26    Nov 20150 comments

Thanksgiving: The holiday of travel

Thanksgiving is one of the year's busiest travel times in the United States. According to the US Bureau of Transportation, the number of long-distance trips (50 miles or more) increases by 54 percent around Thanksgiving.

Visiting friends and family is the single biggest reason Americans travel during the holidays. The visits account for 53 percent of all Thanksgiving trips. The average Thanksgiving trip is 214 miles. In 2012, AAA estimated that nearly 44 million people traveled during the holiday weekend - 90 percent traveled by car; the rest traveled by air, train or bus. Continue reading "Thanksgiving: The holiday of travel" »

19    Nov 20150 comments

Our Volunteers: From Finland to England

As a leading place for families around the world to discover their family histories, it’s thanks to our many hardworking volunteers that all of MyHeritage's products and features are available in 42 languages.

Last month, we featured Yana's story. This month we spotlight another volunteer who makes it easier for families worldwide to build, preserve and share their family heritage.

Kaarina May is one of our Finnish volunteer translators. Born in Finland of Karelian heritage, Kaarina completed her folk school education in Helsinki and began work in an advertising agency. Before starting her apprenticeship as a layout artist, she received six months' leave to go traveling.

She went to England to improve her language skills and immediately met her future husband, Terry, and never returned to Finland or her apprenticeship. Kaarina began work in a London travel agency and qualified as an agency manager, trainer and internal verifier. She eventually moved into education, and earned a Cambridge University Certificate for Teaching English to Adults. Continue reading "Our Volunteers: From Finland to England" »

10    Nov 20150 comments

Our Ancestors: Discover more about their daily lives

We recently hosted a webinar with expert genealogist Schelly Talalay Dardashti about discovering more about our ancestor's daily lives.

Schelly covered an extensive array of aspects of our ancestors' lives that we can research to get a better idea of their lifestyle and the times that they lived in.

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

Continue reading "Our Ancestors: Discover more about their daily lives" »

25    Oct 20156 comments

DNA: Are our friends actually family?

Many of us are lucky to have close friends, who feel like family, in our lives. In recent years, genetic research has supported the theory that friends are more likely to share certain similarities in their genetic makeup.

When I was growing up, Uncle Max was always hanging around our house, chatting with my parents. He helped steer my father right with his do-it-yourself home projects, he told jokes at the dinner table, and he always came bearing little treats for my siblings and me. He visited so often that he was considered a member of the family.

I had always assumed that he was a second cousin or somehow distantly related to us. It was only when I was a teenager that I discovered that "Uncle" Max was not my uncle, but a very close friend of my parents. He had shared several stages of life with them and had essentially become family. Growing up, we were closer with Max than we were to many of our other aunts and uncles. Continue reading "DNA: Are our friends actually family?" »

13    Oct 20150 comments

5 Easy Tips to Create a Great Family Tree Poster

It's never too early to start thinking about gifts for the holidays. Now is the perfect time to start planning, to reduce unwanted stress and chaos in December, making your life easier. Early planning also allows you to fully enjoy the holiday season, leaving you free to spend time with your family, and revel in your favorite activities, yearly traditions and celebrations.

A poster of your family tree, can be a very special gift for just about anyone on your list. A poster can be created very easily, with just a few clicks on your family site. Personalizing a poster can make it a one-of-a-kind and unique gift. It can be ordered on your family site, from the comfort of your own home, and sent anywhere in the world!

Here are our top 5 tips for creating a perfect family poster: Continue reading "5 Easy Tips to Create a Great Family Tree Poster" »

6    Oct 20151 comment

Something Borrowed: Bride wears 120-year-old gown

A wedding is a momentous occasion that warrants special family traditions. Each family has its unique way of making the event unforgettable. Many find a way to link the event to the past, to honor and recognize their ancestors who made them who they are. Some pass down jewelry from generation to generation to be worn by the bride. Others pass down meaningful heirlooms.

In my family, we have a prayer book that has been passed down to each bride since the early 1900s. It has weathered well over the years - considering how old it is - and how far it has traveled. Although worn and, in some places, unreadable, it doesn't matter. Many brides on my mother's side of the family have written their names and wedding date on the front page, just moments before walking down the aisle and beginning a new stage of life.

I remember the unbelievable feeling of belonging as I looked over the signatures of my great-grandmother, grandmother, mother and aunts from their wedding days, and then added my own name. To realize that I was part of a tradition established so many generations ago to commemorate this important life event eased my pre-wedding jitters. I felt honored to be included in the lineage of those women who came before me. They may have lived their lives in different generations, but they each had similar hopes and dreams on the day of their weddings. I hope to have my children sign the same book and to continue the tradition for future generations.

Abigail Kingston, a young woman from Pennsylvania, was recently in the news for deciding to wear a family wedding gown handed down for 120 years! Her great-great-grandmother Mary was the first bride to wear the Victorian-era satin gown in 1895, and it has been worn a total of 10 times to date.

(Image credit: Leslie Kingston)

Continue reading "Something Borrowed: Bride wears 120-year-old gown" »

21    Sep 201510 comments

Top 9 Family Heirlooms

Family heirlooms are artifacts that provide comfort and a sense of connection to our heritage. They illustrate our family histories and provide memories of our loved ones.

Passed down from generation to generation, often with a background story, they help preserve our heritage for future generations. We recently wrote about bizarre places to find family heirlooms.

I grew up in a home where many pieces of furniture once belonged to my great-grandmother. I thought that it was strange to have such antique furniture in our modern home but, as I grew older, I came to appreciate their value and the importance of safeguarding pieces that once belonged to the matriarch of our large family. Little did I know that my family was not unique and that furniture is commonly passed down in families and cherished for generations.

Here are nine of the top family heirlooms: Continue reading "Top 9 Family Heirlooms" »

20    Sep 20159 comments

Old Photos: Why our ancestors didn’t smile

We remember our ancestors by their photos, which provide small glimpses into their world, and bring them to life once again. If preserved properly, photos offer lasting impressions for future generations.

When looking at old photos of our ancestors, it's easy to wonder what they were thinking at that moment. Their ambiguous expressions leave us questioning. Were they happy? Were they sad?

It's extremely rare to find 19th-century photos where people are smiling or showing any emotion. What's the story behind their stony and serious stares? Continue reading "Old Photos: Why our ancestors didn’t smile" »

16    Sep 20154 comments

The Grandma Hypothesis: Couldn’t have done it without her!

In honor of Grandparents’ Day, that we celebrated this past Sunday, September 13, here are some fond memories.

Those of us fortunate enough to grow up with grandparents understand how important they were (and are) in our lives. I grew up knowing my mother's parents and maternal great-grandmother;  my paternal grandparents had died when I was quite young, although I do remember some holiday celebrations

My great-grandmother took care of my mother when she was little, so her parents (my grandparents) could work without worry. Today, this model is still common in many cultures around the world. Both parents are often working and grandmothers (and grandfathers) are helping to raise their grandchildren.

I remember my grandmother’s visits very well, and saw my great-grandmother, quite elderly by that time, during the summer vacations. Grandma would arrive for visits laden with boxes and jars of wonderful delicacies that our mother didn’t have time to prepare. When we were little, she kept us busy and happy with painting, making pasta necklaces and pasta artwork, trying to teach us how to sew dresses for our dolls. Her legendary attempts to teach me to crochet, unfortunately, fell on hands that just didn't catch on. Continue reading "The Grandma Hypothesis: Couldn’t have done it without her!" »

24    Aug 20151 comment

Make Summer Work For You: 9 ways to a family history win!

Most people find they have more time for hobbies and interests during the summer than the rest of the year. Perhaps it's the long days and nice weather that give us more energy to broaden our horizons and inspire our creativity.

Whatever the reason, summer is a great time to focus on family history research and unlock new clues into your family's past.

Here are nine ways to ramp up your family history research and make the most of those long summer days:

1. Spend quality time with family: Close or far, it's important to strengthen family bonds. Encourage sharing memories, photos and family heirlooms. Use the MyHeritage Mobile App to add photos while you're on-the-go. Continue reading "Make Summer Work For You: 9 ways to a family history win!" »

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