MyHeritage member Dayne Skolmen, 24, of South Africa, has been working on his family history since he was 14, when a family tree school assignment caught his interest. His ancestors come from Norway, Germany and the Netherlands.
Dayne lives in Port Elizabeth, and is currently completing his Master of Technology (MTech) in Information Technology Research at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
His grandfather, Thorbjorn Christian Synnestvedt Skolmen, died at 81 when Dayne was only 3.
Has anyone ever said that you speak exactly like your grandfather?
We often talk about resemblances and physical similarities between ourselves and our ancestors - perhaps it's the same smile as a cousin, or the identical eyes of a grandparent.
However, our physical appearance may not be the only connection passed through generations. Not only can we look like our ancestors, but we can act like them as well.
Have you tried out the Virtual Cemetery feature in Family Tree Builder?
The Virtual Cemetery is a place to memorialize your ancestors. It is automatically created whenever an uploaded media file is associated to an individual's burial fact.
Gravestones contain important information of relatives such as birth and death dates, names, spouses' information and more. The Virtual Cemetery feature is a great way to enrich your family tree with a wealth of information such as gravestone images linked to family tree profiles.
The Virtual Cemetery compiles all burial-related media, making it easy to access information from these important sources, without crowding other photo albums in Family Tree Builder. It is kept separate from regular photo albums, as it is just associated with burial facts. This way, you will not see cemetery photos when looking at your images of living people.
Journals and diaries are where we write our memories, secrets and daily thoughts. As such, when we find an ancestor’s journal, it can provide a wealth of rich information about his or her personal life and is a great source for discovering even more.
I recently stumbled upon my great-grandmother’s journal while helping my grandmother organize her house. It was incredible to see how intact the journal was despite many years of being stored in a box filled with other family treasures such as photos and documents.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.