17    Jun 20090 comments

Picture That: New photo features launched

Imagine attending a wedding, a birthday party, a graduation or a family reunion. Take photos with a mobile device - even a video of the bride and groom cutting the cake - and send it directly to your family site for other family members to see.

You can do this now, as one of the recently launched MyHeritage photo features that make it even easier to store, share and present digital photos online.

Some of the elements are the ability to upload photos from mobile devices, create slideshows from those images and tag them more quickly. The goal is to make the most of your family photos.

To really get your family members connecting and sharing photos, videos and other information, each member of your family site will receive unique email address and a PIN code. Any photo, video or document sent by your family site members via any mobile device will be published there.

The special email addresses prevent strangers from posting content to your family website, and helps MyHeritage identify who sent what item.

Just save the unique address in your mobile device and your email contact list. Members can also email photos and videos from web or email to the family site.

The innovations make your family site a safe place to store family images and documents and make them accessible to members.

It isn't only images, either. Imagine researching at an archive and finding documents, or in a library and finding family information in a rare out-of-print book, or an old family photograph - just take a photo of the document, page or photo and upload it to your site.

One way to view a large collection of photographs is via full-screen animated slideshows in various formats.

MyHeritage's CEO Gilad Japhet just created a "Ken Burns" style slideshow of his own family photographs. See it here:

Here's another way to present a slideshow, the album format using Barack Obama photos and even videos. See this presentation.

Other effects are also available, such as a traditional slideshow and others (3D walls, photo stack, etc.):
Continue reading "Picture That: New photo features launched" »

9    Jun 20094 comments

For the Record: Watch out for errors

Human beings do make mistakes. Remember the old proverb: "To err is human, to forgive divine"? Genealogy's version should be: "To err is human, to correct genealogical."

Every family historian and genealogist knows that family trees may include errors.

Sometimes they are due to simple human mistakes (in writing down facts received orally, transcription or copying from other records or details wrongly recorded due to tragic events, such as deaths, which might skew relatives' memories) or bad handwriting. Sometimes errors may result from other relatives simply not knowing the truth (such as mistakes on gravestones) or realizing that the correction will be too expensive (again, gravestone errors). Occasionally, the reason can be chalked up to "let's make the story sound better," which may lead to additional embellishment as years go by.

Here are some Ancestry.com examples showing what might have happened - a 1904 Border Crossing record; 1910, 1920 and 1930 US Federal Censuses - for my TALALAY family, which became TOLLIN after immigration.

Border crossing

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When my great-grandfather Aaron Peretz Talalay entered the US from Canada in November 1904, he was listed as Aaron Tallarlay. His wife, Riva, and children Leib (Louis), 2, and Chayeh Feige (Bertha), 9 months old, arrived in New York City in December 1905. He was born in 1873 and his age is correct, 31. Riva was born in 1875. As you will see, their ages seem to be wrong in all the census records below.I have not yet found Aaron's passenger manifest from the UK to Canada. It should be interesting.

1910 Census

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In the 1910 Census, the family was listed (and indexed) as LOILON, although whether the initial letter was a T or an L is debatable. The record was found only by looking at record after record to find a likely couple. I believe my great-grandparents would have said TOLLIN, the enumerator heard TOYLIN and spelled it TOILON. My great-grandmother Riva (or Rebecca) is listed as Eva. It shows Aaron arrived in 1905 (it was 1904) and the family arrived in 1906 (it was 1905).Their ages are listed as 35 and 37, but the correct ages are 37 (Aaron) and 35 (Riva).

In 1915, when the family became naturalized citizens, the record was in the name of TOLINI. It took years to find the papers!

1920 Census

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In the 1920 Census, the family is now listed (and indexed) as TOLINO - making them seem Italian - and my great-grandmother is now Rebecca. In addition to Louis and Bertha, there are another three sons. Bertha is listed as 14 (she was 16). The parents ages are listed as 45 and 40 but they actually were 47 and 45.

1930 Census

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In the 1930 Census, this family is finally TOLLIN, as were all the other relatives in Newark, New Jersey and Springfield, Massachusetts. Bertha is not listed as she was married and living in New York, while Louis had finished medical school and was in Baltimore, Maryland. The parents were listed as 55 and 53, but they were really 57 and 55.

Read on for some hints to avoid repeating and compounding errors in your research.
Continue reading "For the Record: Watch out for errors" »

2    Jun 20093 comments

Newspapers: The tragedy of the Titanic

The unsinkable Titanic wasn't, when it went down in the North Atlantic in 1912.

Most readers have seen television shows and movies based on the great tragedy, but how many of us have actually read the words of the survivors in contemporary newspaper coverage of the time? This coverage took place in a world without cable TV, cellphones, computers, satellite trucks or instantaneous communication?


When the Carpathia arrived in New York, figures on the number rescued varied. Carpathia reported 710 saved from what the White Star Line said was 2,180 passengers, and that others say was 2,340. The list of names given by the Carpathia on her docking in New York shows the rescued included 188 first cabin passengers, 115 second cabin, 178 third class and 206 of the crew for a total of 687.

"The tragedy of the Titanic was written on the faces of nearly all of her survivors. Some, It is true, who were saved with their families could not repress the joy and thankfulness that filled their hearts, but they were very few compared with the number of the rescued. These others bore the Impress of their time of darkness, when their people passed out in an accident that seemed like an insane vision of the night. Their faces were swollen with weeping. They had drunk more deeply of sorrow than is rarely given to human kind. But manv whose spirits were fainting from despair walked firmly enough down the gang-plank. Some walked unseeing in a kind of dreadful somnambulism of despair."

When I read that the youngest survivor had recently died - Elizabeth Gladys Dean, known as Milvina, was only two months old when she, her toddler brother and mother were rescued - I decided to see how the newspapers of the time handled this story. I used NewspaperARCHIVE.com as my source and decided to choose the Syracuse Herald in New York.

Dean was listed in the Syracuse Herald as recovering in New York City's St. Luke's Hospital, with her brother and mother (third on the list below):

Titanic survivors

Eyewitness accounts gave a strong picture of the best of humankind and the worst, of unsuspecting passengers who believed this was a trifling incident, of wives who refused to leave their husbands, of cowardice and bravery:

Saying Goodbye

The stories illustrated how little the passengers really knew about what would happen:
Continue reading "Newspapers: The tragedy of the Titanic" »

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