26    Jul 20151 comment

Our Volunteers: A young genealogist’s Norwegian family history

Continuing our spotlight on volunteer translators, we introduce Torbjorn Wolden, a MyHeritage member from Norway, who has been helping to translate MyHeritage products into Norwegian for the five years.

A young genealogist, Torbjorn became interested in his family history in elementary school.

We did a project where we would make our own family tree (which I still have) and show it to the rest of the class. My grandparents also had a bygdebok (a local history book) for the parish, where all the farms and everyone who had lived there are listed, and I used to look at this and see how long my family had owned the farm and how long they had lived in the area.

Torbjorn has traced back his family history to the mid-1500s to the Trøndelag and Nordmøre regions in Norway. While most of his close family still lives in these regions, he has discovered distant relatives in Sweden; the US; Rotuma, Australia; Denmark and Switzerland. Continue reading "Our Volunteers: A young genealogist’s Norwegian family history" »

23    Jul 20153 comments

Our Stories: From Sweden to Australia, Part 3

Anna’s family journey to meet relatives in Australia continues. In this post, she discusses Oskar’s life, and looks at his decision to suddenly move to Australia.

The other day, David and I spoke about Oskar and his initial trip to Australia, the decisions that caused him to leave Sweden and what he may have encountered on the journey. There were still unanswered pieces that we can only speculate about. We have no information on his voyage, who he met or about his first journey.

What we do know, however, is that a significant event influenced Oskar’s decision to leave Sweden. An event that changed everything and added an entire branch to the family tree that would not otherwise have existed today.

Oskar's childhood home

Continue reading "Our Stories: From Sweden to Australia, Part 3" »

26    Jun 20152 comments

Our Stories: 44,000 and growing!

Continuing our spotlight on volunteer translators, we introduce Seppo Tarvainen, a MyHeritage member from Finland, who has been helping to translate MyHeritage products into Finnish for a few years.

Born a few years after WWII in a small village in the middle of Finland, Seppo grew up with a passion for travel. He studied mechanical engineering, which led he and his family around the world on various work projects. Now home, he began looking into other hobbies, such as genealogy.

My parents had a lot of family history information, but they died before I had the opportunity to properly interview them.

About four years ago, Seppo came across MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder and began adding the information he had and building his family tree. The number of individuals increased, so he soon upgraded to a PremiumPlus account.

I kept getting even more Smart Matches, and my family tree kept growing.

Today, his family tree has over 44,000 people. Through matches to other MyHeritage members, he discovered ancestors dating back to the late-1500s. Some ancestors remained in the region, while later generations emigrated to the US, Canada and Australia. Continue reading "Our Stories: 44,000 and growing!" »

13    Jun 20153 comments

Our Stories: From Sweden to Australia Part 2

We recently wrote about the start of Anna’s journey to meet her relatives in Australia. A journey that really began 125 years ago, Anna crossed oceans to meet relatives related to their common ancestor, Oskar. Here is Part 2.

In late December 2012, several relatives in Gotland, Sweden received a call from a man speaking English. Many hung up the phone and thought it was a hoax. They didn’t understand why an English-speaking man was calling them.

After many disconnected calls, the same person called my cellphone on December 30, 2012. David Michel said he was calling from Sydney, Australia.

Anna Lindblom and David Michel

He said he was Oskar’s grandson. The mystery of our family story about what happened to Oskar in Australia was beginning to be solved. Continue reading "Our Stories: From Sweden to Australia Part 2" »

29    May 201513 comments

Our Stories: From Sweden to Australia

Imagine going on a journey back 125 years and across continents. That's what Anna, from Sweden, will be doing as she flies across the world to Australia to travel to her ancestors' towns and learn about them.

Anna will be documenting her genealogical trip to learn more about her roots on her blog. Here is her first post, originally published on our Swedish blog.

I'm nervous, excited, tingly and happy, and a bit fearful to be going on this journey. However, there is a huge difference in traveling now than in 1890 when Oskar decided to go on his journey. He left his job, family and friends for an adventure filled with uncertainty in search for something new. Today, that level of fear isn't as necessary with all our technologies that connect us to our family no matter where we live. It's easy to stay in touch with our loved ones, unlike 125 years ago.

Her post continues:

Oskar never had that convenience of 24-hour technology. When he stepped off the boat from Gotland, Sweden, he knew that it was unlikely he would see his family again. Continue reading "Our Stories: From Sweden to Australia" »

27    Apr 20152 comments

Our Stories: Age doesn’t matter

Erik Elkan

When you think of a genealogist, what does that person look like?

An elderly person, perhaps? Someone who has lots of time on their hands and for whom family history research utilizes that time?

Think again – this is the story of young Swedish genealogist Erik Elkan, 19, who proves that genealogy is a pursuit for everyone - regardless of age.

Thousands of people in Sweden - and everywhere else around the world - have, at some point, sat down and looked at old family photos. Many have looked deep into their closets and cupboards for family belongings; some have been more successful than others.

The important thing for Erik - as one of that multitude - is the moment when something completely new about deceased relatives is discovered, he says, whether it is in a dusty photo album or a hand-drawn family tree that has lost almost all its color. Continue reading "Our Stories: Age doesn’t matter" »

2    Mar 20155 comments

Our Stories: Old love never dies

Weddings are only one part of our family's love stories. There are the stories of how people met, and the stories behind these relationships connect us to our family and their lives (and loves).

Christina Mellgren from Sweden shared the heartwarming story of her aunt Sigrid and uncle Malcolm, who finally got together after meeting 30 years previously. It is a truly inspiring love story of how love endures.

Sigrid, who lived in Björkelund, was born in 1907, and lived with her parents Johan Frederick and Hulda Burman. When she was 17, a Swedish-American family moved nearby. Continue reading "Our Stories: Old love never dies" »

29    Sep 20143 comments

A Sacrifice: The story of an Italian WWI hero

This year marks a century since the beginning of World War I. To commemorate, we share the touching story of Italian soldier Cesare Mele, from Sezze, south of Rome.

A view of ancient Sezze, in southern Italy

While the Central Powers consisted of Austria-Hungary and Germany, Italy decided to remain neutral in 1914, and eventually joined the Allies (France, UK and Russia) in May 1915. Once they entered the conflict, 650,000 Italian soldiers died, 947,000 were wounded, and 600,000 disappeared or were captured as prisoners of war.

MyHeritage user Lucia Fusco shared the story of Cesare Mele, her courageous great-uncle , who, through his self-sacrifice, was able to save his own family. Continue reading "A Sacrifice: The story of an Italian WWI hero" »

6    Aug 20149 comments

Our Stories: A family tribute

Raymond (Ray) Malenfant always thought of looking into his family history, but it remained at the back of his mind until after his mother died.

We know all too well stories of family history research that begin only after a death in the family - too late to ask questions. Although it makes research more difficult, it is a great motivator to delve into family history.

Ray, 66, is now a retired civil engineer. After receiving his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Northeastern University (Boston, Massachusetts, 1971), he moved to Dover, Delaware with his wife Ellen and their son, then 2. He now lives in Marydel, Delaware - retired since 2008. He has two sons, Mark, 45, and  Jon, 42.

After trying to start a home inspection business in a slow real estate market, he discovered genealogy, and hasn't looked back since!

Ray's parents, Elizabeth and Henri

Continue reading "Our Stories: A family tribute" »

8    Jul 201416 comments

Our Stories: SmartMatches and a great-grandfather’s bible

Our members have such interesting stories, both personal and genealogical!

Pieter Brink, 74, was born in Johannesburg-West, Transvaal, South Africa, and today lives in Pretoria. He is bilingual in Afrikaans and English, gets along in German and converses in several Bantu languages such as Chinyanya, IsiTshwana, Sesutoe, Tzonga, Zulu and Xhosa – although he says he’s not fluent.

He began as a bank clerk in 1956, worked at several businesses, even at a gold mine, was a Christian missionary in Zambia and later retired as a deputy director of organization and work-study in public service. The new chapter of his life began on April 24, 1994, the same day the New South Africa was born, and he is a missionary and family historian/genealogist.

The Brink family celebrates: (From left) Henry Badenhorst (Pieter's son-in-law) Ansu Badenhorst (Pieter's daughter), Sarie (Pieter's wife), Pieter, and Surita Brink.

When he was 15, his father sent him from Wolmaransstad in the west to live with his grandmother Marja in the east at Belfast, Transvaal, where the family farms are located. That’s where his interest in family history began: Continue reading "Our Stories: SmartMatches and a great-grandfather’s bible" »

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