This week we talk to Jeanette Finlayson from the Central Queensland Family History Association. Queensland is a large state in Australia’s northeast.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Jeanette. How did you get into family history research and why are you so heavily involved with it now?
I am a retired teacher. Many years ago, I was having a conversation with one of my cousins from my Mother’s side. He was saying how fortunate we were that our ancestors had the foresight to migrate to this country. Of course, I agreed with him, and then thought how little I actually knew about their story, so I decided that as soon as I retired I would find out as much as I could about my maternal German ancestors and my Irish paternal ancestors. I have now been researching for 14 years, and have been richly rewarded by what I have found, and the people I have met. The story of my ancestors was one of hardship and sacrifices, and required great courage in their fight for survival in their new country. I am greatly indebted to them for the comfortable life I have today.
This is a guest post by Jennifer Holik-Urban*
My grandmother told me a story about my cousin Frankie Winkler. She said Frankie came ashore on Omaha Beach on D-Day with the 29th Infantry Division. He died on 24 June 1944 of head wounds received on D-Day. When his remains were returned to Chicago, his uncle and father viewed the remains and did not think it was Frankie. I listened to this story, took notes and left it at that. It wasn’t until many years later in my research did I seek out Frankie’s story.
When my parents traveled to Europe in late 2009 they visited a U.S. cemetery in Ardennes. They met a Marine named Michael who worked for the American Battle Monuments Commission. Being the only visitors to the cemetery that day, Michael gave them a two hour guided tour. My mom told Michael about Frankie and he told her about a military file called the Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF). An IDPF was created for each service man or woman who died during service. It provides information on their death, personal effects, interment overseas, some files contain letters from the family, disinterment information and reburial information.
Michael also gave her the name of the historian, Joe Balkoski, for the 29th Infantry Division in Maryland. Armed with this information she emailed me as soon as she could so I could start the process of tracking down the IDPF and contacting this historian. We both wanted to know what happened to Frankie.
I had very little information on Frankie’s military service. From his grave and the Honor Roll of Cook County I obtained his unit information. His sister provided a copy of his Purple Heart certificate and a photograph. I had his obituary and the cemetery record that indicated his burial was in 1948. He was buried in Chicago four years after he died. Why?
While MyHeritage.com was at the recent Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Springfield, Illinois, chief genealogist Daniel Horowitz had an opportunity to visit the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum.
I was part of a detailed tour of the facility with Gwen Podeschi, history reference librarian.
Opened in October 2004, the library is maintained via state funds. Its main goal is to collect and preserve family and personal (non-official) correspondence and material of Abraham Lincoln and other Illinois state personalities. It holds more than 12 million historical items including 1,100 oral histories, 2 million manuscripts and 3,000 old and contemporary maps.
Collections also include early Mormon history, anti-slavery, coal miners’ accidents, train accidents and the 1893 World Colombian Exposition.
The library is home to the largest Lincoln documents database and such items as the documents of trials in which Lincoln was involved. The legal collection is fascinating as it also preserves the lists of juries in every case tried. If your relatives lived in Springfield, this can be a good resource as they may have served on one of those juries.
The law practice collection is not open to the public, but librarians are more than happy to help visitors find the information they seek. Appointments are suggested, and the collection is searchable via the Internet.
We all have various ways of organising our time when it comes family history research. Whether you're an amateur, or indeed a professional genealogist, it's often easy to be consumed by one or two 'branches' of your family story.
The aim of this week's poll is to discover just how engrossed we are in our research on a weekly basis. Let the voting commence...
This week's news includes a new online database for the names of Virginia slaves, an exhibit on Germans in Chicago, two sources for information on digital preservation, a Massachusetts conference, a display of memorabilia for the Canadian Women's Army Corp (CWAC), and a New York City seminar on cutting-edge genealogy.
The MyHeritage genealogy team is back from Springfield, Illinois, where we attended the 2011 Federation of Genealogical Societies conference.
Read about the conference here in an article from the local paper. The event claimed some 2,000 attendees, offered 198 presentations, and attracted conference-goers from as far away as India.
Read on for more.
Laurence Harris (UK Head of Genealogy) and I recently returned from The National Family History Fair in Newcastle, UK. The Fair was a chance for family history experts and amateur genealogists to meet, exchange ideas and discuss the latest developments in the field.
With over 650 people attending and 35 exhibitors including MyHeritage, Laurence and I were kept busy introducing MyHeritage products and speaking with potential new users throughout the day. It was particularly enjoyable to speak with users at the Fair who’d used our Smart Matching system to find new relatives around the world. We’ll soon be featuring some of these stories on our blog.
Following the recent launch of our Family Graph API developers' competition for the creation of the best web or mobile app for families, we're proud to introduce our distinguished panel of judges.
Judging the competition are some well-known names in tech, investment and family arenas. So, without further ado, let us introduce the judges...
With a particular interest in startups, apps and the constant evolution of digital media, Martin Bryant is the European Editor at The Next Web, one of the world's leading technology blogs. Based in Manchester, UK, he co-founded the city's Social Media Cafe events that helped kickstart a lively cross-discipline digital community in the city.
Creator of GeneaBloggers, Thomas MacEntee is an authority on all things family history. He's one of our favorite genealogy bloggers and writes and lectures on the many ways that tech and social media can be leveraged to add new dimensions to the genealogy experience.
Jessica Fisher, aka FishMama, is the voice behind leading mommy blog LifeasMom. A mom of six, Jessica also writes about juggling home and family duties for parenting publications.
Experienced entrepreneur, operator and seed investor, Saul Klein is a Partner at leading VC firm Index Ventures.
Dad of 5 and passionate about pioneering new technology solutions for our customers, Yuval Ben-Galim is Executive VP R&D at MyHeritage.com
So far more than 50 companies and developers who've submitted applications have been approved to use the Family Graph API. Want the chance to win $10,000? Enter our Family Graph API app creation competition today. We'd like to wish all entrants the very best of luck... watch this space for competition updates.
That’s correct, yet another language has been added to MyHeritage.com! From today, your family site can now be displayed in 38 languages thanks to the addition of Afrikaans.
This follows the recent introduction of Latvian to our language options, which was very well received by our Latvian community.
There are some 20 million Afrikaans speakers and we are pleased to provide MyHeritage.com and Family Tree Builder software to that large community.
Afrikaans is spoken primarily in South Africa and Namibia and has a considerable Dutch influence. The language was brought to the Cape by Protestant settlers in the 17th century and has had sustained popularity since. Afrikaans can also be used as an adjective; relating to the Afrikaner people and their culture.
We hope that you and your family will find this new language useful.
Cairns is a city in the far northeast of Australia. This week we talk to Cynthia Edwards from the Cairns and District Family History Society.
Tell us a bit about yourself . How you got into family history research? Why you are so heavily involved with it now?
I started thinking about recording our family history about 11 years ago when our grandchildren started coming along. As my parents had passed away some years before I realised, it was up to me to tell their stories, as well as mine to this new generation. My mother became interested back in the seventies when she watched Janet Reakes on the Mike Walsh Show. Sadly her researach was not recorded, including photo captions.
That was about 12 years ago however, I have only been seriously researching for the past seven or so years. The information I started finding out about my grandparents and their siblings encouraged me to keep researching as these were the stories I never knew. To discover so many of the people that myself, my sister and brother thought were friends of our parents, but were actually relations has been a lovely surprise. I often sidetrack to see if I can answer questions like " How did my great-grandfather receive training when he began his teaching career in 1872?"
For those of us who remember the first few days at school, it is mostly a sensory nightmare, an all-consuming environment that couldn’t even be navigated with a map. You’ve been thrown in at the deep end with only a pencil case and book bag for company.
I remember my very first day at Secondary school, we were made to line-up along a very dark corridor and then shake hands with the headmistress- fairly nerve-wracking when you’ve just found out that she used to be in the female England rugby team. She was a force to be reckoned with and had a killer handshake.
Well, that’s what I thought at the time. Now, when I see the ex-headmistress in question at my local supermarket buying wholemeal bread, she doesn’t bother me so much!
Do you have a particularly memorable story or picture about your formative time at school? Do you still cower in fear when you hear the name "Mrs Davidson"? If so, then you can share it with us on our Twitter and Facebook accounts, or in the comments below.
*Image: Lois Lowry, 2009