8    Oct 201420 comments

Travelling the World by Digitizing Cemeteries

As part of our global initiative to digitize cemeteries, MyHeritage was contacted by a couple with an interesting idea that allowed them to embark on an international adventure.

Michael Kerr and his wife, Sabrina Rowe, decided to leave the comfort of their home, and bicycle across Europe, stopping to photograph entire cemeteries on the way.  All the photos are being shared with the community for free on MyHeritage and BillionGraves.com.

Michael digitizes graves in Mirogoj cemetery (Zagreb, Croatia). The beautiful Mirogoj is listed as one of the “Significant Cemeteries” of Europe. It is unique in that it has long been multi-denominational and has beautiful grounds surrounded with long arcades with arches, columns and cupolas.

Michael and Sabrina have always wanted to travel, but they craved a deeper experience than just a short vacation that they were normally able to take once a year. Continue reading "Travelling the World by Digitizing Cemeteries" »

6    Oct 201415 comments

Death Records: Vital to Your Research

This guest post has been written by expert genealogist Miriam J. Robbins. Miriam has been instructing and lecturing in the United States since 2005. She has been interested in her family history since she was a young girl, living in Southeast Alaska. She began her genealogy research in 1987, and ten years later was successful in reuniting her grandmother with her biological family. Miriam writes an award-winning genealogy blog, AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors, and keeps busy adding links to her Online Historical Directories and Online Historical Newspapers websites.

The month of October is known for Family History Month as well as the holiday of Halloween. What better combination of the two than to learn about death records in genealogical research? Death records are one of the first and best types of records used in beginning genealogical research because of the variety of formats in which they appear, the basic facts which they contain, and the immense details that many list about both the decedent's life and death.

It’s important to learn a little about the history of death records in your ancestor’s location, as it will help you understand how the facts were gathered and recorded, what information the records may contain or omit, why the records themselves may be missing or difficult to find, and where to locate the death records currently. Continue reading "Death Records: Vital to Your Research" »

4    Oct 20143 comments

Our Ancestors: Sleep patterns

How much do you know about the lives that your ancestors lived?

Many of us know their names and, if we are lucky, we have dates, professions and stories about our distant ancestors. However, many questions still remain. There are some essential day-to-day activities of our ancestors that we may know little or nothing about.

Take sleep, for example. We can assume that our grandparents sleeping patterns were similar to ours. But what about our grandparents’ grandparents, and our grandparents’ grandparents’ grandparents? Continue reading "Our Ancestors: Sleep patterns" »

2    Oct 20148 comments

Surname Secrets: What’s in a name?

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

Surnames first appeared in the Middle Ages as a way to record and document people and for tax purposes. Details included given names, nicknames, parents’ names, occupation and residence. This personal information later became an important part of the history of surnames.

Women brewsters in the early 1900s in Seattle. Image credit: THE SEATTLE TIMES ARCHIVE

We recently wrote about jobs that no longer exist, and it was common for our ancestors to have surnames based on their occupation such as Cook, Carpenter or Smith. By looking at their surnames, it often leads us to learn more about our relatives’ lives. Yet there are many occupational surnames with hidden meanings. Here are a few of our favorites: Continue reading "Surname Secrets: What’s in a name?" »

29    Sep 20142 comments

A Sacrifice: The story of an Italian WWI hero

This year marks a century since the beginning of World War I. To commemorate, we share the touching story of Italian soldier Cesare Mele, from Sezze, south of Rome.

A view of ancient Sezze, in southern Italy

While the Central Powers consisted of Austria-Hungary and Germany, Italy decided to remain neutral in 1914, and eventually joined the Allies (France, UK and Russia) in May 1915. Once they entered the conflict, 650,000 Italian soldiers died, 947,000 were wounded, and 600,000 disappeared or were captured as prisoners of war.

MyHeritage user Lucia Fusco shared the story of Cesare Mele, her courageous great-uncle , who, through his self-sacrifice, was able to save his own family. Continue reading "A Sacrifice: The story of an Italian WWI hero" »

27    Sep 20143 comments

Accidental Discoveries: Penicillin, corn flakes and more!

This September marks 86 years since scientist Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928.

Unlike many inventions that come about from years of research and hard work, penicillin was an unexpected discovery. When Fleming, a professor of bacteriology, returned home from his two-week vacation, he began sorting through his petri dishes. He noticed mold had formed on his staphylococcus samples. This mold was actually a strain of Penicillium notatum which inhibited bacterial growth. The modern era of medicine hasn't been the same since.

Over the course of history, Fleming's discovery wasn't the only "accidental" invention.  Albert Einstein said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” You'll never know when an error may turn into a life-saving treatment or a Nobel Prize-winning invention.

Here are examples of other "accidental" discoveries: Continue reading "Accidental Discoveries: Penicillin, corn flakes and more!" »

24    Sep 20140 comments

New Collection Spotlight: New York State Deaths, 1957-1964

The New York State Death Index contains information on deaths recorded in New York State besides those in New York City.

This collection will help everyone interested in locating New York State death records from 1957 to 1964. The Index contains information on decedents, place and date of death, gender, age at death and the State file number.

Death certificates are a primary source for family information. They are typically issued within days of a death and contain many details about a person's  life.

Certificates often include age, birthplace, parents' names and birthplaces and the cause of death.

This specific database of New York State Deaths compliments the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).  While SSDI does contain some records for deaths as far back as the 1930s, it has very little coverage (as a percentage of the population) until the mid-1960s.

22    Sep 20140 comments

Enriching Your Family Tree: Photos, records and more!

Last week, we held a webinar on ways to enrich your family tree.

Adding information, photos and more are great ways to update and preserve your family history.

Our webinar demonstrated how to add multimedia, save and extract information from records and SmartMatches, personalizing your family site, adding sources and more!

Did you miss it? Don’t worry! Click the video below to watch the full webinar.

Don’t forget to check our other webinars for even more genealogy tips to help make family history research easier.

Have ideas for other webinars? Let us know in the comments below. We hope to see you next time!

20    Sep 20144 comments

Old Photographs: Restored and Re-imagined

Australian photographer Jane Long is changing the way we look at old photos. In her series Dancing with Costica, she transforms photographs from the past, into dazzling imaginative images.

Her series is based on the work of Romanian photographer Costica Acsinte, who was born  in a small village called Perieți, Ialomița county, Romania, on July 4, 1897. He fought in WWI and, although he trained as a pilot, was an official war photographer until June 15, 1920. After the war, he opened a studio in the town of Slobozia. Continue reading "Old Photographs: Restored and Re-imagined" »

16    Sep 201445 comments

Discovering ancestry: Through our toes?

Some say that the eyes are a mirror into soul, but many experts will argue that it's the feet that can tell you much about a person.

While family trees and historical records are the more common tools leading to family history discoveries, our own bodies can teach us about our family heritage.

Reflexologists often claim that they are able to interpret a lot about a person's personality just from their feet. In Imre Somogyi's book, "The Language of the Feet," he writes how ancestry can be determined just by the shape of our feet.

Other people have turned to interpreting their heritage through zodiac signs, and even palm reading, to provide clues about their past and future.

Have you found any unique ways to learn more about your heritage? Does the above picture reflect your ancestry? Let us know in the comments below.

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