31    Oct 20111 comment

MyHeritage.com: Making reunions happen!

Cornelius Francis Staps, father of Anna and Ronald

MyHeritage is all about reuniting families, so we were delighted to participate in the recent meeting of Ronald van der Voort (51) and his half-sister Anneliese (known as Anna) (70).

Ronald’s father - Cornelius Franziscus Staps – was born in Mönchengladbach, Germany, although his paternal ancestors were from the Netherlands. Cornelius’ marriage to a German woman, Anna Baum, produced a daughter, Anneliese.

After the marriage dissolved, he returned to the Netherlands and left his daughter with his former wife. He hoped that Anna would visit him, although that was wishful thinking – he never saw her again. In fact, he went to Germany several times in attempts to find her, but those efforts were in vain.

Cornelius’ son Ronald, born in the Netherlands, grew up longing for his sister. Following the death of his father, Ronald began searching again. He looked for years with no success; his sister had seemingly disappeared.

Even popular TV shows couldn’t help him. The only lead during this entire time was a small piece of paper given to Ronald by a sympathetic town hall employee. The paper bore only the name of Anna’s step-father. Although searches for that name were attempted, nothing was found.

Anna grew up with her mother after her parents’ marriage ended. All she knew was her father’s name and that he was German. She lived in her hometown until her teens.

During her teens, Anna decided to study in the UK as part of a school program. When she applied for her passport, an official told her that she could not obtain a German passport because her father was, in fact, Dutch. That was quite a surprise!

In England, Anna found her true love. They married and moved to New Zealand where – nearly 50 years later – they still live. Unknown to her, Ronald lived 11,000 miles away in the Netherlands and was trying to find his sister. Continue reading "MyHeritage.com: Making reunions happen!" »

30    Oct 20110 comments

Genealogy News: North America – 30 October 2011

Happy Birthday to the Statue of Liberty, who doesn't look a day over 125! And, in the same general location, Ellis Island has opened the Peopling of America Center.

A major map library has moved into state-of-the-art quarters and the largest collection of Hispanic American newspapers is now online.

In celebration of Halloween or Dia de los Muertos - take your pick - the Genealogy Canada blog will post an updated list of  websites and blogs for Canadian obituaries tomorrow. If you are searching family north of the border, your elusive ancestors may be among records on those websites.

Continue reading "Genealogy News: North America – 30 October 2011" »

28    Oct 20110 comments

Research: Online or ‘creepy-crawly’?

Creepy crawly? That's my name for old-style research.

The kind that involves digging through musty, dusty archives filled with cabinets and shelves stuffed with papers, files, ledgers, registers and books. We never know what might be found – or what might find us – during those excursions.

This is what the University of Leyden's library looked like, c1610. Many old archives and libraries in out of the way places look much the same.

So much information is available online today – and more appears daily - that many newcomers are unaware of what research used to be like . Many of us continue to access information the old-fashioned way!

Newcomers also need to remember that not everything is online yet, and a good portion may never be. Thus, all  researchers need to know where to find original documents and records. These may range from making a personal visit to a remote courthouse to obtain a 250-page probate file - with valuable family information - to viewing old property records that may never be digitized.

When I began my research, I began with phone calls to and interviews with many people. I needed that basic information (names, dates and stories) to be able to learn more about those individuals.

As many genealogists say, genealogy is the framework upon which family history is built. Think of genealogy as the construction framework, and family history as what we add to that framework. Without genealogy and its focus on names and dates, one could not pursue family history with any accuracy.

Continue reading "Research: Online or ‘creepy-crawly’?" »

27    Oct 20113 comments

The MyHeritage Halloween Family Photo Competition

MyHeritage is looking for the most creative and original Halloween Family photos. Take part and win one of three one-year Premium subscriptions at MyHeritage.com.

Everyone has, we are sure, seen those piles of pumpkins in every supermarket heralding the news that Halloween is just around the corner.

We haven’t had a competition for a while now so, of corpse (sorry), we decided to dust the cobwebs from three free premium subscriptions for one year and put them up for grabs in the MyHeritage Halloween Family Photo Competition!

Share your best Halloween family picture with us, or that old Halloween picture lurking in your photo album.

The rules are simple: upload your photo* to our Facebook Page or send them via Twitter using the hashtag #myheritagehalloweenpics (we recommend you use yfrog.com or twitgoo.com for this). If you do not have a Facebook or Twitter account you can send us your picture to marketing@myheritage.com.

We will be looking for the most ghoulish, wacky and creative photos our community has to offer. Remember, we’re all about family here at MyHeritage, so if your whole family is getting involved, we’d like to see some photo evidence of that!

Entries close at noon on the day after Halloween (1 November 2011), so you’d better get snapping now, if you’d like to get your hands on a one year free premium subscription!

Don’t get too spooked.

The MyHeritage Team.

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*We kindly request that all photos be of a reasonable resolution (96dpi at least) and that the submission is your own original work (and not infringing any copyright laws). Any images of under-18s must be cleared for usage with their parent(s) or guardian(s). Three winners will be chosen from all entries received, and will each receive a free premium subscription for 12 months. Winners will be notified using their original mode of entry and we will make every practical or best-faith effort to contact them. See the full terms and conditions here.

26    Oct 20115 comments

Genealogy, Family History: The difference and does it matter?

The terms genealogy and family history are often used interchangeably.

To some people, this is a  source of frustration as the difference between the two is clear. For others, there is no difference and their interchangeability is acceptable. With this in mind, we ask  whether there is a difference and if it matters.

The simplest way to explain the traditional difference between the two terms is that genealogy is a subset of family history.

Wikipedia defines genealogy as:

The study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history.

Wikipedia then goes on to define family history as:

The systematic narrative and research of past events relating to a specific family, or specific families.

Continue reading "Genealogy, Family History: The difference and does it matter?" »

25    Oct 20110 comments

Twitter: Getting up and running

Let’s say you’re just starting on Twitter, or haven’t been using it for that long. You want to connect with other people who share your interests, but you don’t know quite where to start. Whom do you follow? How do you find them?

Here are a few tips if you’re in this situation. Even if you’ve been on Twitter for some time, these could find you some people well worth following.
Continue reading "Twitter: Getting up and running" »

24    Oct 20110 comments

Video: What do Babies Think?

In today's video psychologist, Alison Gopnik, demonstrates how the otherwise incoherent speech, play and communication of babies is actually a form of sophisticated intelligence gathering.

Fascinating stuff.

23    Oct 20110 comments

Genealogy News: North America – 23 October 2011

This edition offers news on how genealogy societies plan to provide programming for long-distance members, nominations for the National Genealogical Society Hall of Fame, a book on today's obsession with genealogy, an Irish DNA project and new online database, as well as a new conference focusing on story telling, blogging and family history.

Technology includes podcasts and webinars, much in use these days and offering benefits for researchers around the world.

One Canadian society - the Ontario Genealogy Society's Niagara Peninsula branch - will now reach far-away members by streaming guest speakers on the Internet.

Continue reading "Genealogy News: North America – 23 October 2011" »

22    Oct 20117 comments

Poll results: Citing your sources

I will be the first to admit that this week’s poll wasn’t the most successful we’ve run on the blog- somehow citations didn’t elicit a particularly raucous response from the community! That said, of the 123 responses that we did receive, it was clear that views on the subject were fairly polarised.

25% of respondents deemed that if a source isn’t cited, it doesn’t constitute research. The largest group of respondents (38%) agreed that “most” of their sources were cited. Surprisingly, over 33% had either “tried their best” or seemingly didn’t know what a citation was.

For the ease of effort that goes into citing sources (especially with modern software tools) you can benefit from the peace of mind and the ability to share your research with professionals and others. I’d highly recommend starting to cite your sources from day one, however.

Fortunately, MyHeritage products make citing your sources a cinch. Here are a few useful pointers for getting started: Continue reading "Poll results: Citing your sources" »

21    Oct 20113 comments

The Human Family Tree

For five years, IBM and National Geographic have conducted "The Genographic Project" as a landmark study of the human journey.

The aim was to chart new knowledge about the migratory history of the human species by using sophisticated laboratory and computer analysis of DNA contributed by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world.

In this unprecedented and of real-time research effort, the Genographic Project hopes to close the gaps of what science knows today about humankind's ancient migration stories. It also aimed to show that we all belong to one large human family tree.

FamilyTreeDNA.com is the testing partner and their website contains plenty of info on the project.

Below is the first in a 10 part series of videos that document the project:

Continue reading "The Human Family Tree" »

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