Wouldn't it be exciting to read the diary of an ancestor who recorded his or her daily activities?
Matt Unger, a 40-ish software executive in New York, was handed his grandfather Harry Scheurman’s 1924 diary, written when he was 29 and had been in the US for 11 years. Matt has transcribed each journal entry at his website http://papasdiary.blogspot.com. Scheurman had immigrated from Sniatyn, then in Austro-Hungary.
Matt’s project received coverage in The New York Times.
As we hear more frequently these days, family history researchers are getting bitten by the genealogy bug at ever younger ages. Although Matt was given the pocket-sized diary for a fifth-grade family history project, it wasn't until Thanksgiving 2007 that he examined it closely and decided to transcribe it.
MyHeritage interviewed Matt via email and is happy to offer his comments on this wonderful and very personal project.
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.
Today we're on a journey to Mali, with a family adventure first shared on our MyHeritage French blog.
MyHeritage user Mahmadou Gary was born in Fatao (Cercle of Diéma in the Kayes Region of western Mali) in 1956.
His studies led him all the way to Kishinev, Moldova, where he obtained a Master's Degree in Biology and became a biology professor at Lycée Sankoré of Bamako. After leaving Kishinev, he earned a doctorate in biology at the University of Bamako, where he continued his career.
He was also the mayor of the municipality of Fatao from 1999 to 2004.
Mahmadou first became interested in family history when he attended his mother's funeral in the local village.
People catch the genealogy bug in many ways. For MyHeritage member Chris King (in Georgia, US), it was because of the Girl Scouts.
My daughter, Caitlin, was in Girl Scouts and had to do a family tree of three-to-four generations. I always wanted to know more about where my family was from, but had never thought about doing a family tree. I helped her with the project and together we went back several more generations.
Born Christine Carlton in Paget, Bermuda, in January 1969, Chris' father was in the US Air Force, stationed on the island. Her parents divorced when she was 3, and she, her sister and their mother moved to Georgia, where she grew up. Today she has four children and a step-daughter. She and her husband have been together for 12 years and married for nine, with six grandchildren and another on the way.
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.
There are so many ways to get bitten by the genealogy bug. MyHeritage member Melva Jo Wright of Florida (US) took over the research of her maternal aunt (Geraldine Martinez) when she died in 2004.
Her aunt’s four sisters helped with the research and each received a family history binder from their researcher sister.
Most have shared them with me, but I’m still waiting to hear from the others to complete their details in our family tree. I hope they contain some original pictures, as most of those I already have are copies.
Melva Jo, 60, has three children and three stepdaughters. Her mother worked at the Pentagon and her father was a stockcar racer, killed in a 1951 race. Her mother remarried, to an Army major, and the family lived in Germany and France.
Among her exciting discoveries: the Mayflower’s John and Priscilla Alden are her direct ninth great-grandparents. She's also related to writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, President Abraham Lincoln, Clement Clark Moore (who wrote “The Night Before Christmas), as well as Orson Wells, Marilyn Monroe, Dick and Jerry Van Dyke and Ricky Nelson, to name a few.
We never know what our unique family histories may reveal, and MyHeritage member Kathleen Whitfield, 60, of the UK, is no exception.
Her childhood was spent in the UK with her parents and older brother, who lived some 250 miles from any blood relatives. Neither of the siblings ever met their father’s family or had any living grandparents they knew about.
Although they occasionally visited their mother’s sister and family in Lancashire and another sister in London, the only details they were told about their father’s family was that his Irish father was an opera singer, their father was born in London, that he had siblings, but he had lost contact with his family. Kathleen was told she was named for her father’s mother. Further, she discovered that her paternal grandmother was really Kate Constance, not Kathleen!