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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
Thank you to everyone who entered our competition to share their stories.
We received so many amazing entries - tales of intrigue, mystery and discovery - with exciting twists and turns.
In genealogy, discoveries are not an end, but rather a beginning. Each door opened may lead to many more discoveries over time.
We hope to showcase the stories individually, although we are sharing excerpts from the winners below:
MyHeritage has some of the most fascinating members. We were delighted when we received the story of Anneliese Horst, 81, who was born in Chile and now lives in the US.
She has a law degree, a foreign language teaching certification, and teaches Spanish at Queens University (Charlotte, North Carolina, USA).
I was born in Santiago de Chile into a very large family; my parents were Mario Horst and Erna Pretzer. We spoke Spanish and German at home and went to school in Valdivia, Chile, a beautiful city in Chile’s Lake Region.
I studied law in Santiago and, in 1961, spent a year in Bonn, Germany studying criminal law. In 1962, I married Ernst J. Foerster, moved to Lima, Perú, where our son Hans was born. In 1969, we moved to Mexico City, and a year later to St. Croix, US Virgin Islands where our daughter Andrea, was born.