We never know what our unique family histories may reveal, and MyHeritage member Kathleen Whitfield, 60, of the UK, is no exception.
Her childhood was spent in the UK with her parents and older brother, who lived some 250 miles from any blood relatives. Neither of the siblings ever met their father’s family or had any living grandparents they knew about.
Although they occasionally visited their mother’s sister and family in Lancashire and another sister in London, the only details they were told about their father’s family was that his Irish father was an opera singer, their father was born in London, that he had siblings, but he had lost contact with his family. Kathleen was told she was named for her father’s mother. Further, she discovered that her paternal grandmother was really Kate Constance, not Kathleen!
Thank you to everyone who participated in last week’s oldest wedding photo competition. All the entries were fantastic and captured the beauty and significance of the person’s special day. The oldest entry was from 1846!
With over 40 photos received, participation was above our expectations. It was great to see the lives of your families and the rich history brought to life with the stories that accompanied them.
In the old days, when doctors were few and far between in rural areas, women with knowledge of medicinal herbs, of healing the sick and of midwifery were important community members.
In the American Southwest, among the old Hispanic families, there are many documented curanderas (healers). The older generations still tend gardens of special medicinal herbs and are the keepers, preservers and transmitters of generations of remedies.
In some countries, foods are classified as hot or cold in nature. People with certain ailments are told to eat one and not the other or vice versa. It is something a person is brought up with and never disregarded. Those who have not been raised with this system generally find "the rules" somewhat strange.
So do these remedies really work, or do we just believe that they work because that’s what we’ve been told since we were little children? In any case, this is part of our family history, of our heritage, and the details should be preserved.
This year's RootsTech was only the third edition, and it has grown exponentially every year. Some 7,000 attendees - plus nearly 2,000 young people (ages 12-18) on Saturday - flocked to the Salt Palace Convention Center. It is now the largest such event in the US.
While the weather ranged from near-blizzard conditions to rain to sunshine, the halls - with some 100 exhibitors - and classrooms housing some 250 programs, drew excited crowds. According to organizer FamilySearch, attendees came from 49 states and 17 countries.
Additionally, FamilySearch announced that some 10,000 people viewed programs and keynotes via live streaming video online, while remote satellite broadcasts took place at 17 Family History centers in seven countries, attended by another 4,000 participated by remote satellite broadcast at Family History centers in 17 locations in seven countries.
Mark your calenders for RootsTech 2014 (February 6-8, 2014). FamilySearch said that they plan to export the event to some 600 locations worldwide (16 US locations and several other countries).
A piece of family history can be found in a library book.
As a young girl, I spent a lot of time at the iconic New York Public Library – with those stone lions out front - working on school projects. I once found a book I needed and opened it. Out fell an old-fashioned photo postcard with my grandfather’s picture on it.
He was in the army and had sent the card, with a message, to his sister. She had likely stuck it in the book and forgotten about it, until I found it decades later.
I wasn’t a genealogist then, and in what I now believe was a misguided act of responsibility, I put the card back in the book. Perhaps the owner would come looking for it?
When I got home, I told my family about it, and everyone said I should have brought it home. Fortunately, we found a copy at another relative’s home much later.
Have you ever had to clear out the home of a deceased relative or had to help move an elderly relative to a retirement or nursing home?
Checking the dusty corners of a large home, or even a small apartment, can produce family treasures that would otherwise be lost forever.
Photographs are a great inspiration to see family similarities from past and present.
Argentine photographer Irina Werning's photography series - "Back to the Future" - shows us a new way to explore and preserve photographic memories.
Like many of us, Irina loves old photographs and preserving family memories. In a way to document the present family, she take an older photograph from childhood or from the past, and replicates it with the same people years later.
Together, the two photos show family history coming alive in the present, and is a great way to link memories from our childhood to adulthood.
Have you ever tried to give a recent photo a vintage look or emulate an old family photograph? If so, share the photograph or link to your photo in the comments section below, or share on our Facebook page, Twitter or Google +.
One of my favorite blogs is The Signal, the digital preservation blog of the Library of Congress. A hot topic there centers on personal digital archiving, and much of that relates to family history and genealogy.
The LOC’s Mike Ashenfelder, who writes online articles about personal digital archiving, digital preservation leaders and developments in digital preservation, writes on preserving personal genealogical collections in a digital age.
The popularity of genealogy websites and TV shows is rapidly growing, mainly because the Internet has made it so convenient to access family history information. Almost everything can be done through the computer now. Before the digital age, genealogical research was not only laborious and time consuming, it also resulted in boxes of documents: photos, charts, letters, copies of records and more. Online genealogy has replaced all that paper with digital files. But the trade-off for the ease of finding and gathering the stuff is the challenge of preserving it.
About genealogical databases, Ashenfelder writes:
that relational databases are the engines that drive digital genealogy. Databases make it possible to quickly search through enormous quantities of records, find the person you’re looking for and discover related people and events. And when institutions collaborate and share databases, statistical information becomes enriched.
And, considering some demographics of family history aficionados, digital estate planning now a popular topic. What happens to our digital possessions after we die? And what can we do to preserve them? Getting your digital affairs in order offers much practical information.
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:
When the genealogy “bug” hits us, we just can't help ourselves. We want to search deeper into our heritage.
A great way to start is with our children and grandchildren.
Children are curious about black-and-white photos, strange names, and seeing a family tree filled with images of people they may or may not know. Most importantly, they ask questions - lots of questions!
Children love listening to stories, so reading to them about the family is a great way to grab their interest and demonstrate that they are part of a grander history. Sharing family moments creates a stronger family bond, as well as a chance to share ancestral information.
Do you share family stories with your children and grandchildren? How do you pass on your unique heritage to the younger generations? Let us know in the comments below.
The MyHeritage team returned from three intensive days at the Who Do You Think You Are Live 2013 show in London’s Olympia. We enjoyed greeting so many visitors at our booth.
Our team included Chief Genealogist Daniel Horowitz, Head of Genealogy (UK) Laurence Harris, Chief Content Officer Russ Wilding, Netherlands Community Manager Denie Kasan, Scandinavian Community Manager Sara Silander, German Community Manager Karen Brandel Hägele and Marketing Manager Aaron Godfrey.
Both old friends and new shared fascinating stories of their ancestors and their own family history research experiences.