21    Jul 20133 comments

Old postcards: A family history resource

Cards with messages have been mailed since the creation of the postal service. Many of us have sent postcards to our loved ones from vacations or just a quick note to say hello.

A postcard is traditionally a rectangular piece of thick paper or cardboard intended for mailing without an envelope.

The earliest known picture postcard comes from the 19th century, hand-painted by writer Theodore Hook in 1840. In the US, John P. Carlton patented the postal card and produced the first commercial cards in 1861.

The earliest known picture postcard, posted in London to writer Theodore Hook in 1840

Over the course of the 19th century, postcards gained additional popularity among all social classes. They were a convenient, inexpensive and attractive means of correspondence.

Continue reading "Old postcards: A family history resource" »

6    Jul 20138 comments

Photos from the Past: Hidden Mothers

Photography is a great way to document our ancestors and to learn more about who they are, even just from their portraits.

Since the late-19th century, photography has become much more accessible and affordable for middle class families, yet taking a photo back then was a very different experience from today's.

A 19th-century photographer

Two centuries ago, there were no “instant” photos. Those posing for photographs had to remain in position - patiently - for five minutes to get the perfect image.

Continue reading "Photos from the Past: Hidden Mothers" »

24    Jun 20138 comments

Guest Post: Ty’s World Trek

We're delighted to introduce a new guest contributor to our blog - Tyrell "Ty" Rettke. After battling ulcerative colitis and a series of corrective surgeries, Ty is on a round-the-world adventure and will help people he meets in various countries to trace their family histories.

From a small town (Ketchikan) in Alaska, Ty, 28, is interested in history and in tracing his own family heritage. In the first of his monthly posts, he heads to Ireland to see his roots.

Ty, 28, from Ketchikan, Alaska, is on a trip around the world

There are many reasons people travel. One trend is people visiting their ancestral homes. For me, this includes Ireland. So when I made my way across the Atlantic on my mission to circumnavigate the globe, I decided that Ireland was a must for my journey around the world.

Continue reading "Guest Post: Ty’s World Trek" »

28    May 20130 comments

Memorial Day: How did you celebrate?

Yesterday, the US celebrated Memorial Day to honor fallen soldiers who served in the Armed Forces.

Memorial Day has many traditions, including spending time with family at a barbeque and sharing memories of relatives who served in the military.

To help you learn more about your family heritage and your relatives and ancestors who served in service, we offered last week free access to our most popular US military record collections. Continue reading "Memorial Day: How did you celebrate?" »

10    May 20132 comments

Ghosts of War: Bringing historic legacies to the present

What's the relationship between our history and our daily reality?

Each day we walk by our local store, our neighbor's place or the park, without realizing the stories from the past that existed in those same places many years before.

While we often think of history as antique, irrelevant and something out of the past, it  can just as easily be intertwined with the present.

Imagine what it would look like if the ghosts of World War II came back to the streets today. That’s what Dutch historian Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse shows through her Ghosts of War photo series.

Ghosts of war - France; taken prisoner (Courtesy of Jo Hedwig Teeuwise)

Continue reading "Ghosts of War: Bringing historic legacies to the present" »

18    Mar 20133 comments

Family: Lost and found

A piece of family history can be found in a library book.

As a young girl, I spent a lot of time at the iconic New York Public Library – with those stone lions out front - working on school projects. I once found a book I needed and opened it. Out fell an old-fashioned photo postcard with my grandfather’s picture on it.

He was in the army and had sent the card, with a message, to his sister. She had likely stuck it in the book and forgotten about it, until I found it decades later.

My grandfather - Szaje Sidney Fink - whose photo was found in a library book!

I wasn’t a genealogist then, and in what I now believe was a misguided act of responsibility, I put the card back in the book. Perhaps the owner would come looking for it?

When I got home, I told my family about it, and everyone said I should have brought it home. Fortunately, we found a copy at another relative’s home much later.

Have you ever had to clear out the home of a deceased relative or had to help move an elderly relative to a retirement or nursing home?

Checking the dusty corners of a large home, or even a small apartment, can produce family treasures that would otherwise be lost forever.

Continue reading "Family: Lost and found" »

8    Mar 20131 comment

International Women’s Day: Your stories

International Women’s Day has its roots in the North American and European Labor movements.

It was first observed in the US on February 28, 1909, in honor of the 1908 worker’s strike when women protested against poor working conditions. A year later, The Socialist International met in Copenhagen and established a Women’s Day to honor the women’s rights movement.

The first International Women’s Day, in 1911, took place in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Women rallied for worker’s rights, the right to vote and to hold public office, among other issues.

Today, International Women’s Day is observed worldwide: Continue reading "International Women’s Day: Your stories" »

1    Mar 20132 comments

Celebrating: National Women’s History Month

March is National Women’s Month in the United States. It has been observed annually since 1987 to honor women’s contributions to society, history and culture.

American women have achieved many firsts; here are a few:

  • The first convention held to advocate women’s rights was at Seneca Falls, New York in 1848.
  • In 1869, Wyoming Territory was the first US territory to grant women the right to vote.
  • The first woman elected to an American political office was Susanna Salter, mayor of Argonia, Kansas in April 1887.
  • Elizabeth Blackwell was the first accredited American female doctor and founded the first medical school for women.
  • Edith Wharton became the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for her novel - The Age of Innocence - in 1921.
  • In 1928, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to successfully fly more than 20 hours across the Atlantic.

"We Can Do It" poster, J. Howard Miller. Image credit: Wikipedia

This year’s theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination,” which recognizes the contributions and achievements of women in the fields of science, mathematics, technology and engineering.

In honor of International Women's Day next week, we will publish some of our favorite inspirational stories of women in your family tree.

Do you have women in your family who were pioneer inventors? Do you have any stories of women ancestors' contribution to society, culture and innovation? We'd like to hear your stories. Share them in the comments below, or email them to stories@myheritage.com.

18    Feb 20130 comments

Happy Presidents’ Day!

Washington's Birthday Image credit: Wikipedia

Washington's Birthday. Image credit: Wikipedia

Today is, in the United States, “President's Day.” Did you know that this was originally celebrated as “Washington’s Birthday"?

Established in 1885 as a Federal holiday, it was first celebrated on February 22, Washington’s real birthday. It was also the first Federal holiday honoring an American citizen.

In 1971, the date changed to the third Monday in February, after the creation of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.

The Act also combined Washington’s Birthday with Abraham Lincoln’s, which fell on February 12. Lincoln’s Birthday had long been a state holiday in some states. The combining of these two days gave equal recognition to two of America's most famous men.

Since then the day has become known as President's Day and also honors other presidents born during February, including Ronald Reagan and William Henry Harrison. It is popularly seen as a day to recognize the lives and achievements of all US Presidents.

Continue reading "Happy Presidents’ Day!" »

15    Feb 20130 comments

Valentine’s Day: 1 billion cards

A card by Esther Rowland Courtesy Mount Holyoke College

How many valentines did you receive this year? How many did you send?

Some 190 million valentines are sent each year, according to the US Greeting Card Association. If you count the cards made by schoolchildren, it goes up to 1 billion. And, in 2010, some 15 million e-valentines were sent!

The American tradition of sending valentines was the idea of Esther Rowland (1828-1904), a young graduate of Mount Holyoke College (Massachusetts).

Holyoke's archives and special collections has an impressive collection of historic valentines, many created by Esther. She is credited with having established the commercial valentine industry in the US.

The school’s original name was the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, and Esther graduated in 1847. She was inspired by an ornate English valentine - sent by a family friend – to create her elaborate versions of the greeting card.

Continue reading "Valentine’s Day: 1 billion cards" »

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