27    May 20100 comments

Language: Speaking in tongues

Can't read Cyrillic? Problems with Persian? Trouble with Turkish?

Find help with free online language courses.

When Research Buzz mentioned several sites for free online language courses, I wondered how this could help linguistically-challenged researchers - including me.

I clicked here for the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Language Courses and found an extensive list of languages - from Amharic to Yoruba - with texts and audio tapes.

Since most of my personal research involves records written in Russian Empire Cyrillic, I wanted to see if I could brush up on my reading skills. Continue reading "Language: Speaking in tongues" »

20    May 20100 comments

Success: The London Connection

Traveling to other countries provides an opportunity to reconnect with family.

In February, that's exactly what our genealogy and translation manager Daniel Horowitz experienced. He had traveled to London to represent MyHeritage at the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE family history fair.

His visit enabled several SINGER branches to meet once again. The family has its roots in Czernovits, which was in Austro-Hungary and is today in Ukraine.

The SINGER Family (c1930)

Daniel, born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, knew there were branches in London but didn't know much about them, except that they didn't talk to each other! Continue reading "Success: The London Connection" »

13    May 20100 comments

Do you have the time?

MyHeritage has the time - a TimeLine and a TimeBook.

Not sure what these are? Read on for quick descriptions and video links to provide more information. I'm focusing on TimeLine in this post.

Timeline is an interactive feature demonstrating the relationship of history's main events to your family's important dates.

This is an important feature because each person's unique family history has always been impacted by worldwide historical events that caused very local effects.

One example might be an early 19th-century cholera epidemic, quite common at the time around the world and frequently fatal for young children and the elderly. Such epidemics may be responsible for many deaths noticed in historical vital records.

And, while regional and world wars covered a wide swath of territory, local events may have "encouraged" your ancestors to move somewhere less chaotic and more safe.

To truly understand the lives of our ancestors, we need to learn about historical events that may have effected them.

When I began my quest, I noticed that my great-grandmother's brother, Chatzkel Bank, had arrived in New York City in January 1913 and began working to bring over his wife, son and infant daughter. Continue reading "Do you have the time?" »

4    May 20104 comments

Maps: Learning about your community

What do breweries and a local Chinatown have to do with family history?

Students in a free genealogy class at a Sacramento, California library used historic fire insurance maps to walk through their community's 19th-century history without leaving the classroom, according to this story in the Sacramento Bee.

Instructor Melinda Kashuba said these maps are "obscure resource that can let a person's mind wander down the streets of their forebears," and that researchers can learn a lot about the lives of their ancestors.

Here's an example, above left; for the larger image, see below.

These maps indicate schools, churches, businesses and more. All provide additional leads for researchers, according to Kashuba.

An 1898 map of North Bloomfield shows that the area between Main Street and a nearby creek was where Chinese workers lived.

A map of Truckee from the late 19th century said the area between a hillside and West Main Street was lined with "female boarding houses," or brothels, Kashuba said.

Mapmakers had noted that a brewery in Mokelumne Hill was lit by candles and had no night watchman, making it a poor insurance risk, she said.

What makes me even happier - in addition to teaching beginners how to use these maps - is that the class was part of the library's free genealogy program. Future classes will focus on finding New England ancestors and researching church records

The fire insurance maps - a main publisher was the Sanborn Map Co. (Pelham, New York) - were printed 1860-1940, and provided insurance companies data to determine fire risks of  buildings and neighborhoods, without having to send an underwriter on a personal visit. The maps were the equivalent of today's Google views.
Continue reading "Maps: Learning about your community" »

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