“I can actually recall the moment when I became interested in my family history,” writes MyHeritage member Heather Alexander in Massachusetts.
My sister was helping my then-young niece with a school project. Our entire family was on vacation in historic Newport, Rhode Island, when she was going over all sorts of records in a binder she had for my niece to go through to figure out how to do her assignment.
I recall thinking "What is all this? I know I'm Irish and English on our mother's side, Lithuanian and Polish on our father's side but I've never actually seen the evidence. I've never heard names. I only know that's what I was told...Irish/English Lithuanian/Polish.
Heather, 37, was born in and lives in Massachusetts. Married with a daughter, 9, she was educated in public and private schools in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and is a former credit analyst.
Heather put off her questions for a while, but became curious to find out about those few stories she had heard as a child but didn’t pay much attention to. Her sister, the eldest child, is highly intelligent and would explain things in such complex terms that only another person with an advanced degree in history could understand.
I didn't have that. I would question her a lot, but I grew frustrated with not understanding her answers to my questions and the same held true for our middle sister when she would ask - she got confused.
When our MyHeritage team attended the recent Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conference in Springfield, Illinois, we met Meredith Sellers of Champaign, Illinois.
Meredith is married, in her 20s and is a genealogy and Family History Center consultant. She had a nice chat with our Chief Genealogist Daniel Horowitz about her personal research success story and the family reunion she organized. Here is her story:
Meredith's experience with MyHeritage and charts
Meredith had read about MyHeritage on various genealogy blogs long before her family reunion, and while she had quickly and easily uploaded a GEDCOM file of her family tree, she had not explored the printing functionality at MyHeritage.
"As I brainstormed the best way to display over 300 family members in an easily understandable graphic format, I discovered MyHeritage's descendant fan chart," says Meredith.
She discovered that the chart-making interface synched directly with her existing GEDCOM data which allowed her to directly import names and dates. She was also able to change various aspects, such as background color, graphics and ornamental frame.
According to the U.S. 2000 Census, roughly 9 million people claim Polish descent -- with the largest Polish populations in New York (986,141), Illinois (932,996), Michigan (854,844), Pennsylvania (824,146), and New Jersey (576,473) (http://factfinder.census.gov).
The Polish American immigrant experience is a compelling one -- from around 1608, when Polish immigrants first appear in the Jamestown, Virgina archives to later waves of immigrations leading up until the Cold War and beyond.
While some claim Poles arrived on Viking ships exploring the New World before 1600, to date there hasn't been any evidence to support such claims. Records indicate the first appearance of Poles in America as early as 1608, when they were recruited to the colonies to establish artisan industries. See Wikipedia, Polish American, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_American (describing the history of Polish Americans) (as of May 28, 2011).
Today MyHeritage is pleased to announce the acquisition of the popular Polish genealogy website, Bliscy.pl, in a move that will open a new range of possibilities in Polish family research -- for those in Poland or part of the greater community of Polish descendants worldwide.
With the acquisition of Bliscy.pl, half a million new users have been added to MyHeritage -- expanding our international family network to over 56 million people and 760 million profiles! Combined with last year’s acquisition of the Polish website MoiKrewni.pl, MyHeritage.com is now an excellent resource for anyone researching their Polish family history.