This article is a guest post by Dick Eastman, one of the most recognized names in the genealogy world. A pioneer geneablogger, he uses technology to improve your family history experience.
Genealogists often face conflicting requirements. We want to publish our own family information online in hopes that others will see it and recognize connections to their own family. Those other genealogists then can contact us, and we can collaborate to expand the known family trees of each of us. The problem is that today's news is full of alarming articles about identity theft, fraud, and similar illegal acts. While some of the news articles describe real threats, others are published as "scare tactics" that magnify smaller issues to sound as if there are imminent dangers for all of us. Alarmist articles often strike unnecessary fear into the hearts of those who do not understand the difference between major and minor threats.
Fears of identity theft from public genealogical information often are irrational. Identity thieves obtain personal information about living people and rarely, if ever, get that information from ancestral data published online. The most common way thieves lift your personal information is by stealing your wallet, not from a website. (Reference: The Most Common Causes of Identity Theft and How to Protect Yourself.)
MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet recently presented a keynote address to hundreds of attendees of the IAJGS 2015 conference in Israel. He discussed "Seven Unique Technologies for Discovering Your Family History."
His talk is a great introduction to understanding MyHeritage technologies, Smart Matches, Record Matches, Newspaper Matches and Instant Discoveries. Gilad described new technologies that MyHeritage has recently released, such as Global Name Translation, as well as new technologies that we are about to release.
Click on the video below to watch the full talk:
Have you ever heard of progonoplexia?
Learning about one's roots was a huge part of Greek identity; being able to brag about ancestors and their past glories. The word was coined to describe the modern Greek people’s preoccupation with discovering their ancient past.
It's an obsession that has lasted over time.
It’s easy to forget about those precious documents scattered around your home. Photo albums are collecting dust, birth certificates and records are stuffed in boxes. All of them may well be lost, if they are not properly stored and preserved.
We’ve written before about the importance of organizing family history research and scanning documents online, but it’s also important to make sure those documents are still intact as primary history resources. They are valuable family heirlooms that should be passed down through the generations, not destroyed.
We’re happy to announce that over 1.8 million new records have been added to SuperSearch. The new collections include various UK Military collections.
These new records are valuable resources which provide insight into the lives of those who served in the UK Military, and their families. These records reveal more about our family heritage and the way our ancestors lived their lives.
Contributing author Schelly Talalay Dardashti is the US Genealogy Advisor for MyHeritage.com
Your family name has evolved since it was adopted. It may represent your family's sojourns in different countries; its spelling and pronunciation may have changed, and it may have been changed following a recent immigration (although not at Ellis Island).
Other factors are easy to understand. Spelling wasn't engraved in stone, people were illiterate or not literate in the language of a specific area. Our ancestors didn't know how to spell their names and government officials were responsible for recording the names in registers or in important documents.
WHY IS IT SO HARD?
The official wrote the name the way he heard it. Perhaps the official was elderly and deaf in one ear, or your ancestor had a speech impediment or an accent. When your ancestor's cousin came in to record a later birth, however, a new younger official sat behind the desk, one whose hearing was excellent and the cousin spoke clearly.
When immigrants moved to a new country, they often changed their names. They wanted to make it easier for themselves, their neighbors and employers to spell or pronounce their names, and for official documents. If the original names were written in other alphabets - such as Cyrillic (Russian, Bulgarian etc.) - they were phonetically transliterated into English, providing many new spelling possibilities. Accents or dialects further complicated the choices.
Continuing our spotlight on volunteer translators, we introduce Torbjorn Wolden, a MyHeritage member from Norway, who has been helping to translate MyHeritage products into Norwegian for the five years.
A young genealogist, Torbjorn became interested in his family history in elementary school.
We did a project where we would make our own family tree (which I still have) and show it to the rest of the class. My grandparents also had a bygdebok (a local history book) for the parish, where all the farms and everyone who had lived there are listed, and I used to look at this and see how long my family had owned the farm and how long they had lived in the area.
Torbjorn has traced back his family history to the mid-1500s to the Trøndelag and Nordmøre regions in Norway. While most of his close family still lives in these regions, he has discovered distant relatives in Sweden; the US; Rotuma, Australia; Denmark and Switzerland.
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.
We’re delighted to announce the launch of Global Name Translation™, a new technology unique to MyHeritage, to help break through those language barriers in the quest to uncover your past.
This innovation now makes it even easier to discover your global roots. The technology automatically translates names found in historical records and family trees from one language into another, at very high accuracy, generating all plausible translations, to facilitate matches between names in different languages. In addition, a manual search on MyHeritage's SuperSearch, will return results in other languages, automatically translated into the language of the query.
How can this benefit you? For example, perhaps your American family has Russian roots. Previously, you would have needed to search also in Russian to find all information available about your ancestors. Now you can search in English, and receive results in Russian, translated back into English for your convenience.
The technology covers given names and surnames and can tackle names previously encountered in the past, in addition to new names not seen before. It also utilizes extensive dictionaries built by MyHeritage to cover synonyms and nicknames.
We recently hosted a webinar - "5 mistakes to avoid with event dates” - featuring one of our expert genealogist Laurence Harris.
Deciphering dates can be confusing in records, especially with uncommon date formats. Laurence provided tips for interpreting those difficult dates to help uncover more about your family history.
Did you miss it? Don't worry! Click on the video below to watch the full webinar.
Don’t forget to check our other webinars for many more genealogy tips to help make family history research easier.
Have ideas for other webinars? Let us know in the comments below.