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.
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:
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.
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.
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?
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?"
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?