14    Feb 20121 comment

Valentine’s Day: Love through family history

Millions of couples will celebrate the most romantic day of the year today, February 14. Love is in the air and love stories surround us.

Cupid at the Window Valentine Postcard Ca. Early 1900s

A few weeks ago, MyHeritage asked readers to share their ancestors' love stories or photos that illustrate them. We received  touching stories and photos from around the world.  It was hard to pick three winners, all the stories are beautiful and special. So we decided to double the number of winners to six! Below you can read the lovely stories:

United States

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12    Feb 20123 comments

Whitney Houston: An inherited gift

Yesterday, the world was shocked by the sad news that Whitney Houston - with her amazing, touching voice - had died.

She was one of my favorite singers.

As a tribute, I wanted to explore her family history. It was exciting to learn that she had inherited a family gift in her voice. Her ancestry included African, Dutch and Native American roots.

Houston's mother was Grammy Award–winning American soul and gospel singer Cissy Houston. Her successful career included backup for Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Wishbone Ash and Aretha Franklin - she is now a solo artist. One of Cissy's great-great-grandfathers was Dutch.

Cissy's father Nitcholas Drinkard was born to Susan Bell Drinkard (maiden name Fuller; born 1876), who was part Dutch and part African-American. Nitcholas's father was Native American John Drinkard, Jr. (b. 1870).His ancestors included a family of African-American landowners in Blakely, Georgia, where three of Cissy's siblings were born.

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11    Feb 20121 comment

WDYTYA: Marisa Tomei’s odyssey

Following the large audience for the third-season premiere of the US-version of Who Do You Think You Are? - starring Martin Sheen - the second episode focused on Marisa Tomei.

Tomei's story concerned her murdered great-grandfather, and the false belief held by her family about the event's circumstances.

Her odyssey takes her from Brooklyn to Tuscany, Elba, Castiglioncello and Lucca to find the truth about the event, and her mother's BIANCHI and CANOVARO families. Her father, Gary, had already done extensive research on the TOMEI family tree.

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9    Feb 20126 comments

Family history: Before it’s too late!

Today I read a moving article in The Guardian - “Top five regrets of the dying." It made me wonder about my own life. The first thing that came to mind was my family history project.

The article is based on Australian nurse Bronnie Ware, who spent several years working in hospice care with patients in the last few months of their lives. She included the patients' comments in a blog, Inspiration and Chai and authored a book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Among the common regrets:

  1. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected.
  2. I wish I had not worked so hard. Continue reading "Family history: Before it’s too late!" »
8    Feb 20120 comments

Lord of the Rings: A family tree

Image Source: http://free-extras.com/

Traditionally, most people research their own family, or one that that they have some connection to - but college student Emil Johansson is different.

Johansson has chosen a more peculiar family tree. He recently received international attention when he published his gigantic tree focusing on most of the characters in “Lord of the Rings”.

In his own words, Johansson is “overly enthusiastic about Tolkien's Lord of the Rings,” leading him to create a project where he has attempted to collect all Middle Earth’s characters and creatures in one giant family tree.

Emil's "Lord of the Rings" Family Tree

Eighteen months ago, he began studying chemical engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, but it wasn’t an easy choice:

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7    Feb 201210 comments

Research: Using a professional genealogist

A few days ago we posted a poll on MyHeritage’s Twitter account, asking readers if they’d ever paid a genealogist to do family history research.

Of those who responded, 33% said that they, or someone they knew, had paid a genealogist; 67% said they hadn’t.

The idea that 1 in 3 people are paying genealogists to research is an interesting one that we’d like to explore further.

Have you ever paid a genealogist and, if yes, what was it you wanted them to help with that you couldn’t access yourself through MyHeritage or some other genealogy source?

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6    Feb 20121 comment

UK: The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Sixty years ago today, Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne, and her Diamond Jubilee takes place during 2012.

Although she came to the throne on this day in 1952, her coronation took place on June 2, 1953.

Queen Elizabeth II is the male-line great-granddaughter of Edward VII, who inherited the crown from his mother, Queen Victoria. His father, Victoria's consort, was Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Queen Elizabeth is a patrilineal descendant of Albert's family, the German House of Wettin. This princely house claims other notables, such as King Albert II of Belgium and former King Simeon II of Bulgaria.

Elizabeth's male-line ancestry goes back to Conrad the Greatof Meissen; see Patrilineal descent of Elizabeth II.

Through Victoria - and several of her great-great-grandparents, Elizabeth is directly descended from many British royals:

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4    Feb 20120 comments

RootsTech 2012: Day two highlights

It was another exciting day at RootsTech. The MyHeritage booth was very busy all day, as the team told those who stopped by how MyHeritage and World Vital Records can help advance their research. Visitors were a mix of those new to MyHeritage, along with those who were already members.

Schelly, Steve Morse and Mark

A large audience heard Dave Barney of Google present the many uses of Google for genealogy. He demonstrated various features, ranging from Google Maps and  how to pinpoint your ancestors on a street level view map and how to zoom in to their historic homes, churches and more to show your family’s living history. He shared a photo of the Swedish church – still standing - where his ancestors were married more than two centuries ago. The building was shown in Google street view.

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3    Feb 20126 comments

WDYTYA: An interview with Lisa Kudrow

Lisa Kudrow in the episode on her own family (Season 1, Episode 3)

Lisa Kudrow, executive producer of the US version of “Who Do You Think You Are?” was the guest for a group phone interview on Friday, January 27.

I was honored to participate in the call which focused on the show’s new season, which begins at 8pm, Friday, February 3, on NBC.

This year"s celebs are Martin Sheen, Marisa Tomei, Blair Underwood, Reba McEntire, Rob Lowe, Helen Hunt, Rita Wilson, Edie Falco, Rashida Jones, Jerome Bettis, Jason Sudeikis and Paula Deen.

Unfortunately, due to a technical glitch, my own questions could not be answered. However, the others asked some great questions, and Lisa responded in kind (see below).

Other geneabloggers on the call were Thomas MacEntee, Lisa Louise Cooke, Angela Walton-Raji, Kathryn Lake Hogan and Diane Haddad, along with newspaper and entertainment industry magazine writers.

Here are some questions and Lisa’s responses.

Q: What advice do you have for people who become frustrated or stuck in their research?

Lisa: There doesn’t have to ever be an end. That's what makes it such a great hobby. I think there's always research you can do on different branches, different cousins and you go back. And then it's not just names and dates. Then you start looking at where they were living, what was happening there at that time, you start looking at historical documents. And you can maybe draw some conclusions or guesses about what was motivating some of their choices in life.

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3    Feb 20120 comments

RootsTech 2012: Day one highlights

MyHeritage’s experience at RootsTech has been a success, from setup to live hangouts and a very busy booth on the first day.

MyHeritage booth at RootsTech, before the conference began

The team began setting up Wednesday afternoon. Our booth is a real standout with double arches of balloons in the MyHeritage logo colors. Everyone knows where our booth is located as the colorful balloons fly high above the exhibit floor.

MyHeritage Super Search

Today, the opening day, our CEO/founder Gilad Japhet demonstrated the new MyHeritage Super Search technology. The new online research system greatly expands search functionality and takes into account user errors, common name variations, and other important details which, in the past, have not been included in most ancestral searches. There are many options to filter results by collections, via additional refining, advanced search and filtering capabilities as demonstrated in his presentation. This exciting new research system is still under development.

Continue reading "RootsTech 2012: Day one highlights" »

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