Photography is a great way to document our ancestors and to learn more about who they are, even just from their portraits.
Since the late-19th century, photography has become much more accessible and affordable for middle class families, yet taking a photo back then was a very different experience from today's.
Two centuries ago, there were no “instant” photos. Those posing for photographs had to remain in position - patiently - for five minutes to get the perfect image.
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.
Thank you to everyone who participated in last week’s oldest wedding photo competition. All the entries were fantastic and captured the beauty and significance of the person’s special day. The oldest entry was from 1846!
With over 40 photos received, participation was above our expectations. It was great to see the lives of your families and the rich history brought to life with the stories that accompanied them.
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!
We're delighted to announce the release of MyHeritage app version 2.0, our free mobile application, packed with exciting new features. Now you can build and edit your family tree, add more information to it, and take your heritage with you anywhere you go.
Our mobile app is available for iPad, iPhone and Android smartphones and tablets, in 32 languages, and has been optimized for each platform using cutting-edge HTML5 and SVG technologies. Download the new app now, for free, from Apple's App Store or Google Play.
I recently found an old family photo of one of my ancestors and noticed a striking similarity with a living relative.
When looking at old ancestral photos, I've always had a sense of familiarity. I notice a certain family resemblance to living relatives, such as their physical features or just their facial expressions.
Photographer Ulric Collette's "genetic portraits" takes this concept to a new level. Ulric merges photos of relatives and shows how alike some family members look.
MyHeritage's look-alike meter helps people answer that age-old question as to whether they look more like their mother or father.
Have you found an old family photo and noticed a resemblance between those in the photo and your living relatives?
Let us know in the comments below.
This is a guest post by Ava Cohn - known as Sherlock Cohn, The Photo Genealogist - who writes The Photo Genealogist blog*
Sometimes it takes more than the proverbial village to solve a mystery.
This is the tale of three cities, of a mystery photograph and of how an intricate web of relationships helped a family researcher learn more about a lost branch. Perhaps it can serve as an example of how similar mysteries can be solved in your family.
This story starts in Hampshire, Illinois, where I met Michele Halt after one of my talks on old photographs. She showed me a photo of a proud and distinguished soldier in full regalia. Who was he? The photo came from a family album passed down to the females in Michele’s Radley family for over 100 years. Each time the album changed owners, new photos were added.
Michele’s grandmother’s great-aunt, Maggie Radley Mole, started the meticulous family photo album. There was only one problem - Maggie knew everyone in the photos so she never labeled or identified them - nor did any of the album inheritors label their photos. Only one person was identified and he wasn’t the soldier.
When families gather for the holidays, there are certain inevitabilities - the board games, over-indulgence and, for many, watching distinguished family members snoozing away in the middle of the day.
And then there are the photos.
Getting the whole family into the same frame is often a source of hilarity. Occasionally, we manage to get that special photo but, more often than not, it's a compromise.
Below are some great awkward festive family photos from - you guessed it - awkwardfamilyphotos.com.
This week we report on why people want to gather more information via digital preservation, a hidden cemetery in Indiana, a photo collection of a Japanese-American internment camp in Wyoming, and a slew of events and classes in Minnesota, Kentucky, Ohio and Canada.
We offered two views of digital preservation in last week’s North American News edition.
As promised, writer Mike Ashenfelder of the Library of Congress’ preservation blog - Signal - has provided Part 2 of his first post..
In Part 1, he wrote that“relational databases are the engines that drive digital genealogy. Databases make it possible to quickly search through enormous quantities of records, find the person you’re looking for and discover related people and events. And when institutions collaborate and share databases, statistical information becomes enriched.”
In Part 2, he addresses why modern genealogists want to gather this information.
“Brian Lambkin, director of the Centre for Migration Studies, said that adding multimedia, geospatial data and more, enriches the biographical information about a person. “Potentially there’s a biography to be written about every single individual,” said Lambkin.”
This is what researchers call “adding flesh to the bones.” Family history research is much more than merely a dry list of names and dates. We want to know more about our ancestors and this includes all aspects of their lives. Ashenfelder’s post provides numerous examples of projects and sites that try to do just that.
In a week that's seen some fantastic family photography, it's worth remembering that not all shots come out so well.
The website, awkwardfamilyphotos.com, is a haven for all of the less-aesthetically-pleasing shots we occasionally take as families. Whereas in the past, these lingered at the bottom of drawers and in boxes in the closet, now they can be shared for all the world to see.
We've put a few examples down below. If you have any to share, it's time to get yourself over to the awkward family photos site!