Historical treasures are sometimes only discovered years after they have been stashed away or hidden. Once found, they may reveal a wealth of information.
This was the case when the oldest-known time capsule in the US was recently opened in Massachusetts. In 1795, Paul Revere and Samuel Adams buried it at the Massachusetts State House.
During repairs to the building in 1855, the time capsule was removed and contents cleaned, but put back - with added objects - for almost 160 years. This time, historians went through the contents and saw history unfold. Inside, they discovered five folded newspapers, coins, a silver engraved plate, a Massachusetts Commonwealth seal and a title page from Massachusetts colony records.
Opening the time capsule provided a treasure trove of historical information and documents to learn about the past. It’s easy to create your own family time capsule, filled with memories and documents. to preserve for future generations to remember us.
London resident Duncan Barrett is a writer and editor, specializing in biography and memoir.
He grew up in London and studied English at Jesus College, Cambridge. He is the author or co-author of several Sunday Times top-10 bestsellers, such as “The Sugar Girls,” and “GI Brides.” His most recent book (August 2014) is “Men of Letters: The Post Office Heroes Who Fought the Great War.”
After his grandmother, Helen Hudson, died in 2006, Duncan’s mother Michèle received a box containing documents and artifacts relating to his family history.
I had been familiar with the box all my life, but it was only then that I began exploring its contents. As well as objects – and associated stories – that related to ancestors I had never known, there was all the research work that my grandmother and my aunt had done into the family history, putting together family trees and organizing the material in the box. Looking through it made me feel closer to the grandmother I had lost.
Growing up, Duncan never felt that interested in the lives of his ancestors who lived before he was born – they seemed very remote, anonymous faces in photo albums. But he was able to get to know them quite intimately as he read through the materials in box, particularly through the letters exchanged among the relatives.
After 60 years of searching, MyHeritage found the connection – in just two months - between Australia’s Ann Clare Meagher’s mother Hilda Welchman Moss, and Ann’s previously unknown maternal uncle, John Welchman, in the UK.
Ann’s mother, Hilda, died at 32, leaving six children, when Ann was nine. Her father, Fred Moss, was a British Army major posted to India, and Ann was born in Lahore (now Pakistan) in 1945. Her mother Hilda Welchman had travelled to India from England and she married in 1941.
As a teen, I often wondered about my grandparents, as I had no knowledge or contact with them. We moved to Melbourne, Australia in 1962. I became a nurse, and have been happily married for 43 years, with a wonderful husband and three sons.
Ann had spent years looking for any relative of her mother without success until she became a member of MyHeritage and found her previously unknown uncle. She discovered a story he had written about his life and was dumb-founded that he had been looking for his sister’s family for 60 years. He lives in Dorset, England.
It is important to record key events of our ancestors, including the date when each event occurred.
Usually several sources indicate an event's date. For example, for a death: the date may be indicated on a death certificate, a headstone, a newspaper obituary and in a Grant of Probate (which authorizes distribution of a deceased person's estate). However, those dates would have been documented using the calendar and recording conventions of the geographical location and time when the event originally took place, rather than the calendar and conventions with which today's researcher would be familiar. Failure to take into account the original context of an event or document often results in mistakes in understanding when an event actually happened.
2015 is here! Have you thought about what you'd like to accomplish this year in your family history research?
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.
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.
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 recently hosted a webinar - "Discover your military ancestors" - featuring two of MyHeritage's experts: director of content production Mike Mansfield and UK genealogy expert Laurence Harris.
The webinar included an overview of our matching technologies to advance your family history research for ancestors in the military, as well as hints and tips for searching through MyHeritage's military record collections (available in SuperSearch) to learn more about the roles your ancestors played during times of war.
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 even more genealogy tips to help make family history research easier.
Have ideas for other webinars? Let us know in the comments below.