31    Dec 20154 comments

5 New Year’s Resolutions Every Genealogist Should Set

This is a guest post by Lorine McGinnis Schulze of Olive Tree Genealogy. Lorine is a Canadian genealogist who has been involved in genealogy and history for over 30 years. Find her on Twitter (@LorineMS), Pinterest (lorinems), and at her Olive Tree Genealogy YouTube channel. She is also the author of many published genealogical and historical articles and books here.

New Year's always seems like a good time to make resolutions for doing better in our personal or business lives, or for accomplishing goals in the year ahead. But how many resolutions should we make? How many are we going to realistically keep?

Enthusiasm for change runs high in January. We are full of renewed energy. It’s a new year with the opportunity for new beginnings, and it is easy to become caught up in the fervor. But February and March often bring different emotions and our enthusiasm for the work that lies ahead can wane or drop off completely.

We genealogists often get carried away with our resolutions. There are so many ancestors to find, and so many sources to cite! We need to find great-grandma’s maiden name. We need to organize our files. We desperately want to find the names of 2nd great-grandpa’s parents. And where or who did 3rd great-grandpa marry? The list of wants is endless. Continue reading "5 New Year’s Resolutions Every Genealogist Should Set" »

20    Dec 20156 comments

Family Mysteries: Revealed through holiday cards and letters

This is a guest post by genealogist James L. Tanner, a retired trial attorney from Arizona now living in Utah. He is the author of two popular genealogy blogs, Genealogy's Star and Rejoice, and be exceeding glad. With over 30 years of genealogy experience, he currently volunteers at the Brigham Young University Family History Library in Provo, Utah.

Many countries around the world have a tradition of sending greeting cards to friends and relatives during the holiday seasons. In the United States, there is also a strong tradition of sending family letters at the end of the year reviewing important events. In the last 100 years or so, these holiday cards and letters  have also contained photos and valuable information about family members. Sometimes the information contained in a card or on a photo may be priceless and could resolve long-standing family mysteries. A card from a distant relative may identify someone whose relationship you never knew about or even suspected.

"Burns Mont. Ayr Postcard 1899" (Credit: Tony Corsini at en.wikipedia. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons)

Continue reading "Family Mysteries: Revealed through holiday cards and letters" »

29    Nov 201522 comments

The Power of Story: Yours, Mine and Ours

This is a guest post by genealogy professional Thomas MacEntee. He specializes in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogical research and as a means of interacting with others in the family history community. His latest endeavor is Genealogy Bargains, a way to save money on genealogy and family history products and services.

“Mommy? Where are you?”

At age four, I almost drowned in a lake at my father’s hunting camp in upstate New York. It is one of my earliest memories that remain with me to this day. I remember looking up from the water and seeing my mother reach down for me. I could see her, almost clearly, yet she could not see me. And time stood still.

My mother saved me that day after I had wandered away from the rest of the family and slipped on the wet grass along the bank of the lake. Luckily, it was only a few seconds after I fell in that she realized something had happened. While on her hands and knees at the water’s edge, she frantically reached around the murky bottom until she was able to grab the waist of my pants and pull me out.

I was saved that day. It was one of several times when this gentle yet strong woman would agitate the waters of my life, to save me and then soothe me to make those waters calm. Continue reading "The Power of Story: Yours, Mine and Ours" »

14    Oct 20157 comments

Lisa Louise Cooke: Using Google tools for genealogy

This is a guest post by Lisa Louise Cooke, founder of Genealogy Gems, a genealogy and family history multi-media company. She is producer and host of "Genealogy Gems Podcast," the popular online genealogy audio show, as well as the "Family History: Genealogy Made Easy" podcast. Her podcast episodes bring genealogy news, research strategies, expert interviews and inspiration to genealogists. She is also the author of a variety of multi-media materials, including "The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox." She is also a doting wife to Bill, the proud mom of three daughters, and a grandmother to boot.

We recently spoke with Lisa about how Google's online tools have changed the face of genealogy research and using them to help you search, translate, message, and span the globe.

1. Can you highlight some of the main ways Google tools have changed the face of genealogy research? Continue reading "Lisa Louise Cooke: Using Google tools for genealogy" »

10    Sep 20157 comments

Names: How do you say that?

Contributing author Schelly Talalay Dardashti is the US Genealogy Advisor for MyHeritage.com

If your family name is Smith or Green, you won't relate to this post. However, if your family name is something more exotic - welcome to the club!

They look at your name, stammer and ask "how do you say that?" What do you do? Do you patiently spell it several times? Will you, as I often do, spell it out as in "D as in David, A as in Apple, R as in Robert" .... Do you break the name down into syllables for the other person? Do you give up and say, "Call me by my first name!" Continue reading "Names: How do you say that?" »

7    Sep 201533 comments

Privacy Issues for Family Historians

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.) Continue reading "Privacy Issues for Family Historians" »

13    Jun 20153 comments

Our Stories: From Sweden to Australia Part 2

We recently wrote about the start of Anna’s journey to meet her relatives in Australia. A journey that really began 125 years ago, Anna crossed oceans to meet relatives related to their common ancestor, Oskar. Here is Part 2.

In late December 2012, several relatives in Gotland, Sweden received a call from a man speaking English. Many hung up the phone and thought it was a hoax. They didn’t understand why an English-speaking man was calling them.

After many disconnected calls, the same person called my cellphone on December 30, 2012. David Michel said he was calling from Sydney, Australia.

Anna Lindblom and David Michel

He said he was Oskar’s grandson. The mystery of our family story about what happened to Oskar in Australia was beginning to be solved. Continue reading "Our Stories: From Sweden to Australia Part 2" »

12    Jan 201535 comments

Understanding Dates: Five common mistakes to avoid

This post was written by Laurence Harris, Head of Genealogy UK at MyHeritage.

It is important to record key events of our ancestors, including the date when each event occurred.

Usually several sources indicate an event's date. For example, for a death: the date may be indicated on a death certificate, a headstone, a newspaper obituary and in a Grant of Probate (which authorizes distribution of a deceased person's estate). However, those dates would have been documented using the calendar and recording conventions of the geographical location and time when the event originally took place, rather than the calendar and conventions with which today's researcher would be familiar. Failure to take into account the original context of an event or document often results in mistakes in understanding when an event actually happened.

Here are five of the most common mistakes that can occur in interpreting dates, together with suggestions as to how these mistakes can be avoided or corrected. Continue reading "Understanding Dates: Five common mistakes to avoid" »

6    Oct 201416 comments

Death Records: Vital to Your Research

This guest post has been written by expert genealogist Miriam J. Robbins. Miriam has been instructing and lecturing in the United States since 2005. She has been interested in her family history since she was a young girl, living in Southeast Alaska. She began her genealogy research in 1987, and ten years later was successful in reuniting her grandmother with her biological family. Miriam writes an award-winning genealogy blog, AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors, and keeps busy adding links to her Online Historical Directories and Online Historical Newspapers websites.

The month of October is known for Family History Month as well as the holiday of Halloween. What better combination of the two than to learn about death records in genealogical research? Death records are one of the first and best types of records used in beginning genealogical research because of the variety of formats in which they appear, the basic facts which they contain, and the immense details that many list about both the decedent's life and death.

It’s important to learn a little about the history of death records in your ancestor’s location, as it will help you understand how the facts were gathered and recorded, what information the records may contain or omit, why the records themselves may be missing or difficult to find, and where to locate the death records currently. Continue reading "Death Records: Vital to Your Research" »

2    Sep 20130 comments

Ty’s Journey: Part Three

This week, Ty travels from Dublin, Ireland to Paris, France and recounts his continuing adventures and travel tips.

In this edition of my post for MyHeritage on my travels, I went from Dublin, Ireland to Paris, France for a few nights, and then moved on to Villedieu Poeles, about 2 hours west of Paris.  The area is known for copper mining and craftsmanship, with roots to King Henry I (son of William the Conqueror), the Knights Hospitaller, Knights Templar and Knights of Malta.

On my first full day in Paris, I visited the Eiffel Tower twice, once in the early afternoon and again after sunset.  Another travel writer had asked me for some photos of the Tower at night, so I decided to give it a shot (pardon the pun).

Eiffel Tower at night during light show

When traveling for ancestral reasons, remember that almost every location – particularly in large, historic cities like Paris – offers two sides for your interests.  That which your ancestors knew: Their churches, houses or neighborhoods, places of work, and the culture of the city in general.

I've heard rumors that I might have some French ancestry, but have not yet been able to discover it. If I do, it would have been before the Eiffel Tower was built (1887-89). Yet, because my ancestors would never have seen the tower, I visited it because it's part of the city’s culture and history. Continue reading "Ty’s Journey: Part Three" »

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