My Family Has a Website?!? – Migration, Anniversary, Rituals, Family History- by Thomas Landgren. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at and

My Family Has a Website?!? – Migration, Anniversary, Rituals, Family History- by Thomas Landgren. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at and


This summer we celebrated my Grandparents 60th wedding anniversary. Since this was such a momentous occasion all of my family members on my mom’s side, all 75 of us got together and had a little celebration. It’s always hard to get all of the families together and when it happens we have a tradition where we go through all of the pictures that the aunts and uncles took over our childhoods that we spent together. My oldest sister took charge of the tradition this year and this really sparked her interest into looking deeper into our family history. Luckily I took Professor Liang’s Introduction to World History II this last semesters so we already had a decent amount of information to go off of. After a couple of weeks my sister came across a website named after our ancestor Demetrio Erspamer last name created by the Church of our ancestor’s home town of Malosco, Italy.


It seems that my family was a big part of the church community in Malosco and the Church had tons of information on my family and its multiple members that they, with the help of a historian, put together the website documenting our family and creating an online family tree for us. To be honest it is weird scrolling through a website and see your name and your brothers, sisters, cousins, and grandparent’s names all plastered on this website that no one in my family knew about until my sister stumbled across it. Luckily if you are still living it keeps most off your information private but it is still a weird feeling. It is always interesting to learn about your family, and to find out that mine had such a big impact in their home town before leaving to America, that the Church and the Town in the Future would still hold them to high regards that they would make a website and even a book is an awesome feeling. My family is in the process of finding the book so I will keep you updated in the near future!

Thomas serves as an editor for The NSR.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at)

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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy ( is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors ( This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at)


Filed under North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Thomas Landgren

47 responses to “My Family Has a Website?!? – Migration, Anniversary, Rituals, Family History- by Thomas Landgren. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at and

    • Katrina Lund

      thanks for sharing such an interesting anecdote, Thomas. Honestly your family website sounds like an amazing resource for many generations to come. It brings to question how future generations will interact with the abundance of information they’ll have on their family compared to past generations. I often think about how much more documentation there is of my existence than even my mother due to social media and most prominently camera phones.

    • Toni Bishop

      Hey Thomas,
      This is an amazing story. Who knew other people can be so in touch of where their family has come from and how it continues without you even knowing about it. My cousin did this for all of us too. He was really interested on where our family came from and made a huge family tree. This tree connected us from tradition and ect. He went to the countries where we originated and met people from our family.
      Thank you for your story,
      Toni Bishop

    • Maria Nowak

      This an interesting story! This must have been a very strange situation for you and your family to find out. This last Christmas, my brother received an ancestry DNA testing kit. To me, this seemed odd. All my life I had always been told that I am 100% Polish. My dad was born in Poland, and my mom had grandparents and parents that were all Polish. I always thought of this fact to be very interesting about me. When my brother finally took the test, he got results saying, I believe, that we were actually only 94-96% Polish, and a mix of a few other things. While this is still a high statistic, I kinda wanted to believe that there was no way a DNA test could know this about my family history more than myself or my family could. It’s very crazy to believe this kind of information is out there, and someone has actually mapped it out. Could this possibly be dangerous information that is out there? Might this change the way someone identifies themselves, like I felt after seeing my brothers? Thanks for sharing your story!

  1. Kalahan Larson

    I enjoyed the story behind this article. I find that looking into your ancestors history is a great way to learn more about how your family and their traditions came about. I personally have not done a lot of digging into my family’s history because I have a bit of a different family, but from what we do know about our family’s history, we celebrate and connect with often. To share a story other than my own to show the importance of looking into your family history- one of my life long friend’s last name is Dickenson. She has always gotten a few laughs when she first meets people because of the word “dick” being in her last name, but she has also gotten questioned about the other spelling of Dickinson. We were talking with her family one day when we learned that her Great-great-great Grandfather had moved to America and changed their last name from Hooker to Dickenson, We now always joke about the name change and why he ended up choosing Dickenson,

  2. What an interesting discovery! I bet it is such a fascinating thing to find out about yourself and your family. For how long human beings have been around (and we all come from someone) it is mind boggling to think about who our ancestors were and what they might have done. Even though it might be harder for some than it is for others, I bet if people tried to discover things about who and where they came from they would find pretty interesting things that they might not have ever imagined. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Der Yang

    Thank you for sharing Thomas Landgren! It is amazing to know that you have a family website with your name and your sibling’s names! I could never imagine the pressure of having your name within a historical website. I guess it could be seen in a negative and positive light as you shared above… However, your sister have done a great job at finding this incredible information. Your family history seems like it has been recorded and come a long way. I wished my ancestors would have a similar system to a family tree to know their names and order of existence. Like you said, keep us updated!

  4. Michaela Campbell

    This is such an amazing article because it touches on so many important things regarding family. I first am a little jealous that you were able to have such a large family gathering for your grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary. When families are able to come together in such large numbers, it reminds us that we will always have a group of people that we can rely on, learn from, and teach as well. It is also absolutely amazing that you were able to trace back some ancestry, based on information you had from Professor Liang’s class, and further your family’s history, and locate this website! I wish you the best of luck in finding the book on your family, as it is always more engaging, (in my opinion), to read something on paper than on a computer screen.

  5. Matthew Breeze

    Wow!! The information age has changed everything. I find it incredibly interesting that an organization, even a church, can gather all of the information that you have talked about from across the globe and put it up on a website without you or your family knowing. This is a little scary to me just how easy it is to get information about people and their families. That being said the article you have written is really cool, finding out that much information about your family is always a pleasant surprise! I appreciate that you talk about the impact that your family has had on this town across the ocean. The immigrant experience is so often thought of as one way travel, but the reality is much different and I think you bring out a good point here that the impact can be long lasting and sometimes surprising.

  6. Bryce Gadke

    The church must be quite dedicated to its members to keep information of your family in such an extensive fashion. I like what you said about the information of the living being kept private, this website seems to offer a great insight into the past for your family and I am sure the church does this for many other families. It seems like this is a much more personal website with a common connection coming from ancestors being a part of the same church. I hope that you are able to find the book and gather even more information about your family because it is crucial in the same way our family projects were to know where you came from, in hopes that a strong foundation is laid to find your own path for the future.

  7. Francesca Do

    Thank you for sharing your intriguing story with us. It is so cool that you found your line of ancestors through a website. I wished I could trace back my ancestors to where I came from. I think it is important to acknowledge and honor our ancestors and the origin of where we came from. I realized that my ancestor has fought for justices, so I could have the opportunities I have today, and I appreciate them for all their sacrifices they made for us, for I would not be where I am without their help. I hope you cherish this finding of your family tree because not a lot of people know where they were originated.

  8. Grace Young

    This is such an incredible story of you learning about your family history and how important your family is, even still, in Italy. I think it would be cool for you to go to Italy and experience some of your own family’s history first hand. Looking at your own family’s history is extremely important and interesting, and I would love to discover a website similar to the one your family found. I really hope you are able to find the book because I think it would be a very special thing for your family to have to share with generations to come.

  9. Alexa Lee

    I think it is so great that you were able to find this information about your family, and connect with them (and your ancestors, maybe) on an even deeper level. This entire story is so interesting, but I think the most interesting aspect is that someone else created a website about your family. The church’s decision to do so really says a lot about them, but even more about your ancestors. If you think about it, they seem to have been really connected to their church community, yet they still made the decision to come to America. I think this shows that they might have left a lot behind before they did, but they chose to leave anyways, so they perhaps were doing what they thought best for them, and for future generations like you. I personally don’t know much about my family, and due to adoptions, I probably never will. I don’t feel like a piece of me is missing by any means because family isn’t necessarily blood, but I do wonder sometimes about where I came from, so I am happy that you got the chance to find out!

  10. Rachel Reicher

    Thank you for sharing Thomas! I also took Professor Liang’s World History class and found some interesting things about my family. I also took my English Composition class researching my family’s ancestry. This class allowed me to venture way back to my ancestors who came from Italy and their journey to America. I loved how these types of classes allows a student to look at their own family for research and apply that to learning and writing. We find ourselves learning not only new things every day about the educational program we are in through college, but we are also learning new things about ourselves. Sometimes it can change your view on yourself or your family, which can strengthen the bond between family members. “You learn something new every day” is a good motto to live by, because it is definitely true in all aspects.

  11. McKenna Holman

    Wow, and I thought that I had a huge family! 75 people is incredibly huge! It is so awesome that you were able to find that website, also. ! How neat that you can go look at your family tree! There are probably ancestors on there that you didn’t know about! I wonder how they got all the information about your family tree, especially since you didn’t know about it. My grandpa told me recently that our family still has a farm in Ireland and I always think about how neat it would be to go and visit it!

  12. Dylan Brovick

    That is crazy that you were able to find a website with so much family information. Stumbling upon something like that must be very cool because it is real history about your own family. I have always thought about using a website like to find out more about my families past. Also I believe knowing more about where your family comes from can give you a sense of pride about what your family could have been a part of back in the day. It would be interesting to see where some of my family emigrated from and then try to figure out why they left or why they came to the country they did.

  13. Kathleen Reicher

    Thanks for sharing, Thomas! That’s so cool that you found the majority of your family history all in one place. My grandmother has spent years trying to track down information on our family, and it has not been easy. However, it is really rewarding when you do find something like your family website because it answers a lot of questions and you can learn so much! You’re right, it would be strange to see your whole family tree on a website that you didn’t know about, though. I also have family from Italy. My grandmother found emigration papers for some of our ancestors that came to America from Italy. I wish I knew a little more about them, but it’s hard when not everything was documented back then. Family history is a very interesting topic, and that’s great that you have learned so much!

  14. Caroline Grube

    This is a very interesting article! A few years ago, I had to research one side of my family and make a family tree as far back as I possibly could while still being certain that I was related to those people. As a result of family circumstances, I chose my mom’s side. She is the youngest of six and I thought that was a large family! However, the family tree was fairly simple to do because my grandparents were very helpful and remembered a lot from stories they were told as children. It was also fairly easy to find starting information online. I did not find a website that shows my whole family tree, but I was able to make one! I think it would be incredibly cool to find out all of that information on where you have come from! It would be amazing to see how my family got to where they are today through a tool like that!

  15. Nouqouja Yang

    That is really interesting! I always find it really hard for me to connect my family tree because it’s so big. I kind of wish we had something like that, but more private, so I can connect the dots easier. Tracing back family trees are really important because if you’re able to, asking questions from multiple elders that were closer to your line would have been super interesting; finding out the different stories, struggles, and adventures that they had. I also really liked how your family came together. All 75 of them!! My family and I usually have a picnic once a year too, where a bunch of my cousins come together and we celebrate the new year. It’s nice to see everyone and how they have grew after a busy year. I definitely think it’s really awesome how your sister was able to find that though, very interesting. Thank you for sharing!

  16. Trevor Schwartz

    75 people in your family wow that’s a lot! What an interesting story, thanks for sharing. It must have been a pretty amazing feeling discovering your family had their own website. Learning about your ancestors must have been a great feeling. I’ve always wondered about my family tree, but never have looked into it. After hearing your story I think I may go research in depth about mine.

  17. Andrew Bailey

    Thomas, it is very interesting how we as humans find where we come from so fascinating. The fact that your family also has a family lineage website is pretty sweet. I also enjoy family reunions, and I think the main reason I like them is because stories are shared. Not just stories about what is going on in my own life, but I hear stories from my aunt and uncles about how my parents acted when they were kids, and stories from my grandparents and cousins and extended relatives. Not all families have a website, but I think there is usually one person in every family who tracks family lineage. As Professor Liang stresses in class, it is important to ask our elders questions about their lives and keep these family stories a live. I have begun to do so more and more, and to hear about what it was like when my grandparents were growing up is fascinating.

  18. Emily Bugni

    It is indeed a very scary thing to stumble across a website that seemingly knows a lot about you and your family, but it is also very cool. Family websites are a great way to find out important details about your family history. They are also very useful in that they can provide information from people who may not be with us anymore. Because of this reason, I really want to search more into my family’s history. It is always a great thing to become more aware of your ancestors footprints because maybe they left a big mark!

  19. Avnish Miyangar

    What a useful and intriguing article. I bet you are so glad you came across it now! A lot of people could use a tool like this, especially those that feel as if they do not have relatives. Coming from an extremely large family with too many generations, I think this would be very helpful to keep track of where your relatives end up. It seems like a safe and positive way to find out about family and to also remember them. There will be a time in the future where you can refer back to the website and you will begin your own family tree.

  20. Mariah Koenig

    Thanks for sharing your story! It would be really cool to learn about the importance of your family in a place so far away. It’s crazy to think that all of that information about your own family was unknown about by anyone in your family for so long! I also really like your family’s tradition of looking at old photos together. When my family has a reunion all we do is eat and play cards. This article has made me want to look more into my own family’s history to see what I can find. My grandma always has very interesting stories about all of the people in her family and the places they lived. It would be cool to learn more about that.

  21. Sheila Iteghete

    This is just so fascinating because here I am wishing I had the ability to reconnect with people that either migrated from my country or learn more about my ancestors, you have an awesome website to tell you. It has also made me want to go research to know what else I will be able to find about my family. I do know some information, which I can honestly say that I tend to forget, but I wish there was a documentation to clearly states these so there will not be a way to lose it. I’d love to hear about your new-found information so please keep me posted. Thank you.

  22. Elaina Wald

    What an interesting reminder of the world we live in. I, like many others, am fascinated but not truly surprised that there is so much information about your family readily accessible on the internet. The age of information has a way of shocking us with it’s depth. All of that aside, it is always fun to dive into family history and learn about your ancestors and yourself. I myself did some family research about a year ago and learned tons about my Italian heritage. You never really realize the breadth of your own family until you do some digging.

  23. I think it is very interesting when we get to find out information about our family’s past. It’s fun to think that someone a century ago had your last name, related to you, and had a completely different life than the one you live today! I also come from a big family and it is tough getting everyone in the same room together. But once it happens the best memories can be made there!

  24. Joel Scheuerlein

    I loved reading this post because it is so similar to my families history. I too come from a very large family, and recently had an assignment in my composition class to make a family tree. Upon my research I was able to find that my family has a large history in Germany that is still alive today. I found out that my cousin is still in Germany, and is in fact a mayor to a major city of Germany. I find it amazing what you can find in your family history if you just did a little deeper.

  25. Hanna McLevish

    I love your family’s story! I think it would be weird to see my name on a website as well! It is so cool what we can learn from our elders! They have so much wisdom and it is amazing that some of the stories you hear has been passed down from generation to generation. 60 years is a long time to be married to someone and it is amazing that your family celebrated that and you were able to share with us.

  26. What an interesting discovery! How strange is must have been to see your name connected to many who you know personally, as well as some you maybe didn’t know at all! Ancestor isn’t something I have been very into, so maybe I’ll be so luck as to stumble upon something like your sister did. Thanks for sharing, cheers!

  27. A very surprising discovery! I imagine that I would be pretty freaked out if I found some website that contained a lot of information about my family lineage, in both positive and negative ways! It is good that they keep most of the information about living members private. I know my family tree was displayed in a church directory a while ago when we attended. It was surprising to see it. I wonder if that was posted online as well? I will have to check it out for myself. What did you learn about your ancestry from this that you didn’t already know from World History II (besides that your family was very involved at this church)? Do you feel that knowing more about your family’s past gives you a stronger sense of self-identity? Thanks for sharing, hope to hear more in the future!

  28. Ellen Hansen

    How strange it must be to see your family sprawled out on the web like that!

    When it comes to looking at family pasts, some families (mine, for example) have ancestral roots that may be a little more than ethically concerning. To see such a positive family legacy that impacted so many people must be wonderful. It is interesting, too, how the achievements of your ancestors have warranted this small community’s documentation of your family. Looking into our family pasts is always an enlightening experience, and it begins to make us feel like extensions of the people that came before us.

  29. Isabella Restrepo-Toro

    I can definitely understand how hard it is to get the family together, my mom’s side of the family including her cousins and aunts would be of around 200 people and then my dad’s side of the family reaches up to about 500, so as you can imagine there has never been an occasion, while I’ve been alive, in which either side got together in its entirety. I am glad you got to do it for your grandparents 60s anniversary as I bet it meant the world do them to have you all reunited. I think it is really cool how you guys have a tradition in which you go over all the childhood family pictures, as I love photography and find it fascinating how an image can embrace so many feelings.
    Now going to the website, I think that it is super cool that you found it but I bet it was kind of creepy to find your name there, as usually we only see celebrities or dead people in websites like that. It seems like your ancestor made a huge positive impact on the community of Malosco, Italy, which makes me wonder not only in what ways he impacted the society, but also why your ancestors decided to come to America. I hope you find the book, and that you get to answer your own questions as well as discover more about your family history.

  30. Madeleine Scanlan

    It is fascinating to discover and unravel the history and culture of your ancestors. It seems as if everything is on the internet now! The impact your family has had on the town of Malosco is really interesting and I love the connection to the role of the church in savoring such touching memories. I have always wanted to delve into my family ancestors in Ireland and their immigration experience. I hope you and your family continue to discover more information and figure out how you would like this tradition to be upheld for future generations.

  31. It is fascinating to discover and unravel the history and culture of your ancestors. It seems as if everything is on the internet now! The impact your family has had on the town of Malosco is really interesting and I love the connection to the role of the church in savoring such touching memories. I have always wanted to delve into my family ancestors in Ireland and their immigration experience. I hope you and your family continue to discover more information and figure out how you would like this tradition to be upheld for future generations.

  32. Skyler Long

    I have never even thought about how big my extended family was let alone try and get all them together in the same place and at the same time. I think you are very lucky and I would probably say that having all your family together doesn’t happen very often. It’s unique how you guys have a tradition and find it fascinating how the images can bring up so many memories and feelings. I hope you are able to answer the questions you have and find out much more about your family history. I think I am going to try and look into my family history and see how much I can discover myself and see if I could contact some out of the country.

  33. Amanda Sullivan

    What an unusual experience! I’m sure it was quite discomforting at first. I like your family’s tradition of looking at photos of your parents, aunts and uncles growing up. I come from a large family as well, and over Christmas we took the time at our celebrations to look at many of the photos and videos my dad and his siblings took throughout their childhood. This experience made me tear up with joy that I come from such an amazing family who have so many memories to last for generations to come.

  34. What a remarkable discovery! Human curiosity can certainly lead to great outcomes from time to time. I bet your family found all the new information to be quite interesting. Almost everyone wonders about the things that their ancestors accomplished or where they came from. I like that you touched on how the internet is a great tool, but can be a little creepy. Fortunately, the internet lead to great insight on your past.

  35. Kendra Brunn

    What an interesting way to find out more about your family history! It is amazing that so much information about your family could be accessed with just a few clicks of a button. I can imagine how weird it was to see many of your family members’ names on the website, but it’s nice that they keep it private if you’re still alive. I am now extremely curious about my family history, I might have to do some research! Thanks for sharing!

  36. William Brennhofer

    I feel similar to having my whole family together, i think it has only happened once in my memory. It must have been i big shock to find a website that had all your family history on it. But the fact that it was there must have made things a lot easier. I wish I had something like that, just cause the meaning behind the church doing that is huge to me. That your family meant so much that you guys didn’t even know about. It makes me happy that things like this can still happen in a world where it seems like we know everything, and if we don’t it is just a quick search away.

  37. Hattie Meyer

    What a way to learn more about your family! I understand how that can be kinda uncomfortable. Its like typing your name into the internet and a bunch of information comes up. This made me think about my family as well. I have a big family as well and getting us together is a miracle. When we do get together I learn something about my family that I didn’t know before. Old pictures and memories are always shared. This makes me want to learn even more about my family history.

  38. Megan Bingham

    This is very interesting. I can’t imagine how strange it would be to stumble upon a website all about your family. The fact that your family didn’t know anything about this website seams absurd. I feel like for your information out be public like that they should need your permission. It is very neat that this is all in honor of your family. This makes me want to go searching for my family history to see what I could find. Thank you for sharing!

  39. Diana Deuel

    Thomas, this is really interesting! I think it is really cool a church in Italy has done enough research to have all of your family members listed. I think it is really special and interesting to look into family history. my mother was adopted from Colombia, so I do not know any of my family from that side. My dad is German so there is much more documentation from that side. It is really cool to see the work other people have done to make our ancestors known and well remembered. Thank you for sharing!

  40. Thomas,

    Wow, I bet that was a strange feeling! Several months ago I Googled myself (as we all occasionally do) and I found a blog written by someone with my same last name. I read several of the posts in the hopes that I could figure out if they were a relation or not, but I unfortunately do not know my family’s history far enough back to tell. Your article has inspired me to delve deeper into it & see if I can uncover the mystery! Thanks for sharing.


  41. Jane Kariuki

    Hello Thomas,
    It is impressive that you have a website and a record of your family, especially one that you did not know about. It is also fascinating how we like to keep records of those we consider family. Which makes me think about the recent phenomenon of Ancestry and the idea of finding where people came from or which group they belonged to. This makes me think of my own family, where we don’t necessarily have records but we have memory. If I were to go to my dad’s hometown and simply mention that I am his daughter, the locals would be sure to tell me stories of my grandfather’s childhood. The same for my mom’s side of the family, locals from her hometown would take me back to my great-grandmothers days. The names only in these situations carry a lot of memory and recordings of one’s family. Overall it is intriguing humans are keen on keeping records, the different ways of storing such records and often going back to reflect and find new ideas from these artifacts.

  42. Angela Pecarina

    Thomas, I can imagine your shock when you first found out about the website. Your story of reminded me of what my family and I found out last year through Long story short, I found my blood grandpa, cousins, and 2 sets of aunts and uncles that are also blood. My grandpa just turned 93 and played for Clemson then went onto the Packers and Dallas. I just met him and my family I never knew existed in early 2019. Looking at pictures of my grandpa, I can tell we have similarities. Especially between his sister and I. It is always a good feeling but also mixed with a sense of shock. What you said about your information being online, I completely agree that is is sort of creepy to look at. Even if it is just your name.

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