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.
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.
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.
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.
We had a great time at the Global Family Reunion last week!
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.
We recently wrote about the start of Anna’s journey to meet her relatives in Australia. A journey that really began 125 years ago, Anna crossed oceans to meet relatives related to their common ancestor, Oskar. Here is Part 2.
In late December 2012, several relatives in Gotland, Sweden received a call from a man speaking English. Many hung up the phone and thought it was a hoax. They didn’t understand why an English-speaking man was calling them.
After many disconnected calls, the same person called my cellphone on December 30, 2012. David Michel said he was calling from Sydney, Australia.
Imagine going on a journey back 125 years and across continents. That's what Anna, from Sweden, will be doing as she flies across the world to Australia to travel to her ancestors' towns and learn about them.
Anna will be documenting her genealogical trip to learn more about her roots on her blog. Here is her first post, originally published on our Swedish blog.
I'm nervous, excited, tingly and happy, and a bit fearful to be going on this journey. However, there is a huge difference in traveling now than in 1890 when Oskar decided to go on his journey. He left his job, family and friends for an adventure filled with uncertainty in search for something new. Today, that level of fear isn't as necessary with all our technologies that connect us to our family no matter where we live. It's easy to stay in touch with our loved ones, unlike 125 years ago.
Her post continues:
Imagine a boy named Emma or a girl named Joshua. Sounds strange? Sounds normal? In Finland, these gender-switching names may become a reality.
The current Finish naming law, dating from 1985, is about to be obsolete. Until now, the law banned giving a female child a male name, and a male child a female name, but a new proposal may change that.
The law, considered controversial by some, would allow parents to give their children names regardless of the gender to which they might be associated. However, chosen names may not be offensive, inappropriate or incite harm to children.
Last month, we announced that Instant Discoveries™ are now available to all MyHeritage users, allowing our users to add entire branches to their family tree in just a few clicks. Many of our users have already been enjoying these Discoveries every day, and you can see this in near real-time using our exciting Discovery World Map.
Today we are introducing a useful new feature that lets you see the Discoveries available for you right in your family tree, in their exact context. For example, if a branch connected to your great-grandmother, which includes her father or mother, is missing in your family tree, but found by MyHeritage in another tree, you’ll see a special yellow card above your great-grandmother’s profile labeled “Discovery!”
Hover over the Discovery card to learn more about it: a tooltip will open describing the Discovery and specifying how many missing relatives it can add to your tree and the source of the information.
Continuing our spotlight on volunteer translators, we’d like to introduce Ulla Plon, a MyHeritage member from Denmark, who has been helping to translate MyHeritage products into Danish for over a year.
Born in 1952 in Copenhagen, to a Danish mother and a father who was a Jewish refugee from Vienna, Ulla spent her first 10 years in the suburbs. Later, she moved with her parents and younger brother 50km north to a small town on the coast near Elsinore, the setting of Shakespeare’s immortal tragedy, Hamlet.
Since she was a child, Ulla was always interested in her family history.
“I loved it when my mother and maternal grandmother told me family stories and about their own childhood.”