28    Jun 20110 comments

Jamboree 2011: Education, technology and fun

The Southern California Genealogical Society’s annual Jamboree is one of the best-run large regional events in the United States.  MyHeritage chief genealogist Daniel Horowitz and myself again attended and presented at this year's conference, held June 10-12, 2011, in Burbank, California.

Conference co-chairs Paula Hinkle and Leo Myers, in addition to their large team of volunteers, always make this an excellent experience.

Some highlights:

Some 70 genealogy bloggers – a record number at any gen conference - blogged, tweeted and Facebooked throughout the event, as well as participating in social events, including an ice cream party and a piñata smashing, among others.

There are many good sports among this friendly group whose conference get-togethers are like a family reunion. A blogger media island enabled the bloggers to continuously tweet and Facebook over the three-day event.

More seriously, there were outstanding sessions to attend, ranging from breakfasts to evening dinners and everything in between. Among those attended by Daniel and myself were:

  • A free Kids' Camp attended by many young people, including Boy and Girl Scouts.
  • World table discussion, where Daniel and I headed the Jewish table at two sessions, answered questions and directed visitors to many resources for their individual quests.
  • An informative breakfast presentation on using social media for societies by Thomas MacEntee, and
  • A full-day family history writers conference.

Read on for more details.

Continue reading "Jamboree 2011: Education, technology and fun" »

2    Jun 20114 comments

Languages: More are better!

Genealogists often lament the fact that immigrant ancestors did not pass on their native languages to their descendants.While the children of immigrants were mostly fluent in those languages - the first generation - those children only rarely passed down those languages to their own children or grandchildren - thus losing them forever.

Years ago, as I sat struggling through Cyrillic to understand records from Mogilev, Belarus, I often wished my great-grandparents had passed down Russian and Yiddish. Russian seems to have disappeared the day the family hit the streets of New York, while Yiddish was transmitted to their children. Their grandchildren knew only phrases or could understand some but not speak it, and they only rarely could read it.

How much easier it would have been if I had learned both languages fluently from my parents and grandparents! However, I did learn Farsi fluently when we lived in Iran. Our daughter studied it, used to read and write it, understands it nearly fluently, but refuses to speak it.

Now, through one scientist's research, we learn that there are two major reasons that people should pass their heritage language on to their children.

Continue reading "Languages: More are better!" »

22    May 20111 comment

Links We Like: Edition 2

Links We Like is a periodic feature of the MyHeritage Genealogy Blog. It offers information on new databases, websites, news sources and more, which may help advance your research.

This week's edition spotlights information on an African-American magazine archive, Hawaii resources, a university digitization project, a resource for new genealogy blogs and a new search engine.

Continue reading "Links We Like: Edition 2" »

17    May 20110 comments

Gen conferences: Information for all

Three genealogy conferences in two countries were on my schedule over the past 10 days.

Each conference provided food for thought, learning opportunities and practical information. Additionally, each event offered networking opportunities, and chances to meet others with the same interests.

On May 7, the Society of Genealogists (London, UK) held their Centenary Conference, a major event for this group founded in 1911. The world of family history and how we research hadn't changed much over the decades until rather recently.

Continue reading "Gen conferences: Information for all" »

9    May 20110 comments

New feature: Links We Like

Links We Like is a new feature of the MyHeritage Genealogy Blog.

We'll be providing periodic round-ups of interesting links to family history-related resources. These may be books, articles, personalities, new online resources and much more across the spectrum of family history.

So much happens that it is difficult for most readers to read everything that is out there, so we hope to help you advance your research by collecting links with information that may help.

And now for our first edition of Links We Like:

-- Searching your Irish roots? Ireland is helping families to understand the lives of their immigrant ancestors with three tourist attractions. These include the Guinness Storehouse's archives (if any of your ancestors were ever employed there), a replica of an 1847 famine ship and the Cobh Heritage Center. Read about them in an Okahoman article.

If you're trying to trace your Irish ancestry, these new interactive exhibits make getting to the root of your family tree both easy and fun.

-- Researchers often have trouble locating the maiden names of female ancestors. One Tennessee woman has discovered 11 generations of maiden names in her family tree. 

-- Readers in Charleston, South Carolina and environs will have a chance to visit the largest genealogy conference in the US, May 11-15, run by the National Genealogical Society. A Kids' Kamp is set for Friday morning as well as special Saturday sessions to help local residents improve their research skills. Click here for more information.

-- Roots travel is featured in the Wall Street Journal. While many of us use the Internet to trace our families, more and more family history researchers want to walk in their ancestors' footsteps by visiting ancestral towns.  Here are some tips on how to get started:

According to those in the field, a growing number of travel companies and genealogical experts are offering "ancestral" or "heritage" trips. Former emigration hot spots, including Ireland and Nova Scotia, have recently begun promoting genealogical records on government-sponsored tourism websites. And hotels and resorts, including the Lodge at Doonbeg in County Clare, Ireland, and the Sheraton Grand Hotel; Spa in Edinburgh, Scotland, have hired genealogists.

"Genealogy is almost trendy," says Elaine Bostwick, tour coordinator at Ancestral Attic of Carp Lake, Mich., which arranged for 42 genealogical tours last year, almost double the number five years ago.

-- Learn something about the Roma - known also as Gypsies - and their origins and migrations in this Times of India article.

The Romani gypsies in Europe trace their ancestry to the nomadic communities in India. During the medieval period, gypsies in India began migrating westwards because of incessant foreign invasions. From India to West Asia and gradually to Africa and Europe - that is, from Rome and Barcelona, they spread to France, Germany and England. They were initially called Egyptians; apparently Europeans believed that they came from Egypt and were travelling under papal patronage. Later, Egyptians was shortened to gyptians and finally the word 'gypsy' became the moniker for these nomads.

-- Do you live in Scotland and would like to learn more about family history? On May 14, there's the Tayroots Genealogy Fair in Edzell.  Some nine local and other history and genealogy groups will assist attendees. In addition to a lecture on the Guild of One Name Studies, an archivist will speak on old photos. Attendees are invited to bring their family photos along for identification. Admission is free.

“In the past people moved across the country following their trades or searching for work – so we often find that visitors in the East need information on the West!”

Let us know if these links have provided clues or suggestions for your own research. We look forward to reading your comments.

26    Feb 20111 comment

London: Who Do You Think You Are LIVE 2011

Who Do You Think You Are Live will welcome some 20,000 visitors over this three-day event.

Our MyHeritage team has been busy! The first day of the family history fair was Friday, and we were very busy from the minute the show opened. Today (Saturday) will be even more crowded.

Here's famous genealogy blogger Dick Eastman with MyHeritage's chief genealogist Daniel Horowitz as Daniel demonstrates some of our new features.

Blogger and podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke dropped by yesterday to record short segments with Daniel and myself.

Today is expected to be even more crowded than yesterday and many people are dropping by to learn about the software, family sites, memory card game and other features such as SmartSearch, SmartMatch and more.

I'm preparing for my talk this afternoon on creating online sites for ancestral communities.

On Thursday evening, Daniel and I spoke in a double session for the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. He spoke on SmartSearch, while my talk focused on genetic genealogy and DNA.

The MyHeritage team is very busy and includes Mario, Daniel, Robert, Laurence and mysef.

These conferences and fairs are always exciting, as we get to meet so many people. Many come up to us and announce that they are happy MyHeritage users. Others may have a small problem with a feature and Daniel is able to assist them, so they are also happy.

It's even more fun explaining about what we do to newcomers.

20    Feb 20110 comments

New Mexico: Taste of Honey

Talk about busy!

As soon as RootsTech ended, Daniel Horowitz and I flew to Albuquerque (New Mexico) to participate in A Taste of Honey, a community-wide education event, sponsored by MyHeritage.com.

Here we are at the MyHeritage display:

A Taste of Honey - 13 February 2011 - Albuquerque, NM

Genealogy is a popular subject here, even though there were many sessions on on completely different topics.

My presentation focused on Genealogy 101 - how to get started and, more importantly, why - while Daniel's presentation encouraged family history researchers to utilize all of MyHeritage.com's features.

Continue reading "New Mexico: Taste of Honey" »

20    Feb 20110 comments

RootsTech 2011: Fabulous first

This was the first year for RootsTech, a new technology and genealogy conference sponsored by FamilySearch.org, attended by some 3,000 people.

The Salt Lake City, Utah-event was described by some as "a candy store" for genealogists, genealogy bloggers and technology creators, developers and suppliers.

As it brought together technology people and consumers of family history products, it also provided opportunities for genealogy bloggers to  meet face-to-face with the movers and shakers.

Each day featured excellent presentations on many topics by well-known speakers. To see the speaker line-up, click here.

With so many exciting talks by industry leaders and speakers, it was hard to plan our days. MyHeritage Chief Genealogist Daniel Horowitz and I staffed the MyHeritage booth and were also scheduled speakers.

Continue reading "RootsTech 2011: Fabulous first" »

2    Feb 20118 comments

Family History: Learn from experts

2011 provides a great opportunity for family history enthusiasts and genealogists to learn from experts who might be visiting their communities.

MyHeritage's own Daniel Horowitz has a daunting tour schedule in the coming months, and I will also be speaking in numerous venues. We will both be speaking at the major genealogy events as well as staffing the company's booth.

We invite MyHeritage.com users to stop by and say hello at the conferences or to attend the other programs at the conferences.

We are especially looking forward to greeting our UK users at the upcoming Who Do You Think You Are? Live family history fair in London.

Here's Daniel's upcoming tour. His topics cover information-packed talks covering a broad range of topics - from MyHeritage features, technology, genealogy school projects, resources and more.

Continue reading "Family History: Learn from experts" »

26    Jan 20110 comments

Family History: A moving experience

Moving can be chaotic and even traumatic.

Anyone who has ever moved house - even just a few streets away in the same city or as far away as another country - goes through this experience, albeit with varying degrees of complications.

An international move  can be more troublesome.

However, if you're a fan of family history - a newcomer or a professional - you won't be alone in your new community.

All you need do is contact the local genealogical or historical society in your new neighborhood before your move.

Our recent international move to the beautiful state of New Mexico had its share of problems. However, I had already made contacts with the family history community in our new city.

Once I arrived, I called old and new contacts, and soon had a full calendar of meetings, lunches, events and much more. People can't believe that we've only been here for two months.

I've met a wonderful group of researchers - covering all levels of skill and specialities - who belong to at least three genealogical and historical societies.

I've received an excellent beginning education in local Hispanic genealogy - a relatively new area for me - from a local expert. Just one example was an 11am brunch meeting at a great local eatery which went on to well after 6pm - and we could have kept going for hours! This amazing person has offered to introduce me to the archivists at the Hispanic research center, and has invited me to join her at future meetings of another historical society which meets in the next town. I'm looking forward to that.

I've been asked to speak to several groups, as well as to participate in community events, and am already on committees planning local genealogy events and programs, some of which MyHeritage.com is sponsoring.

When I visited our local library branch - a beautiful contemporary building only a few minutes from our home - to sign up for our new library cards, I asked about family history activities and offered to speak. This branch has two librarians who are also genealogists, making this transition very easy.

I'm now on the planning committee for  the library's first major Genealogy Day event in April, aimed at relative newcomers. We'll have a major speaker and then break into several smaller groups offering "how-to-get-started" offerings in several categories. The goal is to plan further workshops  throughout the year and raise awareness of family history throughout the local area. 

The international genealogy community is composed of interesting, helpful individuals united in our common interest in family history and how we can help others get involved.

Our family has moved several times, sometimes internationally, and I have been on both sides of a move - being the newcomer and also welcoming those new to our community.

I believe that all genealogy communities are welcoming to newcomers as each person brings new skills, special interests and knowledge to the mix.  We are always learning about new resources and from each other.

Is a move in your future?

Think about contacting the genealogy groups in that new location ahead of time.

It can make all the difference to a successful transition. Remember that the move to a new location becomes an important part of your family's unique history, so record it with photographs, video and other methods.

Find a genealogy society in your future home via an internet search.

Have you moved recently? What are your tips and advice for newcomers?

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