31    May 201425 comments

Old Household Appliances: Cherished family heirlooms

Growing up in my house, we used a very old pop-up toaster to make our morning toast. When I say old, I mean very, very old. It was no longer shiny, but the metal and strong base shouted durability.

As a young child, I actually thought it was from ancient times. It turns out, it wasn't really medieval, but rather a present that my grandparents had received as a newly married couple in the 1950s.

This toaster worked perfectly every single day without fail, turning our bread a light brown color and popping out the pieces just in time. It was a no-fail piece of cookery. Continue reading "Old Household Appliances: Cherished family heirlooms" »

30    May 20140 comments

Story Competition: Our winners’ words

Thank you to everyone who entered our competition to share their stories.

We received so many amazing entries - tales of intrigue, mystery and discovery - with exciting twists and turns.

In genealogy, discoveries are not an end, but rather a beginning. Each door opened may lead to many more discoveries over time.

We hope to showcase the stories individually, although we are sharing excerpts from the winners below:

Barbara's maternal grandmother Clara, her brother James Walter, and stepbrother Frank Mann (c. early-1900s)

Barbara Chase (USA)
-- Finding ancestors on my father's side of the family was pretty easy - there has been a lot of family record keeping. Continue reading "Story Competition: Our winners’ words" »

28    May 20140 comments

Webinar Video: The largest family reunion ever with A.J. Jacobs

We recently hosted a webinar with well-known author, journalist, editor, and genealogist AJ Jacobs.

He spoke about his  journey towards discovering his family history, and about his plans for the largest family reunion ever, to be held in New York City in June!

Did you miss the webinar? Don't worry! Click on the video below to watch the full webinar.

Don’t forget to check our other webinars for genealogy tips to help make family history research easier.

Have ideas for other webinars? Let us know in the comments below.

23    May 20141 comment

Memorial Day: Search Military Records for Free

On Memorial Day we remember the brave men and women who fought and died while serving in the US military.

On this Memorial Day, learn more about your ancestors who served their country by searching millions of military records. MyHeritage is offering free access to millions of military records all weekend, through May 26.

Search now

Continue reading "Memorial Day: Search Military Records for Free" »

20    May 20140 comments

Levis: From a quick fix to the world’s best-selling jeans

Levi's jeans are well known throughout the world for their quality and durablility, but do you know the history of how the jeans were were originally created by Levi Strauss for gold miners in the 1800s' California Gold Rush?

In 1853, Levi Strauss, a German Jewish immigrant, moved to San Francisco to open a branch of his brother's wholesale dry goods store. He began selling clothing, blankets, fabrics and other items to small stores throughout the region.

One of his customers, Jacob Davis, was a Latvian Jewish immigrant, in Reno, Nevada. As a tailor, Jacob frequently purchased bolts of denim cloth from Levi Strauss & Co.'s wholesale house. Davis found himself repeatedly reinfocing torn pants, and had an idea to to use copper rivets to reinforce the pants at stress points. He added rivets to the button fly and pocket corners.

Davis knew that the idea would take off, but he didn't have the money required to obtain a patent, so he wrote to Strauss suggesting that they go into business together.
Continue reading "Levis: From a quick fix to the world’s best-selling jeans" »

19    May 20142 comments

Nostalgia: Smells of the past

Nostalgia is defined as sentimentality about the past, typically for a time or place remembered with happy personal associations.

The word nostalgia comes from a combination of two Greek words, νόστος (nóstos), meaning "homecoming," and ἄλγος (álgos), meaning "pain, ache."

It is attributed to a 17th-century medical student to describe anxieties displayed by Swiss mercenaries fighting away from home.

It can be brought on by many different associations. Memories can be stirred when looking at old photos of people and places, listening to a song that takes you back to when you first heard it, or tasting something familiar from your childhood.

Sensory expert Professor Barry Smith says that "Smell, more than any other sense, can evoke powerful, emotional memories. Whole scenes of people, places and things can be brought back to life by the hint of a long forgotten scent." Continue reading "Nostalgia: Smells of the past" »

15    May 20140 comments

Happy International Families Day!

Today is International Family Day, created 20 years ago by the United Nations. It recognizes that families are a vital institution, necessary for every society. The day stresses the importance of having healthy and happy relationships within your family.

Since 1996, the U.N. Division for Social Policy and Development has chosen a theme for each International Family Day. This year's theme is "Families Matter for the Achievement of Development Goals." Continue reading "Happy International Families Day!" »

13    May 20147 comments

Photography: Styles and fashion of times gone by

When thinking about old times, we remember past decades by the styles and the fashion trends that were prevalent.

Image credit: Annalisa Hartlaub

I remember frizzy hair and jean jackets in the 80s, and the slicked-back hair of the 90s. But what if I had been around in the Roaring 20s? What would I have looked like in a flapper dress with a feather in my hair?

Have you ever wondered what you would have looked like in a different decade? Continue reading "Photography: Styles and fashion of times gone by" »

9    May 201413 comments

Hidden Treasure: Family heirlooms

Family heirlooms are precious to family members and often teach us about our heritage. They provide clues about our ancestors and how they lived.

Sometimes ancestral treasures are hidden and are only discovered years after they have been stashed away or hidden. When uncovered, they can reveal a wealth of information!

Such is the case in the story of this grandson, who recently discovered hidden treasure when cleaning out his grandparents' garage. What his family discovered was unbelievable!

Continue reading "Hidden Treasure: Family heirlooms" »

8    May 201414 comments

Mother’s Day: Then and Now

As Mother's Day approaches, our research team took a look at what life was like for mothers a century ago and compared our findings to what life is like for mothers today.

Times were very different 100 years ago. In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, the first US bus line began and, on May 7, 1914, Mother's Day was officially recognized as a national holiday in the United States!

Here are some interesting facts:

  • In 1914, pacifiers, wooden carriages and baby bottles were around, but mothers didn't have the conveniences of disposable diapers or wipes.
  • One hundred years ago, over 95% of all US births took place at home. Today, home births account for less than 1% of all births. Continue reading "Mother’s Day: Then and Now" »
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