2    Oct 20148 comments

Surname Secrets: What’s in a name?

A surname passes through many generations connecting family members with that common surname. Many people are also named after deceased relatives to honor those who came before.

Surnames first appeared in the Middle Ages as a way to record and document people and for tax purposes. Details included given names, nicknames, parents’ names, occupation and residence. This personal information later became an important part of the history of surnames.

Women brewsters in the early 1900s in Seattle. Image credit: THE SEATTLE TIMES ARCHIVE

We recently wrote about jobs that no longer exist, and it was common for our ancestors to have surnames based on their occupation such as Cook, Carpenter or Smith. By looking at their surnames, it often leads us to learn more about our relatives’ lives. Yet there are many occupational surnames with hidden meanings. Here are a few of our favorites: Continue reading "Surname Secrets: What’s in a name?" »

29    Sep 20142 comments

A Sacrifice: The story of an Italian WWI hero

This year marks a century since the beginning of World War I. To commemorate, we share the touching story of Italian soldier Cesare Mele, from Sezze, south of Rome.

A view of ancient Sezze, in southern Italy

While the Central Powers consisted of Austria-Hungary and Germany, Italy decided to remain neutral in 1914, and eventually joined the Allies (France, UK and Russia) in May 1915. Once they entered the conflict, 650,000 Italian soldiers died, 947,000 were wounded, and 600,000 disappeared or were captured as prisoners of war.

MyHeritage user Lucia Fusco shared the story of Cesare Mele, her courageous great-uncle , who, through his self-sacrifice, was able to save his own family. Continue reading "A Sacrifice: The story of an Italian WWI hero" »

27    Sep 20143 comments

Accidental Discoveries: Penicillin, corn flakes and more!

This September marks 86 years since scientist Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928.

Unlike many inventions that come about from years of research and hard work, penicillin was an unexpected discovery. When Fleming, a professor of bacteriology, returned home from his two-week vacation, he began sorting through his petri dishes. He noticed mold had formed on his staphylococcus samples. This mold was actually a strain of Penicillium notatum which inhibited bacterial growth. The modern era of medicine hasn't been the same since.

Over the course of history, Fleming's discovery wasn't the only "accidental" invention.  Albert Einstein said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” You'll never know when an error may turn into a life-saving treatment or a Nobel Prize-winning invention.

Here are examples of other "accidental" discoveries: Continue reading "Accidental Discoveries: Penicillin, corn flakes and more!" »

1    Sep 2014285 comments

Labor Day: 10 jobs that are obsolete

Did your great-grandfather cut ice for a living? Perhaps your grandmother was a switchboard operator and connected calls from house to house?

There are so many professions that our ancestors once followed that are now extinct today.

Here are 10 examples of professions that no longer exist:

1) A scissors-grinder was a street merchant that sharpened the blades of knives and scissors. He would call out in the streets or knock at the doors to try and get business. He worked the stone grinding wheel with his foot using a treadle.

A scissors-grinder in 1909. Credit: Maryland Historical Society Library.

Continue reading "Labor Day: 10 jobs that are obsolete" »

28    Aug 20141 comment

WWI: Unknown animal heroes

When we speak of war heroes, we generally refer to the brave men and women who fought and died for their country. Yet, many animals were on the frontlines with the soldiers. These heroic animals transported equipment, sent secret notes and informed of enemy movements.

Horses carrying ammunition at the Battle of Vimy Ridge

Horses:
Horses were used for transporting food, artillery, equipment and to carry wounded soldiers. Eight million horses from all sides of the war died during WWI. Continue reading "WWI: Unknown animal heroes" »

23    Aug 20141 comment

WWI Heroes: British women of the war

While many men went out to fight, it’s important to also remember the little known heroes who fought for their countries during the war.

Many brave women - doctors, nurses and soldiers - served on the battlefront, risking their lives to save others.

In honor of the WWI centenary, we highlight just a few of those heroic women: Continue reading "WWI Heroes: British women of the war" »

10    Jul 201429 comments

Search WWI military records for free!

2014 marks a century since the outbreak of World War I. On July 28 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Empire invaded Serbia, beginning a world war that would last four years and result in millions of casualties.

Were your ancestors among the brave men who fought? How did they serve their country? Learn more about them by searching hundreds of thousands of WWI military records.

Enjoy FREE access to the following record collections from now through the end of July: Continue reading "Search WWI military records for free!" »

29    Jun 20142 comments

Fathers: More quality time

Spending time with family is vital for maintaining a happy family with strong relationships. The more time you spend together, the better chance you have of bonding over quality experiences.

Today’s fathers are spending more time with their children than ever, and are becoming more and more involved in family childcare.

Continue reading "Fathers: More quality time" »

20    Jun 20143 comments

Nostalgia: Sounds of technologies from the past

We recently wrote about smells that evoke nostalgic memories. Many claim that smell is the most powerful sense, as it brings up memories from the past. Sound is also powerful in that it helps us remember our childhood, and times gone by.

According to a recent article, Ryan Dube explains that for generations of early technology users, sounds of technologies from an earlier time can evoke powerful memories of childhood games, long nights of online chats, and new email messages.

Dube lists five top sounds from a time when technology was simpler and these sounds along with the technology that they accompanied was just being introduced into our daily lives.

1) The whir of the floppy drive:

Do you remember waiting as our computers tried hard to read data from floppy disks?  We would wait patiently as the floppy driver whirred away and we hoped that our disks were not too damaged to be read. Continue reading "Nostalgia: Sounds of technologies from the past" »

5    Jun 20142 comments

We Are Family: Sibling bands

Today we spotlight some families that got along well with each other, and also shared the same musical talents and worked together on a daily basis. These family bands toured and performed together over the years.

Here are some of our favorite sibling bands:

Jackson 5
The Jackson siblings are possibly the best-known sibling act in history. Founded in 1964, the five brothers  -Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael - began singing in talent shows before they entered the professional scene. The Jackson 5 showcased the then tiny Michael Jackson's talents as a solo artist. Continue reading "We Are Family: Sibling bands" »

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