An Interview with MyHeritage Community Member Roy van der Windt

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Roy van der Windt, 31, is a MyHeritage user from Zeist, the Netherlands. He has been using MyHeritage since 2010 but, in 2016, he became a volunteer translator for MyHeritage, helping us better serve our Dutch users.

Ever since the MyHeritage Community Q&A forum launched in April 2016, Roy has been extremely active in the MyHeritage Community. The forum allows users from around the world to collaborate and help each other on common genealogical issues, such as finding family members or in translating historical documents. Roy helps many MyHeritage members solve their genealogical questions.

1. You are very active on the MyHeritage Community and help many others by answering their questions. What motivates you to do this?

I think it’s important for everyone to get the opportunity to receive answers to their questions, and to get in touch with family members. There are a lot of people without the knowledge or resources to make progress in their search. I like to jump in because it gives me great satisfaction if I succeed in helping them! Lately, more and more people are making use of MyHeritage Community. The last months I have been active to help people out with their brick walls. In most cases looking up a date of birth, marriage or death certificate or a connection to new relatives. I find that people are often very grateful. That gives me great satisfaction!

2. Can you tell us about a remarkable discovery or question that you’ve helped with on the MyHeritage Community?

There is nothing more important than family and to be able to be in touch with family. I can happily say that I have been able to locate and reunite some MyHeritage members with family members the last few months! Recently, I made a special discovery for a woman from Australia. She was looking for family on her father’s side and for her half-brother. Eventually, I was able to connect her with a cousin who helped uncover part of her family. I also managed to track down the half-brother, who has always wondered what happened to the other side of the family. It turned out that her family actually also lived in Australia!

Another recent success story was a woman from the Unites States who was looking for her biological father in The Netherlands. Sadly the father already passed away some time ago, but the woman did gain two half-brothers, with whom she has already been in contact and who were able to tell her all about her father.

3. Why would you recommend the MyHeritage Community to others?

Through the MyHeritage Community, you can reach the whole world. Whether you want to translate a particular document or to search for specific data about an ancestor abroad, you can always find an enthusiastic genealogist to help. The whole idea behind the Community is that people support each other!

4. What are the reactions from people you help on the MyHeritage Community? 

People are often very grateful. Many questions that I tackle are problems that have bothered people for a long time. If they can then be successfully resolved, it makes them extremely happy, especially when reconnecting people with family members.

5. What researching your own family history put you?

When I joined MyHeritage, I discovered quite quickly that my family tree was even bigger than I initially thought. In my enthusiasm, I imagined that I would uncover all branches on both sides of my family. I was able to contact nephews and nieces who I had never heard about, but who all appear to be as eccentric as I am! We’ve had two family reunions since then. It’s quite easy to see that we have shared DNA, we are so similar. For example, this is a picture of my father and my brother Nico Joel. In these photos, they are both in their early 20s.

Father Nico (1951) and son Joel (1987) van der Windt, both in their early 20s.

In this photo, you can see (from left) my grandfather, my uncle, and my cousin. All three have the same eyes and beard. I still find it so sweet to see how strongly my grandfather resembles my uncle and vice versa.

The resemblance among (from left) my grandfather, my uncle, and my cousin Roy

6. To what extent has the MyHeritage Community taught you new things and helped to develop your skills?

Through the MyHeritage Community, I always try to improve my research skills. Requests that are posted in the Community are diverse, coming from all over the world. Because of this, I have become increasingly familiar with the various archives and resources in certain regions worldwide. Although I am mostly familiar with research in the Netherlands and in English-speaking North America, England, and Australia, I always try to see how far I can get finding information in unfamiliar countries. I recently began a personal search in Belarus and more recently, for a MyHeritage user, in Denmark.

7. What tips do you have for users posting in the MyHeritage Community?

Be clear in your description. The more information you provide, the better others will be able to assist you. I’ve noticed that people often have more information available than they initially provide. This can make a big difference in how long it takes for other Community members to be able to answer those questions.

I have one last message to pass on to everyone who is skeptical of finding their biological family or for those who have lost touch with relatives over the years, don’t wait! You will always regret that you didn’t start sooner!

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