8    Oct 20150 comments

Our Volunteers: A special visit

Here at MyHeritage, we are privileged to receive the help of many volunteer translators, who help make our site accessible to our users in their native languages. We were recently delighted to meet one of our Russian translators - Yana Gourenko - when she visited our offices.

Yana, 29, and her husband live in Moscow, Russia. She studied translation at university, graduated as a translator in English and German, and also speaks a little French. She works for a forensic company doing technical support. Her interests include traveling and meeting new people. She is also an amateur photographer and loves the sea!

We asked Yana a few questions about her own family history, and how she came to translate for MyHeritage:

Where did your love for languages come from?

My love for languages started at school where I began learning English from the second grade. Three years later, I chose to learn French and fell completely in love with learning languages. Without any hesitation, I entered university aiming to become a translator in English and German. Continue reading "Our Volunteers: A special visit" »

6    Oct 20150 comments

Something Borrowed: Bride wears 120-year-old gown

A wedding is a momentous occasion that warrants special family traditions. Each family has its unique way of making the event unforgettable. Many find a way to link the event to the past, to honor and recognize their ancestors who made them who they are. Some pass down jewelry from generation to generation to be worn by the bride. Others pass down meaningful heirlooms.

In my family, we have a prayer book that has been passed down to each bride since the early 1900s. It has weathered well over the years - considering how old it is - and how far it has traveled. Although worn and, in some places, unreadable, it doesn't matter. Many brides on my mother's side of the family have written their names and wedding date on the front page, just moments before walking down the aisle and beginning a new stage of life.

I remember the unbelievable feeling of belonging as I looked over the signatures of my great-grandmother, grandmother, mother and aunts from their wedding days, and then added my own name. To realize that I was part of a tradition established so many generations ago to commemorate this important life event eased my pre-wedding jitters. I felt honored to be included in the lineage of those women who came before me. They may have lived their lives in different generations, but they each had similar hopes and dreams on the day of their weddings. I hope to have my children sign the same book and to continue the tradition for future generations.

Abigail Kingston, a young woman from Pennsylvania, was recently in the news for deciding to wear a family wedding gown handed down for 120 years! Her great-great-grandmother Mary was the first bride to wear the Victorian-era satin gown in 1895, and it has been worn a total of 10 times to date.

(Image credit: Leslie Kingston)

Continue reading "Something Borrowed: Bride wears 120-year-old gown" »

30    Sep 20150 comments

Life on Mars: Thoughts from 100 years ago

The news has been abuzz recently about newfound evidence of water on Mars, leading some people to believe that there may indeed be life on our neighboring planet. Although we may have new cause for believing in the possibility of life on Mars, it is definitely not a new idea. In fact, life on Mars has been the topic of speculation for many curious explorers for over a century.

In an article from the Burlington Hawk Eye Newspaper, published in Burlington, Iowa - Aug 5 1894, a wacky professor made some interesting claims about Earth's inhabitants and their alleged Martian heritage:

(Credit: SuperSearch www.myheritage.com/research).

Professor Ezekiel Wiggins said "The Martians regard us as their lost brethren and have been searching for us for thousands of years. They have been especially hopeful since they saw the electric lights in our cities."

Continue reading "Life on Mars: Thoughts from 100 years ago" »

29    Sep 20154 comments

Extinct Crafts: Shoemaking

People used to keep a pair of shoes for a lifetime. They were a cherished and expensive possession. People would bring them to shoemakers in the hope that they could restore their shine and luster and bring them back to life.

Today, although traditional shoemakers still exist and we are able to visit their shops, they are fewer and more difficult to find. Like many artisans, many are closing their doors. Shoes have been mass-produced for many years and are easily replaceable at low cost.

The smell of real leather and quality craftsmanship evoke memories and take us back to a different time. A time where attention to detail, uniqueness, and quality were tantamount. It is possible that real shoemakers will soon be extinct!

(Image credit: Soletopia.com)

Thousands of years ago, man first first tied animal skin around his feet to protect them, and the concept of footwear materialized. Not only would shoes protect people from rugged terrain and long journeys, they would help them deal with extreme temperatures of heat or cold, and allow them to move freely. Continue reading "Extinct Crafts: Shoemaking" »

21    Sep 201510 comments

Top 9 Family Heirlooms

Family heirlooms are artifacts that provide comfort and a sense of connection to our heritage. They illustrate our family histories and provide memories of our loved ones.

Passed down from generation to generation, often with a background story, they help preserve our heritage for future generations. We recently wrote about bizarre places to find family heirlooms.

I grew up in a home where many pieces of furniture once belonged to my great-grandmother. I thought that it was strange to have such antique furniture in our modern home but, as I grew older, I came to appreciate their value and the importance of safeguarding pieces that once belonged to the matriarch of our large family. Little did I know that my family was not unique and that furniture is commonly passed down in families and cherished for generations.

Here are nine of the top family heirlooms: Continue reading "Top 9 Family Heirlooms" »

20    Sep 20158 comments

Old Photos: Why our ancestors didn’t smile

We remember our ancestors by their photos, which provide small glimpses into their world, and bring them to life once again. If preserved properly, photos offer lasting impressions for future generations.

When looking at old photos of our ancestors, it's easy to wonder what they were thinking at that moment. Their ambiguous expressions leave us questioning. Were they happy? Were they sad?

It's extremely rare to find 19th-century photos where people are smiling or showing any emotion. What's the story behind their stony and serious stares? Continue reading "Old Photos: Why our ancestors didn’t smile" »

17    Sep 20150 comments

Fashion Styles: 100 years in two minutes

Everything changes over time, including relationships, memories and, of course, fashion. Clothing trends constantly evolve. Sometimes it's difficult for us to realize just how much styles have changed over the years, and over our own lifetimes.

In the past, we've written about photographing styles and fashion of times gone by.

Website Mode.com has taken a long hard look in the mirror and presented fashion styles for women over the past century  in a two-minute video! It is fascinating, and can be watched over and over.

The video has over 6 million views, so take a look!

Which decade over the past century has had the most interesting styles?

16    Sep 20154 comments

The Grandma Hypothesis: Couldn’t have done it without her!

In honor of Grandparents’ Day, that we celebrated this past Sunday, September 13, here are some fond memories.

Those of us fortunate enough to grow up with grandparents understand how important they were (and are) in our lives. I grew up knowing my mother's parents and maternal great-grandmother;  my paternal grandparents had died when I was quite young, although I do remember some holiday celebrations

My great-grandmother took care of my mother when she was little, so her parents (my grandparents) could work without worry. Today, this model is still common in many cultures around the world. Both parents are often working and grandmothers (and grandfathers) are helping to raise their grandchildren.

I remember my grandmother’s visits very well, and saw my great-grandmother, quite elderly by that time, during the summer vacations. Grandma would arrive for visits laden with boxes and jars of wonderful delicacies that our mother didn’t have time to prepare. When we were little, she kept us busy and happy with painting, making pasta necklaces and pasta artwork, trying to teach us how to sew dresses for our dolls. Her legendary attempts to teach me to crochet, unfortunately, fell on hands that just didn't catch on. Continue reading "The Grandma Hypothesis: Couldn’t have done it without her!" »

10    Sep 20156 comments

Names: How do you say that?

Contributing author Schelly Talalay Dardashti is the US Genealogy Advisor for MyHeritage.com

If your family name is Smith or Green, you won't relate to this post. However, if your family name is something more exotic - welcome to the club!

They look at your name, stammer and ask "how do you say that?" What do you do? Do you patiently spell it several times? Will you, as I often do, spell it out as in "D as in David, A as in Apple, R as in Robert" .... Do you break the name down into syllables for the other person? Do you give up and say, "Call me by my first name!" Continue reading "Names: How do you say that?" »

7    Sep 201533 comments

Privacy Issues for Family Historians

This article is a guest post by Dick Eastman, one of the most recognized names in the genealogy world. A pioneer geneablogger, he uses technology to improve your family history experience.

Genealogists often face conflicting requirements. We want to publish our own family information online in hopes that others will see it and recognize connections to their own family. Those other genealogists then can contact us, and we can collaborate to expand the known family trees of each of us. The problem is that today's news is full of alarming articles about identity theft, fraud, and similar illegal acts. While some of the news articles describe real threats, others are published as "scare tactics" that magnify smaller issues to sound as if there are imminent dangers for all of us. Alarmist articles often strike unnecessary fear into the hearts of those who do not understand the difference between major and minor threats.

Fears of identity theft from public genealogical information often are irrational. Identity thieves obtain personal information about living people and rarely, if ever, get that information from ancestral data published online. The most common way thieves lift your personal information is by stealing your wallet, not from a website. (Reference: The Most Common Causes of Identity Theft and How to Protect Yourself.) Continue reading "Privacy Issues for Family Historians" »

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