The Weird Family History of Iceland

Iceland has a population of 332,529 that for hundreds of years has been largely isolated from the rest of the world. Inbreeding is a constant concern due to the country’s small size, and the migration of most of the population into the capital city. Luckily, the country has been literate since its founding, and because of its small population and isolation, we have marriage and birth records pretty much since the founding of the island. Everyone's family tree is known. It is pretty neat -- every Icelander today can trace their heritage back to which founding settlers they come from.

And to help prevent inbreeding today, an app was developed: Islendiga-App (English: App of Icelanders). The whole giant Icelandic family tree is on the app, and people can check to see if they are related. Its slogan is “Bump the app before you bump in bed.”

Queen Victoria and her future husband, Albert, were born with the help of the same midwife. Why? Probably because they were first cousins; her mother was the sister of his father.


"The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made."

Groucho Marx (1890 - 1977), an American comedian, actor, and writer.


"They brought me a Yankee soldier's portfolio from the battle-field. One might shed tears over some of the letters. Women, wives and mothers, are the same everywhere."

from the diary of Mary Chestnut after the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861, during the American Civil War. She was a well-connected Confederate woman, and while her writings are understandably partisan, she reflected many wuniversal thoughts and feelings during the war.

How To Revive A Dead Language

As you probably know, Hebrew is the only language that has been brought back from the dead. It was not spoken as an everyday language since 200 to 400 CE, kept alive only as a sacred language used for prayers and writing. In the late 1800s it was revived as a common language, used among Jewish immigrants to the British colony of Palestine.

The problem with bringing a dead language back is that a lot of words are suddenly needed for things that didn't exist the first time around. Like electricity. And tomatoes. At first there was a Hebrew Language Committee, established in 1890 by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, which created literally thousands of new words that are used everyday in modern Hebrew. Everyday words, like ice cream, polite, art, and clock. In 1953 the committee was replaced by the Academy of the Hebrew Language, an official institution created by the Israeli government, which is the final authority on modern Hebrew. It has continued to create new words, publishing official additions every year (like the Oxford English Dictionary). Some of its creations include Hebrew-rooted words for junk food, gentrification, and sexism.

Young And Deadly

The famous Red Baron, Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen, died at age 25. He had already made eighty confirmed kills, and was the uncontested ace of the skies, despite being in the air for just a year and a half before his death.

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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