18    Sep 20168 comments

We’re Halfway to Digitizing Every Cemetery in Israel

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.

The MyHeritage team at Segula Cemetery (click to zoom).

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.

Continue reading "We’re Halfway to Digitizing Every Cemetery in Israel" »

6    Sep 201629 comments

DNA Matching Now Live

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.

MyHeritage DNA Matching Now Live

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.

Continue reading "DNA Matching Now Live" »

1    Aug 20164 comments

Corfu and Me

In early 2015, MyHeritage accepted a challenge by Yvette Manessis Corporon, an Emmy Award winning producer and author, to help her research the Secret of Ereikoussa, a tiny island in Greece north of Corfu. Our quest was successful. But when we concluded it in a tearful reunion on the Greek island, we realized that this was only a small part of a story that was never told, the story of the Jewish community of Corfu. We decided to continue this journey, and try to map out the family history of this ancient community, that was nearly wiped out in WW2. We realized that if we won't do it, probably no one would, and a significant piece of history would be forever forgotten.

On our genealogical journey, we encountered many emotional side stories and the family tree of the community that we were building, that began with a handful of people known only by their first name, grew into the thousands.

At one point, our research revealed an unexpected connection between the Jewish family that was saved on Ereikoussa thanks to the courage of the Greek islanders, and the Corfiot grandparents of Israeli journalist Amir Ziv. Over the years, Amir, although cognizant of his Greek past, had made little effort to look further into his Mediterranean background.

In truth, I never imagined that I would ever revisit these memories...

It was only earlier this year, when MyHeritage researchers approached Amir, that he became aware of the complex storyline linking his family history with that of the orphaned girl Rosa, who had been hidden and saved on Ereikoussa over 70 years ago.

The wedding of "orphan" Rosa Belleli, who was saved on Ereikoussa. Sitting next to her (in a black dress) is Nina, who raised her. Standing above the bride (also in black) is Amir's grandmother, who was also named Rosa Belleli

Continue reading "Corfu and Me" »

31    Jul 20165 comments

Tribal Quest: Back from Papua New Guinea

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.

We traveled to five different tribes in various regions of rural Papua New Guinea where we lived and worked with local families to preserve their unique histories for future generations.

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. Continue reading "Tribal Quest: Back from Papua New Guinea" »

9    Jun 20160 comments

The Oldest Selfie Ever Taken

The "selfie" is a casual self-portrait photograph, usually taken with a front-facing camera on a smartphone or a digital camera. They are most often shared through social networks and have become so common that it is rare to have not heard of them.

Although the term "selfie" is relatively new — it was only added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2013 — the idea of taking a photograph of yourself by holding the camera in front of you is most certainly not new.

The first known selfie was produced by Robert Cornelius, an American pioneer in photography. He created a daguerreotype of himself in 1839. Not only is it the first known selfie, but it's also one of the first photographs taken of a person...ever.

Because the process was slow, Robert was able to uncover the lens, run into the shot for a minute or more, and then replace the lens cap. The photo is labeled on the back as "The first light Picture ever taken. 1839."

Credit: Library of Congress

Continue reading "The Oldest Selfie Ever Taken" »

30    May 20162 comments

11 Million Australian Newspaper Pages Now Online

We've just added 11.4 million pages of Australian newspaper records to our collections. The records are now available for free at MyHeritage SuperSearch.

Including over 700 Australian newspapers, this phenomenal collection, digitized by the Trove (The National Library of Australia), covers newspapers from 1803 to the mid-20th century. Each Australian state and territory are represented, although the bulk of the collection consists of newspapers from New South Wales and Victoria.

Search the Australian Newspaper collection now

This collection is a treasure trove of information for all Australian researchers — or those with Australian heritage — looking to add to the rich fabric of their family history and fill in missing details. Newspapers are fantastic sources of genealogical and family history information. Birth, marriage and death announcements, and obituaries found in newspapers are commonly used resources for genealogy. However, your ancestors may also be mentioned in articles on local news and events (i.e. social, community, school, sport, or business related events).

In the next few months, we will add 5 million new pages to this collection. This collection will also soon be matched with all family trees on MyHeritage.

Here are a few interesting examples from the collection: Continue reading "11 Million Australian Newspaper Pages Now Online" »

19    May 201667 comments

MyHeritage is Adding Free DNA Matching

We have some good news for the genealogy community.

We are constantly developing new ways to advance genealogy through the latest technological innovations. One of the most exciting frontiers in family history research is DNA and today's announcement reflects a major step by MyHeritage in this important area.

DNA and traditional genealogy methods, such as family trees and historical records, go hand in hand. DNA can sometimes help where traditional research encounters a dead end, while traditional genealogy is often required to pinpoint an exact relationship path discovered by DNA.

While we have been offering DNA test kits for a few years — through partnerships — and will continue to do so, we are now developing a new DNA Matching service. This service will enable people who have already tested their DNA through DNA testing services (such as 23andMe, Family Tree DNA, and AncestryDNA) to enjoy MyHeritage’s exceptional matching capabilities for their family history research, and get more value from the DNA test they already took. We invite such users to export their raw DNA data from the service they tested on (which is straightforward) and import this data to MyHeritage now, so that when our DNA Matching service is released soon, they will receive matches immediately, and at no cost. Later on, DNA Matching may become a premium feature, but it will remain free for users who upload their DNA data now.

Continue reading "MyHeritage is Adding Free DNA Matching" »

10    May 20160 comments

New Initiative: Tribal Quest

MyHeritage is excited to announce the launch of a new global initiative — Tribal Quest — to record the family histories of tribal people living in remote locations and to preserve their stories for future generations.

Visit the Tribal Quest website

Here’s a short video that introduces the Tribal Quest project, and shows highlights from our first destination, Namibia:

One of our driving forces as a company is to do good, and we place particular emphasis on initiating pro bono projects that increase people's engagement with genealogy — wherever they may live. We recognize that, across a diverse range of cultural practices and geographic locations, every family has its own stories waiting to be told and shared. Tribal Quest is one of our most exciting initiatives, and its impact is already proving very positive.

Continue reading "New Initiative: Tribal Quest" »

2    May 201630 comments

MyHeritage Reunites Two Brothers Separated for 65 Years

"I can't tell you what it means to finally meet my brother after 65 years."

At MyHeritage, we regularly hear from our users about life-changing discoveries they have made about their families using our website. Today we share with you a truly exceptional story, and one that we had the privilege of taking part in as it unfolded. This is the story of two brothers separated as young children in post-World War II Europe. They hadn’t seen one another in 65 years — until MyHeritage reunited them.

Long-lost brothers Izak and Shep meet up in MyHeritage HQ. (Click to view in full size)

Continue reading "MyHeritage Reunites Two Brothers Separated for 65 Years" »

14    Apr 20161 comment

The Beauty of Audio Recordings

We recently released the new Audio Recordings feature in the MyHeritage mobile app. Audio Recordings is free and available on the latest version of the MyHeritage Mobile App for both Android and iOS.

Oral interviews are vital in family history research. Our relatives are a treasure trove of precious family information, and we want to make sure that their stories are preserved forever. Audio Recordings lets you interview your relatives directly from their profile in your family tree, and store the interview for future generations on your MyHeritage family site.

Thousands of MyHeritage users have already taken advantage of this new feature. Today we've chosen to showcase the feedback and recordings of some users who have already enjoyed using Audio Recordings. Continue reading "The Beauty of Audio Recordings" »

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