2    Jul 20150 comments

Languages: More are better!

Contributing author Schelly Talalay Dardashti is the US Genealogy Advisor for MyHeritage.com

Genealogists often lament the fact that immigrant ancestors did not pass on their native languages to their descendants.

While the children of immigrants were mostly fluent in those languages - the first generation - those children only rarely passed down those languages to their own children or grandchildren - thus losing them forever.

Years ago, as I sat struggling through Cyrillic to understand records from Belarus, I often wished my great-grandparents had passed down Russian and Yiddish. Russian seemed to have disappeared the day the family hit the streets of New York, while Yiddish was transmitted to their children. Their grandchildren knew only some phrases or could understand some of it but not speak it - only rarely could they read it. The next generation knew nothing about those languages.

How much easier it would have been if I had learned both languages fluently from my parents and grandparents! However, I did learn Farsi fluently when we lived in Iran. Our daughter studied it, used to read and write it, understands it almost fluently, but refuses to speak it.

Now, through one scientist's research, we learn that there are two major reasons that people should pass their heritage language to their children.

One reason is obvious to family history researchers:

  • It connects children to their ancestors.
  • The research indicates that bilingualism is good for you. It makes brains stronger, as it is brain exercise.

Continue reading "Languages: More are better!" »

29    Jun 20150 comments

Can a friend help with your family history research?

One rule that genealogists hold true is that it never hurts to ask others for help. Often family members are the first we turn to learn more about another ancestor or a story behind a photo.

The more we can learn from our relatives, the greater chance we’ll have in advancing our family history research and expanding our family tree.

However, sometimes we forget that non-family members can be just as helpful in telling the stories of our ancestors. We spend countless days with our neighbors, best friends and colleagues without realizing how much they impact our lives and those of our family. Continue reading "Can a friend help with your family history research?" »

26    Jun 20152 comments

Our Stories: 44,000 and growing!

Continuing our spotlight on volunteer translators, we introduce Seppo Tarvainen, a MyHeritage member from Finland, who has been helping to translate MyHeritage products into Finnish for a few years.

Born a few years after WWII in a small village in the middle of Finland, Seppo grew up with a passion for travel. He studied mechanical engineering, which led him and his family around the world on various work projects. Now home, he began looking into other hobbies, such as genealogy.

My parents had a lot of family history information, but they died before I had the opportunity to properly interview them.

About four years ago, Seppo came across MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder and began adding the information he had and building his family tree. The number of individuals increased, so he soon upgraded to a PremiumPlus account.

I kept getting even more Smart Matches, and my family tree kept growing.

Today, his family tree has over 44,000 people. Through matches to other MyHeritage members, he discovered ancestors dating back to the late-1500s. Some ancestors remained in the region, while later generations emigrated to the US, Canada and Australia. Continue reading "Our Stories: 44,000 and growing!" »

23    Jun 20150 comments

5 mistakes to avoid with event dates: Webinar

We recently hosted a webinar - "5 mistakes to avoid with event dates” - featuring one of our expert genealogist Laurence Harris.

Deciphering dates can be confusing in records, especially with uncommon date formats. Laurence provided tips for interpreting those difficult dates to help uncover more about your family history.

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

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

Have ideas for other webinars? Let us know in the comments below.

21    Jun 20152 comments

7 Ways Dads Have Changed in 100 Years

Happy Father’s Day! Today we honor the men in our lives who helped shape us to be who we are.

Fathers, grandfathers and step-fathers teach us many things. Whether it’s an important life lesson, how to dance, ride a bike or being a source of wisdom, they are essential to our upbringing.

In honor of Father’s Day, our research team took a look at how the role of fatherhood has changed throughout the years and compared what life was like for fathers in the past century.

With more women working, fathers are taking more time from their working lives to enjoy their children and playing a larger part in family care. We recently wrote about how fathers are spending seven times more with their children than in the 1970s.

But how is 2015 compared to life in 1915? Here are some interesting “fatherly” facts from the past 100 years: Continue reading "7 Ways Dads Have Changed in 100 Years" »

18    Jun 20157 comments

Family: Planning a roots trip?

Contributing author Schelly Talalay Dardashti is the US Genealogy Advisor for MyHeritage.com

Are you planning a family roots trip in the future? If so, it's time to make plans.

Whether you stay at home or plan an international trip, the basics are the same: Decide where you are going and what information you would like to find. Contact local historic or genealogical societies in the area for more information, and see below for even more suggestions.

Make a list of your names of interest and the towns your ancestors lived in. Try to group the towns regionally, by a particular geographic area. If this is an ambitious trip, you may want to make several groupings of towns.

A good way to put everything into perspective is to get a big map of the region you are planning to explore. Go to your local office supply store and pick up a few packages of colored transparent removable adhesive dots - they come in all sizes. Using the transparent ones mean you won't cover up important information.

Color-code your map. For example, put a red dot for the town, a blue dot for the cemetery, a yellow dot for archives, courthouses or libraries, and a green dot for possible accommodations. Use other colors for restaurants or other landmarks.

And, if your family is coming with you, mark sites they would like to visit with you or on their own, while you are digging through archives and cemeteries. Pay attention to fun places like water parks, amusement parks, a beach, music festivals or childrens' museums. Remember that cemeteries are not high on other people's must-see lists. Continue reading "Family: Planning a roots trip?" »

15    Jun 20150 comments

Global Family Reunion: A Recap

We had a great time at the Global Family Reunion last week!

The MyHeritage and Geni teams

Hosted by best-selling author A.J. Jacobs, this epic event brought thousands of “cousins” from around the world to the New York Hall of Science for a family fun day of activities, while raising money to benefit Alzheimer’s research.

The MyHeritage and Geni tent

The MyHeritage and Geni teams had a special tent to let people explore their family history. Continue reading "Global Family Reunion: A Recap" »

13    Jun 20153 comments

Our Stories: From Sweden to Australia Part 2

We recently wrote about the start of Anna’s journey to meet her relatives in Australia. A journey that really began 125 years ago, Anna crossed oceans to meet relatives related to their common ancestor, Oskar. Here is Part 2.

In late December 2012, several relatives in Gotland, Sweden received a call from a man speaking English. Many hung up the phone and thought it was a hoax. They didn’t understand why an English-speaking man was calling them.

After many disconnected calls, the same person called my cellphone on December 30, 2012. David Michel said he was calling from Sydney, Australia.

Anna Lindblom and David Michel

He said he was Oskar’s grandson. The mystery of our family story about what happened to Oskar in Australia was beginning to be solved. Continue reading "Our Stories: From Sweden to Australia Part 2" »

10    Jun 20150 comments

Webinar: 5 mistakes to avoid with event dates

Have you come across any obstacles with understanding event dates? Deciphering dates can be confusing in records, especially with uncommon date formats.

Join expert genealogist Laurence Harris for a free webinar on Wednesday, June 17. He'll provide tips for interpreting difficult dates to help uncover more about your family history.

Register for free here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1831742758010374145

Continue reading "Webinar: 5 mistakes to avoid with event dates" »

7    Jun 20154 comments

Sources: Where did I find that?

Contributing author Schelly Talalay Dardashti is the US Genealogy Advisor for MyHeritage.com

How good is your memory?

Many years ago, when I was very new at the genealogy game, I really believed I could accurately remember where I had discovered every bit of family data. And - for awhile - I actually could do that.

However, as the years went by, the numbers of people in my trees increased - while my brain cells seemed to decrease - it became impossible. Sometimes, I would write the information on a scrap of paper. We all know what happens to a scrap of paper stuck in a bag or pocket.

At one point, I had to stop all new research and backtrack, almost to the beginning of my quest, to fill in all those blanks.

Fortunately, I had even saved some of those scraps of paper on which I had scribbled information while visiting archives and libraries. To preserve them, I had taped them onto regular sheets of white paper. Eventually, I transferred that data to the family tree software I used, but the scraps didn't cover all my research. Continue reading "Sources: Where did I find that?" »

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