Contributing author Schelly Talalay Dardashti is the US Genealogy Advisor for MyHeritage.com
Your family name has evolved since it was adopted. It may represent your family's sojourns in different countries; its spelling and pronunciation may have changed, and it may have been changed following a recent immigration (although not at Ellis Island).
Other factors are easy to understand. Spelling wasn't engraved in stone, people were illiterate or not literate in the language of a specific area. Our ancestors didn't know how to spell their names and government officials were responsible for recording the names in registers or in important documents.
WHY IS IT SO HARD?
The official wrote the name the way he heard it. Perhaps the official was elderly and deaf in one ear, or your ancestor had a speech impediment or an accent. When your ancestor's cousin came in to record a later birth, however, a new younger official sat behind the desk, one whose hearing was excellent and the cousin spoke clearly.
When immigrants moved to a new country, they often changed their names. They wanted to make it easier for themselves, their neighbors and employers to spell or pronounce their names, and for official documents. If the original names were written in other alphabets - such as Cyrillic (Russian, Bulgarian etc.) - they were phonetically transliterated into English, providing many new spelling possibilities. Accents or dialects further complicated the choices.
This month marks the birthday of musical icon Louis Armstrong, known by his nicknames Satchmo or Pops. As an American jazz trumpeter and singer, he was one of the most influential jazz musicians in history.
Renowned for his stage presence and throaty voice as much as for his trumpet-playing, Armstrong's influence extended well beyond jazz music, and his charismatic and heartfelt performances.
"He left an undying testimony to the human condition in the America of his time" - Wynton Marsalis
Armstrong was born August 4, 1901, in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Mary Albert Armstrong (1886–1942) and William Armstrong (1881–1922). He was the grandson of slaves raised on plantations. They spoke English rather than French and, like most slaves, had little idea of their origins. Louis himself grew up in a poverty-stricken rough neighborhood in New Orleans, known as “Back of Town.” When he was only a baby, his father left the family. From then until he was 5, he and his sister Beatrice were taken care of by their grandmother, Josephine Armstrong. At 5, he moved back to live with his mother, and only very rarely saw his father.
My grandmother was recently searching for some old jewelry of her mother's that she had misplaced. She wanted to give it to me for my birthday to ensure it gets passed down to the next generation.
She opened all the closets, searched through kitchen pots, and even behind light switches! Where did she finally find it? In the pocket of a jacket she hadn’t worn in years.
I was the second of four siblings. Growing up as middle children, my sister (the third child) and I often joked that we were considered double-stuff Oreo filling, and therefore we were the best part of the family.
According to various studies, birth order in a family can have a great impact on a child's life.
Middle children often feel squeezed between older and younger siblings and have trouble finding their place in the family. There's even a syndrome named after us!
Here are five things that only middle children will understand:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Nothing brings back great memories than childhood photos. What better way to preserve those moments than by recreating some of them?
Recreating family photos doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s a great way to bring family together and reminisce about the past.