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.

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" »

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" »

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?" »

30    Oct 20100 comments

The genie in the lamp

the answer to our questions?Could a genie help solve your family history problems?

Although family history is becoming increasingly high-tech, there are those days when we wish we had a genie in a lamp.

After hours of fruitless searching for what seems to be a non-existent direct ancestor - although we know they MUST have existed or we wouldn't be here looking for them - it would be great to just grab that lamp, rub it a few times (depending on the version of the folktale you follow) and ask the emerging genie for help.

Genealogy conferences might feature workshops titled  "The care and feeding of your genie," "Getting your genie online," or "Polishing the lamp: Keep your genie happy."

According to folklore, of course, the problem is asking the correct three wishes, and we look forward to experts presenting workshops on techniques for constructing them.

Something else to consider: Would there be a difference between asking a polite question or giving a command to "dig up" the information we need? Does the word "wish" need to be included?

"Could you please find Uncle Melvin's birthdate" might bring a very different result from commanding the genie to "I wish you would bring me Uncle Melvin."

What are the three most urgent questions that your genie could help answer?

Continue reading "The genie in the lamp" »

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