Early Genealogy Jokes

Introduction: In this article, Mary Harrell-Sesniak searches old newspapers to find some of the early genealogy-related jokes that our ancestors enjoyed. Mary is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background.

Have you ever wondered who was the first to coin a genealogy joke? Many of the more obvious ones are not original to our generation of family historians. If you’re curious, search for known punch lines in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives and you’ll find quips referring to turning over new leaves, going up the family tree, and so forth.

But then again, there are a whole lot more genealogy jokes that have been forgotten. To brighten your genealogy research day, let me present some tongue-in-cheek observations that seem apropos when blogging about our favorite subject: genealogy.

A genealogy joke, El Paso Herald-Post newspaper article 24 January 1912
El Paso Herald-Post (El Paso, Texas), 24 January 1912, page 7

Grave Humor

There’s a lot of grave humor out there, and even the occasional lampoon, such as this one about Mr. Childs on grave subjects.

A genealogy joke, Morning Star newspaper article 10 February 1894
Morning Star (Rockford, Illinois), 10 February 1894, page 7

My theory is that there must have been a genealogist, or a relative of a genealogist, on the staff of some newspapers. Take, for instance, these gems.

A genealogy joke, Colored Citizen newspaper article 21 November 1903
Colored Citizen (Wichita, Kansas), 21 November 1903, page 4
A genealogy joke, El Paso Herald-Post newspaper article 10 October 1912
El Paso Herald-Post (El Paso, Texas), 10 October 1912, page 5
A genealogy joke, Sacramento Bee newspaper article 30 July 1919
Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, California), 30 July 1919, page 20
A genealogy joke, Sacramento Bee newspaper article 30 July 1919
Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, California), 30 July 1919, page 20

Coat of Arms

And then there are related subjects, such as observations on the family coat of arms.

A genealogy joke, Evening Star newspaper article 11 October 1908
Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), 11 October 1908, page 69

Estate Humor

And let’s not forget jokes about wills and estates. This is one of my favorites!

A genealogy joke, New Orleans Item newspaper article 17 December 1907
New Orleans Item (New Orleans, Louisiana), 17 December 1907, page 12

Mayflower

In honor of the many comments our readers and cousins made on my 25 November 2013 article, Researching Your Pilgrim Ancestry from Mayflower Ship Passengers, I’d like to share this one:

A genealogy joke, El Paso Herald-Post newspaper article 13 January 1912
El Paso Herald-Post (El Paso, Texas), 13 January 1912, page 7

And finally, here’s one of my own quips:

Photo: a funny genealogy saying

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