“Genealogy is not only the search for one’s ancestors, but the sharing of information with others," according to MyHeritage member Gary L. Roberts of Plano, Texas.
Born in Pennsylvania, Gary, 62, attended computer school and served in the US Army as a Morse Code Intercept Operator. Before his 2012 retirement, he spent 30 years working for Verizon Communications as a technical trainer.
Although an only child, he had many cousins on both sides of his family. He’s always been interested in his family history, but travel and work prevented him from working on it. Today, however, he has created a family website, and his travels have taken him around the world to China, Wales, Egypt, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Zaire, Singapore, Switzerland, all over Europe and to the Philippines.
His interest in family history began following the Catawissa (Pennsylvania) Bicentennial in 1974.
My second cousin wrote much of the book on the history of Catawissa. My Roberts family had a large number of family members (aunts, uncles, cousins) in the area and some history related to them. It was wonderful to read about the area and its history.
Thirty years ago, MyHeritage member Marcia K. Hanson, now 64, began gathering family information:
I talked to all the old family I could find (I began this when I was in my late 30s) and wrote down their stories. The stories were priceless, many were funny. It gave me an appreciation of who they were and the sacrifices they made to give their family a better life.
Marcia describes herself as a retired introvert who likes history, loves puzzles and is good with details. She enjoys having family stay in touch and loves to share family stories gathered during her research. Also an active volunteer, an avid reader and an average golfer, Marcia is certainly a busy woman.
There are many reasons why people become interested in their family history. It may be because of an inherited condition or the discovery of a previously unknown relative.
MyHeritage member Thelma (known as Thel) Brooks’ story includes both!
Born in Sydney, Australia, Thel’s interests were dancing, swimming and tennis. These days, it’s family history.
Now in her 70s and retired, she was a hospital office manager for most of her working life.
Married at 22, she and her husband, William John Brooks, were together for nearly 50 years. She has a daughter and a son, and four grandchildren. For 27 years, Thel was her husband John’s caregiver until his death in 2010.
Today, her life is devoted to her little dog, family and friends and she lives in Sunshine Coast, Queensland.
Thel first became interested in family history when her husband was diagnosed with an inherited incurable disease and she wanted to find out more where it came from. She then discovered, at 56, a previously unknown half-sister in Scotland:
Our post on the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking produced a breakthrough for a South African member of MyHeritage.
Christopher Brian Jennings (known as Brian), 44, of Johannesburg, South Africa became interested in family history as his elders aged. He realized that their wealth of information would disappear if he did not document the family.
Brian lives with his wife Adri, 44, and children Natasha, 19, and Michael, 15. He is an insurance industry director.
Family history attracts people of all ages.
Recently, MyHeritage was happy to hear from member Jeff Zeitlin of Connecticut, who sent an email on behalf of his son Jared, 11. He explained that Jared was very interested in genealogy and asked if it was possible to get a MyHeritage souvenir.
Our marketing department wrote to Jeff and discovered that Jared had made remarkable family history discoveries.
We asked the family's permission to share their story and they were happy to do so. Of course, we sent Jared a MyHeritage fleece (see photo left).
Here’s Jared's story:
A fifth-grade student, Jared’s parents are Alyson and Jeffrey Zeitlin and he has an older sister, Mikayla. He also enjoys spending time with his grandparents in Connecticut and Florida.
Growing up in a Jewish family, Jared found great interest in religion and genealogy. These interests spurred his focus in researching his family history, which resulted in building the family tree on MyHeritage.com.
One day a few summers ago, Jared’s father’s first cousins visited them in Connecticut – the first time Jared had met them.
During the day we discussed how we were related. Cousin Arthur mentioned that another distant cousin had created a family tree on another website. That got me interested in looking at my family.
A major international event, Earth Hour is taking place today. It’s organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and is held annually on the last Saturday in March.
During Earth Hour 2011, more than 5,200 towns and cities in 135 countries worldwide switched off their lights, sending a powerful message for action on climate change.
As family history lovers, we also believe that this is an important subject. As we think about our ancestors and try to understand their lives, we know that one day in the future we will become our family’s ancestors.
People have been migrating around the world much more frequently over the past century or so, as international travel has became much easier (from steamships to rail to jets). All this movement impacts many of us as we now have branches located around the globe. It also means that in many family trees, various languages are represented in those branches.
Millions of people around the world will celebrate their unique birthday today – February 29 - or Leap day.
Why do we have leap years? We’ve been taught that each year is 365 days because that's the length of time it takes the Earth to revolve around the sun.
In truth, it takes a little longer (365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds, according to most calculations) and that’s why leap years were instituted every four years to make up the difference.
There are, however, some exceptions to the four-year rule. We do not count a leap year if the year in question ends in a double zero (1900, 2100) unless the year can be divided by 400 (such as 2000), and then it is a leap year.
Ask any genealogist about the demographics of the pursuit and they'll tell you one thing: there aren't enough young people getting involved.
The answer to this is to instil the "genealogy bug" at a very young age. It needn't be anything extravagant- just something to make your children think past the two immediate generations of your family.
Today's video is an example of how you can encourage interest in genealogy by building a visual family tree. It's great for Kinesthetic learners, which should apply to the majority of children below five.