20    Jul 201539 comments

The Secret of Ereikoussa: The reunion

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.

Savvas Israel was saved by Ereikoussa's residents

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. Continue reading "The Secret of Ereikoussa: The reunion" »

4    Jul 20151 comment

July 4th: 9 things you never knew

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.

In honor of July 4, here are some fun facts for the day: Continue reading "July 4th: 9 things you never knew" »

30    Apr 201518 comments

Names: What’s in the middle?

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. Continue reading "Names: What’s in the middle?" »

25    Apr 20151 comment

ANZAC Day: 100 Years

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.

In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers set out as part of an Allies expedition to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula and open the way to the Black Sea. Continue reading "ANZAC Day: 100 Years" »

23    Feb 20155 comments

World War II: New photos discovered

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.

24    Dec 20141 comment

Did You Know: 13 interesting Christmas facts

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!

(Image credit: dwellingsbydevore.com)

Check them out:

13    Dec 201422 comments

Christmas 1914: A holiday truce

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.

German and British soldiers meeting in no man's land, December 26, 1914

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. Continue reading "Christmas 1914: A holiday truce" »

16    Nov 20143 comments

Thanksgiving Traditions: Old and new

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.

Here are some of our favorite traditions and the stories behind them: Continue reading "Thanksgiving Traditions: Old and new" »

11    Nov 201411 comments

Legacy of War Heroes: Honoring our ancestors

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.

Last week, we asked readers to share memories of the war heroes in your family, and received many emotional stories. Let’s remember and honor some of those heroes and preserve their memories: Continue reading "Legacy of War Heroes: Honoring our ancestors" »

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?" »

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