9    Sep 20137 comments

Our Stories: Planning a family reunion

By his own account, Norwood Wayne Newkirk says that reading and history were not his greatest passions as he grew up. Today that has changed, as he was the project manager for his family’s reunion held August 1-4, 2013, in New Jersey.

He holds a degree in electrical engineering and worked as a loss prevention consultant. Today he creates risk management systems as a senior account executive and computer application developer.

So what I have done over the past two years [since the 2011 reunion] in preparation for our 2013 reunion is not a far stretch from what I do vocationally. I see the issue and try to develop a solution.

However, as he went through life, he began to recognize that something was missing.

I found a church with teaching ministry that filled the void in my spiritual life and became very active in leading the Media Volunteer Ministry (it is in my genes). Yet there was an area still lacking.

I eventually recognized I had become distant from my family, not because I wanted to, but life situations and circumstances caused things to happen just that way. In fact, there was a time when I truly could not remember a large chunk of my past.

As life would have it, things changed and there was a rekindling of his family history. As family members grew older and died, it offered occasions for the family to come together more frequently than they would like.

It was on those occasions that I heard stories about family members including myself. Stories that made you laugh and stories that made you say, “Did that really happen?” At that point I began to understand what I was missing. It was family. Cousins that I grew up were now distant relatives.

At his grandmother’s funeral, a family pastor talked about thing his grandparents experienced over 92 years of their life and the legacy they left behind.

The Starling family could have written “Roots.” This revelation showed me the importance of family.

Continue reading "Our Stories: Planning a family reunion" »

7    Sep 20131 comment

Family Heritage: Patriots, spies and other surprises

While some genealogists have been at it for only a few years, MyHeritage member Gary Fenton Kemp, 76, has been researching for decades.

Gary became interested in computers in the early 1970s.  He also observed his parents, then in their 70s, trying to put together their genealogy by typing and writing everything out by hand. He knew that there had to be some way to use computers and began searching for a program that would be able to organize the data.

I found PAF and started using it. In 1987, I went to my parents’ home and spent three days entering data for 752 names.

Gary has many interests in addition to family history, such as surfing, fly fishing, geocaching, glider racing and lifting weights. He’s been an educator from kindergarten through university, and conducted teacher training programs in Fiji and elsewhere. Although now retired as a teacher, coach, high school principal and school district superintendent, he is still active, serves as a local school board member and as a Boy Scout merit badge counselor.

The San Tan Valley, Arizona resident has been married to Nancy for 54 years, has four children, 13 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and four more on the way.

Gary's paternal grandparents' wedding photo,1881

He’s discovered so many exciting and interesting things about his family history. Continue reading "Family Heritage: Patriots, spies and other surprises" »

24    Aug 20131 comment

Boston: A visit to the New England Historic Genealogical Society

Our chief genealogist Daniel Horowitz was recently in Boston, Massachusetts for the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies’ 33rd conference. While there, he visited the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), at 101 Newbury St.

Daniel met with NEHGS chief genealogist David Allen Lambert, who provided a wonderful and complete tour of the building, including some backstage areas. Here's Daniel's report of his visit.

Two Chief Genealogists together: David Allen Lambert, NEHGS (left) and Daniel Horowitz, MyHeritage (right)

It was great to meet with another Chief Genealogist!

As visitors enter the building, its wonderful architecture is apparent. David explained that the original three-floor building (now eight floors) was a bank and that they kept the original design, including the vault, where some NEHGS records are stored.

This is the second genealogical society that I've seen housed in a bank facility. Two years ago, I visited the Genealogical Society of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, where their facility is also a former bank.

The NEHGS, as a historical society, has a good collection of portraits and historical artifacts from Boston,  the New England region and other US locations, including such objects as John Hancock’s chair. Continue reading "Boston: A visit to the New England Historic Genealogical Society" »

14    Aug 20133 comments

Uncovering stories: Free webinar with the Photo Detective

Photos hold the key to your family story. They allow us a glimpse into the lives and personalities of our ancestors.

Join Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, who will show you how you can learn more about your family history from old photos in our free online webinar.

As a photo curator, genealogist, writer and photo analysis expert, Maureen focuses on family photos, history and genealogy.

She is an internationally recognized expert who helps solve photo-related family mysteries and discovers stories behind family photos.

Continue reading "Uncovering stories: Free webinar with the Photo Detective" »

6    Aug 20135 comments

MyHeritage launches global initiative: “Treasure Family Photos”

We’re delighted to announce the launch of our global “Treasure Family Photos” initiative to help you uncover new information about your family history through photos and preserve them online.

August marks the start of our ongoing campaign, which will offer exciting activities and competitions. Read on for details.

Continue reading "MyHeritage launches global initiative: “Treasure Family Photos”" »

5    Aug 20131 comment

Your Stories: A trip to Mali with Mahamadou Gary

Today we're on a journey to Mali, with a family adventure first shared on our MyHeritage French blog.

MyHeritage user Mahmadou Gary was born in Fatao (Cercle of Diéma in the Kayes Region of western Mali) in 1956.

Mahamadou Gary

His studies led him all the way to Kishinev, Moldova, where he obtained a Master's Degree in Biology and became a biology professor at Lycée Sankoré of Bamako. After leaving Kishinev, he earned a doctorate in biology at the University of Bamako, where he continued his career.

He was also the mayor of the municipality of Fatao from 1999 to 2004.

Mahmadou first became interested in family history when he attended his mother's funeral in the local village.

Continue reading "Your Stories: A trip to Mali with Mahamadou Gary" »

1    Aug 20132 comments

1790: First US Census Day

The US Census is the nation’s largest and most important set of records. They are invaluable to everyone interested in discovering their family history.

This week marks the original Census Day, which took place on the first Monday in August in 1790.

The 1790 Census was the first census conducted, numbering the then-population at  3,929,214.

Thomas Jefferson in the 1790 U.S. Census. Note occupation listed as 'Sec of State to the US' (click to zoom)

Census records provide a snapshot into the lives of our ancestors by documenting names, addresses, birthplace, members of household and more. Continue reading "1790: First US Census Day" »

29    Jul 20134 comments

MyHeritage discovers heirs for unclaimed assets confiscated during WWII

We have often discussed the importance of building family trees and how genealogy can be used to make exciting family discoveries.

Gilad Japhet, MyHeritage's Founder & CEO, read an article a few months ago concerning the compensation for Jewish-owned German property that had been confiscated by the Nazis during World War II.

The article linked to a list compiled by the Claims Conference of around 40,000 properties (homes, buildings, stores and factories) located in former East Germany. The descendants of these property owners are entitled to compensation.

MyHeritage notified Cati Holland that she was eligible for compensation (Credit: Oded Balilty/AP)

Gilad initiated a project to use MyHeritage resources to try and match the people on this list, the original property owners, with their living descendants. Continue reading "MyHeritage discovers heirs for unclaimed assets confiscated during WWII" »

21    Jul 20133 comments

Old postcards: A family history resource

Cards with messages have been mailed since the creation of the postal service. Many of us have sent postcards to our loved ones from vacations or just a quick note to say hello.

A postcard is traditionally a rectangular piece of thick paper or cardboard intended for mailing without an envelope.

The earliest known picture postcard comes from the 19th century, hand-painted by writer Theodore Hook in 1840. In the US, John P. Carlton patented the postal card and produced the first commercial cards in 1861.

The earliest known picture postcard, posted in London to writer Theodore Hook in 1840

Over the course of the 19th century, postcards gained additional popularity among all social classes. They were a convenient, inexpensive and attractive means of correspondence.

Continue reading "Old postcards: A family history resource" »

16    Jul 20130 comments

Society Spotlight: Federation of Genealogical Societies

Genealogical societies are essential to family history researchers. They provide resources, programs, conferences, and other important assistance.

MyHeritage is  spotlighting these societies in a new series over the year.

Today, we look at the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), based in Austin, Texas, and established in 1976.Headed by D. Joshua Taylor, FGS represents other genealogical and historical societies. More than 500 member societies represent over a half-million individual members in those societies.

Continue reading "Society Spotlight: Federation of Genealogical Societies" »

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