Family history researchers share a common passion. South African MyHeritage member Denise Wronsky Barnard, 55, has always felt an interest in history since she was a child.
However, as an adult, she has more time to conduct research and to spend time on her other passion – riding a Harley! Denise is also a photographer, a writer and loves to travel.
Born in Pretoria, where she still lives, Denise is married and has three adult children. She holds a Diploma in Architecture.
We asked Denise what she’s discovered about her family history.
MyHeritage members come to us in various ways. Maria Keep, 63, born in the Netherlands and now living in Australia, tried a free MyHeritage CD that came in a magazine.
Maria was born in Renkum, Netherlands. She, her husband and adult daughter and son live in Forster NSW Australia. She is a full-time caregiver for her husband who is vision impaired and suffers from total memory and short term memory loss.
Maria has been collecting family history for some four decades.
I am from a very big family and have always been interested in family history and had been collecting little bits of information on bits of paper and putting them in a book with the intention of putting it all together one day into a proper family tree record. I started collecting this information about 40 years ago.
By his own account, Norwood Wayne Newkirk says that reading and history were not his greatest passions as he grew up. Today that has changed, as he was the project manager for his family’s reunion held August 1-4, 2013, in New Jersey.
He holds a degree in electrical engineering and worked as a loss prevention consultant. Today he creates risk management systems as a senior account executive and computer application developer.
So what I have done over the past two years [since the 2011 reunion] in preparation for our 2013 reunion is not a far stretch from what I do vocationally. I see the issue and try to develop a solution.
However, as he went through life, he began to recognize that something was missing.
I found a church with teaching ministry that filled the void in my spiritual life and became very active in leading the Media Volunteer Ministry (it is in my genes). Yet there was an area still lacking.
I eventually recognized I had become distant from my family, not because I wanted to, but life situations and circumstances caused things to happen just that way. In fact, there was a time when I truly could not remember a large chunk of my past.
As life would have it, things changed and there was a rekindling of his family history. As family members grew older and died, it offered occasions for the family to come together more frequently than they would like.
It was on those occasions that I heard stories about family members including myself. Stories that made you laugh and stories that made you say, “Did that really happen?” At that point I began to understand what I was missing. It was family. Cousins that I grew up were now distant relatives.
At his grandmother’s funeral, a family pastor talked about thing his grandparents experienced over 92 years of their life and the legacy they left behind.
The Starling family could have written “Roots.” This revelation showed me the importance of family.
While some genealogists have been at it for only a few years, MyHeritage member Gary Fenton Kemp, 76, has been researching for decades.
Gary became interested in computers in the early 1970s. He also observed his parents, then in their 70s, trying to put together their genealogy by typing and writing everything out by hand. He knew that there had to be some way to use computers and began searching for a program that would be able to organize the data.
I found PAF and started using it. In 1987, I went to my parents’ home and spent three days entering data for 752 names.
Gary has many interests in addition to family history, such as surfing, fly fishing, geocaching, glider racing and lifting weights. He’s been an educator from kindergarten through university, and conducted teacher training programs in Fiji and elsewhere. Although now retired as a teacher, coach, high school principal and school district superintendent, he is still active, serves as a local school board member and as a Boy Scout merit badge counselor.
The San Tan Valley, Arizona resident has been married to Nancy for 54 years, has four children, 13 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and four more on the way.
We have often discussed the importance of building family trees and how genealogy can be used to make exciting family discoveries.
Gilad Japhet, MyHeritage's Founder & CEO, read an article a few months ago concerning the compensation for Jewish-owned German property that had been confiscated by the Nazis during World War II.
The article linked to a list compiled by the Claims Conference of around 40,000 properties (homes, buildings, stores and factories) located in former East Germany. The descendants of these property owners are entitled to compensation.
It began in summer 2011 when MyHeritage user Patricia Skubis (Madison, Wisconsin) stumbled upon a family discovery. Some two years later, she was in Denmark on the way to meet her Danish family.
For more than 30 years, Patricia searched for her Danish roots. She had tried various ways to connect the family history, but never managed to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Patricia’s relatives had immigrated to the US in 1888 , and another branch had been in Australia since 1873. Twenty-seven years ago, Patricia, now 75, had connected with Alison Rogers from the Australian branch. However, Alison was also unable to find the Danish missing links.
One day, Patricia received a new Smart Match on her MyHeritage website. Her grandfather, Martin Thygesen, had appeared in another member’s tree, but not all the information matched completely. Her curiosity peaked, and she wrote directly to MyHeritage member Tage Therkildsen Thygesen for more information.
A group of MyHeritage users from Holland and Canada met for the first time in Haarlem, Netherlands, in May.
Joining them was our Netherlands country manager Denie Kasan, who documented their reunion at the North Holland Archives in Haarlem. Following is a translation based on his original post.
MyHeritage is excited to announce the launch of Record Detective™. It is the first technology of its kind to automatically extend the paper trail from a single historical record to other related records and family tree connections.
Here's a short video which explains how it works:
Record Detective™ generates new leads and discoveries by turning a single record into a door to more. For example, a record discovered in MyHeritage’s digital archive, SuperSearch, will now automatically include a summary of additional records and individuals in family trees relating to it, providing new information and clues to take your research to new directions.
We're pleased to announce the release of MyHeritage Family Tree Builder 7.0 - the latest version of the world’s most popular free genealogy software - which combines innovative technologies with easy-to-use features.
Used by millions of people worldwide, Family Tree Builder lets you build your family tree and enhance it with photos, historical records and more. The latest version, 7.0, is packed with exciting new features and improvements.
We've been working hard for more than a year to enhance Family Tree Builder to make documenting and sharing your family history even easier. We're taken the time to ensure this release is as robust as possible and have just completed a successful two-month beta program with some of our power users. Enthusiastic feedback from the first users to use version 7.0 indicates that this is the best version we've ever released.
The new version now syncs your entire family history in both directions between your computer and your family site on MyHeritage, as well as smart phones and tablets, and opens new channels for discovering relatives and billions of historical records with our advanced matching technologies. This means you can now access your family tree securely not just from your computer but also from your online family site, smart phone or tablet device, and even grow the tree and add more information and photos to it, any time and anywhere. All additions and changes will sync back to your Family Tree Builder software on your computer.
Genealogical research today is very different from that of a few years ago.
Sites like MyHeritage enable us to communicate with more people, faster and more easily, while reaching out to others worldwide.
Tools - such as Smart Matches - help you discover new ancestors and possible relatives with similarities in their family trees and who may have a direct relationship with you.
Today we'd like to know what you discovered when researching your family heritage. Where do your ancestors come from?