A Family Album In US Currency
As do many numismatists, I have a fondness for history. One of the most intriguing aspects of collecting coins, currency, and other numismatic objects is the history behind the items. How did they come about? What sort of political environment surrounded their design and issuance? What was going on in the country of issue at the time? Who might have held these items or carried them around in a pocket? What about the person on the obverse: why are they honored on currency or medallic art? Then there is the history of advancement in scientific and industrial techniques that permitted the objects to be made like they were; that dives down an entirely new rabbit hole.
Many who like learning about history also like discovering their family's place in it. Over the years I've developed a passion for learning about the Second World War, in part because of the four uncles of mine who were directly involved. My mother used to tell me stories about life on the homefront of her own hometown. All these stories have helped bring history to life and give it more meaning, by making it personal.
It stands to reason that numismatists who like history might also enjoy genealogy for the same reasons; and an interest in both might have some crossover. For instance, my interest in WW2 history led me to follow one uncle's story through his time in England awaiting front line duty on the European continent. I wondered what kind of money he would have seen and used, which led me to acquire a few pieces of wartime coinage and paper money from England. The discovery of an ancestral veteran of the French and Indian War led me to research Coinage in use in North America at the time. Now anytime I find out a new story of a relative or ancestor's adventures, as a numismatist I'm curious of the currency they may have seen and used.
But I've recently discovered a new way that numismatics and genealogy can overlap.
For years I have used the free genealogical website familysearch.org. It allows one to research many databases of genealogical information, connect that information to family member records, and build a family tree. Recently a feature was added that allows one to see if they are related to famous persons in history, whether leaders, scientists, discoverers, athletes, or entertainers.
Although connected to many great data sources, sometimes genealogies are only as good as the research and care people put into them. There's a temptation to make assumptions and stretch available data to prove a desired connection between one's own family and that of a famous person. A family tree is only as good as the care and integrity one uses in researching and documenting it. If one wants to claim a famous family member with a high degree of certainty, one must not only do good genealogical research on their own lineage, but also verify the research done on the famous person by anyone else.
With all those caveats, I was amused to find that, according to familysearch.org, I'm a cousin (of varying distances) to 29 different U.S. Presidents. I could make a family album out of a Presidential dollar coin folio.
Better yet, because I'm cousin to Lincoln, Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt, Washington, and Kennedy, I could make a mini family photo album out of any number of mint proof sets.
The modern one, two, five, twenty, and fifty dollar bills would also all feature my cousins.
The 2006 South Dakota state quarter featuring Mount Rushmore... yup, all cousins of mine.
And the Presidential medals from the Mint! Wow, I had no idea when I blogged about those featuring Ohio Presidents, that all eight of them were my cousins! I *knew* there was some reason I particularly liked them!
Now remember, I have not verified all the genealogical research done by others; I'm just telling you what familysearch.org is telling me. It's fun to think about, though. And in perfect 20/20 hindsight, it's easy to understand my subconscious familial connection to numismatics!
I hope you enjoyed my somewhat tongue-in-cheek article. Check out familysearch.org to see what famous family members you might have. Who knows, maybe we are cousins too!
Interesting blog and nice information on the website.
Those ancestry sites are amazing.
Very interesting Dave, but do we have to play "Hail to the Chief" when you visit us in October. (:
LOL, no you do not. Ben and I will save that for Cousin George and Cousin Abe.
Im sorry I'm having a very hard time understanding this. Did you check this site before you started. All I know is now they have your family history and know all about you. Please be careful in the future for any charges on your cards or people claiming to be your relatives. Im not doubting you but this is very hard to believe. My cousin by marriage had Ancestry .Com. They charge big money depending on far you want to go back. Because a of a certain date records are only in paper. No laptops or computers. And he decided to cut it of because of charges going further back.Well if the Bible is right were all related to each other.
Hi Mike, familysearch.org is a free site run by the same folks behind ancestry.com. They donâ€™t have any more info than what is publicly available to all (e.g. census records, etc.) unless an individual wants to upload something. They donâ€™t publicly post information about living individuals. Once someone sets up a profile and adds themselves to a family tree they get notifications about updates to their family tree. When they started the â€śsee if youâ€™re related to a famous personâ€ť feature they sent out notifications. I just thought it was amusing to think Iâ€™ve been carrying around images of distant cousins in my wallet and pocket change for years and didnâ€™t know it. I wouldnâ€™t be surprised if a great many others reading the blog could say the same.
Just for history I checked a few.sites. one site has 8 presidents and there the tens of cousins..Another site has all the presidents related to each other. I don't buy that either. Interesting blog! Then again 35 million people can trace if there relatives of the 400 Mayflouuwer decendents.You never know! I still think its set up to get you to Ancestry. Com. Did they tell you how you were related just to these presidents. That I would like to know so I could check it myself!
The Error Collector
I know I am a cousin to James Earle Fraser!