Our genealogy team love challenges – so imagine the reaction of Laurence Harris, MyHeritage's Head of Genealogy (UK), when he was shown a 66-year-old Memorial Board commemorating the names of Servicemen who had died in WWII.
The board had been hidden in a rarely-used storage area for more than 30 years.
The challenge was on! Laurence volunteered to trace living family members of the men so that they could be invited to a special service to remember and honor them and to rededicate the Board.
Laurence took this as both a personal and professional challenge. He recognized the importance of learning about these forgotten heroes of the past, enabling the present generation to honor them, and ensuring that their stories are preserved for future generations.
Along the way, he discovered many interesting stories. Over the next few weeks we'll be sharing with you some of these stories and explaining how Laurence managed to trace the descendants.
Do you have stories to share about unsung war heroes in your family? Let us know in the comments below, and email relevant photos to firstname.lastname@example.org
We recently wrote about Genea-journeys, which we described as "a journey to research your family history and discover new relatives and information about them, or it could be an actual physical trip to the places your ancestors lived."
Without the chance to personally visit my ancestors' homes, I wondered what they looked like. I wanted to get a sense of the physical surroundings in which they lived.
After reading an interesting article about how to use Google Images for family history research, I decided to take my own virtual genea-journey using Google's Street View. This tool lets you tour - virtually - almost any road in the world.
Recently, Mark Rigg (Stockport, UK) was going through his attic, when he found a treasure he never knew existed.
His great-aunt, Annie Droege, was a British woman living in Germany during WWI. What Mark didn't know was that Annie had kept a diary of her experiences.
She recounts her emotions of spending the war in Germany, and having German friends fighting against her British friends and family.
At one point, Annie and her family were under siege in their own home, as a mob from the nearby village descended upon them.
Mark was excited by the discovery, and decided to publish the diary to demonstrate the hardships of life during the Great War. He dedicated the book to the 16.5 million people who lost their lives.
No other artifact or family heirloom - other than personal diaries - helps us understand the lives and emotions of the previous generations.
Have you inherited a family diary or journal? What did you learn from it?
The opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics - the Games of the XXX Olympiad - begin tonight in London.
The largest international sporting event in the world takes place every four years; it is the third time that it has been held in London. The last time was in 1948.
The first modern edition of the games was organized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Athens in 1896. The original Olympics - with nude athletes - took place in ancient Olympia, Greece, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD.
The Olympics is an historical event enjoyed for generations. Participating - as a competitor or spectator - connects you to your ancestors who also lived through the moment.
We've trawled the Internet to find weird and wonderful historic Olympic facts. Here are some of them:
To some people, this is a source of frustration as the difference between the two is clear. For others, there is no difference and their interchangeability is acceptable. With this in mind, we ask whether there is a difference and if it matters.
The simplest way to explain the traditional difference between the two terms is that genealogy is a subset of family history.
Wikipedia defines genealogy as:
The study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history.
Wikipedia then goes on to define family history as:
The systematic narrative and research of past events relating to a specific family, or specific families.
While MyHeritage.com was at the recent Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Springfield, Illinois, chief genealogist Daniel Horowitz had an opportunity to visit the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum.
I was part of a detailed tour of the facility with Gwen Podeschi, history reference librarian.
Opened in October 2004, the library is maintained via state funds. Its main goal is to collect and preserve family and personal (non-official) correspondence and material of Abraham Lincoln and other Illinois state personalities. It holds more than 12 million historical items including 1,100 oral histories, 2 million manuscripts and 3,000 old and contemporary maps.
Collections also include early Mormon history, anti-slavery, coal miners’ accidents, train accidents and the 1893 World Colombian Exposition.
The library is home to the largest Lincoln documents database and such items as the documents of trials in which Lincoln was involved. The legal collection is fascinating as it also preserves the lists of juries in every case tried. If your relatives lived in Springfield, this can be a good resource as they may have served on one of those juries.
The law practice collection is not open to the public, but librarians are more than happy to help visitors find the information they seek. Appointments are suggested, and the collection is searchable via the Internet.
Many people claim to have distant family trees, going back to Charlemagne, Charles Martel, or even Adam and Eve. But while many of these may have some truth - and, statistically, most of us probably are related to Charlemagne in one way or another - many long trees ultimately rely on leaps of faith. Many old records are far more vague than birth certificates, and many of our high-climbing ancestors even falsified such links to try and prove their worth.
So how long is the longest tree that has a chance of standing up to scrutiny? It's hard to say for sure, and there doesn't seem to be agreement on a single case, but here are three of suggestions we've come up with. If you know of any other examples, drop us a message in the comments down below.
When I was growing up I remember reading “This Day in History” in the local newspaper, which would give a few examples of things that happened on that day’s date in the past.
Most fun, of course, was reading about things that happened on my birthday but no matter what the day it was always interesting to read things that had happened in the year I was born.
For those of us who were keen to know more about what the world was like in the year we were born, the Internet has been a fantastic tool but it still involved doing research and, in many instances, pulling the pieces of the puzzle together.
In 1903, the Lumière brothers patented autochrome, the first technique for producing colour photographs.
Not long after the technology’s release, Albert Kahn, a Franco-Jewish financier-turned-philanthropist, set about creating a photographic record of the entire world. He sent photographers to every continent, and they returned with reels of film and photographs. By the end of Kahn’s project in 1931, he had amassed 180,000 metres of film and more than 72,000 autochrome photographic plates. He called the collection ‘Archives of the Planet’.