Storytelling is a great way to create a stronger family bond, share family moments and have our children and grandchildren feel part of a grander history. Children love listening to stories and looking at old photographs. Seeing a family tree filled with images of people they may or may not know will peak their curiousity to ask many questions and learn about their heritage.
This Christmas marks 100 years since the famous Christmas truce of WWI, in 1914.
During a stormy winter of fighting between the two sides, a widespread but unofficial truce emerged in the week leading up to - and on - the holiday. German and British soldiers began to exchange seasonal greetings and to sing songs between their trenches. There were even occasions where soldiers walked over to opposing sides to talk to their counterparts and exchange gifts.
On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the soldiers put aside their differences for a few hours. Many of them - from both sides - ventured into "no man's land," where they met and exchanged food and souvenirs, and sang carols together.
It is said that at the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines calling out "Merry Christmas." The Allied soldiers were wary at first, thinking it might be a trick, but when they saw the Germans approach them unarmed, they climbed out of their trenches as well, and shook hands with the enemy.
We're delighted to announce the launch of Instant Discoveries™, a new, free experience that makes it easier for new users to embark on their genealogical journey.
Imagine - if at the very moment you signed up to MyHeritage - you were handed a never-before-seen photo of your great-grandmother? Or, if you were given a family tree branch with many of your ancestors, just by entering some basic information? Discoveries can be magical and help engage newcomers to family history and introduce them to this fascinating activity.
With Instant Discoveries™, it takes only seconds for people who sign up to MyHeritage to discover ancestors and create an online family tree with many relatives and photos. After perfecting the technology, we took Instant Discoveries™ to the streets of New York and successfully demonstrated it to passers-by. It was incredible to see their emotional reactions which you can watch in the short video above.
We recently asked for your favorite family recipes and the stories and photos behind them. Recipes are often handed down from generation to generation. They are a link to our past and provide a connection to the special people and events in our family's history.
We received so many great responses that we're excited to include the highlights in our MyHeritage Holiday Cookbook. It will soon be available for download on our blog, just in time for the holidays!
We wanted to showcase one of the many heartwarming family stories that we received over the past few weeks.
Irene Jeppsen from Afton, Wyoming sent in her grandmother's sweet potato dish. She chose to enter the recipe to honor her grandmother's memory and highlight the memories of her ancestors. Although she is unsure of the origins of the recipe, she believes it came from her grandmother.
This was the sweet potato recipe served by my grandmother Lera Clark Maughan (1889-1974). She was an excellent and creative cook. My mother Alice Maughan Neilson also made this Thanksgiving dish. It is a light version of the often calorie-choked sweet potatoes served at most holiday meals.
The holidays are fast approaching, and they will be here before we know it.
It can be relatively easy to find a present for your family's family historians since they appreciate practical gifts.
- Genealogists spend a lot of time researching and collecting information. In their line of "work," it is important to stay neat and organized. They may like a new pencil case with office supplies such as pencils, paper clips, a stapler, Post-it stickers and labels.
As part of the global initiative we launched with BillionGraves earlier this year, the MyHeritage team recruited a group of enthusiastic volunteers to continue our efforts to digitize cemeteries.
After successfully digitizing a medium sized cemetery of historical significance earlier this year (see video), we decided to undertake our biggest challenge yet - to digitize Israel's largest cemetery - with over 200,000 graves. So earlier this week, we embarked on a one-of-a-kind project to photograph all headstones of the huge Holon cemetery in central Israel.
This was one of largest events of its kind ever organized - in the world!
The best aspect of the event was the true collaboration between MyHeritage and all leading genealogy organizations in Israel, in addition to MyHeritage power users. In total, some 120 people joined our initiative and participated, and approximately 150,000 gravestone photos were taken throughout the day! It was heart warming to see such collaboration among so many people who care about genealogy, from all ages, and all groups, working together to create an incredible resource that is free for all to use.
The day began at 8:30am - with MyHeritage employees and volunteers arriving at our offices - and ended at 6:30pm.
This guest post was written by expert genealogist Scott Phillips, owner of Onward to Our Past genealogy services, and specializing in immigrant ancestry. He is a regular genealogy contributor for Huffington Post and also blogs weekly for the e-publications of GenealogyBank.com. Follow Scott on his Facebook page and on his website/blog.
Not all that long ago (in genealogy time) my wife and I received the wonderful news that our son and his wife were expecting our second grandson and would be named William in honor of my dad, who had died a year previously.
I began thinking how well I knew my dad and how well our son knew his grandfather, but his namesake would not personally know him at all. Since no one in our family had ever done any family history research, I made the fateful decision to write a paragraph or two about my father so my grandson would know him.
Now, years later, I still find myself laughing when I think back to my desire to write “a paragraph or two”! Our family tree now includes over 11,100 individuals representing 3,685 families, and contains over 6,900 images and documents.
Recently, many historical television series have become very popular. What is it about this genre that appeals to us? What draws us to them?
Perhaps it's about getting a glimpse of what life was like in times gone by. We feel more connected to our ancestors when we learn more about their lives and times. It's the same feeling that draws many of us to genealogy and family history research. The achievements and struggles faced by our ancestors serve as lessons for our own future. After all, history is known to repeat itself.
One such show is the British series, "Downton Abbey," which has swept a nation and also has become popular in other countries, as well. It is now into its fifth season.
"Downton Abbey" follows the Crawley family through major events in history, showing the effects on their lives. The series opened with news of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, followed by the outbreak of the WWI, the Spanish influenza pandemic, and the Marconi scandal in the second season. It dealt with the interwar period and the formation of the Irish Free State in the third season, the Teapot Dome scandal in the fourth, and the general election of 1923 in the UK in the current season.
“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” ― John F. Kennedy
How do your family and friends make a difference in your life? What do they do to make you feel special and loved?
Every year, when Thanksgving comes around, we think about what we are grateful for. We take time to remember the blessings that we take for granted in our daily lives. It's not always easy to translate what we feel into words.
Family and friends are often at the top of our lists. They are our treasured people. Our rocks. They stand by us through thick and thin, giving us the gift of unconditional love.
It is heartwarming to hear how much you are appreciated and valued by family and friends.
Thanksgiving is also a nice time to get together with the family, and share in your favorite Thanksgiving traditions. We recently wrote about our favorite traditions and the stories behind them.
This year, as the holidays approach, and you spend time with your nearest and dearest, take the opportunity to tell your loved ones how you feel about them, and what you are grateful for.
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Let us know below.
MyHeritage is a sponsor of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews (Warsaw, Poland) which just opened its doors to an exciting new exhibition.
As part of our sponsorship, the recently launched MyHeritage Library Edition is available on all computers in the museum's resource center, enabling museum visitors to gain free access to billions of historical records.
The museum, in Warsaw, documents the journey and history of Polish Jewry from medieval times to present. The museum includes exhibitions, lectures and a resource center providing access to databases to learn about the history and genealogy of Polish Jews. More information can be found here.