26    Jul 20152 comments

Our Volunteers: A young genealogist’s Norwegian family history

Continuing our spotlight on volunteer translators, we introduce Torbjorn Wolden, a MyHeritage member from Norway, who has been helping to translate MyHeritage products into Norwegian for the five years.

A young genealogist, Torbjorn became interested in his family history in elementary school.

We did a project where we would make our own family tree (which I still have) and show it to the rest of the class. My grandparents also had a bygdebok (a local history book) for the parish, where all the farms and everyone who had lived there are listed, and I used to look at this and see how long my family had owned the farm and how long they had lived in the area.

Torbjorn has traced back his family history to the mid-1500s to the Trøndelag and Nordmøre regions in Norway. While most of his close family still lives in these regions, he has discovered distant relatives in Sweden; the US; Rotuma, Australia; Denmark and Switzerland. Continue reading "Our Volunteers: A young genealogist’s Norwegian family history" »

23    Jul 20154 comments

Our Stories: From Sweden to Australia, Part 3

Anna’s family journey to meet relatives in Australia continues. In this post, she discusses Oskar’s life, and looks at his decision to suddenly move to Australia.

The other day, David and I spoke about Oskar and his initial trip to Australia, the decisions that caused him to leave Sweden and what he may have encountered on the journey. There were still unanswered pieces that we can only speculate about. We have no information on his voyage, who he met or about his first journey.

What we do know, however, is that a significant event influenced Oskar’s decision to leave Sweden. An event that changed everything and added an entire branch to the family tree that would not otherwise have existed today.

Oskar's childhood home

Continue reading "Our Stories: From Sweden to Australia, Part 3" »

20    Jul 201541 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" »

16    Jul 201535 comments

Look-alike Competition: Results

A few weeks ago we asked you to send in your look-alike photos and the response has been amazing!

We want to thank all of you who submitted. It was great to see uncanny family resemblances between the generations.

With so many photos submitted from around the world, it was really difficult to choose a winner.

But without further ado, we'd like to wish congratulations to Sheila Van Zant who sent in these incredible look-alike images produced 200 years apart!

Honorable John Brownlow First Viscount Tyrconnel, Knight of the Molt Honorable Order of the Bath (c.1740) and John Brownlow (born 1953)

Some of the photos made us do a double-take, including the following three runner-up entries:
Continue reading "Look-alike Competition: Results" »

13    Jul 201528 comments

New Feature: Global Name Translation™ Technology

We’re delighted to announce the launch of Global Name Translation™, a new technology unique to MyHeritage, to help break through those language barriers in the quest to uncover your past.

Global Name Translation™ (Click to Zoom)

This innovation now makes it even easier to discover your global roots. The technology automatically translates names found in historical records and family trees from one language into another, at very high accuracy, generating all plausible translations, to facilitate matches between names in different languages. In addition, a manual search on MyHeritage's SuperSearch, will return results in other languages, automatically translated into the language of the query.

How can this benefit you? For example, perhaps your American family has Russian roots. Previously, you would have needed to search also in Russian to find all information available about your ancestors. Now you can search in English, and receive results in Russian, translated back into English for your convenience.

A search for Tatiana brings results in Russian with English translation (Click to Zoom)

The technology covers given names and surnames and can tackle names previously encountered in the past, in addition to new names not seen before. It also utilizes extensive dictionaries built by MyHeritage to cover synonyms and nicknames.

Continue reading "New Feature: Global Name Translation™ Technology" »

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" »

2    Jul 20150 comments

Languages: More are better!

Contributing author Schelly Talalay Dardashti is the US Genealogy Advisor for MyHeritage.com

Genealogists often lament the fact that immigrant ancestors did not pass on their native languages to their descendants.

While the children of immigrants were mostly fluent in those languages - the first generation - those children only rarely passed down those languages to their own children or grandchildren - thus losing them forever.

Years ago, as I sat struggling through Cyrillic to understand records from Belarus, I often wished my great-grandparents had passed down Russian and Yiddish. Russian seemed to have disappeared the day the family hit the streets of New York, while Yiddish was transmitted to their children. Their grandchildren knew only some phrases or could understand some of it but not speak it - only rarely could they read it. The next generation knew nothing about those languages.

How much easier it would have been if I had learned both languages fluently from my parents and grandparents! However, I did learn Farsi fluently when we lived in Iran. Our daughter studied it, used to read and write it, understands it almost fluently, but refuses to speak it.

Now, through one scientist's research, we learn that there are two major reasons that people should pass their heritage language to their children.

One reason is obvious to family history researchers:

  • It connects children to their ancestors.
  • The research indicates that bilingualism is good for you. It makes brains stronger, as it is brain exercise.

Continue reading "Languages: More are better!" »

26    Jun 20152 comments

Our Stories: 44,000 and growing!

Continuing our spotlight on volunteer translators, we introduce Seppo Tarvainen, a MyHeritage member from Finland, who has been helping to translate MyHeritage products into Finnish for a few years.

Born a few years after WWII in a small village in the middle of Finland, Seppo grew up with a passion for travel. He studied mechanical engineering, which led him and his family around the world on various work projects. Now home, he began looking into other hobbies, such as genealogy.

My parents had a lot of family history information, but they died before I had the opportunity to properly interview them.

About four years ago, Seppo came across MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder and began adding the information he had and building his family tree. The number of individuals increased, so he soon upgraded to a PremiumPlus account.

I kept getting even more Smart Matches, and my family tree kept growing.

Today, his family tree has over 44,000 people. Through matches to other MyHeritage members, he discovered ancestors dating back to the late-1500s. Some ancestors remained in the region, while later generations emigrated to the US, Canada and Australia. Continue reading "Our Stories: 44,000 and growing!" »

21    Jun 20152 comments

7 Ways Dads Have Changed in 100 Years

Happy Father’s Day! Today we honor the men in our lives who helped shape us to be who we are.

Fathers, grandfathers and step-fathers teach us many things. Whether it’s an important life lesson, how to dance, ride a bike or being a source of wisdom, they are essential to our upbringing.

In honor of Father’s Day, our research team took a look at how the role of fatherhood has changed throughout the years and compared what life was like for fathers in the past century.

With more women working, fathers are taking more time from their working lives to enjoy their children and playing a larger part in family care. We recently wrote about how fathers are spending seven times more with their children than in the 1970s.

But how is 2015 compared to life in 1915? Here are some interesting “fatherly” facts from the past 100 years: Continue reading "7 Ways Dads Have Changed in 100 Years" »

15    Jun 20150 comments

Global Family Reunion: A Recap

We had a great time at the Global Family Reunion last week!

The MyHeritage and Geni teams

Hosted by best-selling author A.J. Jacobs, this epic event brought thousands of “cousins” from around the world to the New York Hall of Science for a family fun day of activities, while raising money to benefit Alzheimer’s research.

The MyHeritage and Geni tent

The MyHeritage and Geni teams had a special tent to let people explore their family history. Continue reading "Global Family Reunion: A Recap" »

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