We're happy to announce that we've completed 50% of our goal to digitize every cemetery in Israel — aiming to make it the first country in the world to have all of its gravestones preserved online and searchable, and we're making all of this data available on MyHeritage for free.
Cemeteries play a vital role in family history research and society in general. Most of the world's cemeteries have never been systematically documented nor has their information made available online. Also, age and exposure to the elements are rendering gravestones illegible, making this project even more urgent.
In 2014, we launched a global initiative with BillionGraves to digitally preserve the world’s cemeteries. The MyHeritage team even went out and digitized an entire cemetery, taking more than 50,000 photos in a single day.
When photographing and documenting gravestones using the excellent BillionGraves mobile application, the precise GPS coordinates of every gravestone are preserved. This makes it easy for others to locate and visit graves of family members and also allows volunteers to see which areas of a cemetery have already been photographed, avoiding duplication and maximizing productivity.
We have extended that original initiative, pledging to photograph all cemeteries and gravestones in Israel and to transcribe all the information on each and every gravestone.
In mid-May, we gave MyHeritage users who have taken a DNA test the ability to upload DNA data to benefit from free DNA Matching, once we complete developing it. We’re happy to announce that our DNA Matching technology is now ready and live!
DNA Matching can open up exciting new research directions, and allow you to find and connect with relatives you may not have known about.
As promised, our DNA Matching is completely free and will remain free for those who have already uploaded their DNA test results. If you have taken a DNA test (with test providers like Family Tree DNA, 23andMe or Ancestry), or have DNA test results from other family members, and have not uploaded them to MyHeritage yet, we recommend that you hurry up and upload the DNA data now. If you do, you will still enjoy free DNA Matching on MyHeritage forever. Follow these simple instructions to export your raw DNA data from the service you tested with and import this data to MyHeritage.
Over the years, we've featured many incredible stories from MyHeritage users who have made family history discoveries. Some have found hidden photos or mementos of their loved ones, others reconnected with long-lost family members or were reunited with completely unknown relatives!
We've collected some of their tried-and-tested advice, to help you with your family history research, no matter what stage you are at right now.
Getting started. Enter the names of people you know and the information you have. Work back towards the unknown.
Talk with living older relatives. Speak with your family: parents, grandparents, cousins, and siblings, and especially with all your older relatives to find out about their lives and what they remember. Do not wait until your parents or grandparents are too old to remember or are no longer living.
What was life like before the internet?
I think that people had more free time before the internet. Days were longer, more time was spent with family. Well, perhaps that's an exaggeration. Days were never actually more than 24 hours, and people didn't really have an abundance of free time. It just felt that way since our attention wasn't so divided.
For many of us today, we'll be the last generation that can answer that question firsthand. The internet has added value to our lives and changed the world in so many ways. Many aspects of daily life have drastically changed since the internet was developed.
Take the field of genealogy as an example. In the past, you'd have to travel across the world to research your roots. People would write letters, they'd sit in libraries, museums, archives, and spend hours poring over microfilms.
It isn't a secret, or even something new. It's something you've probably heard before, but just never followed. There is a little-known trick that can make all the difference in preventing your family memories from being lost forever.
Family history feeds on family memories, but if we don't make sure that those memories are properly recorded - with as much data as possible (including sources) - then the memories may "change" over time and eventually fade away.
Do you know how your grandparents proposed? What about your parents? I don't know how any of my ancestors proposed, but I'm sure that if there was an interesting proposal story in my family's past, then I would have heard about it. Exciting wedding proposals become family lore told for generations.
At the Rio Olympics this week there was one such story that will surely be told over and over. Chinese Olympic diver He Zi stood on the podium after winning a silver medal in the women's 3-meter springboard diving final on Sunday in Rio. She was triumphant, and she was excited, but she was also surprised with an unexpected but not unwelcome incident.
Old family photos encourage young people to become interested in their heritage and also bring precious family memories to life. Add photos to your family site on MyHeritage to add color to your family tree and to preserve those photos for future generations.
Summer vacation presents the perfect opportunity to dig out your stash of old family photos and do something meaningful with the kids. What family history activities do you have planned for the summer?
For new ideas, check out these fun ways to get creative with family photos. They'll help fill time during the school break and may make beautiful additions to your home that showcase your family legacy.
When Linoy Maidvanikov Simon began working at MyHeritage 18 months ago, she never dreamed that her life would change forever.
Within days of using MyHeritage, Linoy discovered a previously unknown sister. Watch the emotional reunion of Linoy and her sister Kamilla in this video (in Hebrew with English subtitles) as they meet in person for the first time.
We've completed our Tribal Quest expedition to Papua New Guinea, where we had an incredible experience documenting the family histories of people in remote tribes whose stories are at risk of being lost forever.
This trip was the second expedition in our Tribal Quest project. Learn more about our global initiative at the Tribal Quest website.
Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse places on the planet. With 7 million people spread out over an area of 460,000 square kilometers, tribes live isolated from one another, separated by forests, rivers, and mountains.
While cooling off in my comfortable air-conditioned home, I wonder what summer was like for my ancestors. How did they attempt to keep cool during intense heat waves without the modern advancements we enjoy? How did they make the most of their summers?