The 2011 New Zealand Family History Fair was last week and MyHeritage was there to share in the experience with the New Zealand genealogy community.
Held in picturesque Hamilton - just over one hour's drive south of New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland - this year’s event was even larger than last year's with some 3,000 people coming through the doors over two days.
In attendance were representatives of genealogy and family history organisations from all over New Zealand as well as strong representation from Australian and other international organisations.
The MyHeritage stand was manned (or “personed”, in this sense) by me and the wonderful Lauren Kernohan, a respected member of the New Zealand genealogy community through her involvement with the New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG) and other groups.
Together, we had a fantastic time guiding new and experienced family historians on the many ways that MyHeritage can help everyone start and fast-track their genealogical journey.
In line with that idea I also gave a talk on the benefits of digitizing family history research for those who are still using paper records for everything.
It was an easy talk to give considering the wide range of benefits, including smart matches, beautiful charts and automated face tagging, that users can access through MyHeritage’s free Family Tree Builder software or Family Sites once people bring their family tree information into a digital format.
As usual, one of the real joys of attending a conference was meeting many MyHeritage users face-to-face and hearing their stories of how MyHeritage has helped them find, organize and share their family history information.
One story that I particularly enjoyed was that of a man (I’ll keep names anonymous here) who, through smart matches, found an illegitimate child of his great-aunt, unknown to everyone in his immediate family.
He has now gone on to connect with that branch and discover a large number of previously unknown relatives.
Another was the story of a member who received a smart match with a branch of his family in France. The French family was using an alternate spelling for the surnames of the New Zealand branch, which explained why they had struggled to find each other.
After that man had helped correct the misspelling, he was then introduced to the whole French branch that he had never met before.
These stories are a key part of the satisfaction I have in working at MyHeritage.
In all it was a fantastic event, brilliantly organized by Sandra, Gay, Michelle, and the rest of the team, who all managed to reinforce the idea that New Zealanders are some of the nicest people in the world.
For those looking to take part in next year’s event, the organisers have already locked in 3-4 August 2012, so put it into your calendar and keep an eye on the website for more details.
I'll leave you with a few photos from the event. Enjoy.