In most cultures, the New Year is traditionally the time for hope. We look forward to a New Year which will be prosperous, that we will enjoy health, peace and other positive attributes.
And, of course, there are countries where the New Year is not celebrated on January 1, but in spring or fall.
Regardless of where or when, let’s look at some customs surrounding the New Year.
Auld Lang Syne – written by Scottish poet Robert Burns - is the New Year’s Eve song In English-speaking countries. Read the history of the song here.
There are plenty of videos lurking around the internet that claim to give you a crash course in using documents for genealogical purposes.
Today's video simply and succinctly shows how resources such as birth, marriage and death certificates and medical records can help trace your family history. It's a great stepping stone for new amateurs who would like to get "hands-on" at the nearest opportunity.
This week the National Archives bolstered its current MI5 records collection by 171 records, bringing the total number of files available to approximately 5000. Spanning both the Second World War and post-war eras, there’s plenty of material to get your teeth into. Many of the files are available online at nationalarchives.gov.uk however; here are some of the most interesting additions...
Antonia Hunt (ALIAS) Tonia Lyon-Smith:- At the age of 15 Antonia was trapped in France by the German invasion on 1940. Instead of being sent to a concentration camp though, she was enlisted as an office girl by a Gestapo office in Paris. Prior to this, she was arrested by the very same Gestapo officers for a letter she had written on behalf of the resistance. In an amazing twist, the time spent at the office was overshadowed by the infatuations of a German officer named Karl Gagel. He even attempted to make contact with Antonia following her return to Britain!
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.
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.
This week, we have humor and history, a Canadian genealogy survey (but open to all) and a new UK family history show which will bring together Brits and Anglo-Indian relatives.
Humor and history
For a light-hearted look at history as it may have been written, check out this new, slightly irreverant genealogy blog - Today in Heritage History.
If you’ve hit ‘brick walls’ in family history research you might have noticed it; if you’ve got relatives trying to make a fresh start you might have seen it too. This is, of course, name changing: the process of legally altering your first name, last name, or both, so that your official moniker is something other than what was on your birth certificate.
It’s hard to be precise on this, but it does seem that this practice is becoming increasingly common. Statistics on the topic are hard to find for many countries, but for the UK – where data is available – it looks as though many more people are changing their names than in the past.
For the past few years, name changes via deed poll have increased dramatically in the UK. In 2007, they sat at around 40,000; in 2008, that figure rose to 46,000; in 2009, to 50,000; and in 2010, supposedly, to 90,000.
We’ve just come across an interesting competition for UK users, and thought we’d share it with you.
On 27th March next year the UK will be conducting its national census, and to celebrate this a competition has been set up for UK residents to share their family stories.
Called ‘Then and now: family stories’, the competition gives people the chance to represent the changing face of Britain over the past several decades by showcasing the part their own families played in it.
On Saturday 6 November, the Imperial War Museum is holding its annual Family History Day. The event’s going to be packed with experts and specialists to help you with all aspects of your genealogy.
MyHeritage is the official sponsor of the event, and we’ll be manning a stand with computers, offering advice and helping visitors to get started or get through any sticking points in their family history research.
From 1800 to 1922 the UK was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. So, for a great deal of the period of interest to genealogists, the two islands were part of the same country.
The consequence of this is that there are no official records of migration, because the Irish in Britain during that time were not technically immigrants. As a result, the British archives contain much more material of Irish interest.
There are a lot of similarities between the record systems of Britain and Ireland, particularly:
- The formats of the various civil registration records
- Census-taking practice
- Probate for wills
- Before census and civil registration, parish records are the only direct sources of family information for the majority of the population.
There are four categories of Irish records that are relevant to almost everyone researching their Irish ancestors: civil records, census records, church records and property records.
There are also fascinating tales of family history, passed down orally through the generations, which can be found in most families. Irish Family History is full of myths and legends. These stories may be curious, but always interesting and sometimes historically valuable, perhaps grounded in fact and providing a peek into the past that might not be available through other means.
If you haven't seen it already, the UK National Archives website is well worth taking a look at. The site as a whole offers a wealth of resources, but in particular there are a series of podcasts which are targeted at family history researchers.