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" »

10    May 20132 comments

Ghosts of War: Bringing historic legacies to the present

What's the relationship between our history and our daily reality?

Each day we walk by our local store, our neighbor's place or the park, without realizing the stories from the past that existed in those same places many years before.

While we often think of history as antique, irrelevant and something out of the past, it  can just as easily be intertwined with the present.

Imagine what it would look like if the ghosts of World War II came back to the streets today. That’s what Dutch historian Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse shows through her Ghosts of War photo series.

Ghosts of war - France; taken prisoner (Courtesy of Jo Hedwig Teeuwise)

Continue reading "Ghosts of War: Bringing historic legacies to the present" »

8    Mar 20131 comment

International Women’s Day: Your stories

International Women’s Day has its roots in the North American and European Labor movements.

It was first observed in the US on February 28, 1909, in honor of the 1908 worker’s strike when women protested against poor working conditions. A year later, The Socialist International met in Copenhagen and established a Women’s Day to honor the women’s rights movement.

The first International Women’s Day, in 1911, took place in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Women rallied for worker’s rights, the right to vote and to hold public office, among other issues.

Today, International Women’s Day is observed worldwide: Continue reading "International Women’s Day: Your stories" »

1    Mar 20132 comments

Celebrating: National Women’s History Month

March is National Women’s Month in the United States. It has been observed annually since 1987 to honor women’s contributions to society, history and culture.

American women have achieved many firsts; here are a few:

  • The first convention held to advocate women’s rights was at Seneca Falls, New York in 1848.
  • In 1869, Wyoming Territory was the first US territory to grant women the right to vote.
  • The first woman elected to an American political office was Susanna Salter, mayor of Argonia, Kansas in April 1887.
  • Elizabeth Blackwell was the first accredited American female doctor and founded the first medical school for women.
  • Edith Wharton became the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for her novel - The Age of Innocence - in 1921.
  • In 1928, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to successfully fly more than 20 hours across the Atlantic.

"We Can Do It" poster, J. Howard Miller. Image credit: Wikipedia

This year’s theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination,” which recognizes the contributions and achievements of women in the fields of science, mathematics, technology and engineering.

In honor of International Women's Day next week, we will publish some of our favorite inspirational stories of women in your family tree.

Do you have women in your family who were pioneer inventors? Do you have any stories of women ancestors' contribution to society, culture and innovation? We'd like to hear your stories. Share them in the comments below, or email them to stories@myheritage.com.

18    Feb 20130 comments

Happy Presidents’ Day!

Washington's Birthday Image credit: Wikipedia

Washington's Birthday. Image credit: Wikipedia

Today is, in the United States, “President's Day.” Did you know that this was originally celebrated as “Washington’s Birthday"?

Established in 1885 as a Federal holiday, it was first celebrated on February 22, Washington’s real birthday. It was also the first Federal holiday honoring an American citizen.

In 1971, the date changed to the third Monday in February, after the creation of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.

The Act also combined Washington’s Birthday with Abraham Lincoln’s, which fell on February 12. Lincoln’s Birthday had long been a state holiday in some states. The combining of these two days gave equal recognition to two of America's most famous men.

Since then the day has become known as President's Day and also honors other presidents born during February, including Ronald Reagan and William Henry Harrison. It is popularly seen as a day to recognize the lives and achievements of all US Presidents.

Continue reading "Happy Presidents’ Day!" »

6    Feb 20130 comments

Games: Feeling ‘board’? Roll the dice

Monopoly Board Image Credit: AP Photo/Hasbro

Monopoly Board Image Credit: AP Photo/Hasbro

The famous board game Monopoly has received a makeover ahead of its 78th anniversary tomorrow with a revamp of its original 1935 design.

The game’s birthday milestone made me nostalgic for all the times my family and I played Monopoly and other board games.

With new technology and busy daily schedules, we often get distracted and forget the importance of spending time with our families.

Take a break with a traditional board game and bond with your family.  With just a roll of the dice, enjoy laughter, joy and amusement. All you need to worry about is whether your uncle or sister cheated in the last round.

Continue reading "Games: Feeling ‘board’? Roll the dice" »

30    Jan 20130 comments

Innovation: What’s next?

When was the last time you used a typewriter?

Technology crept into my life when I switched from my beloved black portable manual Remington typewriter to an IBM electric.

Just a few years ago - relatively speaking - personal computers were just appearing on the scene. We researched the old-fashioned way - handwriting letters, loading rolls of film in our cameras, visiting dusty archives and winding through endless rolls of microfilm in resource centers. It took hours of effort to search for family information.

Today we connect in ways we couldn't imagine only a short time ago. We communicate almost instantaneously with email and messaging, and we access ever-expanding Internet resources for family history. Everyone is connected by computer, by smartphone, by technology.

Once upon a time, my tech arsenal consisted of an electric typewriter. Period.

Continue reading "Innovation: What’s next?" »

25    Jan 20132 comments

Australia Day: Do you celebrate?

Australia Day - Image credit: timeanddate.com

Australia Day - Image credit: timeanddate.com

January 26 marks Australia's national holiday, Australia Day.

Australia Day celebrates the establishment of the first settlement in Port Jackson (which is now Sydney Harbour), in 1788.

What's known as the "First Fleet", consisted of 11 ships that set sail from Great Britain and landed on this day at the Port. By 1808, January 26 was celebrated as “First Landing Day” or “Foundation Day”.

In 1818, the Governor of Australia gave all government employees a day off, and in the years that followed, bank employees, and other employees, were also given a holiday day.

Continue reading "Australia Day: Do you celebrate?" »

24    Jan 20134 comments

Looking at history: Images 101

Your grandmother had one.
So did your mother.
I'll bet you also have one.

In the back of a high closet shelf, in the basement, in your attic, you have some kind of a container.

It may be an old metal box that held cookies a lifetime ago, an old shoebox or hatbox, a modern plastic container with a snap-on lid, or even a handy-dandy sealed plastic bag stuck in a drawer.

The contents may include dried flowers, holiday and life-cycle event cards, and many old photographs. If this is your personal collection, you'll likely know who the people were and when the image was taken. That's good.

However, these treasured possessions may have belonged to your great-grandmother. She, if you are very fortunate, may have written lightly in pencil on the back. The lady in the strange hat is Cousin Helen, you learn, but you've never heard of anyone with that name.

If you are even luckier, the inscription may indicate that it's a holiday gift from "your dear brother in London." You've never heard of anyone who had a brother in London.

If your relative was somewhat obsessive, he or she may have recorded the names, dates and places on each photograph. In this case, your genealogy colleagues around the world will congratulate you on your good fortune!

Continue reading "Looking at history: Images 101" »

26    Dec 20120 comments

Holidays: Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a holiday traditionally observed in the UK and Commonwealth on December 26, but has nothing to do with the sport of the same name!

Where did it originate?

There are various opinions about its origins.

One view is that it comes from a very early Christian custom where boxes were left outside of churches for people to donate offerings for the Feast of Saint Stephen.

The European belief is that it stems from a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages where people would give money and gifts to needy tradesmen. In Britain, it was customary for tradesmen to collect boxes of money or presents, as thanks for their services, much like the concept of the Christmas bonus that many companies in western countries have adopted.

In the days when wealthy aristocrats employed servants to manage their homes, servants would have to work on Christmas Day, but would be given the next day as a holiday. The masters would give the servants a box of presents and leftovers to take home to their families.

Today, Boxing Day in the UK is mainly about shopping. Most people who celebrate Christmas will have spent a large amount of time and money shopping before the holiday, buying food for their festive dinner and presents for their family. To entice people back to the stores, Boxing Day is the day retailers traditionally hold sales. In this regard, it's very similar to Black Friday in the US.

As many families come together for the holidays, Boxing Day is also a ''bonus'' family day.

Are you celebrating Boxing Day? If so, how?

Let us know in the comments below.

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