London resident Duncan Barrett is a writer and editor, specializing in biography and memoir.
He grew up in London and studied English at Jesus College, Cambridge. He is the author or co-author of several Sunday Times top-10 bestsellers, such as “The Sugar Girls,” and “GI Brides.” His most recent book (August 2014) is “Men of Letters: The Post Office Heroes Who Fought the Great War.”
After his grandmother, Helen Hudson, died in 2006, Duncan’s mother Michèle received a box containing documents and artifacts relating to his family history.
I had been familiar with the box all my life, but it was only then that I began exploring its contents. As well as objects – and associated stories – that related to ancestors I had never known, there was all the research work that my grandmother and my aunt had done into the family history, putting together family trees and organizing the material in the box. Looking through it made me feel closer to the grandmother I had lost.
Growing up, Duncan never felt that interested in the lives of his ancestors who lived before he was born – they seemed very remote, anonymous faces in photo albums. But he was able to get to know them quite intimately as he read through the materials in box, particularly through the letters exchanged among the relatives.
Ever looked at an old family photo of your grandparent or parent next to your own photo and seen a striking resemblance?
It's not surprising that we share looks with our relatives. Yet, sometimes we do a double-take, as if we're looking at the same photo.
See these fascinating look-a-like photos shared by members of the Huffington Post Parents Community.
Triple-take: 3 Generations
After 60 years of searching, MyHeritage found the connection – in just two months - between Australia’s Ann Clare Meagher’s mother Hilda Welchman Moss, and Ann’s previously unknown maternal uncle, John Welchman, in the UK.
Ann’s mother, Hilda, died at 32, leaving six children, when Ann was nine. Her father, Fred Moss, was a British Army major posted to India, and Ann was born in Lahore (now Pakistan) in 1945. Her mother Hilda Welchman had travelled to India from England and she married in 1941.
As a teen, I often wondered about my grandparents, as I had no knowledge or contact with them. We moved to Melbourne, Australia in 1962. I became a nurse, and have been happily married for 43 years, with a wonderful husband and three sons.
Ann had spent years looking for any relative of her mother without success until she became a member of MyHeritage and found her previously unknown uncle. She discovered a story he had written about his life and was dumb-founded that he had been looking for his sister’s family for 60 years. He lives in Dorset, England.
Photographs are a great inspiration to see family similarities, past and present. Have you ever been told that you resemble an ancestor?
We often see old photographs and want to learn the stories behind the faces in our family tree. Christine McConnell decided to take this further and actually "become" her ancestors in a beautiful portrait series.
Honoring seven generations of women on her maternal lineage, Christine recreated these photos using herself and showed them side by side. The similarities are uncanny and demonstrate how family connections also extend to appearances.
As we get more involved in our family history research, we acquire more and more information, papers, notes and photos that clutter up our homes.
To avoid losing these valuable pieces of family history, it’s important to find ways to organize and keep track of your family history research discoveries.
Storytelling is a great way to create a stronger family bond, share family moments and have our children and grandchildren feel part of a grander history. Children love listening to stories and looking at old photographs. Seeing a family tree filled with images of people they may or may not know will peak their curiousity to ask many questions and learn about their heritage.
The holidays are fast approaching, and they will be here before we know it.
It can be relatively easy to find a present for your family's family historians since they appreciate practical gifts.
- Genealogists spend a lot of time researching and collecting information. In their line of "work," it is important to stay neat and organized. They may like a new pencil case with office supplies such as pencils, paper clips, a stapler, Post-it stickers and labels.
As part of the global initiative we launched with BillionGraves earlier this year, the MyHeritage team recruited a group of enthusiastic volunteers to continue our efforts to digitize cemeteries.
After successfully digitizing a medium sized cemetery of historical significance earlier this year (see video), we decided to undertake our biggest challenge yet - to digitize Israel's largest cemetery - with over 200,000 graves. So earlier this week, we embarked on a one-of-a-kind project to photograph all headstones of the huge Holon cemetery in central Israel.
This was one of largest events of its kind ever organized - in the world!
The best aspect of the event was the true collaboration between MyHeritage and all leading genealogy organizations in Israel, in addition to MyHeritage power users. In total, some 120 people joined our initiative and participated, and approximately 150,000 gravestone photos were taken throughout the day! It was heart warming to see such collaboration among so many people who care about genealogy, from all ages, and all groups, working together to create an incredible resource that is free for all to use.
The day began at 8:30am - with MyHeritage employees and volunteers arriving at our offices - and ended at 6:30pm.
This guest post was written by expert genealogist Scott Phillips, owner of Onward to Our Past genealogy services, and specializing in immigrant ancestry. He is a regular genealogy contributor for Huffington Post and also blogs weekly for the e-publications of GenealogyBank.com. Follow Scott on his Facebook page and on his website/blog.
Not all that long ago (in genealogy time) my wife and I received the wonderful news that our son and his wife were expecting our second grandson and would be named William in honor of my dad, who had died a year previously.
I began thinking how well I knew my dad and how well our son knew his grandfather, but his namesake would not personally know him at all. Since no one in our family had ever done any family history research, I made the fateful decision to write a paragraph or two about my father so my grandson would know him.
Now, years later, I still find myself laughing when I think back to my desire to write “a paragraph or two”! Our family tree now includes over 11,100 individuals representing 3,685 families, and contains over 6,900 images and documents.
Recently, many historical television series have become very popular. What is it about this genre that appeals to us? What draws us to them?
Perhaps it's about getting a glimpse of what life was like in times gone by. We feel more connected to our ancestors when we learn more about their lives and times. It's the same feeling that draws many of us to genealogy and family history research. The achievements and struggles faced by our ancestors serve as lessons for our own future. After all, history is known to repeat itself.
One such show is the British series, "Downton Abbey," which has swept a nation and also has become popular in other countries, as well. It is now into its fifth season.
"Downton Abbey" follows the Crawley family through major events in history, showing the effects on their lives. The series opened with news of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, followed by the outbreak of the WWI, the Spanish influenza pandemic, and the Marconi scandal in the second season. It dealt with the interwar period and the formation of the Irish Free State in the third season, the Teapot Dome scandal in the fourth, and the general election of 1923 in the UK in the current season.