26    Jan 20164 comments

Valentine’s Day: Send in your ancestors’ wedding photos to win!

"For this was on seynt Volantynys day, Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make." — Geoffrey Chaucer

["For this was on St. Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate."]

Scholars believe that the poem Parlement of Foules (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer is the first recorded association of romantic love with Valentine's Day.

So many families have a great love story at the start: Two people who fell in love and the romance that changed their lives forever.

Growing up, we've all heard the love stories of our grandparents, great-grandparents or other ancestors, and perhaps we were lucky enough to see their photos as well.

Continue reading "Valentine’s Day: Send in your ancestors’ wedding photos to win!" »

31    Dec 20154 comments

5 New Year’s Resolutions Every Genealogist Should Set

This is a guest post by Lorine McGinnis Schulze of Olive Tree Genealogy. Lorine is a Canadian genealogist who has been involved in genealogy and history for over 30 years. Find her on Twitter (@LorineMS), Pinterest (lorinems), and at her Olive Tree Genealogy YouTube channel. She is also the author of many published genealogical and historical articles and books here.

New Year's always seems like a good time to make resolutions for doing better in our personal or business lives, or for accomplishing goals in the year ahead. But how many resolutions should we make? How many are we going to realistically keep?

Enthusiasm for change runs high in January. We are full of renewed energy. It’s a new year with the opportunity for new beginnings, and it is easy to become caught up in the fervor. But February and March often bring different emotions and our enthusiasm for the work that lies ahead can wane or drop off completely.

We genealogists often get carried away with our resolutions. There are so many ancestors to find, and so many sources to cite! We need to find great-grandma’s maiden name. We need to organize our files. We desperately want to find the names of 2nd great-grandpa’s parents. And where or who did 3rd great-grandpa marry? The list of wants is endless. Continue reading "5 New Year’s Resolutions Every Genealogist Should Set" »

20    Dec 20156 comments

Family Mysteries: Revealed through holiday cards and letters

This is a guest post by genealogist James L. Tanner, a retired trial attorney from Arizona now living in Utah. He is the author of two popular genealogy blogs, Genealogy's Star and Rejoice, and be exceeding glad. With over 30 years of genealogy experience, he currently volunteers at the Brigham Young University Family History Library in Provo, Utah.

Many countries around the world have a tradition of sending greeting cards to friends and relatives during the holiday seasons. In the United States, there is also a strong tradition of sending family letters at the end of the year reviewing important events. In the last 100 years or so, these holiday cards and letters  have also contained photos and valuable information about family members. Sometimes the information contained in a card or on a photo may be priceless and could resolve long-standing family mysteries. A card from a distant relative may identify someone whose relationship you never knew about or even suspected.

"Burns Mont. Ayr Postcard 1899" (Credit: Tony Corsini at en.wikipedia. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons)

Continue reading "Family Mysteries: Revealed through holiday cards and letters" »

18    Dec 201519 comments

10 Spectacular Vintage Holiday Cards

We recently put out a call for your oldest Christmas cards. We received many amazing cards from years gone by.

Here are some beautiful and rare cards, never seen before:

c1905. Sent to us by Barbara Becker. "Christmas post card 2 would have been given to my grandmother when she lived in Edinburgh, Scotland (1904-1909). Teanie was a nickname my mother told me my grandmother did not particularly like. This card appears to have been hand delivered."

Continue reading "10 Spectacular Vintage Holiday Cards" »

14    Dec 201545 comments

Holiday Competition: Win a tablet!

What was the most significant holiday gift you have ever received? Are there special family memories associated with it?

This is a guest post by Karen, MyHeritage's country manager for Germany.

Everyone knows that feeling of really wanting something with all your heart. For some, it may have been a first bike, a soccer ball, or maybe a special book. The gift that I dreamed of and wished for was a puppy. I remember the many months trying to convince my parents that I would be responsible and take care of a dog with love and affection. My parents kept trying to dissuade me of the idea. They told me the dog would mess up the house, eat our shoes, scratch the door, shed hair everywhere and that we would never again be able to take a vacation. Continue reading "Holiday Competition: Win a tablet!" »

26    Nov 20151 comment

Thanksgiving: The holiday of travel

Thanksgiving is one of the year's busiest travel times in the United States. According to the US Bureau of Transportation, the number of long-distance trips (50 miles or more) increases by 54 percent around Thanksgiving.

Visiting friends and family is the single biggest reason Americans travel during the holidays. The visits account for 53 percent of all Thanksgiving trips. The average Thanksgiving trip is 214 miles. In 2012, AAA estimated that nearly 44 million people traveled during the holiday weekend - 90 percent traveled by car; the rest traveled by air, train or bus. Continue reading "Thanksgiving: The holiday of travel" »

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" »

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" »

2    Nov 20155 comments

Your Holiday Cards: We want to see them!

Excitement builds as we approach the holidays and preparations get underway. Family holiday cards are a longstanding Christmas tradition, and to many, an integral part of the lead-up to the holiday season. Each year, over 3 billion Christmas cards are sent in the US alone.

The very first Christmas card was commissioned by a UK government worker, Sir Henry Cole, in 1843 when he was too busy to write to his friends himself. Printed in black and white, they were originally colored by hand.

Only a handful of the 1,000 originally printed were sold, probably because of their prohibitively expensive price of one shilling.

It was only many years later that the tradition caught on. Sending cards became even more popular in Victorian times (1870s) when the cost of mailing Christmas cards dropped to a half-penny.

In the US, the first Christmas cards were produced in the late 1840s, but were too expensive for most people. They became more affordable in 1875, when a German printer began mass-producing them. In 1915, John C. Hall and two of his brothers created Hallmark Cards, still one of the biggest sellers of Christmas cards today!

Here at MyHeritage, we're searching for your oldest family Christmas card. What's the oldest Christmas card that you have in your family? Send it to us at stories@myheritage.com.

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