11    Jan 20166 comments

A Space Oddity: David Bowie, the Legend

We were shocked to learn of music legend David Bowie's untimely death Sunday. He died yesterday at 69, after an 18-month battle with cancer. Bowie's music spanned four decades, impacting generations of music lovers.

(Image credit: Wikipedia)

He was born David Robert Jones on 8 January 1947, in Brixton, London. His mother, Margaret Mary "Peggy", was from Kent, and his father, Haywood Stenton "John" Jones, was from Yorkshire. As a child, Bowie quickly showed his creativity and imagination as well as true musical talent. At 15 and a guitar player, he formed his first rock-and-roll band, playing local youth gatherings and weddings. Even as a teenager, Bowie knew that he wanted to become a big star. Continue reading "A Space Oddity: David Bowie, the Legend" »

7    Jan 20162 comments

What Was Life Like 100 Years Ago?

No matter how much we learn about our ancestors as individuals, it's hard to picture what their lives were like back then. What were their struggles and challenges? What were their daily routines? Was life simpler for them?

A theatre troup in Del Tura, Florida compiled a list of what life was like 100 years ago. After viewing that list, it's amazing to think just how much has changed over time.

Brooklyn, 1916 (Image credit: Library of Congress)

Some of our favorites in that list: Continue reading "What Was Life Like 100 Years Ago?" »

24    Nov 201515 comments

The Woman Who Made Thanksgiving Happen

Year after year, Americans gather around the table on the fourth Thursday of November to celebrate Thanksgiving. Many recognize its origins as connected to the 1621 Pilgrim feast and thanksgiving prompted by a good harvest, but few know the woman responsible for making the celebration official. Sarah Josepha Hale, author and poet, fought to institutionalize Thanksgiving. Through her efforts, it was declared a national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln.

1863 letter from Hale to Lincoln discussing Thanksgiving. (Credit: Library of Congress)

This Thanksgiving is 152 years since the proclamation by President Lincoln, making it a national holiday. MyHeritage decided to locate the descendants of Sarah Hale and to look deeper into the legacy passed down through the generations of her family.

Sarah Josepha Buell was born October 24, 1788 in Newport, New Hampshire. She married lawyer David Hale in 1813, and the couple had five children. A writer and influential editor, she wrote letters to politicians for 27 years advocating for Thanksgiving to become an official holiday. Until then, Thanksgiving was celebrated mainly in New England, and on different dates in each state.

Hale wrote letters to five different US presidents: Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln. Although her initial letters failed to yield results, her letter to Lincoln convinced him to support 1863 legislation to establish the national holiday of Thanksgiving. Continue reading "The Woman Who Made Thanksgiving Happen" »

18    Nov 20150 comments

Lost Letters: A rare glimpse into the past

What if you could travel back to a specific time and place and get a real look at what life was like then? For 17th-century Europe, thousands of pieces of correspondence are now being unveiled, making time travel seem possible!

The trunk in which the letters were kept (Image credit: Hague Museum for Communication)

A recent article in The Guardian reports that a treasure trove of unopened letters from the 17th-century are now being studied after having been hidden away for many centuries in the Netherlands. Continue reading "Lost Letters: A rare glimpse into the past" »

11    Nov 20153 comments

War Heroes: Remembering your family’s heroes

Today we commemorate the brave men and women in your families who fought for their countries. Earlier this week, we asked you to send in stories and photographs of your family's war heroes. By paying tribute to them and to their sacrifices, we hope to remember them and to preserve their legacies. Lest we forget.

Here are some of the stories and photographs shared with us: Continue reading "War Heroes: Remembering your family’s heroes" »

8    Nov 20150 comments

Remembrance Day: Your family’s heroes

Across generations and around the world, families have been affected by war. Relatives have had to put aside family life in service of their country, and some even made the ultimate sacrifice.

For many, the act of remembering the fallen heroes of past wars is not just of national significance; it's also familial and personal. We pay our respects to the brave men and women who fought for their countries, and who are also remembered by the relatives who lost them. Continue reading "Remembrance Day: Your family’s heroes" »

30    Sep 20151 comment

Life on Mars: Thoughts from 100 years ago

The news has been abuzz recently about newfound evidence of water on Mars, leading some people to believe that there may indeed be life on our neighboring planet. Although we may have new cause for believing in the possibility of life on Mars, it is definitely not a new idea. In fact, life on Mars has been the topic of speculation for many curious explorers for over a century.

In an article from the Burlington Hawk Eye Newspaper, published in Burlington, Iowa - Aug 5 1894, a wacky professor made some interesting claims about Earth's inhabitants and their alleged Martian heritage:

(Credit: SuperSearch www.myheritage.com/research).

Professor Ezekiel Wiggins said "The Martians regard us as their lost brethren and have been searching for us for thousands of years. They have been especially hopeful since they saw the electric lights in our cities."

Continue reading "Life on Mars: Thoughts from 100 years ago" »

29    Sep 201559 comments

Extinct Crafts: Shoemaking

People used to keep a pair of shoes for a lifetime. They were a cherished and expensive possession. People would bring them to shoemakers in the hope that they could restore their shine and luster and bring them back to life.

Today, although traditional shoemakers still exist and we are able to visit their shops, they are fewer and more difficult to find. Like many artisans, many are closing their doors. Shoes have been mass-produced for many years and are easily replaceable at low cost.

The smell of real leather and quality craftsmanship evoke memories and take us back to a different time. A time where attention to detail, uniqueness, and quality were tantamount. It is possible that real shoemakers will soon be extinct!

(Image credit: Soletopia.com)

Thousands of years ago, man first tied animal skin around his feet to protect them, and the concept of footwear materialized. Not only would shoes protect people from rugged terrain and long journeys, they would help them deal with extreme temperatures of heat or cold, and allow them to move freely. Continue reading "Extinct Crafts: Shoemaking" »

20    Sep 201510 comments

Old Photos: Why our ancestors didn’t smile

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?

It's extremely rare to find 19th-century photos where people are smiling or showing any emotion. What's the story behind their stony and serious stares? Continue reading "Old Photos: Why our ancestors didn’t smile" »

17    Sep 20150 comments

Fashion Styles: 100 years in two minutes

Everything changes over time, including relationships, memories and, of course, fashion. Clothing trends constantly evolve. Sometimes it's difficult for us to realize just how much styles have changed over the years, and over our own lifetimes.

In the past, we've written about photographing styles and fashion of times gone by.

Website Mode.com has taken a long hard look in the mirror and presented fashion styles for women over the past century  in a two-minute video! It is fascinating, and can be watched over and over.

The video has over 6 million views, so take a look!

Which decade over the past century has had the most interesting styles?

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