12    Nov 20123 comments

Birthplace: We all come from somewhere

Ever wonder about where your family comes from and how that place makes you feel?

New York filmmaker Francesco Paciocco did, and the result is a short documentary – Birthplace - about his ancestral home. Importantly, it addresses the importance of where our families come from and what it means to us.

Says Paciocco:

No matter what background we come from, who our parents are or where we currently live, we only have one birthplace.

No matter where we live, our race, color or creed, we all have roots somewhere. History progresses, societies evolve, and people shift location. Origins, however, remain the same.

Past generations of our families crossed mountains and oceans to find better lives. But Paciocco asks how they felt about their choices, and what impact it left on future generations who today have only stories and old photographs to look through.

Continue reading "Birthplace: We all come from somewhere" »

29    Aug 20120 comments

Family History: Challenges of immigration

Many families are descendants of immigrants or refugees. It is a part of our unique histories.

As our ancestors – or more recently, ourselves, parents or grandparents – traveled thousands of miles to find safety in another country for various reasons, the process of adapting to life in a new place is often challenging.

My great-grandparents came from Belarus to Newark, New Jersey, in 1905. While they barely ever learned English themselves, they made sure that their children learned English and that they did well in school. Their children and grandchildren went on to college and became doctors, engineers or entered other professions. Perhaps it was easier for them as the Yiddish-speaking immigrant community in Newark of that time was so large. There was always someone – who had arrived much earlier and learned the system - to help out with the language or whatever problem needed to be solved.

It is different when an immigrant is part of a new, smaller group of people who have only recently arrived. The community support system is not yet that well-established and the immigrants or refugees rely on the wider community to help them.

A recent study by sociologists at the University of Dayton (Ohio) indicates that adjusting to linguistic and cultural differences is a daunting task. They presented the new research at the 107th meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA).

Continue reading "Family History: Challenges of immigration" »

21    Feb 20125 comments

New Zealand: An 1842 voyage and a mystery

Fanny Cochrane Smith, great-grandmother of MyHeritage user Carol Marriott

A fifth-generation New Zealander and MyHeritage user, Carol Marriott is working on a few mysteries of history involving her family, which arrived in 1842.

The Martha Ridgway was the sixth immigrant ship sent by the New Zealand Company.

Its second voyage left Liverpool on November 6, 1841, and arrived behind Boulder Bank in Nelson Haven on April 7, 1842.

Among the steerage class married couples were Charles, 30, and Sarah Inkersell, 32, who had registered with a New Zealand company agent in Burton-on-Trent, and Eli and Ellen Cropper, with their 3-month-old daughter Mary Ann, who had registered in Halifax.

In the overcrowded shared deck space surrounded by deaths, births, terrible storms and extreme temperatures, the two couples would have come to know each other well.

Continue reading "New Zealand: An 1842 voyage and a mystery" »

20    Jan 20127 comments

Family destiny or coincidence?

Is it coincidence or are some families destined to have similar unlucky events happen to them across generations?

Earlier this week a cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, ran aground and sank off the coast of Italy.

While a tragic event for all involved, reports have started coming in about one passenger, Valentina Capuano, and the bad luck she now shares with an ancestor.

In a strange twist of fate, Capuano’s grandmother was a passenger on The Titanic, which hit an iceberg 100 years ago on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

Continue reading "Family destiny or coincidence?" »

6    Jan 20123 comments

Steven Tyler: A fascinating family tree past and present

On January 2, Steven Tyler - legendary front man of rock-and-roll band Aerosmith - announced his engagement to girlfriend, Erin Brady.

Tyler’s professional success is known to many. Aerosmith has sold more than 150 million records worldwide, while American Idol, on which he is a judge, is the top-rated American television show.

Not as well known are the details of his amazingly diverse heritage, the rich history of musicians among his ancestors or the complex structure of his current family including his partners (ex and current) and his children.

To kick things off, we’ve pulled together Tyler’s family tree.

Click on the image below (or HERE) to be taken to the actual family tree on MyHeritage.

Click to see the tree

As part of our research on Tyler’s family, we found some other fascinating information.

Continue reading "Steven Tyler: A fascinating family tree past and present" »

30    Nov 201111 comments

Ellis Island: 57 years later

On November 29 - 57 years ago-  the greatest monument to a proud history of American immigration was closed. I am talking, of course, about Ellis Island.

The Great Hall

During a 2008 trip to New York, I visited Ellis Island (I’m from the UK) with my family.

Many visitors to New York take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty for that iconic photograph. Fortunately, we had the foresight to remain on the ferry and visit Ellis Island. It was worth it.

Although the architecture of the Main Building (now the Immigration Museum) does hint that Ellis Island comprises an important part of American history, it isn’t until one enters The Great Hall that you realise the sheer number of immigrants that Ellis Island handled. It is very substantial - to anyone’s eyes! Continue reading "Ellis Island: 57 years later" »

2    Oct 20110 comments

Genealogy News: North America – 2 October 2011

This week's edition includes expansion of a digital newspaper archive, new and updated FamilySearch records, African immigration to Nova Scotia, classes, seminars and more.

ProQuest, considered the world’s largest digital newspaper archive, is expanding its Historical Newspapers collection. It is accessible for free at most US public libraries.

The newest offerings are historic American Jewish and regional newspapers dating from 1841 and covering Boston, the Ohio Valley and New York City, offering primary resources for researchers.

The papers include The Jewish Advocate (the oldest continuously-circulating Jewish newspaper in the US, a Boston-based weekly) and The American Hebrew/Jewish Messenger (from 1857, covering events before and during the Civil War). Later this year, the Jewish Exponent (1887-1990, Philadelphia) will be added, as well as the Jerusalem Post (1932-1988).

Regional coverage will expand with Newsday (1940-1984, mainly covering Long Island, NY), and the Cincinnati Enquirer (1841-1922, Ohio River Valley)

ProQuestHistorical Newspapers™ began with digital archives of a handful of major American newspapers and has grown to encompass more than 20 dailies from around the world. Collections such as Historical Black Newspapers™ and the growing number of regional papers enable researchers to conduct deep dives on specific topics and also to compare multiple perspectives of the same events. The archive is continually growing and now encompasses more than 30 million pages.

The ProQuest platform allows researchers to share, create and collaborate. Check with your local library to see if it subscribes. I know my library does. For more information, visit ProQuest.com.

Just in time for the collection is a free podcast- available on iTunes - by Lisa Louise Cooke, offered by Family Tree Magazine and focusing on tips for searching old newspapers online, finding historic books on the Web and more. Don’t know what a podcast is? Click here for Lisa's podcast primer.

Looking for more records?

Continue reading "Genealogy News: North America – 2 October 2011" »

9    Aug 20111 comment

On the Road Again: MyHeritage goes to Washington DC

MyHeritage is on the road once again - this time to Washington DC for the 31st IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, August 14-19.

This time next week, Chief Genealogist Daniel Horowitz, Genealogy Advisor for the UK Laurence Harris and myself (Genealogy Advisor for the US Schelly Talalay Dardashti) will be attending, presenting programs and staffing the MyHeritage display booth.

From left: Laurence, Schelly and Daniel at the 2009 IAJGS Philadelphia Conference

We look forward to meeting with old friends, with happy MyHeritage users and making many new friends.

In addition to our new MyHeritage Challenge - read below for how you can participate - we are all speaking at the week-long event.

Continue reading "On the Road Again: MyHeritage goes to Washington DC" »

21    Jun 20111 comment

The Changing Face of Australia

New information from Sensis, the publisher of the White Pages in Australia, has highlighted the increasing popularity of non-Anglo Saxon surnames in New South Wales (NSW), the most populous state of Australia.

And the change is not a small one.

The Daily Telegraph, one of the major daily newspapers in NSW, has reported that 7 of the top 20 surnames in NSW have Asian roots – a sign of the changing face of Australia.

Those surnames, Lee, Nguyen, Chen, Kim, Wang, Zhang and Li, will finally help the rest of the world understand what many Australians already know and love – the fact that Australia is no longer a white, Anglo-Saxon colony in the middle of the South Pacific.

Continue reading "The Changing Face of Australia" »

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