1    Aug 20163 comments

Corfu and Me

In early 2015, MyHeritage accepted a challenge by Yvette Manessis Corporon, an Emmy Award winning producer and author, to help her research the Secret of Ereikoussa, a tiny island in Greece north of Corfu. Our quest was successful. But when we concluded it in a tearful reunion on the Greek island, we realized that this was only a small part of a story that was never told, the story of the Jewish community of Corfu. We decided to continue this journey, and try to map out the family history of this ancient community, that was nearly wiped out in WW2. We realized that if we won't do it, probably no one would, and a significant piece of history would be forever forgotten.

On our genealogical journey, we encountered many emotional side stories and the family tree of the community that we were building, that began with a handful of people known only by their first name, grew into the thousands.

At one point, our research revealed an unexpected connection between the Jewish family that was saved on Ereikoussa thanks to the courage of the Greek islanders, and the Corfiot grandparents of Israeli journalist Amir Ziv. Over the years, Amir, although cognizant of his Greek past, had made little effort to look further into his Mediterranean background.

In truth, I never imagined that I would ever revisit these memories...

It was only earlier this year, when MyHeritage researchers approached Amir, that he became aware of the complex storyline linking his family history with that of the orphaned girl Rosa, who had been hidden and saved on Ereikoussa over 70 years ago.

The wedding of "orphan" Rosa Belleli, who was saved on Ereikoussa. Sitting next to her (in a black dress) is Nina, who raised her. Standing above the bride (also in black) is Amir's grandmother, who was also named Rosa Belleli

Continue reading "Corfu and Me" »

24    Jul 20167 comments

How Did Our Ancestors Beat the Heat?

While cooling off in my comfortable air-conditioned home, I wonder what summer was like for my ancestors. How did they attempt to keep cool during intense heat waves without the modern advancements we enjoy? How did they make the most of their summers?

Farm boys eating ice-cream cones, July 1941 (Credit: Library of Congress)

Continue reading "How Did Our Ancestors Beat the Heat?" »

16    Mar 20160 comments

Do You Have the Luck of the Irish?

Most of us are familiar with the popular expression, "the luck of the Irish." With St. Patrick's day approaching, we thought we'd do some research on what it is about the Irish that supposedly makes them so lucky.

As a people, the Irish have a history full of many ups and downs, with some instances of extreme "unluckiness," times of sadness, famine and war. Perhaps the term was used ironically, to poke fun at the troubles they have faced throughout history? Continue reading "Do You Have the Luck of the Irish?" »

17    Feb 20160 comments

Most Popular Girls’ Names of the Past Century

Do you have an Isabella in your family tree? What about Ashley? According to a recent article in the Huffington Post these are two of the top 10 popular names in the United States from the past century.

Ever since the late 1800s, the United States Social Security Administration has been measuring the popularity of baby names. Continue reading "Most Popular Girls’ Names of the Past Century" »

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 201516 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" »

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