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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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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.
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: