6    Mar 20130 comments

Surname of the Week: Churchill

Welcome back to our weekly edition of the history of English surnames.

Today we look at CHURCHILL, in honor of Sir Winston Churchill’s famous Iron Curtain speech made on March 5, 1956.

Churchill, an ancient Norman name that arrived in England after the Norman conquest of 1066, derives from the town Curcelle, which became confused with the English name “Churchill.”

This geographical surname comes from various towns named Churchill (in Oxfordshire, Somerset and Worcestershire).  The name goes back to pre-7th century Old English for cyrice (church) and hyll (hill). The surname means “the church on the hill.”

There is one known case where the name's translation is different.

Continue reading "Surname of the Week: Churchill" »

27    Feb 20133 comments

New section: Surname of the week

MyHeritage welcomes you to a new weekly blog post, "Surname of the week." We'll discuss the origin, history and other information of one surname in each post.

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.

English surnames, as we know them today, began in England as early as the 11th century. However, it was not until the late-17th-century that many families adopted permanent surnames.

Generally speaking, family names fall into the following categories with some examples given:

  • Occupation: Smith, Taylor or Miller
  • Personal characteristics: Young, Black or White
  • Geographic or locations: Hamilton, Bush, Hill,  Windsor or Murray
  • Patronymics, Matronymics or Ancestral:  Stephenson, Richardson or Harris

In honor of American-British Actress Elizabeth Taylor's birthday, we look at TAYLOR this week:

Continue reading "New section: Surname of the week" »

7    Feb 20130 comments

MyHeritage offers major discounts on DNA tests for genealogy

In February 2012, MyHeritage introduced DNA testing for genealogy. And now, to celebrate the first anniversary, we're providing significant discounts to make DNA tests more affordable for all our users.

The discounts are available for a limited period, so now's your best chance to get a DNA test and take your family history research to the next level.

Order your DNA test now

MyHeritage DNA

MyHeritage DNA tests (click to zoom)

Continue reading "MyHeritage offers major discounts on DNA tests for genealogy" »

5    Feb 20132 comments

Black History Month: Resource roundup

Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron, Major League Baseball Star, image credit: biography.com

Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron, Major League Baseball Star. Image credit: biography.com

In honor of Black History Month, established in 1926 and celebrated in February, here’s a roundup of resources – websites, blogs, repositories and more – to help you learn more about your family. Each resource listed offers more links to additional information.

Today is also the birthday of African American baseball superstar Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron, born in 1934.  A major league baseball icon, Aaron is best known for breaking Babe Ruth's home run record. Read more on Aaron.

For many black families with roots in the Southern US states, research can be frustrating. Although African American genealogy research can get back to the 1880s and much earlier, it is difficult for most researchers. Researching their family trees has been almost impossible, as their ancestors' original names were literally erased. Slaves' African given names were replaced by English names and their surnames were those of their owners.

With the advent of new databases and technological tools, research has become much easier. A growing number of individuals are preparing their family stories and discovering images of their unique history. Continue reading "Black History Month: Resource roundup" »

18    Jan 20133 comments

Poll: Family history in the genes?

Family history is important to us and, as a reader of this blog, it's probably important to you, too!

While family history is a fascinating subject, with more and more people getting involved than ever before, sometimes the desire to research our family history also runs in the family!

Some of us have family trees that have been passed down through the generations. Others are inspired to find out more via the stories our relatives share with us.

We want to know if researching family history runs in your family? Did your parents and grandparents research their family history? Were you inspired by their research? Alternatively, are you the first of your relatives to catch the genea-bug?

Let us know in the poll (or comments) below:

16    Jan 20134 comments

Family History: Our place in space

How do our surroundings, our homes, impact our families, our thoughts, our history?

Isn't this what our pursuit of genealogy helps to reconstruct? To make sure that our family history remains alive and known and preserved?

In a poem by Leib Borisovich Talalai, a young poet whose family was from our ancestral village of Vorotinschtina, Belarus, and who was murdered in Minsk (1941), he writes about his family home in the village, "If the walls of this house could talk. ..." When I found two of his slim books of poetry at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, it was fascinating to read his words.

What an image he presented of a home’s talking walls! What if we could access those memories? What do you know about the spaces in which your ancestors lived? Continue reading "Family History: Our place in space" »

15    Jan 20132 comments

Research: Address books as a resource

Do you have an address book? Have you inherited an old address book from your parents or grandparents? This is almost as good as discovering an ancestor's journal.

Will Kenny, wrote a post for Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) - Address book is a family history, bound by tradition - in which he writes:

....And this annual ritual recently reminded us of a big difference between pulling out a physical, paper address book and pulling up a contact list.

These days, if you keep your contact list on your phone or your computer, you live very much in the present. When you update an entry in your electronic contact list, you just edit the information. You replace the old with the new.

And when people are no longer connected to you, whether you somehow lose touch or they pass away, you merely delete them from your list, and from your life. At the same time, you delete a piece of your own personal history.

Diane Richards wrote a great blog post in Upfront (the National Genealogical Society blog) on her own use of these hand-written resources for family history, who writes that she is on her third one (begun in December 1998). Earlier ones now live in her "memory boxes." She also shows examples from her latest address book. Continue reading "Research: Address books as a resource" »

14    Jan 20132 comments

Family History: Have a mentor?

Do you have a genealogy mentor? Someone you can turn to and have your questions answered? Someone who can guide you through the problems and pitfalls or help you break through brick walls?

The genealogy community worldwide has always been very helpful to newcomers.

Someone once asked me why genealogists were so friendly. My answer was that we never know if the next person to ask a question might hold the “missing link” to our own research!

We are also reminded of the concept of paying forward help we ourselves received in the past. As we are helped, so we attempt to help others.

Continue reading "Family History: Have a mentor?" »

9    Jan 201328 comments

MyHeritage mobile app version 2.0 released today!

We're delighted to announce the release of MyHeritage app version 2.0, our free mobile application, packed with exciting new features. Now you can build and edit your family tree, add more information to it, and take your heritage with you anywhere you go.

MyHeritage App 2.0 - Edit your tree on the go!

Our mobile app is available for iPad, iPhone and Android smartphones and tablets, in 32 languages, and has been optimized for each platform using cutting-edge HTML5 and SVG technologies. Download the new app now, for free, from Apple's App Store or Google Play.

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4    Jan 20139 comments

Family History: Necessary skills

What's required for challenging searches and rewarding finds?

As a New Year begins, offering us a chance to jump start our research using every available resource, we are reminded that family history researchers need skills, according to MyHeritage's US genealogy advisor Schelly Talalay Dardashti. We may already have those skills but - more likely - we learn on the job!

Genealogists are strange creatures.

We live for the dead or the missing. We practically vacation in cemeteries - if we can discover where relatives are buried. We hope for the once-in-a-lifetime thrill of visiting “old country" ancestral towns and villages, wherever they might be.

We revel in bettering our investigative skills, similar to those used by detectives, lawyers or police, while piecing together the most complicated of puzzles, analyzing and dissecting clues, theories, stories.

Continue reading "Family History: Necessary skills" »

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