

  50. And finally, what list of interesting celebrity families would be complete without the most famous family of all -The Royal Family. The Queen is Sovereign to 16 Commonwealth realms around the world from Australia to Antigua, Canada to Cameroon, not to mention the UK itself. The Queen and other working members of the royal family carry out a number of official duties, which mostly involve public appearances and overseeing some matters of state. Of course, it is the fairy tale like lifestyle of the royals (and catching them being not so royal) that holds the public’s constant interest. The lives of the likes of Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and Diana, Fergie, Harry and so many more have kept the masses entertained for years. Royal weddings are the things of folklore, and events such as the birth, or anticipation of, a new royal heir such as William and Kate’s son George, will always be solid headline fodder.

    Wedding of William and Kate (image courtesy of Comrade Foot on flickr)

    Wedding of William and Kate (image courtesy of Comrade Foot on flickr)

If you’ve enjoyed this little foray into the lives of celebrities. You can find many more interesting stories with a little work of your own. http://www.biography.com  and its sister site, http://www.thebiographychannel.co.uk are great resources for all sorts of biographies, both condensed and in depth. http://www.starpulse.com has hundreds of short celebrity sketches, loaded with interesting tidbits, as does http://www.nndb.com if it’s musicians you’re interested in, you cant beat http://www.rollingstone.com their profiles of musicians is nothing short of amazing, and they leave no details unreported. Of course, these are only a few of the hundreds, even thousands of sites that cover celebrities. The list of newspapers and gossip pages out there would take days to list, much less read. But there you are, a wealth of information at your fingertips. Happy Hunting!

 

 

Identity Protection: 50 Tools to Safeguard Your Personal Information

In the ever changing, ever expanding world of the web and how it weaves itself more and more into our lifestyles, we find it much easier to transact the business of everyday life online. Shopping, bill payment and even large-scale financial transactions of all kinds are now just a click away. Our interactions through social media allow us to share all aspects of our lives with friends and business associates: unimaginable even ten years ago.  But this advent of convenience comes with a caveat – uncertain and often endangered security. How can you protect yourself from the increasing numbers of hackers and identity thieves who are preying at you, both online and off? Here are a few tools that can get you started toward identification protection:

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  1. LifeLock offers several levels of protection that goes far beyond online protection. Starting with an expansive credit monitoring system that is active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. LifeLock also provides identity protection using innovative technologies comparable to that of many high level surveillance companies, and even the government. Some of their services include: Identity Theft Detection and Alerts, Lost Wallet Protection, Address Change Verification, Black Market Website Surveillance, and even reduced pre-approved credit card offers – which we all would be happy to have. All of this protection comes with 24/7/365 Customer Service and a $1,000,000 Total Service Guarantee. Lifelock Ultimate is offered for even greater protection, and LifeLock Junior is available to keep your children safe.
  2. IdentityGuard provides security to its members through its Monitor, Protect and Recover system. Cutting edge methods are used to monitor your credit record, use of private information such as your name and social security use online, and public records – checking for any significant or unusual changes to any of these sensitive areas. Their credit monitoring service comes with the added advantage of being able to view your credit report and credit score at anytime, with monthly credit score updates. A suite of software solutions helps protect you online, including Zone Alarm Security Suite for Anti-Virus protection, ID Vault to store your login and credit card information, and Privacy Protect for keystroke encryption, to allow worry-free browsing. In the unfortunate event that your identity is ever stolen, IdentityGuard furnishes ITAC victim assistance, always at the ready to help cancel your credit cards, and take you through the necessary steps to getting your identity recovered. $1 million in insurance funds are also available for any costs that may be incurred by your identity theft.
  3. TrustedID offers a comprehensive security system, providing proactive tools like anti-spyware and anti-phishing software, a Facebook privacy monitor, and and Identity theft score, that allows users to see the personal threat level of having their identity stolen. Their Credit Lock credit protection assures that no one has access to your credit report at any time without your expressed permission, which assures the highest credit protection available. Database Breach Response services are available for corporations, organizations and government agencies to help protect individuals from any threats related to database breaches to offer the maximum efficiency in identity theft protection and recovery.
  4.  PrivacyGuard offers it’s clients credit security by monitoring all three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. PrivacyGuard monitors underground internet portals daily to keep tabs on each credit bureau, and allow the quickest response to any suspicious activity in any of their client’s accounts. Monthly updates to credit reports and credit scores are available to all members, so they can monitor their overall credit health, as is a $1,000,000 credit fraud insurance policy, for an added level of comfort and security. PrivacyGuard also offers a neighborhood report, which provides crime statistics for neighborhoods across the country.
  5. Identity Lookout is a subsidiary of Experian that has been monitoring and protecting against credit fraud since 1996 in over 44 countries. They offer an array of products to hopefully deflect and prevent any credit fraud through single bureau monitoring. Members can choose to be alerted automatically of suspicious activity on their account via email, text, or Identity Lookout’s mobile app. A monthly “all clear” email is sent out when no problems are detected. Users may also choose to activate internet scanning, a service that monitors black market sites which may sell your private information. In the case of identity theft, the resolution team is available to begin the credit restoration process, as is a $1,000,000 fraud protection plan. Lost wallet protection and a program to protect your children’s social security numbers are also available.
  6. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is well aware of the problem identity theft poses, and offers a variety of resources to both help protect consumers and help them recover if they have fallen victim to this crime. This page offers links to information for victims of identity theft, those who have lost or had a wallet stolen, and tips on how to protect yourself. In addition, there are links for additional information on identity theft and what is being done to combat it. Also included is a link to several additional resources in various formats including .pdf and YouTube videos. One very important quote taken directly from the website:
    Remember: The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.  This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.
  7. Identity Force offers an extensive service of monitoring and protecting your personal information, while helping you improve the security of your own identity. Beyond normal credit and identity monitoring, Identity Force offers change of address, court report, payday loan, and even sex offender monitoring – which also notifies you if a sex offender moves into your neighborhood. Proactive credit monitoring is also available for instant notification if your identity is being used for any number of purposes. Identity Force also offers a number of control options for their users. These include access to all three credit bureaus – with credit score updates, a junk mail opt-out, medical ID fraud protection, and several online identity protection tools – including Delete Now which allows you to remove inaccurate or sensitive information from the web easily. Also available is the ID Health Score that let’s you know how vulnerable you are to identity theft, and what you can do to improve your safety.
  8. ProtectMyID monitors your information through Experian, while also keeping track of change of address information, and any use of your personal information online. If anyone uses your Social Security number or credit card information online you will be notified immediately. In the unlikely event that you do fall victim to identity theft while using this service, they have a staff of resolution experts to help you restore your identity. They also offer a $1,000,000 fraud protection plan to their users. Wallet loss protection is also available.
  9. SmaterPrivacy helps keep your identity safe by monitoring your personal information and instantly notifying you if your name, social security number or credit card and bank accounts are used fraudulently. This includes a comprehensive monitoring of public records including arrest, court cases, and sex offender files. The benefit of instant notification is to fix any instances before they become a problem. Should a problem arise, SmarterPrivacy’s Certified Protection Experts are available 24/7 to help you with any problems, including helping to re-establish your identity. An additional $1,000,000 fraud protection policy will also help you sleep easier.
  10. AllClear ID helps keep your identity safe by monitoring and protecting all your most commonly accessed information. If there is any phony use of your name, address, Social Security number, or credit cards, AllClear ID will contact you immediately. The same is true if there is access to your credit record through any of the three bureaus. AllClear ID’s advanced communication will automatically contact you, and request approval for questionable transactions. If you do not approve them, one of their customer service representatives will be on the job to track and fix the problem. This protection is supported with a $1,000,000 Identity Fraud Protection Plan backed by AIG. Lost wallet and Child ID protection plans are also available.

    protect your personal security

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  11. ID Watchdog administers both basic and advanced identity monitoring, which tracks your Social Security number, and follows public records and the National change of address and payday loan databases. The cyber monitoring feature makes sure your identity is not appearing on any black market websites, which can sell your personal information. Credit report monitoring is offered through both the Plus and Platinum plans, though only the Platinum plan scans all three bureaus and offers credit reports and scores. Their services are backed by a 100% guarantee. If your identity is stolen, their restoration professionals will work with you to correct mistakes and regain your good name.
  12. Equifax ID Patrol, offered by Equifax, one of the three credit bureaus mainly monitors your credit report, though it does offer additional security for your full name, Social Security number and address. As one of the major bureaus, Equifax has complete access to your credit history, and allows you unlimited access to your account with them. In addition, you will receive a yearly credit report from all three bureaus, so you can compare them side by side. Additional features of this plan include the ability to lock your Equifax account from any outside access, a $20,000 fraud protection policy, and a dedicated staff to help you recover your identity in case of theft.
  13. Intelius Identity Protect is a fraud protection service that operates by monitoring the web and public records to find any suspect behavior that could indicate identity theft. Members automatically receive a credit report and score, and the ability to see who has been viewing your credit report. Beyond monitoring your credit record, Intellus monitors public reports to keep tabs on your name, Social Security number, credit cards, address, bank information, phone number and criminal records. Any sign of fraudulent behavior will be reported instantly via email. In the case of identity theft, Intelius offers a recovery kit, full staff support, and a $1,000,000 fraud protection policy.
  14. Experian Identity Theft Protection is another policy offered by Experian, one of the three credit bureaus. This plan allows full online access to your Experian credit report and credit score. For your protection daily monitoring of Experian, Equifax and TransUnion credit reports are maintained, as is a web survey for use of your name, Social Security number, debit and credit cards. Any ordinary activity is automatically reported via email. Lost/stolen wallet protection and change of address monitoring offers an extra level of security. If misfortune should strike, a dedicated team of resolution professionals and a $1,000,000 protection policy are available to ease the blow.
  15. Wells Fargo offers two identity theft protection plans – both the standard and enhanced version. With both plans you receive online access to all three of your credit reports and CreditXpert scores. The information between the three is combined, and specialists are available to explain any item on the reports to you. Daily monitoring of these reports is part of the service, and email alerts are sent out when any unusual activity is observed. Identity Fraud Resolution Specialists and $10,000 of theft insurance are also offered through both plans. The standard plan allows quarterly access to your credit score and reports, while the enhanced plan allows monthly access. In addition, credit score tracking, change alerts and simulators are available through the enhanced plan.
  16. Consumer Reports offers a bit of relief to the stress related to identity theft. Besides providing evidence to show that the identity theft scare is overplayed by ID theft protection companies (such as two-thirds of ID thefts reported involve stolen credit cards, not stolen identities), they offer a number of do-it yourself solutions that can be nearly as effective as any protections offered by the big firms, such as accessing your free credit reports from all three credit bureaus. They also dispel some of the myths of “necessary” coverage.
  17.  MetLife offers complimentary identity protection along with many of their policies. In addition to your day to day transactions, your identity can be at risk under special circumstances, and MetLife is there to help. If you become active in the military, an alert will automatically be placed on your credit report. If a loved one passes, steps will be taken to make sure their identity will not be stolen. If you’re planning for a trip, a move, or experience a natural disaster, assistance will be available to keep your information safe. If anyone should try to use your information to fraudulently acquire medical services, or try to exploit your child’s identity, you are covered. And there is always a staff of restoration specialists available to help, should something happen.
  18. McAfee Identity Protection comes from one of the top names in anti-virus software. This program regularly monitors all three credit bureaus and automatically notifies you of any unusual activity via email. Web scanning is also provided to check for any unauthorized use of your name, Social Security number, credit or debit cards. Change of address monitoring is also available. Lost wallet and full family protection plans are also available to protect any children’s identities. Customer Service is always available, including Resolution Specialists, should you ever need them. McAfee backs their protection with a $1,000,000 protection policy.
  19. Symantec offers their Verisign Validation and ID Protection (VIP) software for greater online security. This software requires a unique security code in addition to your username and password  for all your online accounts. A drawback of this software is it only works with member sites, but it is available for both mobile and desktop application.
  20. TransUnion Total offers identity protection for your entire family by monitoring sites on the web your information may be bought or sold. They also monitor the change of address registry and court record scanning. They also monitor loans that aren’t processed by the credit bureaus, and offer extra security with lost wallet assistance and neighborhood monitoring, which notifies you when sex offenders move into your vicinity. Should you fall victim to identity theft, TransUnion offers identity restoration services. And you are always able to monitor your credit reports and scores to check on your credit vitality.

    lock down your security

    Lock down your personal security

  21. GEICO also offers a comprehensive identity theft protection plan, implementing a three-prong approach of protection, detection and restoration. In addition to full online access to your TransUnion credit report and score, this plan monitors all three bureaus and reports any illicit activity. The program is further enhanced with Resolution Specialists available 24/7, and travel related resources to help especially with those occasions of IDs lost on vacation.
  22. Chase Identity Protection offers three tiers of identity theft protection: Premiere, Enhanced and Elite. All three come with monitoring of all three credit agencies and instant notification of any suspicious activity, which of course includes the use of any Chase card. Along with this monitoring comes an initial offering of your credit report and credit score from each bureau. Monthly summaries are available whether alerts are flagged on your record or not. If anything should happen, Dedicated Fraud Specialists and a $100,000 protection policy will help get you back on your feet. Enhanced services include monthly credit reports and scores, application monitoring, lost wallet protection and ID Risk Assessment. The Elite option includes internet surveillance and public record monitoring.
  23. ZoneAlarm is a product of Check Point Software Technologies, Ltd. This is software designed to protect your computer from malicious software and other predators. It offers a number of features including a firewall to protect against attacks that may bypass traditional anti-virus software. The anti-virus/spyware scan engine seeks out and destroys any harmful software that may have made it onto your computer. A two-way firewall adds even more security, and makes your PC invisible online. Additional features include a spam blocker, parental controls, a privacy and security toolbar for safer browsing, more secure downloads, password protection, do not track and facebook safety scanning software, online backup, private browsing and even PC tune-up software.
  24. AARP offers its members very strong identity protection services, recognizing the extra risk senior citizens face in this area. They offer both individual and family plans – for up to two adults and two children/grandchildren 25 years old or younger. All programs include tax identity protection, monitoring of:court records, change of address, three-bureau credit, identity, black market internet sites and social networks; lost wallet and medical record protection, a fraud alert reminder service, on call specialists and a $1 million guarantee. In addition, three-bureau credit report and scores an monthly credit score tracking are included.
  25. IDProtect  is another identity theft protection option, however, they don’t allow you a lot of information about their services without becoming a member. Evidently,they monitor your financial statements and credit reports to alert you to any changes when they happen. They also offer you access to your credit report and score, however to what extent is unclear. And of course, should the worst happen, resolution services are available. If you would like to learn more, become a member to find out what this company has to offer.
  26. Frontier Security Identity Protection offers complete protection to their customers, including: credit report monitoring of all three agencies, scanning of billions of public records for your name, Social Security number, address, phone number, and any credit or debit card use. They will notify you of any unusual activity, so you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself. If you’re not sure how to proceed, or should fall victim to identity theft, unlimited consultation with credit professionals is available for help before, during or after an incident. Feel free to ask them for tips to keep your identity more secure. Should any fraud occur, Licensed Investigators will work with you and the businesses in question until the problem is resolved.
  27. State Farm offers Identity theft protection for their clients as well. Identity Theft Insurance is available for only $25 as an optional endorsement under a Homeowners, Renters, Condominium Unit owners, Manufactured Home or Farm Ranch policy. This additional coverage includes 12 months of Identity Restoration Management Services, where a case manager will work with all affected business and institutions to rectify any credit problems. Additionally, up to $25,000 is provided for covered expenses in the recovery of your identity.
  28. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling offers a huge amount of help to those who are seeking information on how to protect their ID, and those recovering from credit fraud. The initial steps offered are to take a quiz to determine how likely you are to become a victim of identity theft, the first steps to take as a victim, and consumer tips to prevent more people from becoming victims. However, this is JUST the beginning, The entire website is dedicated to helping people protect, restore and build their credit. Resources too numerous to name are available through just a few clicks of the mouse.
  29. PNC Financial Services offers Identity Protect, an easy to use program to help their customers monitor, protect and build their credit. Implementing both credit and identity protection with quick response reporting and a recovery staff to allow customers greater control over their personal identity. Services include: monitoring all three credit bureaus with alert notifications, and constant access to all credit reports and CreditXpert scores. Credit and Debit card monitoring is also maintained, along with checking on use of your Social Security number. In case of fraud, customers are aided with a $25,000 Theft Insurance policy, and dedicated fraud support caseworkers to help get you back on your feet. In addition, a Credit Score simulator is available to see how certain actions will affect your credit.
  30. AT&T offers two straightforward ID protection plans. Identity Protect offers simple internet surveillance to discover any unauthorized use of your information online, and an Identity Theft Restoration Kit, should your identity become compromised. The Identity Protect Enhanced plan cranks things up quite a bit. In addition to the previously mentioned services, credit report, change of address, criminal records and sexual offender information is all monitored. Social Security tracing and Payday Loan tracing is also available. In the case of identity theft, full identity restoration and a $1,000,000 fraud protection policy are there to help the victim.
  31. Fifth Third Bank offers two identity theft solutions. The Identity Alert Plan offers one credit institution monitoring, credit/debit card monitoring, Social Security monitoring, monthly triple credit report and credit scores, a credit score simulator, and up to $25,000 in Identity Theft Insurance. An upgrade to the Premium Plan adds monitoring of all three credit agencies, child Social Security monitoring, application monitoring with text alerts, and an upgrade of insurance coverage of up to $1,000,000.
  32. Armed Forces Bank offer their customers added security through their extensive identity protection plan.This covers up to $10,000 in expenses incurred in recovering their identity, as well as payment card protection, and an Identity Fraud support service, to help those hit with identity theft. Card Patrol is sophisticated software developed to search through various chat rooms across the internet, watching for black market use of your personal information. Credit Alert monitors your credit daily, for instant notification of any misuse, so potential theft can be headed off before it even starts. Extra bonuses with this plan is credit reports and scores from all three agencies, and the Fraud Protection toolbox, a handy online toolset that allows users to streamline the identity protection and recovery processes.

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  33. Ecusta Credit Union offers its members two ITAC Sentinel plans to help protect their identities. The plus version comes with 3-bureau credit monitoring, along with 3-bureau credit reports and scores, and quarterly credit updates. Also included in the plan is 24/7 card protection and internet surveillance for misuse of your information. To help build your credit, a credit analyzer and financial calculator are provided, as well as help from credit education specialists. If a problem should arise, help is available there, too, in the form of ITAC Victim assistance and a $20,000 Theft protection policy. Upgrading to the premium level gives customers the extra protection of public record report and monitoring, and ID Risk Assessment.
  34. Identity Theft 911 provides data breach recovery and response tools to insurance companies, banks and credit unions, employers and individuals. If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, this company takes a proactive role in recovering your good name. They don’t just dole out advice and point you in the right direction, but they will actually write the letters and make the calls to stop and correct any problems with creditors, bill collectors, the IRS, doctors and hospitals. They also offer a wide toolset for protection from identity theft with their knowledge base, which is full of news, tips and advice on how to defend yourself from attacks in the first place.
  35. Vault Identity Protection offers its customers a variety of services for both credit and identity protection and recovery. In terms of credit monitoring, two services are available. Score Tracker allows you to view 1- or 3-bureau reports and scores each month to track any changes to your credit. CyberWatch monitors the internet to make sure your name, Social Security number, and debit and credit card information are not being used illegally. Non-credit protection includes change of address monitoring, PayDay Loan monitoring, court and public record and sex offender monitoring, as well as Social Security trace, and Vault Cyberwatch to protect your information internationally. Identity restoration help and a $1,000,000 theft protection policy are there to shield you in case of fraud.
  36. Academy Bank Identity Protection, you have the comfort of 24 hour, daily credit monitoring with alerts to any strange behavior through their Credit Alert program. If you are notified of any negative actions on your accounts, you will automatically be referred to the Credit Information Hotline, and are protected by a $10,000 fraud protection policy. Additional services include card protection services and the fraud Assist Toolbox, to help you streamline the identity protection and recovery processes.
  37. Nationwide has partnered with Europ Assistance USA and TransUnion to offer credit monitoring services, as well as internet browsing safety through software such as DataScrambler, which disguises your keystrokes, and PhishBlock, which warns you before you enter a phishing site. If you ever fear you have fallen victim to identity theft, one call to Nationwide starts your protection and recovery rolling. An instant assessment of your situation is made, and then all the required phone calls are made for you. Help is also provided in replacing any lost documents such as a driver’s license or birth certificate. If there is any financial damage incurred, you are protected up to $25,000. And should you be unfortunate enough to be hit with this tragedy away from home, even a cash advance can be arranged.
  38. SunTrust offers peace of mind from identity theft with their Solid Theft Protection plans. The plans come in three levels: Classic, Gold and Platinum. All levels come with daily credit monitoring with alerts to any changes that could affect your credit rating. Also included is internet monitoring for unauthorized use of your Social Security number, or credit/debit card information. Lost/stolen wallet coverage, and recovery help is available at all levels as well. The amount of protection varies for each level, from $2,500 to $1,000,000. More features are added at higher levels, with the platinum plan offering Credit Card Registration, Public Record monitoring for adults and children, sex offender monitoring, and even FDA recalls.
  39. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans offers identity protection at two levels. The ProtectMyID Select plan offers daily credit monitoring of Experian only, with an initial credit report from Experian and an Identity risk assessment test. If problems should arise, the professionals on the Fraud resolution support team will be there to help, as will the $10,000 theft protection policy. With the ProtectMyID option, that amount rises to $1,000,000, and all three bureaus are monitored daily. In addition, internet scan watches for any illicit use of your information, and change of address information is also monitored. This plan also provides lost/stolen wallet protection, and mobile apps that allow you to view alerts on your smart phone.
  40. Travelers offers identity theft protection free of charge with their Platinum Plus Homeowners policies, and can be added to any homeowners, condo owners, or renters policies for a small annual fee. This protection gives you $25,000 to cover costs in re-establishing your identity, including: Medical ID fraud reimbursement, travel expenses, replacement of government documents, attorney’s fees, lost wages, and tax ID related fraud reimbursement. Also included in this plan are resolution services to rgain your good name, and guidance from consumer fraud specialists.
  41. Triple Alert is another service offered by Experian, one of the three credit bureaus. This plan offers daily monitoring of all three agencies credit reports, with instant notification of any untoward activity on your accounts. When there are no significant changes to your credit, monthly all clear reports are issued. In the case of fraud, Triple Alert will cover $10,000 in recovery expenses including: legal fees, investigators, lost wages, and any actual lost monies caused by identity theft. The strongest selling point of this service is its rock bottom price of just $4.95 a month.
  42. Identity Hawk offers a robust selection of identity theft protection services. Beyond daily monitoring of credit reports, users have full access to their credit reports and scores, maintained by all three bureaus. Their cutting edge Social Security monitoring software and 24/7 Identity Security Scanning track the internet for any unauthorized use of your identity. The Comprehensive Alert Reports and Identity Health score not only supply a FULL record of activity, but provide ways to better protect yourself from threats. The new Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security provides the most up-to-date security to protect you from viruses and malware before they can even infect your computer. Should something happen despite all this security, Identity Hawk backs their plan with $1,000,000 fraud insurance, and a team of identity recovery specialists to get you back on your feet.

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    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

  43. Desert Schools Federal Credit Union offers its members the IdentitySecure plan which provides a number of services. For credit management, a daily monitoring of all three bureaus is conducted, with credit reports and scores given every 90 days. Quarterly no hit reports are supplied, as are neighborhood reports, and access to a credit information hotline. Additional data security is offered through credit and debit card monitoring, Social Security monitoring, and card registration. Further services include: identity theft insurance and restoration help, a fraud assist toolbox, lost and stolen card assistance including emergency cash and airline tickets and more.
  44. Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union offers its members the IDProtect Plus plan, to provide greater security for you and your family. This service provides total identity monitoring of over 1,000 databases including credit, Social Security, public records, real estate, phone numbers and more; to quickly identify identity theft, even for the minors in your family. A 3-in-1 credit report can be requested every 90 days, as can your credit score, so you can keep track of recent action. You will be notified by email of any unusual activities in your accounts. Should anything happen, users have access to a dedicated fraud specialist assigned directly to you. There’s also a $10,000 identity fraud reimbursement policy to handle expenses. An online identity theft news center is also available, as is credit and debit card registration.
  45. Meyer and Associates  offer identity protection with their IdentitySecure program. This extensive suite of software works to Prevent, Detect and Resolve any problems you may encounter. Prevention is handled with internet scanning for misuse of your information, including black market sites that may try to buy or sell your identity. Real time alerts of this activity allows you to respond quickly and minimize damage. A set of tools is also provided to make these incidents less likely to happen in the first place. Triple bureau daily credit monitoring, including 90 day updates on credit scores is the first line of detection. In addition, monitoring of bank accounts, debit/credit cards and your Social Security number are provided. For added security, neighborhood reports are available as well. In case misfortune strikes, comprehensive debt resolution services are available, including a $10,000 Identity Theft Reimbursement.
  46. NEA Member Benefits has partnered with Identity Fraud, Inc. to offer security from identity theft to their customers. There are different levels of protection you can subscribe to, such as single agency monitoring, rather than monitoring all three credit bureaus, with different alert options. Fraud alerts and credit freeze options are available, if you so choose, as are discounted credit reports and prevention tools. An entire library of preventative information is available, and should anything happen, the plan provides unlimited VRS Elite Fraud Resolution Services and up to $25,000 in fraud protection – for each person.
  47. PrivateInternetAccess offers a different kind of internet security. While offering many of the same benefits of credit and identity theft programs, what this software provides is Identity Security while browsing the web. It creates a virtual layer of protection between you and phishing attacks, data snoopers, thieves, hackers and criminals. This makes your computer invisible and anonymous while you are browsing the web. And because it operates at the TCP/IP interface level, it protects all your programs, not just your browser. Data encryption adds more security to your data transfers as well, and helps you avoid any unwanted eavesdroppers.
  48. Zander Insurance offers a slightly different approach to identity security. Though prevention is implemented in the form of monthly newsletters with scam reports, and access to resources such as the Do Not Call Registry, Opt Out Programs, Credit Freezes, Free Credit Reports and more, Zander realizes that it is nearly impossible to prevent identity theft, and instead concentrates on identity RESTORATION. Unlimited recovery services are offered for any and ALL types of fraud and ID theft, and they boast a 100% recovery success rate. Up to $1,000,000 in reimbursement funds are also available for stolen funds, re-application and lawyer fees, and more.
  49. American Family Insurance has partnered with Identity Theft 911© to offer their customers the best in identity theft protection. Some of the additional features clients can employ include: providing tips and techniques to protecting your information, relocation identity protection, ease of problems for active military personnel, and help with estate activities, including name changes from marriage and divorce. In the case of fraud, resolution options include placing a fraud alert on your credit files for a year, and working with a dedicated resolution specialist who will make phone calls, help prepare documents, and provide any other help to restore you to stability. Document replacement services and protection of your personal information in the case of a disaster are also included. This plan also includes the Identity Fraud Expense coverage, which helps cover any of the expenses related to losing and restoring your identity.
  50. West Bend Insurance offers the Home and Highway’s Identity Protection Plan, which is implemented by Identity Theft 911. The plan gives you access to a wealth of information on how to avoid identity theft in a variety of situations. In the event that fraud does occur, you can expect quick and effective one-on-one help to resolve any problems, backed by $30,000 in expense reimbursement funds. West Bend’s Identity protection can help shield you in any of these situations: Proactive Identity Protection, Tax Fraud Identity, Identity Recovery and Resolution, Travel Identity Protection and Recovery, Disaster Recovery Assistance, Medical Identity Recovery Assistance, Identity Relocation Protection Assistance, Military Identity Assistance, Marriage Identity Protection Assistance, Child Risk Identity Protection Assistance, Estate Identity Protection Assistance and Debt-Tagging.