31    Aug 20124 comments

Confucius: Ancient family tree

Credit: Wikipedia

People have been documenting their ancestors and descendants throughout history. They enjoying learning more about where they come from.

Have you ever wondered about the oldest family tree? It belongs to Confucius - the famous Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher - who lived 551–479 BC.

A descendant of Emperor Tang (1675–1646 BC), his family tree contains millions of descents and today is in the 83rd generation.

In 1998, an international team began tracing and reviewing more than 450 global branches. A new edition of the Confucius genealogy book was printed in September 2009 by the Confucius Genealogy Compilation Committee, in honor of the 2560th anniversary of his birth. This latest edition is expected to include some 1.3 million living members around the world today.

The family tree covers 43,000 pages in 80 volumes and, for the first time, women, minorities and foreigners were included. The family genealogy has been maintained for some 2,000 years.

Continue reading "Confucius: Ancient family tree" »

29    Aug 20120 comments

Family History: Challenges of immigration

Many families are descendants of immigrants or refugees. It is a part of our unique histories.

As our ancestors – or more recently, ourselves, parents or grandparents – traveled thousands of miles to find safety in another country for various reasons, the process of adapting to life in a new place is often challenging.

My great-grandparents came from Belarus to Newark, New Jersey, in 1905. While they barely ever learned English themselves, they made sure that their children learned English and that they did well in school. Their children and grandchildren went on to college and became doctors, engineers or entered other professions. Perhaps it was easier for them as the Yiddish-speaking immigrant community in Newark of that time was so large. There was always someone – who had arrived much earlier and learned the system - to help out with the language or whatever problem needed to be solved.

It is different when an immigrant is part of a new, smaller group of people who have only recently arrived. The community support system is not yet that well-established and the immigrants or refugees rely on the wider community to help them.

A recent study by sociologists at the University of Dayton (Ohio) indicates that adjusting to linguistic and cultural differences is a daunting task. They presented the new research at the 107th meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA).

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28    Aug 20122 comments

MyHeritage: Our 2012 Family Day

MyHeritage held its annual Family Day last week.

For the first time, it was held in our new offices, and our families could see where we work - and have fun!

We often say that MyHeritage is like one big family. When we bring our own families to the office, it feels like a family reunion! We played games, enjoyed a lot of laughs and it was really nice to see the interaction between parents and children.

Here are some photos from the event. Enjoy your virtual visit to our Family Day!

27    Aug 20120 comments

FGS 2012: Looking forward to seeing you!

We love genealogy conferences. We meet old friends, make new ones and learn about all the newest developments in the field.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) annual conference begins Wednesday, August 28, in Birmingham, Alabama.

Thousands of attendees will be able to extend their personal research with what they learn at the hundreds of sessions presented by some of the best speakers in the genealogy world.

MyHeritage will be at Booth 715

We invite everyone to stop by and say hello, to ask questions, to learn about new features, new technology and our new family history content.

Conference Specials

Enjoy great conference pricing for both World Vital Records and MyHeritage. Stop by our booth to learn more.

Conference Tips

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24    Aug 20123 comments

Poll: Does luck – good or bad – run in your family?

Can luck, or good fortune, be inherited?

Earlier this year we wrote about a lucky lottery story, from 2011, that focused on the McCauley family. Kimberly was delighted when she won $100,000 in North Carolina in a new scratcher game because she'd never imagined ever winning a prize.

She'd always assumed the odds were against her, as her mother had already won big prizes in two other lotteries!

Then there are those of us who have the opposite, tragic experiences that plague our families.

To return to our opening question, do you think luck - good or bad - runs in your family?

Share your answer in the poll below, and leave examples in the comments section.

23    Aug 20127 comments

MyHeritage: Cherokees and more!

It sounds like a genealogical cliché, but Kerry Elkins’ family story that they were part Cherokee Indian appears to be correct - through the England family line.

Kerry, 67, lives in Redmond, Oregon, with his wife Joyce and children Aaron and Amber, both college students. Born in Neodesha, Kansas, he received his biology BS and MS from Pittsburg State University (Kansas).

Kerry with his wife Joyce and children Aaron and Amber

Kerry with his wife Joyce and children Aaron and Amber

Now retired, his career has included a stint as a sonarman on the destroyer USS Brownson, as an FDA investigator, a radiation safety officer, a health officer and the owner of a computer store.

He caught the gen bug from his mother, who worked on her family’s history.

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22    Aug 20125 comments

Family History: Has it inspired you to write?

Researching family history is about finding information on our ancestors, discovering relatives and hearing new stories, not heard before, about all these people.

Recording and collating this information for your family tree - and ensuring that your family and descendants will have access to it in the future - has far-reaching effects, not the least of which is improving your writing skills.

This article in the Sterling Observer describes how Marianne Wheelaghan (Edinburgh, Scotland) caught the "genea-bug" and how it led to writing her debut novel, The Blue Suitcase. It's about her mother's and aunt's experiences growing up in Germany during WWII.

Marianne said she had very limited knowledge of her mother Gertrude's background. She knew her mother was born and raised in Germany, and came to live in Scotland after the war.

One day, a suitcase filled with letters and diary pages was discovered by a family member. The documents were written by Marianne's aunt (Gertrude's sister) who immigrated to Argentina after the war. Translated, they provide insight into their lives during war-time Germany.

Marianne - thanks to these documents - become very interested in her family history, and began to write her book.

Has finding information about your family inspired you to begin a new hobby (family history), or even to start a new career?

Let us know in the comments section below.

21    Aug 20123 comments

Family History: Telling tales of the dead

The obituary is one of the most useful of all records for genealogists, often providing clues to names and places of hard-to-find relatives or data about the deceased. Genealogists love obituaries.

How have obituaries changed over the years? Has public fascination with celebrities grown during the 20th century, while interest in those who achieve or produce (scientists, inventors or religious figures) has decreased?

A University of South Carolina sociologist has now investigated a century of New York Times obits as a cultural barometer.

Using The New York Times obituaries, sociologist Patrick Nolan has analyzed 100 years of obits (1900-2000), working from the paper’s “notable deaths” section. The results of his study, “Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Apotheosis of Celebrities in 20th-century America,” are in the summer issue of the sociological journal “Sociation Today.”

He expected his theory to hold true. The surprise was how strong the evidence would be. Nolan says the most striking results were simultaneous increases in celebrity obits and declines in religious obits.

They document the increasing secularization and hedonism of American culture at a time when personal income was rising and public concern was shifting away from the basic issues of survival.

The magnitude of these trends is seismic. While the Greeks may have looked to their gods for guidance and entertainment, we’ve turned increasingly to our celebrities – entertainers and athletes.

Continue reading "Family History: Telling tales of the dead" »

20    Aug 20121 comment

Family: Any ’shared’ weddings in your family?

On August 10, five siblings from the Waldie family (Arizona, US) "tied the knot" in one shared ceremony.

The ceremonies were held back-to-back with guests enjoying lunch between the services.

Their father, Doug Waldie, said "They think we're crazy or that it's the greatest thing on earth."

The reasons for such a shared event are rather simple: Close siblings wish to share their special day, the guest list for the siblings' family will be the same, people only have to make the trip once if coming from long distances, women need to buy only one new outfit (instead of five), among others!

As family history researchers, we'd raise an eyebrow or two when discovering same-date wedding certificates for siblings. Genealogy aside, I'm sure it was an emotional occasion for all family and friends.

When locating dates of family events - such as marriages - have you discovered any interesting coincidences?

Have you discovered - or even attended - shared weddings in your family?

17    Aug 20127 comments

Elvis: Long live the king!

Yesterday, August 16, marked 35 years since Elvis Presley's death.

Elvis Aaron Presley was born January 8, 1935, to Vernon and Gladys in Tupelo, Mississippi. Gladys was carrying twins, but Elvis's older brother was still-born 35 minutes before his delivery.

According to his Wikipedia entry, "Presley's ancestry was primarily a Western European mix: On his mother's side, he was Scots-Irish, with some French Norman; one of Gladys's great-great-grandmothers was Cherokee. His father's forebears were of Scottish or German origin."

On the German side of the family, Elvis's ancestor, Johann Valentin Pressler, a winegrower, immigrated to the US and settled with his wife and five children in New York. He then moved with his family to the south (where Elvis was born). The name Pressler - also Preslar, Preßler and Bressler - has changed with the time and was adapted into English to Presley.

The origin of the surname Presley is not clear. Some say that it originates from Brezel (Pretzel), which is quite popular in Pfalz, Germany.

According to some genealogists, Elvis is related to both Oprah Winfrey and Jimmy Carter.

His father was a carpenter; his mother a seamstress. Little did they know what lay ahead for their 5-year-old son. (Click to zoom).

Continue reading "Elvis: Long live the king!" »

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