13    Sep 20130 comments

Society Spotlight: California Genealogical Society

One of the oldest genealogical societies in the US is the California Genealogical Society, established in 1898, 115 years ago!

CGS is located at 2201 Broadway, LL2, Oakland, California 94612, close to San Francisco. Jeffrey Vaillant, current CGS president, responded to MyHeritage's questions via email.

With some 1,150 members – including those well living beyond California, and those who do not have California ancestors – this is a very active society. Continue reading "Society Spotlight: California Genealogical Society" »

11    Sep 20135 comments

Poll: Would you change your name?

Names - surname and given - are essential to family history research.

A surname passes through many generations connecting family members with that common surname. Many people are also named after deceased relatives to honor those individuals.

Names can be rare or even banned. For some, even a stranger’s opinion influences the name of a newborn.

Generally, names are given to us, but people are beginning to adopt new names, both given and surnames.

What does this mean for family history?

Will it be more difficult to trace name changes and links to ancestors, or will it make research more exciting?

What do you think? If you could change your name easily, would you?


9    Sep 20137 comments

Our Stories: Planning a family reunion

By his own account, Norwood Wayne Newkirk says that reading and history were not his greatest passions as he grew up. Today that has changed, as he was the project manager for his family’s reunion held August 1-4, 2013, in New Jersey.

He holds a degree in electrical engineering and worked as a loss prevention consultant. Today he creates risk management systems as a senior account executive and computer application developer.

So what I have done over the past two years [since the 2011 reunion] in preparation for our 2013 reunion is not a far stretch from what I do vocationally. I see the issue and try to develop a solution.

However, as he went through life, he began to recognize that something was missing.

I found a church with teaching ministry that filled the void in my spiritual life and became very active in leading the Media Volunteer Ministry (it is in my genes). Yet there was an area still lacking.

I eventually recognized I had become distant from my family, not because I wanted to, but life situations and circumstances caused things to happen just that way. In fact, there was a time when I truly could not remember a large chunk of my past.

As life would have it, things changed and there was a rekindling of his family history. As family members grew older and died, it offered occasions for the family to come together more frequently than they would like.

It was on those occasions that I heard stories about family members including myself. Stories that made you laugh and stories that made you say, “Did that really happen?” At that point I began to understand what I was missing. It was family. Cousins that I grew up were now distant relatives.

At his grandmother’s funeral, a family pastor talked about thing his grandparents experienced over 92 years of their life and the legacy they left behind.

The Starling family could have written “Roots.” This revelation showed me the importance of family.

Continue reading "Our Stories: Planning a family reunion" »

7    Sep 20131 comment

Family Heritage: Patriots, spies and other surprises

While some genealogists have been at it for only a few years, MyHeritage member Gary Fenton Kemp, 76, has been researching for decades.

Gary became interested in computers in the early 1970s.  He also observed his parents, then in their 70s, trying to put together their genealogy by typing and writing everything out by hand. He knew that there had to be some way to use computers and began searching for a program that would be able to organize the data.

I found PAF and started using it. In 1987, I went to my parents’ home and spent three days entering data for 752 names.

Gary has many interests in addition to family history, such as surfing, fly fishing, geocaching, glider racing and lifting weights. He’s been an educator from kindergarten through university, and conducted teacher training programs in Fiji and elsewhere. Although now retired as a teacher, coach, high school principal and school district superintendent, he is still active, serves as a local school board member and as a Boy Scout merit badge counselor.

The San Tan Valley, Arizona resident has been married to Nancy for 54 years, has four children, 13 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and four more on the way.

Gary's paternal grandparents' wedding photo,1881

He’s discovered so many exciting and interesting things about his family history. Continue reading "Family Heritage: Patriots, spies and other surprises" »

4    Sep 20131 comment

Preserving family memories: Four sisters, 36 years of photos

What better way to capture your favorite family moments than with an annual photo?

That’s what American photographer Nicholas Nixon has done since 1975 when he took a picture of his wife and her three sisters, beginning an annual tradition that lasted 36 years.

Each year, the Brown sisters – Heather, Mimi, Bebe and Laurie – all posed in the same order in for the photo.

Image credit: Nicholas Nixon, http://www.whudat.de/four-sisters-take-a-photo-every-year-for-36-years/

Mimi, the youngest, was only 15 in the first picture, and the oldest, Bebe, was 61 in the last photo taken in 2010. Find the full photo collection here.

Photographs are an excellent way to bring family history to life over the years, and bring back precious memories. An annual photo documents your loved ones and becomes a timeless piece of history.

Don’t forget that preserving those family memories online is important as a way to share those images with future generations. They are an important way to capture family history and to help in your family research.

Join our global campaign to preserve your family heritage and upload your photos today.

What do you think of this idea? Would you do it with your siblings or other members of your families?

Let us know in the comments below.

2    Sep 20130 comments

Ty’s Journey: Part Three

This week, Ty travels from Dublin, Ireland to Paris, France and recounts his continuing adventures and travel tips.

In this edition of my post for MyHeritage on my travels, I went from Dublin, Ireland to Paris, France for a few nights, and then moved on to Villedieu Poeles, about 2 hours west of Paris.  The area is known for copper mining and craftsmanship, with roots to King Henry I (son of William the Conqueror), the Knights Hospitaller, Knights Templar and Knights of Malta.

On my first full day in Paris, I visited the Eiffel Tower twice, once in the early afternoon and again after sunset.  Another travel writer had asked me for some photos of the Tower at night, so I decided to give it a shot (pardon the pun).

Eiffel Tower at night during light show

When traveling for ancestral reasons, remember that almost every location – particularly in large, historic cities like Paris – offers two sides for your interests.  That which your ancestors knew: Their churches, houses or neighborhoods, places of work, and the culture of the city in general.

I've heard rumors that I might have some French ancestry, but have not yet been able to discover it. If I do, it would have been before the Eiffel Tower was built (1887-89). Yet, because my ancestors would never have seen the tower, I visited it because it's part of the city’s culture and history. Continue reading "Ty’s Journey: Part Three" »

29    Aug 201311 comments

Labor Day: Free access to all US census records

Labor Day weekend is here - a time to celebrate the contributions made by workers from the labor movement. It's also time for families to get together and enjoy the last bit of summer with barbecues, parades and reunions.

In honor of the holiday, we’re providing free access – from August 31 through September 2 – to all US Census records.

Search Now

Continue reading "Labor Day: Free access to all US census records" »

28    Aug 20130 comments

Competition: Fun family photos

Congratulations to James Colina, winner of last week’s competition for the photo with the largest number of family members. This week, we're holding another photo competition, and asking you to send in your fun family photos. Read more below.

Over 220 family members were photographed in the winning entry taken at a family reunion organized by James in August 2011. He won a photo consultation with Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, to learn more about his old family photos. Watch the consultation here.

Colina Family Reunion, August 2011

Thanks to those who submitted their largest family photos. It was lovely to receive so many images from family reunions, gatherings, weddings and other celebrations, both old and new.  View all the entries on our Pinterest board here.

The competition continues:

Continue reading "Competition: Fun family photos" »

27    Aug 20139 comments

Tip of the month: Tree Consistency Checker

Having a large, family tree can sometimes lead to small oversights that may be difficult to identify. Some common mistakes are misspelled names, mixed-up dates or incorrect ages, while others are more difficult to detect such as a person tagged in a photo dated before they were born.

That’s where MyHeritage’s Tree Consistency Checker comes in to help fix these mistakes and improve the quality of data in your family tree.

Tree Consistency Checker is a unique, free tool that helps locate mistakes in family tree data. It automatically identifies any errors and inconsistencies in 40 categories - and shows you how to fix each of them.

Inconsistencies such as “child older than parent,” or “fact occurring after death” and “inconsistent last name spelling” will alert and enable you to make the necessary changes in your family tree.

The tool is available on our latest version of Family Tree Builder 7.0 and takes advantage of the new sync features so users with online trees can now utilize this tool as well. Users can sync their online tree to the Family Tree Builder software, and use the Tree Consistency Checker to identify any mistakes. Once you re-sync the tree back to the web, the online family tree will show all the updated information.

Don't have Family Tree Builder 7.0? Download it free here, and learn more about its new features.

We hope this tool will help you make your family tree as accurate as possible!

26    Aug 201317 comments

1932: A most famous photograph

As part of our Treasure Family Photos initiative, to preserve old family photos and to encourage people to learn more about their family history from them, we've seen some beautiful family photos and learnt about their history. There are also many other famous photos with a great history behind them. One of the world's most iconic photos is of a group of men sitting on a 69th floor construction beam high above Manhattan.

This iconic 1932 photo of construction workers having lunch on the 69th floor of the Rockefeller Center is the subject of MEN AT LUNCH, a film by Sean O Cualain.

MyHeritage was delighted to be able to interview (via email) Seán Ó Cualáin – director of the documentary Men at Lunch – on his project. Continue reading "1932: A most famous photograph" »

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