31    Mar 20101 comment

Australia and Hong Kong: A visit to remember

I'm back at the MyHeritage Genealogy Blog, and gathering the details of my fascinating Asian and Australian journey to share.

My camera got a good workout on this trip. Here are the beautiful Blue Mountains - a must-see - north of Sydney:

Blue Mountains

Sunset at Mt. Macedon near Melbourne:

Mt. Macedon

Melbourne ConferenceThis journey "down under" was very rewarding, as I met interesting and interested people, answered genealogy and MyHeritage questions, met with genealogy colleagues (bloggers, archivists, librarians). Meeting a long lost family branch ranked as the best personal achievement on this trip. read about the reunion here.

In Hong Kong, I presented two well-attended programs in Hong Kong (a DNA project and a workshop in getting started with the focus on online resources). I had an opportunity to speak to many people - including young people - about genealogy in general and also how MyHeritage can help them share their family history.

In Australia, I presented two major programs (a DNA project and social media for 21st century genealogists) at the Second Australian Jewish Genealogy Conference (nearly 200 participants), chaired or participated in several smaller concurrent sessions for both Israel and Sephardic and was part of the closing experts' panel, as we (below) fielded questions from the attendees.

Expert panel

While in Melbourne, I also visited the Public Records Office and the State Library of Victoria, toured the facilities and met with archivists and librarians. On a quick visit to Sydney, I met colleagues at the Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) and also met Linde Wolters of MyHeritage.com who lives in that beautiful city.

Linde had arranged for me to appear at the Bendigo Family History Expo, a 90-minute drive from Melbourne through rolling hills. The area has a long history of gold mining and a very diverse community, representing the many ethnic origins of the gold-rush pioneers. I was able to assist many attendees soon after I set up my computer, which featured a MyHeritage.com overview on a looping PowerPoint presentation.
Continue reading "Australia and Hong Kong: A visit to remember" »

16    Mar 20100 comments

Family Newsletters: Spotlight on your family

family newsletterFamily newsletters are a great way to involve relatives in family history.

Such publications can be as simple or as detailed as the author desires. They are another way to stay in touch and keep relatives informed of what's going on.

While in Australia, I attended an informative session by Bubbles Segall, who addressed the essentials of family newsletters.


According to famed author Eli Wiesel,

"Your family is only the bare framework of your family history. Without the stories, legends, tales and episodes of your cousins and ancestors, all you will have is a dry collection of names and dates."

Your newsletter can be another part of the "keeping connected" plan. In addition to a family site (such as MyHeritage.com), a publication may likely reach relatives in different ways. Of course, if you have a family website, the newsletter can also be placed online at the site for invited members to read.

In any case, there are numerous reasons to create one. A family newsletter:

-- Helps everyone keep in touch.
-- Preserve stories and data which might be lost.
-- Shares information with relatives.
-- Shares, preserves photographs of lifecycle events.
-- Serves as a central family information location and points to other family resources.
-- Leaves a paper trail for future generations.
-- Records your family's history, customs, origins and culture.


How often you publish a family newsletter is up to you. Factors impacting this includes whether you will be emailing the newsletter or printing and snail-mailing copies. Although many researchers I know choose a quarterly newsletter, others prefer a larger semi-annual or annual edition, and still others send out short monthly updates. It is up to you and depends on your available time. It will take time to produce a good one.

Depending on your family's unique demographics, you may need to use both emaill and postage as older relatives may not have computers. However, their children and grandchildren are likely Internet users; email them the newsletter and ask them to print a copy for their older relative.

Mailing copies? Who will pay for the postage? It can be expensive, especially if you're considering a large semi-annual or annual publication.Birthdays

Will you be including photos? Everyone wants to see photos, but it can make a Word document very "heavy." Consider converting Word documents to PDF files via readily available software.


Before you write your first issue, think about who will receive it. Do you have a family address list already? Will you need to create one?

Consider the fact that many people will want it, but others simply won't care.

You could try sending the newsletter to everyone in the family and ask them to respond if they'd like to continue receiving it.


-- Life cycle events (births, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, deaths) are all important to each family. If possible, include photos of the individuals and make sure to identify them in the photo. An important idea is to include the relationship of each individual to the first person on your tree, e.g. great-grandchild of X, great-grandson of X's brother Y, etc.
-- Family traditions, customs, hoildays, recipes.
-- Stories about the ancestors.
-- Family history projects completed by relatives
-- Origin of the family's surname
-- Updates on recent research success

Other items:

-- Old letters (remember to identify the writer and recipient)
-- Old and recent photos
-- Diary or journal entries
-- Obituaries
-- Newspaper articles mentioning family members


Unusual original names are good. Easy to remember should be another quality. When I was considering a TALALAY newsletter, we used "Tales of the Talalay." Use the following - a thesaurus will come in handy as well - as a jumping-off point:

Tie your surname's first letter to any of these: Connections, Beat, Family, Chronicles, News, Words, Capers, Tales. Links, etc.


There are many free newsletter templates available. Check Microsoft Publisher and other desktop publishing programs, or simply compose it as a Word document. If you plan to use many photos, consider converting the newsletter to PDF.
Continue reading "Family Newsletters: Spotlight on your family" »

12    Mar 20100 comments

Meet the family, Melbourne-style

One of the best parts about my current trip was the opportunity to meet new cousins in person.

Genealogists and family history researchers agree that this is one of the most exciting experiences we can ever have.

Have you ever met someone new and felt that you've always known them?

That's exactly the way I felt when I met my Melbourne cousins, Alexander and Jenny Katsnelson, their daughters Nelly (with a journalism degree, married with two beautiful children) and Fleur (an attorney), the grandchildren and Alex's brother Leon.

Alex and Leon's mother was a Talalay from Mogilev, Belarus. Although her branch moved to nearby Bobruisk, she always told them about the Mogilev family. Alex and Jenny left Belarus 30 years ago aiming for a better life for their family and settling in Australia. Leon and their father arrived later.

Below (from left), Leon, Schelly, Alex.

Cousins connected

I had located them in Australia, thanks to genealogy friends in Melbourne, and we made contact about seven years ago. Unfortunately, I experienced a computer disaster, losing much data along with contact information for the cousins down under.

My advice for computer users: ALWAYS back up your data. Our family has lost seven years during which we could have been in contact.

When I arrived in Melbourne, we checked the online phone directory and found Leon. On Wednesday, Alex and Jenny came to get me from my friend's home - they live only a few blocks away! - and the whole family spent the day together.

We looked at old photos, Alex and Leon recounted what they knew of their mother's family, and I showed them what I had found on their family from records discovered in the Minsk National Archives.

Jenny is interested in finding more information about her own Heiman family, which moved from Bobruisk to Riga, Latvia. We spent some time online as I showed Nelly and Jenny some of the major genealogy research websites, and demonstrated MyHeritage.com, of course.

We will spend another day together.

This time, we won't lose contact!

Have you found long lost cousins?

Where? When? How?

What was your experience like? Share your family reunion.

12    Mar 20100 comments

Hong Kong, Australia: A busy trip!

Traveling to a new destination is always interesting.

There's so much to take in, unusual sights and sounds, culture and cuisine.

Click to view photo in full size

Above see the city on a harbor tour.

My week in Hong Kong wasn't enough and I'm glad I will be back there for a few more days at the end of March.

In addition to two two-well attended talks - on DNA and genetic genealogy, and getting started in family history research - I met many fascinating individuals, saw some of the sights, and enjoyed delicious cuisine.

On a visit to the markets, here were some of the sights:

Click to view photo in full sizeClick to view photo in full size

On the left (above), see a stall featuring dried snacks, and a vegetable stand on the right.
Continue reading "Hong Kong, Australia: A busy trip!" »

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