29    Feb 20123 comments

Leap Day: Birthdays and the family tree

Millions of people around the world will celebrate their unique birthday today – February 29 - or Leap day.

Why do we have leap years? We’ve been taught that each year is 365 days because that's the length of time it takes the Earth to revolve around the sun.

In truth, it takes a little longer (365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds, according to most calculations) and that’s why leap years were instituted every four years to make up the difference.

There are, however, some exceptions to the four-year rule. We do not count a leap year if the year in question ends in a double zero (1900, 2100) unless the year can be divided by 400 (such as 2000), and then it is a leap year.

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28    Feb 20122 comments

Roots: Where it all began

In 1977, a television miniseries changed the face of genealogy forever, as the largest ever viewing audience - some 130 million viewers - in television history watched Alex Haley’s “Roots.”

I was among those millions - fascinated by the story of Haley’s ancestor Kunta Kinte and his descendants - who saw it 35 years ago.

According to Haley's research, Kunta Kinte was an African from Jufferee in Gambia. Haley's family history reported that he was sold into slavery in a town called "Naplis."

His research found a slave ship, the Lord Ligonier, which saled from Gambia River on July 5, 1767, with 140 captured Gambians. The ship arrived in Annapolis, Maryland on September 29, 1767 - only 98 Gambians survived. Haley believed one survivor was Kunta Kinte, age 17. According to an advertisement in the Maryland Gazette, the Africans were sold into slavery on October 7.

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27    Feb 20123 comments

Photographs: Enrich your family history

This is a guest post by James L. Tanner*

Nothing can do more to make your family history come alive than finding old family photographs and you might be surprised at where those photographs can be found.

Photographs of individuals and families became popular in the mid-1800s and since that time it is estimated that as many as 3.5 trillion photos have been taken. Obviously, only a very, very few of these trillions of photos are even vaguely interesting to you as a genealogist or family historian, but there are enough photos out there that you may wish to make an effort to see if any photos of your ancestral family members or the places they lived may have escaped your notice.

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23    Feb 20125 comments

Save the SSDI: Why and how to help

What if the US Social Security Death Index (SSDI) were no longer available?

What if we had to wait 125 years before US state birth certificates were made public? Or we had to wait 75 years for death certificates, marriages and divorce records?

It’s time for genealogists and family history researchers to make their voices heard in regard to an attempt to close the US Social Security Death Index to researchers.

The Washington, DC hearings, held on Tuesday, February 2, were a popular topic of discussion at the recently held RootsTech 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers.com is a Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) director, and a member of the Records Preservation & Access Committee (RPAC). He writes:

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22    Feb 20127 comments

Introducing MyHeritage’s new look!

We’re happy to announce that the MyHeritage website just got a new look! It’s the same good ol' website, nothing was changed in functionality, we just improved it with a fresher, newer look.

MyHeritage gets a new look

Here are a couple of things we've improved:

  • All account settings were grouped in one place to make it easier to reach your profile, change your email address, modify family site settings, or log out. Once you get used to it you'll see that it's much easier to reach account settings this way.

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21    Feb 20125 comments

New Zealand: An 1842 voyage and a mystery

Fanny Cochrane Smith, great-grandmother of MyHeritage user Carol Marriott

A fifth-generation New Zealander and MyHeritage user, Carol Marriott is working on a few mysteries of history involving her family, which arrived in 1842.

The Martha Ridgway was the sixth immigrant ship sent by the New Zealand Company.

Its second voyage left Liverpool on November 6, 1841, and arrived behind Boulder Bank in Nelson Haven on April 7, 1842.

Among the steerage class married couples were Charles, 30, and Sarah Inkersell, 32, who had registered with a New Zealand company agent in Burton-on-Trent, and Eli and Ellen Cropper, with their 3-month-old daughter Mary Ann, who had registered in Halifax.

In the overcrowded shared deck space surrounded by deaths, births, terrible storms and extreme temperatures, the two couples would have come to know each other well.

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20    Feb 20122 comments

Presidents’ Weekend: George and Abe slept here!

George Washington by Gilbert Stuart

Historic houses in many states bear signs reading “George Washington slept here,” or “Abraham Lincoln slept here.”

There weren’t many hotel or motel chains in those days, so famous people - indeed, all travellers - slept in taverns, inns, private homes or camped out under the stars.

Perhaps that’s why Presidents' Weekend is known as the best time for sales of mattresses and bedding, as every US department and bedding store advertises great prices!

Abraham Lincoln

Seriously though, Presidents’ Weekend is relatively new. When I was in elementary school in New York, we celebrated Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays on two weekends in February, each with a Monday or Friday off.

Since they were both legal holidays - with banks, businesses, government offices and schools closed – someone suggested that perhaps the two holidays could be combined with only one day off instead of two. While schoolchildren mourned the loss of an anticipated holiday, the business community welcomed it.

Each state sets its observance of the holiday, and not all US states observe Presidents' Weekend. Read the history here.

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16    Feb 201217 comments

NEW: MyHeritage DNA tests for genealogy!

MyHeritage is proud to take genealogy to the new millennium by offering a revolutionary technology for advancing family history research — DNA testing — at affordable prices.

MyHeritage DNA tests (click to zoom)

Your ancestors left clues to your family history in you and in other descendants, and you can unlock these clues by testing your DNA. Order your DNA test now.

DNA testing can help you:

16    Feb 20121 comment

RootsTech 2012: A MyHeritage success!

RootsTech has quickly become the biggest genealogy conference in the United States. This year, more than 4,300 people attended.

For MyHeritage it was a very successful, as people happily welcomed us, the booth was constantly crowded, and we had a lot of fun. Also, our founder and CEO and Gilad Japhet's presentation on the soon-to-be-released SuperSearch was one of the most attended and anticipated. See our slideshow below:

We thank Banai Feldstein for sharing her photos with us.

Genealogy conferences are about content, of course, but more so about the people! We love to see our old friends and meet new ones.
People came from afar, and the MyHeritage team always enjoys meeting face-to-face with people with whom our only contact during the year is email or Skype. It is also an opportunity to hear from happy MyHeritage users.

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15    Feb 20126 comments

WDYTYA Live!: MyHeritage heads to London

Following our successful RootsTech 2012 participation, the MyHeritage team now heads to London for the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE family history show. Some 17,000 attendees are anticipated over the three-day event, Friday-Sunday, February 24-26.

The event will be held in the National Hall at the Olympia Exhibition Halls on Olympia Way, and features many expert speakers on diverse topics, workshops, many genealogy related vendors and more.

MyHeritage’s Head of Genealogy (UK) Laurence Harris will give the Keynote Presentation - “Breaking Down the Barriers with Social Networking – Strategies and Tricks” – at 1pm Saturday, followed by a Q&A panel session, with genealogy experts D. Joshua Taylor, Lisa Louise Cooke,  Peter Christian, Paul Howes and Daniel Lynch.

The WDYTYA team includes:

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