17    Jan 20110 comments

Genealogy of Color: Resources Online

In the US, we celebrate famous civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday as an official holiday on the third Monday in January.

This year it is today, January 17.

It is a fitting day to discuss the increasing number of family history resources available to African Americans searching for their roots, which can be difficult.

When the book "Roots"  was published and later screened as the most-watched television series of all time in the '70s, it offered people of all ethnicities the idea that it was possible to learn about their families. In the past few years, increasing numbers of resources have been made available.

For African Americans, it meant that more resources would be developed allowing the people of today to find out about their ancestors, whose history and even names had been hidden or erased. With today's DNA resources, many can now trace their families to areas in Africa.

Here is a round-up of resources - websites, blogs, DNA research - that will help you learn more about your family. Remember that each resource listed also offers even more links to additional information.

Continue reading "Genealogy of Color: Resources Online" »

31    Dec 20101 comment

New Year: Family history plans for 2011

Some studies indicate that January is the most popular month for family history research.

Perhaps it's because people have just spent time with their families and those social gatherings may have triggered a quest, an emotional response to the universal idea of finding out who we really are, who our ancestors were and everything about them.

You may be in that category of newcomers to this passion of ours, or you might be among those who have spent decades researching your family.

In any case, the new year brings opportunities to follow up on clues, become a bit more organized and take on (or complete) tasks that you know must be done.

Many of us have these to-do lists posted by our computers - even if we don't get to them in a timely fashion - but to help readers who may not have such a list, here are some suggestions:

Continue reading "New Year: Family history plans for 2011" »

24    Dec 20100 comments

Holidays: Family traditions

Santa may look very different in other countries!

Did your ancestors receive treats of whale blubber as a Christmas delicacy?

If they did, they must have come from Greenland.

Learn more about holidaycustoms around the world - which may be quite different from your experiences. It may help you understand your ancestors' traditions.

Santa Claus - who has many names - doesn't always wear his traditional red suit, fly around in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, or pop down a chimney.

In Hawaii, he wears a red Hawaiian shirt, and arrives in an outrigger canoe, with elves in aloha shirts.

In some countries where the main religion is not Christianity, there are also interesting traditions.

When we lived in Teheran, I was surprised to see that one could buy Christmas trees, and many stores sold all types of brightly colored lights and decorations. There was a  large Armenian community (both Protestants and Catholics) along with Iranian Nestorian Christians.

In India - in the former Portuguese colony of Goa - there are nine days of fireworks and parties to celebrate the Wise Men's arrival. Christians and Hindus celebrate together on January 6, the Feast of the Three Kings. Young boys from prominent families are chosen to play the kings, wear bright costumes and ride in on white horses.

Some other traditions:

Continue reading "Holidays: Family traditions" »

22    Dec 20100 comments

New Year: Learn something new

Do you make New Year's resolutions?

If so, do you keep them? For how long?

While many people resolve to break bad habits or improve physical qualities, those don't seem to last very long.

For a better outcome, try to learn some new skills to further your family history research. One way is to access free online classes. Some may be short tutorials, others are much longer and provide useful and practical data, including step-by-step videos.

What skills, tips or advice are you looking for? Do you need help in managing paperwork or photos? Would learning how to take better photos add to your MyHeritage.com family website?

Continue reading "New Year: Learn something new" »

20    Dec 20102 comments

Sources: Where did I find that?

Source & CiteHow good is your memory?

Years ago, when I was very new at the genealogy game, I believed that I could accurately remember where I had discovered every bit of family data.

And - for awhile - I actually could do that. However, as the years went by, and the numbers of people on my trees increased - and my brain cells seemed to decrease - it became impossible.

Sometimes, I would write the information on a scrap of paper. We all know what happens to a scrap of paper stuck in a bag or pocket.

At one point, I had to stop all new research and back track, almost to the beginning of my quest, to fill in all those blanks.

Fortunately, I had even saved some of those scraps of paper on which I had scribbled information while visiting archives and libraries. To preserve them, I had taped them onto regular sheets of white paper. Eventually, I transfered that data to the family tree software I used, but the scraps didn't cover all my research.

It wasn't easy to admit that I had neglected this important  documentation. And it required a very long time to retrace my steps.

Since those days, I clearly - and loudly - advise beginners to document every bit of data they find.

Some have replied innocently that they'll remember - they only have a few people on their tree. Others have even asked why it's important: "The names are what we need, right?"

Continue reading "Sources: Where did I find that?" »

28    Sep 20100 comments

MyHeritage: At a family festival

For two days, MyHeritage has been at a family festival with 50 computers and a team of 15 experts.

We are a major presence at this three-day event - the "One Family, Many Faces" family festival.

I spoke to quite a few families yesterday to learn why they visited to set up a family tree. The answers were interesting, as we all knew they would be.

This post originally appeared on the MyHeritage Blog (English), but here's some of it and a link to the complete

The team has been here for two days - a great experience - as MyHeritage is all about uniting families, whether it is discovering new relatives or building a family tree together.

Every computer and chair was filled about an hour after the festival opened (see photo above).

Crowds of people - families with many children - were learning how to start a family tree and how to begin researching their family history during 30-minute consultations.

This morning several families shared their stories:

Click here to read the complete post.

16    Aug 20102 comments

A look back at this summer

Geneabloggers collect Jamboree ribbons!

Now that I'm back to my normal routine, I'm trying to review the great experiences from this summer.

Great times included four conferences in California, Washington State and Texas; visiting dear friends and family members; and meeting several relatives for the first time as we shared family history.

At all the conferences, I helped explain what we do at MyHeritage.com and how our tools and features make it easy for families to connect and communicate no matter where they live.

My suitcase now includes several new T-shirts from this year's events and some for 2011 events.

Here are some highlights:

Jamboree 2010

Some 50 geneabloggers attended the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree this year.

Some spoke on various topics, some participated in blogging panels, others just enjoyed the conference and meeting their readers. Continue reading "A look back at this summer" »

29    Jul 20100 comments

Make someone happy: Talk tradition

During this year's round of conferences and travel, I've been reminded more than once that creating contacts, asking questions and talking traditions can produce clues to our family history.

After reconnecting with someone whom I knew in California and who was now in New Jersey, I realized her husband's family's long connection to a small community, now a suburb of a larger city, in that Eastern state. My own family had a long-ago connection to the same community when it was much, much smaller, and more rural.

My great-grandmother's sister and her husband had settled in that small town soon after they arrived in 1905, although my great-grandmother and her family lived in nearby big-city Newark.

I took a chance and asked if the woman's husband, whose family had lived there from the early 1900s, possibly had known my relatives. It was very exciting to learn that my great-grandmother's sister had been the husband's  babysitter! Continue reading "Make someone happy: Talk tradition" »

13    Jun 20100 comments

Jamboree 2010: Exciting!

Exhilarating, exciting and stimulating are the most descriptive terms for Jamboree 2010 - the 41st annual Southern California Genealogical Society's conference.

Jamboree 2010 Geneabloggers

Some of the 50 attending geneabloggers at Jamboree 2010

This is the fourth time I've attended this conference - the largest regional genealogy conference in the US - and each year it gets better and better. The planning committee, led by Paula Hinkel and Leo Myers, does a really excellent job.

The networking has been non-stop with some 50 geneabloggers Facebooking and Tweeting about the great speakers and programs.

Daniel Horowitz, our MyHeritage genealogy and translation manager, presented several very well-received programs on various aspects of our features - one session had more than 100 attendees, while another was standing-room-only.

I participated on the advanced bloggers' panel and also provided a session on creating a DNA project (how to set goals, objectives, letting people know about it, persuading them to participate, etc.).

Jamboree 2010's advanced bloggers panel

From left: Thomas MacEntee, Craig Manson, Schelly Talalay Dardashti, Lisa Louise Cooke, Kathryn Doyle.

Between attending presentations, networking with my colleagues and assisting at the busy MyHeritage booth, it has been a very busy conference. We've been giving out orange family tree hugger ribbons and chocolate kisses - "hugs and kisses." It's great to see so many people with the orange labels on their conference badges.

Many visitors have been dropping by. On Saturday, Chris Haley, nephew of Alex Haley, author of "Roots" came by and spent some time with us.

I have notes on many sessions and will be organizing and posting them over the next few days.

We're already looking forward to next year's edition!

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" »

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