29    Oct 20091 comment

DNA: African tribal migration patterns

DNAFamilyTreeDNA.com is now cooperating with the Center for African American Genealogy Research (CAAGRI) and the Public Records and Archives Administration of Ghana (PRAAD) by testing several hundred members of the Nzema, Ga, Fante, Ewe and Asante tribes.

The results of the DNA tests will be part of a genealogy workshop to be held Friday, October 30 in Accra, Ghana. Led by CAAGRI director Paula Royster, the workshop is aimed at highlighting the importance of recording oral traditions by showing people how to record it.

The program will include the use of online databases to search for ancestors and descendants, preservation of songs and photographs, transcriptions of stories passed from generation to generation and forensic genealogy.

Ghana's participation in this effort is important as their archives house more than 4 million records. Many of them relate to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, which affected people of African descent.

FamilyTreeDNAFamilyTreeDNA - founded in April 2000 - was the first company to develop the commercial application of DNA testing for genealogical purposes. Before then, it had only been available for academic and scientific research. The Houston, Texas-based company has a database with more than 265,000 individual records. This is the largest DNA database in genetic genealogy, and means that testing with FamilyTreeDNA and using its comparative database makes it a prime resource for anyone reseraching recent or distant family ties.

The non-profit Center for African American Genealogical Research provides genealogical resources and support at no cost to the community. It was established in 2004.

It is the only organization of its kind and offers unique on-site support services for the African-American researcher. Support includes research assistance, workshops and genealogy-mentor programs for low-income youth.

It has technical learning centers and continues to provde innovative ways to collect, preserve and interpret the past for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations.

For additional resources to help you to research your African American families:

-- Louisiana Division, New Orleans Public Library (Louisiana)

-- Afrigeneas.com

-- Genealogy.com - African American resources

-- African American Examiner

I'm interested in hearing your success stories and how these resources have helped. I look forward to reading your comments!

28    Oct 20092 comments

History: Dry boring dates, dusty places?

family treeHave you thought about the fact that while genealogists are historians - it is an integral element of our quest for knowledge - historians may not be genealogists?

How do genealogists gain understanding and perspective when dealing with history? History to a genealogist is not the dry historical happenings of a distant past, but is often very personal history - events that our ancestors either lived through or died from as a result.

As I have written previously, I was usually bored by high school and college history classes, except for some very specific topics, such as Sephardic history. Who cared about all those other dates and places? What did those events have to do with me?

My interest in history changed dramatically once I began working on my family's history, and began following my ancestors back over the centuries in Iran, Spain, Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Israel and the US.

Suddenly, those dry boring dates and dusty forgotten places became very important as I learned that my ancestors lived there or were eyewitnesses to or participants in those same historical events.

Genealogy is more than just lists of names and dates - it is about our ancestors as people. How did they live? Where did they go and why? How did circumstances and historical events impact their lives? History becames very personal if there is a tie to specific times and places where where our ancestors lived.

It was somewhat of a shock when I realized that if one of my direct ancestors had died - before producing children - as a result of an epidemic, a war or a sinking boat, then I would not be alive today. This realization hits every genealogist at some point, and it brings everything back to a very personal reality. When I taught genealogy to elementary and junior high students, I would discuss this very point and student reactions were interesting as they came to the same realization.

While researching an article on genealogy in New Mexico, I came across an article by Karen Stein Daniel, editor of the New Mexico Genealogist, published by the New Mexico Genealogical Society ADD URL.

Note that, if you have roots in New Mexico going back to the 16th century or at any time, this journal is filled with fascinating articles. Published for some 40 years, a CD is for sale containing all the issues. It is well worth it and I strongly recommend acquiring it. The society's website offers some articles and resources online.

In Stein Daniel's article, "Historiography for Genealogists: A Perspective in Understanding," she offers the Random House Dictionary of the English Language (1966 edition) definition of historiography:

"the body of literature dealing with historical matters; the body of techniques, theories, and principles of historical research and presentation, and methods of historical scholarship; the narrative presentation of history based on a critical examination, evaluation, and selection of material from primary and secondary sources and subject to scholarly criteria."

Stein Daniel writes that this sounds like the application and methods that genealogists should be adhering to in research and writing, regardless of whether or not it is for publication.

In 1934, famous historian Charles A. Beard wrote: "...historians recognize ... the obvious, long known ... that any written history inevitably reflects the thought of the author in his time and cultural setting .... Has it not been said for a century or more that each historian who writes a history is a product of his age."
Continue reading "History: Dry boring dates, dusty places?" »

14    Oct 20092 comments

Laurence Harris: UK Family History Advisor

Laurence HarrisLaurence Harris has always been interested in family history and genealogy, and he still has the very first family tree he drew when he was 19.

Laurence has now joined the MyHeritage.com team as the UK Family History Advisor, and I'm genuinely happy to introduce him to the community. We first met in London several years ago, and most recently at a genealogical conference in August.

A UK-based family historian with many years of experience, including more than five years as a professional genealogist, Laurence has researched two members of the House of Lords, and researches for the popular BBC series, "Who Do You Think You Are?"

He's also a satisfied user of MyHeritage's tools for both his personal family research and his professional (personal and corporate) clients. Thus, it seemed natural for him to join the MyHeritage team, on a part-time basis, as our UK Family History advisor.

"I am delighted to be joining MyHeritage," said Laurence. "I hope that I can use my knowledge and experience of the UK, its communities and family history research sources to ensure that the products and services continue to be developed in a way that provides even more functionality and benefits for us as users."

Why does Laurence like MyHeritage?
Continue reading "Laurence Harris: UK Family History Advisor" »

8    Oct 20092 comments

Top 40 Genealogy Blogs: MyHeritage Gen Blog nominated!

VOTEMyHeritage.com was happy to learn that the MyHeritage Genealogy Blog had been nominated for Family Tree Magazine's 40 Best Genealogy Blogs (Family Tree 40).

Some 130 blogs are listed in 10 categories; MyHeritage Genealogy Blog is in the Genealogy Company category.

Readers can vote for a clearly marked specific number of blogs in each category. Blog URLs are included on the voting form, so you can check out blogs. Voting is now open through November 5. You can vote more than once.

To learn about the voting process, click here to read the magazine's Genealogy Insider blog posting.

The 80 blogs receiving the most votes will make it to the finals, and the magazine's editorial staff will select the 40 winners, to be announced in the May 2010 Family Tree Magazine and in the Genealogy Insider e-mail newsletter.

The categories are:

These bloggers give you a little (or a lot) of everything: news, research advice, their own family stories, photos, opinions and more.

Genealogy Companies (MyHeritage Genealogy Blog is here)
Blogs in this category are written on behalf of a genealogy company, and contain helpful (but not overly advertising-oriented) information on the company’s products, as well as other resources.

Here, blog content focuses on a particular heritage group, such as African-American, Jewish or Irish.

These blogs deliver a range of genealogy news and information about new resources.

These focus on cemetery research, gravestone photos, etc.

Content here is primarily about sharing, researching and preserving family photos and/or heirlooms.

Blogs here offer instructional content on genealogical resources and methodology.

Genetic Genealogy
These are primarily about genetic genealogy (DNA) and family health history.

Most posts in these blogs cover resources, genealogy events and history for a specific city, town, state or region.

Blogs here cover primarily a blogger's own research and ancestors. Family historians write what they know and what’s important to them.

Follow contest updates from Family Tree Magazine on Twitter (hashtag #FT40).

Click here to get voting!

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