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.
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?
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.
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.
Grandmother Betty Govern, 89 - known as Nana Betty - shone brightly as a bridesmaid at her granddaughter Christine's wedding, in Pennsylvania. In her evening gown and bouquet, she stole the show and proved that you're never too old to be a bridesmaid!
At the wedding, she said, "You're as old as you feel and I feel young today!"
Their story was featured recently in the Huffington Post.
A cousin is a relative with whom you share common ancestors. First cousins share grandparents, but all cousins share a family history bond that goes far beyond that.
If you have a really close cousin, you know that the relationship can be very special.
Does family size impact how happy we are?
Our ancestors often came from larger families, with at least three siblings. Today, however, the number of couples who are having more than two children is small.
A recent happiness study found that two-thirds of couples with three or more children consider themselves happy most of the time. Also, they are more satisfied with their lives and build stronger personal relationships with others.
My grandmother was recently searching for some old jewelry of her mother's that she had misplaced. She wanted to give it to me for my birthday to ensure it gets passed down to the next generation.
She opened all the closets, searched through kitchen pots, and even behind light switches! Where did she finally find it? In the pocket of a jacket she hadn’t worn in years.
I was the second of four siblings. Growing up as middle children, my sister (the third child) and I often joked that we were considered double-stuff Oreo filling, and therefore we were the best part of the family.
According to various studies, birth order in a family can have a great impact on a child's life.
Middle children often feel squeezed between older and younger siblings and have trouble finding their place in the family. There's even a syndrome named after us!
Here are five things that only middle children will understand:
We recently wrote about the fascinating Secret of Ereikoussa, where the residents of a small Greek island risked their lives to save a Jewish tailor’s family from the Nazis during WWII.
In November 2013, Emmy Award-winning writer, producer and author Yvette Manessis Corporon contacted MyHeritage to ask for help in finding the descendants of the Jewish tailor - Savvas from Corfu, Greece - who had been hidden on Ereikoussa during the war. She had written a book inspired by her grandmother’s memories of the island, and the story of Savvas was an important part. For Yvette, the story was incomplete and she wanted to discover what happened to the family after the war.
MyHeritage accepted the challenge and embarked on a genealogical journey to uncover the mysteries of this long-kept secret. Starting with just five first names (Savvas, his three daughters Spera, Julia and Nina, and another child - Rosa) we were successful in locating descendants of the family in the U.S. and in Israel. Last month - at an official island ceremony - the families reunited to honor the island's residents for their courageous efforts.