7    Apr 20112 comments

Leaving on a jet plane – again!

Just like one of the songs from "Barney," one of my children's favorite TV shows, I’m on a plane again, for my second trip to the US this year.

The genealogy conference schedule began very early in February for the 2011 genealogy tour – as I like to call it – at RootsTech, the first technology conference dedicated to genealogy, or perhaps vice versa.  Family Search achieved its goal to bring together genealogy users and the technology developers who produce the wonderful tools we all use to trace, save and share our family memories and data.

The event was unique, and also allowed us to see old friends such as DearMyrtle, Thomas MacEntee, Dick Eastman and Lisa Louise Cooke. It was also an opportunity to make new friends, such as Ami, A.C. and Joan Miller - just to mention a few of the bloggers present.

Continue reading "Leaving on a jet plane – again!" »

15    Mar 20112 comments

Disasters: Are you ready?

While the world today knows all about the tragic aftermath of the earthquake in Japan, there were a few days when we were in the dark - literally.

We attended a conference in Colorado last week. After a five-hour drive through magnificent scenic vistas ranging from desert to snow-capped peaks, we had only a few hours to prepare and get to the venue.

The conference was busy, our colleagues focused on presentations, and we had not obtained Internet connection codes due to the heavy schedule. There wasn't time to read a newspaper or turn on the television - we were in a cocoon where the outside world didn't exist.

Finally, after two days, we managed to get online to check email, and we saw the terrible news about Japan's earthquake and the immense suffering of the people.

As a former Californian who has been through a few earthquakes, but nothing as bad as what the people of Japan experienced, all those thoughts came rushing back. The shaking, rocking and rolling is hard to describe to those who have not experienced such tremors. I can't imagine what it feels like to go through an earthquake of that magnitude, and our hearts, thoughts and sympathies go out to all those impacted.

No matter where you live, at some point you may be impacted by a natural disaster, be it a hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, blizzard, flood, rain storm, tornado (or cyclone) or fire.

How do you prepare for such an event which can forever change the lives of inhabitants in a certain place?

To prepare for such disasters, contact local emergency organizations for lists of what families should keep on hand - just in case - as protection of life is always the most important element.

In addition to protection of life, we also might think about protecting our precious family possessions, such as photographs and research.

How can you protect those items against loss?

There are various methods. Scan photos and documents to CDs and send copies to relatives who live in other areas. Photograph family objects and distribute those copies. Prepare copies of family history and supporting documents and send them to relatives in other areas. No matter what happens where, copies of your research will be available.

While we all need to be prepared to protect our lives in the face of a possible disaster, take some time now to protect your research.

Here are two questions for readers:

  • Has the earthquake in Japan changed the way in which you will personally plan for a possible disaster?
  • What have you done to protect your research?

I 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?

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" »

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