This month marks the birthday of musical icon Louis Armstrong, known by his nicknames Satchmo or Pops. As an American jazz trumpeter and singer, he was one of the most influential jazz musicians in history.
Renowned for his stage presence and throaty voice as much as for his trumpet-playing, Armstrong's influence extended well beyond jazz music, and his charismatic and heartfelt performances.
"He left an undying testimony to the human condition in the America of his time" - Wynton Marsalis
Armstrong was born August 4, 1901, in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Mary Albert Armstrong (1886–1942) and William Armstrong (1881–1922). He was the grandson of slaves raised on plantations. They spoke English rather than French and, like most slaves, had little idea of their origins. Louis himself grew up in a poverty-stricken rough neighborhood in New Orleans, known as “Back of Town.” When he was only a baby, his father left the family. From then until he was 5, he and his sister Beatrice were taken care of by their grandmother, Josephine Armstrong. At 5, he moved back to live with his mother, and only very rarely saw his father.
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.
Happy 239th birthday, America!
Also known as Independence Day, Americans come together on July 4 to commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and the country’s birthday.
A great time to celebrate American heritage, it is also fun to share the holiday with families at barbecues, picnics, parades, fairs, firework displays and other family activities.
Middle names. Some people have them; others don’t. The three-name structure we use today (given, middle and last name) began in the Middle Ages when Europeans wanted to give a child a saint’s name and a traditional family name, but middle name use goes back even further.
In ancient Rome, it was an honor given to important people to have multiple names. Later - in the 1700s - aristocrats began to give their children long names to indicate his or her place in society. For example, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge.
ANZAC Day is one of Australia and New Zealand’s most important commemorative occasions marking the anniversary of the first major military action fought by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), during World War 1, at Gallipoli, Turkey.
It's always exciting when we find heirlooms or photos providing more detail into the lives of our ancestors, but this can also happen to historical events.
After some 70 years, 31 rolls of film taken by an American soldier during WWII were found. Last year, the photos were developed as part of a project entitled The Rescued Film Project.
This was the first time the public had access to this incredible historical material depicting the lives of soldiers during the war, as they offer a glimpse into our ancestors' past.
Watch the video below to learn more about the project and the photos.
Have you found any previously unknown photos revealing more detail about your ancestors' lives? Let us know in the comments below.
Last year, we wrote about many Christmas traditions still common today, and the history behind them.
This year, as the holidays approach, we had our researchers look into interesting Christmas facts we never knew, and we're sure you didn't, either!
Check them out:
- If you received all the gifts from the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” you would have 364 presents, and according to a group that prices the gifts each year, the total price tag would be $116,273.
This Christmas marks 100 years since the famous Christmas truce of WWI, in 1914.
During a stormy winter of fighting between the two sides, a widespread but unofficial truce emerged in the week leading up to - and on - the holiday. German and British soldiers began to exchange seasonal greetings and to sing songs between their trenches. There were even occasions where soldiers walked over to opposing sides to talk to their counterparts and exchange gifts.
On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the soldiers put aside their differences for a few hours. Many of them - from both sides - ventured into "no man's land," where they met and exchanged food and souvenirs, and sang carols together.
It is said that at the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines calling out "Merry Christmas." The Allied soldiers were wary at first, thinking it might be a trick, but when they saw the Germans approach them unarmed, they climbed out of their trenches as well, and shook hands with the enemy.
Thanksgiving is almost here and it’s time for family, food and football!
For decades, Americans have been celebrating Thanksgiving with its fun traditions, from watching the Macy’s Day Parade to eating turkey.
Today we remember those heroes who fought for their countries and sacrificed their lives to save many.
Whether a fighter on the battlefield, or part of the home-front movement, these heroic men and women fought to protect their families, country and friends - their memories will always remain with us.
Many of us may have a personal link to Remembrance Day, or Veterans Day, by honoring our own ancestors who fought and lost their lives in battle.