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The Genealogue

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Latest News on DNA Ethnicity and Family Heritage

A Family Torn Apart in the Wake of the Holocaust Reunites Through MyHeritage

2020. január 27., hétfő 18:04:35

The tragedy of the Holocaust extends far beyond the unfathomable number of lives that were lost and the thriving communities that were wiped out without a trace. Families were torn apart, and the survivors were forced to pick up the pieces of their lives after losing everyone they loved. This unimaginable trauma irreversibly affected future generations.

MyHeritage user David “Dudi” Lenchner grew up knowing that his grandmother had survived the Holocaust. Born in Lodz, Poland, then-15-year-old Myrale Malagold escaped to Russia when the Nazis invaded. Dudi remembers her speaking of her parents and 2 brothers who were left behind and eventually perished in Lodz and Auschwitz, but she never mentioned any other family members. He assumed that all her extended family had been wiped out as well.

Dudi’s grandmother died in 2004, and 11 years later, Dudi — the family historian — began researching his family’s experiences during the Holocaust. He discovered a testimony submitted to Yad Vashem that piqued his interest: it was submitted by a Holocaust survivor whose last name Gershonowitz, claiming that Noech Malagold (Myrale Malagold’s father) was his uncle.

Noech and Mania Malagold, Dudi’s great-grandparents in Lodz

That would have to mean that there was at least one cousin of Dudi’s grandmother who survived the war.

Dudi contacted his aunt, who confirmed this. She told him that the families were in fact in touch briefly, but lost touch at some point. She also shared a new piece of information: there might be a shared uncle who lived in the United States.

Spurred by the startling revelation that he had surviving relatives he’d never known existed, Dudi set out to learn more. His grandmother’s family name, Malagold, was fairly rare — which can be good news for a genealogist, because records that come up in searches are more likely to be relevant. So he searched for other Malagolds on MyHeritage… and discovered more than he could have imagined.

His research on MyHeritage led him to 2 breakthroughs.

First, he struck gold with a historical record he found through SuperSearch™: a passenger list of a Hersch Maragold, which documented that this 18-year-old tailor had moved to the U.S. from Russia on the S. S. Furnessia from Glasgow in 1907. Hersch’s parents were listed as Israel and Rachel Malagold — Dudi’s great-great-grandparents.

Until Dudi’s aunt had told him, he’d had no idea that his grandmother’s uncle had moved to the U.S. He wasn’t sure if his grandmother had known, either. Hersch (who changed his name to Harry after moving to America) moved to the U.S. before Dudi’s grandmother was born and passed away at a young age in 1937, when she was only 13 years old and still living in Lodz. She may have known that she had family living in the U.S., but probably didn’t know much more.

Later on, Dudi found another uncle who followed Hersch to the U.S. whose name was Philip Malagold

Even more exciting, Dudi discovered through MyHeritage that Harry and Philip had living grandchildren. He contacted Michael — Harry’s grandson — who responded at first with surprise and suspicion. He had always believed they were the only Malagolds, and had never known about his ancestors further back than Harry. He was stunned to discover all the work Dudi had done. 

Dudi soon learned that Michael had many photos of relatives that had been lost to Dudi’s side of the family. Michael sent him pictures of his great-great-grandparents and almost all of the other family members, which he had never seen before. These newfound cousins have since come to visit Dudi in Israel.

One of the family reunions with Michael Malagold and family

Below is one of the photos Dudi received from his American uncle’s grandchildren, taken in 1936 next to his great-great-grandmother’s gravestone. It features Noech, Dudie’s great-grandfather, and Shlomo and Mira Gerschonowicz — parents of Rafael, the Holocaust survivor who submitted the testimony Dudi found.

Noech Malagold (center, leaning on the stone) and Shlomo and Mira Gerschonowicz (left) at the grave of Rachel Malagold (Dudi’s great-great-grandmother) in 1936
Dudi pictured next to that same gravestone on a trip to Lodz

Dudi’s second incredible breakthrough via MyHeritage was a search result on MyHeritage for an individual in a family tree containing the Malagold surname: Moshe Gulbas, son of Cyrel Malagold.

David contacted the Israeli MyHeritage user, Libi Ben Gal, and confirmed that they were indeed family. Libi’s grandfather Moshe was a Holocaust survivor too, and it turned out that he was first cousins with Dudi’s great-grandfather Noech Malagold! Even more amazing, the two families live in the very same city in Israel — Holon!

Dudi’s first meeting with Libi and her family

After meeting up and searching through old pictures of family events, they were able to see that the cousins had been in touch after the war, but had fallen out of touch. Thanks to MyHeritage, a family that had lost touch 50 years ago was reunited.

Since these incredible discoveries, Dudi has expanded his family research located more relatives from the Malagold family in South America. His MyHeritage family tree now contains 440 people and is constantly growing.

“There are so many families looking for connections,” says Dudi. “Everyone I found that I contacted, once they understood the connection, was so excited and amazed to learn about new relatives. Some people don’t even know the names of their grandparents or have a picture of their grandparents, and having the ability to show them is incredible. I received pictures of family who I know about, but had never seen photos of. That was really special.”

“The potential of MyHeritage for family research is so huge,” he goes on.

One of MyHeritage’s most important missions is to help families who were torn apart by difficult or tragic circumstances to find each other again. The Malagold family was broken apart by the Nazi genocide, and we are honored to have helped the remaining pieces of this family reconnect, so they can move forward into the future together.

The post A Family Torn Apart in the Wake of the Holocaust Reunites Through MyHeritage appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

DNA Quest Beneficiary Discovers She Descends from World-Renowned Meteorologist

2020. január 21., kedd 9:51:22

For many participants in DNA Quest — our initiative to provide adoptees with free DNA kits to help them search for their biological families — taking a DNA test has given them a priceless, once-in-a-lifetime gift.

For some, it’s a gift that just keeps giving.

Cindy Murray received a MyHeritage DNA kit through DNA Quest, and not only did it lead her to her biological family, but it also led to the discovery that she is a direct descendant of world-renowned meteorologist Clement Lindley Wragge — one of the pioneers of modern weather forecasting.

Clement Wragge, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, 1901
Clement Wragge, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, 1901

“I was adopted as a baby, and as such, I knew nothing of my biological heritage,” Cindy told us. “I cannot thank DNA Quest enough for the opportunity this test gave me.”

Cindy’s great-great-grandfather, Clement Lindley Wragge, was born in Worcestershire, England in 1852. He was initially trained in law, but later turned to meteorology, where he is best known for winning the Scottish Meteorological Society’s Gold Medal and initiating the modern cyclone naming system. He became an expert in predicting weather patterns, particularly in Australia, India, and the Pacific Islands.

Clement Lindley Wragge on a bridge over a rivulet in Tahiti
Clement Lindley Wragge on a bridge over a rivulet in Tahiti

“This is a huge surprise to me as I had no idea who he was, but after researching him, I’ve found out that he was a true pioneer of modern-day weather forecasting,” Cindy told us.

Cindy also learned that she has a connection to a well-known firm of solicitors, a Lord Mayor of Kings Lynn in Norfolk, England, and a family of philanthropists whose ancestral home still stands in Ilford, Essex, England. She also found that some of her ancestors served in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War II — including Clement Lindley Wragge’s son (Cindy’s great-uncle), Clement Lionel Wragge, a decorated war hero who unfortunately fell in battle at Gallipoli. “It has made me extremely proud,” she says.

Clement Lindley Wragge at the Governor's Retreat in the Upper Fautaua Gorge
Clement Lindley Wragge at the Governor’s Retreat in the Upper Fautaua Gorge

Thanks to DNA Quest, Cindy went from being an adoptee with unknown origins to a member of a large family with an illustrious historical background.

“Finding out about so many amazing ancestors as well as such a huge existing family has meant so much to me,” says Cindy.

Cindy Mcmurray
Cindy Murray

Cindy hasn’t met her biological family members yet, because they live on opposite sides of the world. “But I have spoken to them, and found out many things about our ancestors,” she says. “I would love to meet them one day.”

The post DNA Quest Beneficiary Discovers She Descends from World-Renowned Meteorologist appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

History: Dry dates, dusty places

2020. január 20., hétfő 10:32:36

Have you thought about the fact that while genealogists are historians — it is an integral element of our quest for knowledge — historians may not be genealogists?

How do genealogists gain understanding and perspective when dealing with history? History to a genealogist is not the dry historical happenings of a distant past but is often very personal history, events that our ancestors either lived through or died from as a result.

I was usually bored in my high school and college history classes, except for some specific topics, such as Sephardic history. Who cared about all those other dates and places? What did those events have to do with me?

My interest in history changed dramatically once I began working on my family’s history, and I began following my ancestors back over the centuries in Iran, Spain, Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Israel, and the US.

Suddenly, those dry boring dates and dusty forgotten places became important and personal, as I learned that my ancestors lived there or were eyewitnesses to, or participants in those same historical events.

Genealogy is more than just lists of names and dates, it is about our ancestors as people. How did they live? Where did they go and why? How did circumstances and historical events impact their lives? History becomes personal if there is a tie to specific times and places where our ancestors lived.

It was somewhat of a shock when I realized that if one of my direct ancestors had died — before producing children — as a result of an epidemic, a war or a sinking boat, then I would not be alive today. This realization hits every genealogist at some point, and it brings everything back to an extremely personal reality. When I taught genealogy to elementary and junior high students, I would discuss this very point and student reactions were interesting as they came to the same realization.

While researching an article on genealogy in New Mexico, I came across an article by Karen Stein Daniel, editor of the New Mexico Genealogist, published by the New Mexico Genealogical Society.

Note that, if you have roots in New Mexico going back to the 16th century — or at any time really — this journal is filled with fascinating articles. Published for some 40 years, a CD (for sale) contains all the issues. It is well worth it and I strongly recommend acquiring it. The society’s website offers some articles and resources online.

In Stein Daniel’s article, “Historiography for Genealogists: A Perspective in Understanding,” she offers the Random House Dictionary of the English Language (1966 edition) definition of historiography:

the body of literature dealing with historical matters; the body of techniques, theories, and principles of historical research and presentation, and methods of historical scholarship; the narrative presentation of history based on a critical examination, evaluation, and selection of material from primary and secondary sources and subject to scholarly criteria.

Stein Daniel writes that this sounds like the application and methods that genealogists should be adhering to in research and writing, regardless of whether or not it is for publication.

In 1934, famous historian Charles A. Beard wrote: “…historians recognize … the obvious, long known … that any written history inevitably reflects the thought of the author in his time and cultural setting… Has it not been said for a century or more that each historian who writes history is a product of his age.”

Stein Daniel adds more of Beard’s comments, from an article in the American Historical Review XXXIX (January 1934), titled “Written History as an Act of Faith.”

[The historian’s] work reflects the spirit of the times, of a nation, race, group, class, or section … Every student of history knows that his colleagues have been influenced in their selection and ordering of materials by their biases, prejudices, beliefs, affections, general upbringing, and experience … the selection and arrangement of fact – a combined and complex intellectual operation – is an act of choice, conviction, and interpretation respecting values … an act of thought.

She stresses that genealogists are historians (even if historians are not all genealogists), and we need to understand how to relate to this history.

As genealogical researchers, we pull our clues, facts, and insights from an enormous variety of disciplines. Nothing is beyond our reach in the quest to prove that one bit of information correct or not, or to link one person to another. We make use of the work of earlier generations of genealogists, historians, anthropologists, geographers, and a host of other disciplines. We are not limited by time frame, national or international boundaries, or language barriers. We are a determined group, developing and honing the skills necessary to solve the problems that we find along the way, and consistently looking to meet the next challenge.

The idea of what is “politically correct” today can be quite different from that of long ago historians and we read their words through the prism of today’s cultural clues. Looking to the future, our descendants will read our words via their values which will likely be different than ours.

Do we blame historians of the past for what we might perceive as a backward attitude? Do we disregard their words because they don’t fit our concept of values? How will our own descendants look at our work in a century or two? Will they judge our words and values unfairly because they don’t understand our cultural values?

Stein Daniel quotes historian and Librarian of Congress Emeritus Daniel J. Boorstin who wrote:

… We are a people haunted by all past injustices and fears of future injustice. . . overwhelmed by issues of conscience … How can we … arouse public outrage to right ancient wrongs that violate our civic conscience … ” (“Our Conscience-Wracked Nation,” in “Cleopatra’s Nose: Essays on the Unexpected (Vintage Books, 1994).

How can we explain what we believe, why we believe it and why we wrote what we did, to our descendants 200 years in the future?

Food for thought.

Schelly Talalay Dardashti is the US Genealogy Advisor for

The post History: Dry dates, dusty places appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

Johannes Finds Loving Family After a Difficult Search

2020. január 14., kedd 15:36:11

Johannes was adopted as a child and grew up in Germany. When he was 20, he decided to try to contact his biological mother.

I tried to get in touch with her, wrote her a letter with my picture, but she sent my letter back and wrote that she didn’t want to have contact with me.

He says this was partly because his birth mother’s life partner, at the time, did not know about Johannes.

One time I saw my grandmother, shortly before she died. Then I had no contact with my biological family for 25 years. I thought that would be it.

Johannes’s birth father was not mentioned on his birth certificate, and he had no further information about him.

Hoping to learn more about where he was from and to find his father’s family, he took a MyHeritage DNA test. When his results came in, he was contacted by a woman who was a 6.7% match: a first cousin once-removed (the daughter of his maternal grandfather’s brother) who lives in Japan. She had never heard of Johannes, but together they were able to connect the dots. She introduced him to her half-sister, who lives in Colorado, USA, and another sister who in Germany, like Johannes.

Johannes recently met his first cousin once-removed and her husband, who live in Germany.

Johannes with his adoptive parents and half-sister of his biological first cousin once removed. From left, Johannes's adoptive father, sister of Johannes's first cousin once removed, her husband, and Johannes's adoptive mother.
From left: Johannes’ adoptive father, his cousin, her husband, Johannes, and his adoptive mother.

She also informed him that Johannes’s grandfather was no longer alive, but his brother was — and he also lives in Germany! They live 700 km apart, and recently met.

Johannes's great uncle with Johannes
From left: Johannes’s great-uncle, and Johannes

“I am so happy to have a real relative who is so nice,” says Johannes. “I am very touched and never expected it. Hopefully, I will be able to get to know more family members in the near future.”

Have you made any wonderful connections via a MyHeritage DNA test? We want to hear from you. Let us know in the comments below!

The post Johannes Finds Loving Family After a Difficult Search appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

5 Groundbreaking Inventions that Were Shockingly Underappreciated in Their Time

2020. január 9., csütörtök 14:20:34

Human history was built on the tension between our natural curiosity and inventiveness, and our natural suspicion of the unknown. But sometimes, the latter prevents us from recognizing a good idea even when it smacks us upside the head. Or keeps us dry in the rain. Or is a literal light bulb.

Below are 5 inventions that didn’t get the recognition they deserved when they were first introduced.

The light bulb

The light bulb has become a universal symbol of good ideas, but when Edison first came out with his model, some people were less than impressed. In 1878, a British Parliament Committee declared that the light bulb was “good enough for our Transatlantic friends… but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men.”

A chief engineer for the British Post Office also called electric lights “an absolute ignis fatuus” — a will o’ the wisp, a sham.

Talk about getting left in the dark.

Fighter jets

For much of human history, people have dreamed of being able to fly. In 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright made that dream come true with the first functioning airplane.

Some people, however, thought they were useless. Ferdinand Foch, a French general and commander during World War I, called them “interesting scientific toys” and said they were of no military value.

Needless to say, the air force is now a cornerstone of every modern army.


A portable cover that protects you from the rain. One might think this invention was a no-brainer, especially since parasols had existed for literally thousands of years, but it took until the 18th century for Europeans to start using them in the rain. The word parasol means “stops the sun” in French. In 17th century France, women began to carry parasols covered with wax, and by the 18th century they were used against the rain as well, and the word parapluie — “stops the rain” — entered the dictionary.

But since the parasol had been primarily a women’s fashion accessory, English men balked at the concept of carrying them. Around the year 1750, Jonas Hanway became the first Englishman to brave the streets with an umbrella in hand. He was subjected to a lot of ridicule and teasing before people finally realized that maybe there were better ways to express one’s manliness than getting sopping wet.

Shopping carts

Until the late 1930s, shoppers had to carry their groceries around the store in baskets. They were bulky and cumbersome, and limited the amount of merchandise a customer could purchase to the amount he or she could carry at once.

Sylvan Goldman, owner of the Humpty Dumpty supermarket chain in Oklahoma, sought a solution to these problems, and eventually came up with the design for one of the first shopping carts.

It took a while to catch on, though. Apparently, men saw the shopping cart as unmanly (we’re sensing a theme here…) while women saw it as just another carriage they’d have to push. In a 1977 interview with CBS, Goldman said, “The housewives, most of them had decided, ‘No more carts for me. I have been pushing enough baby carriages. I don’t want to push anymore.’ And the men would say, ‘You mean with my big strong arms I can’t carry a darn little basket like that?’ and he wouldn’t touch it. It was a complete flop.”

Goldman understood that getting people to use his invention would require a shift in social norms. So he hired good-looking men and women to walk around in his stores pushing shopping carts. This strategy proved effective, and the rest is history.


It is believed that coffee was first drunk by Sufi Muslims to help them stay alert during their nighttime devotions. The beverage became more widespread in the 15th and 16th centuries, and by the 17th century, it was becoming popular in Europe.

Not everyone approved, however. For a short period in the 16th century, it was banned by conservative imams at a theological court in Mecca for its stimulating effects. In the 17th century, when coffee reached Venice, it was condemned by local clergy. Eventually, this conflict was resolved when Pope Clement VIII took upon himself the dubious task of sampling this “Devil’s drink” to see just how dangerous it was. Reportedly, he declared that it was so delicious, it would be a shame to let the infidels have exclusive use of it.

Thanks to the Pope’s blessing, coffeehouses spread throughout Europe, and women — who were banned from these establishments — began to resent them. In 1674, an anonymous “well-willer” published The Women’s Petition Against Coffee, arguing that coffeehouses lured men away from their homes and families and caused them to neglect their domestic duties, all for “a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water.”

The author even claimed that coffee “made men as unfruitful as the deserts whence that unhappy berry is said to be brought, so much so that the offspring of our mighty ancestors would dwindle into a succession of apes and pigmies.” In other words, that it made them impotent. These claims were also made in an earlier pamphlet from 1663, The Maiden’s Complaint Against Coffee. And they weren’t just wild inventions meant to scare men away from the stuff: according to the prevailing health theories of the period, coffee “dried up” the humors and therefore decreased libido.

The petition did not go unanswered. Men’s Answer to the Women’s Petition Against Coffee was published later that year, and it claimed — in a little too much detail — the exact opposite.

Well, we don’t know about coffee’s aphrodisiacal properties, but since women were granted equal access to coffeehouses, the objections seem to have evaporated.

So, to summarize, here are three easy steps to getting the world to embrace your brilliant yet underappreciated invention:

  1. Don’t show it to British people. Or French generals.
  2. Do let the Pope sample it.
  3. Abolish gender inequality.

Seems simple enough.

Which of these inventions is your favorite? Are you surprised to learn that it wasn’t universally embraced at first? Tell us in the comments!

The post 5 Groundbreaking Inventions that Were Shockingly Underappreciated in Their Time appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

What Does a Polygenic Risk Score Mean?

2020. január 8., szerda 17:10:20

Last month we announced that the MyHeritage DNA Health test includes a fourth polygenic risk report for high blood pressure in addition to its initial 3 polygenic risk reports for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and female breast cancer. In the first Health Basics post, we explored what a polygenic risk score actually is. In this post, we’ll dig further into what they mean and how they can be applied to your health.

Polygenic risk score (PRS) is a newer development in the world of genetic testing that is now being applied to health. We’ve known that chronic conditions like obesity and heart disease run in families, but prior to the application of PRS to health, we were limited in the ability to determine a person’s genetic risk for these conditions. PRS provides an estimate of the genetic risk to develop certain chronic conditions by looking at variants at many locations across the genome and combining their contributions into a single risk score. This score is calculated by a mathematical model that includes the variants found in the DNA sample you submit and the impact each of those variants has on disease risk.

A PRS provides an estimate of the genetic risk to develop certain chronic conditions like Heart Disease
PRS provides an estimate of the genetic risk to develop certain chronic conditions like heart disease

Polygenic risk scores allow us to go beyond typical measurements of individual risks and instead address a person’s risk category based on their genetics. Take a particular group of people with similar characteristics — middle age, non-smokers without high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Based on these characteristics alone, all of these people would be considered at “average risk” for heart disease. But, intuitively, we know the entire group is not at average risk. Each person has a different risk profile that is influenced by their own genetic make up. PRS allows us to stratify that group into more specific risk categories — increased, average, or decreased — based on genetics.

Let’s take a look at what information is provided on a PRS report. The top portion of the report shows your risk category. Generally, an average risk suggests that your genetic risk is similar to that of the general population. In the “Understanding your lifetime risk” section, the report breaks down your chance to develop the condition between your current age and age 80. This number is considered your “lifetime risk.” It changes as you get older, generally decreasing with each year that you do not develop the condition.

A sample Polygenic Risk Score for Heart Disease with the MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry Test
A sample MyHeritage DNA Health Test polygenic risk score for heart disease

Health is important to all of us, so maintaining a nutritious diet, regular exercise plan, and a normal weight makes sense for everyone. For some people, those lifestyle choices may be sufficient to maintain good health. For others, despite their best efforts, these things may not be enough to help them avoid developing a chronic health condition. Utilizing the results of your PRS can help you and your healthcare provider proactively determine what medical and lifestyle plan is most appropriate for you. Let’s look at an example.

Your PRS can help you and your healthcare provider proactively determine what medical and lifestyle plan is most appropriate

Mary is 41 years old. She takes the MyHeritage DNA Health test and is interested in the results of her PRS for heart disease. Taking into consideration her medical history and current health status, Mary and her healthcare provider might make different decisions about how to direct her care based on her risk category. If she has an increased risk, they might implement additional monitoring, such as cholesterol testing, discuss possible medications or therapies that may help reduce her risk, and/or look at more aggressive lifestyle changes to keep Mary as healthy as possible. With an average risk, Mary will still want to be diligent about going in for regular check-ups. Her healthcare provider will likely address any changes in blood pressure or cholesterol proactively and encourage Mary to watch her weight. Finally, if Mary were to have a decreased risk on her PRS report, her healthcare provider may tell her to keep doing what she’s doing, with the understanding that this doesn’t guarantee that she won’t develop heart disease in the future. Mary will need to maintain a healthy lifestyle regardless.

A PRS can influence how you manage your health
Identifying your risk category can influence how you manage your health

PRS is a valuable tool that functions best as part of your overall health plan. When thinking about how to incorporate your PRS in to that plan, here are some things you may wish to consider:

  • Identify your risk category and lifetime risk estimates on your report. See how this differs from where you expected to be or where you want to be.
  • Consider sharing and discussing your report with your healthcare provider.
  • With your healthcare provider’s guidance, determine if other testing is recommended to fully assess your risk based on your family or personal medical history.
  • Discuss with your provider if other lifestyle modifications are needed.
  • Share your results with your family members since they share your genetics!

While polygenic risk scores cannot tell you whether you will or will not develop a certain health condition, they can help you better understand your genetic risk for developing those conditions. Armed with that information and working with your healthcare provider, your PRS can help guide important decisions about your medical care, lifestyle, and environment with the ultimate goal of improving and maintaining your health.

Interested in understanding more about your lifetime risk for complex conditions like high blood pressue, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and female breast cancer? Visit today.

The post What Does a Polygenic Risk Score Mean? appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

100+ Years Later, a Family That Exchanged Photos to Keep In Touch Across Continents Is Reunited

2020. január 7., kedd 9:11:43

When 32-year-old Gonzalo Alexis Luengo Orellana of Chillán, Chile was a teenager, he received a package from his grandmother that would define the course of his future. His journey culminated in a DNA match through MyHeritage that solved a family mystery he’d been pursuing his entire adult life, and reunited a family torn apart by emigration 100 years after they lost touch with each other.

Gonzalo’s incredible story begins in the year 2000, when he was about 13. His mother was widowed not long before, and her mother — Gonzalo’s grandmother — sent them care packages every now and then, containing food and other items to help the struggling family. One time, she sent a set of old photographs that Gonzalo and his mother didn’t recognize. Some contained inscriptions that identified the people in the photos by name. One of them was Gonzalo’s great-great-grandfather.

Gonzalo’s great-great-grandfather Antonio De Filippi Montaldo, 1866.

“Seeing my great-great-grandfather’s face changed my life,” says Gonzalo. “It seemed unfair to me that I could see it, while my cousins and distant relatives could not.”

He decided then and there that he would do everything he could to find the other descendants of his great-great-grandfather and share this precious photograph with them. “Using phone books and the Civil Registry, I searched for my relatives so I could contact them and send them the photos, which I scanned in the library of the university where I studied.”

Gonzalo went on to become a teacher and a professional genealogist. “I have found that many of my friends are related to me,” he says. “When I find that connection, I get the same feeling you get when you welcome a new baby into your family.”

Though he found many relatives with whom to share the photo of his great-great-grandfather, he always wondered about the unidentified individuals in the other photos his grandmother had sent. The photos had been mailed to Gonzalo’s great-grandfather from Italy until the 1920s. “My great-grandparents died, and the contact with these Italian relatives died with them,” Gonzalo explains. One of these unidentified relatives was a woman named Rosa Ballestrero.

There was also a negative among the photographs, featuring Gonzalo’s grandmother and great-aunt Lilia, but the original photograph developed from the negative was nowhere to be found.

A few years ago, Gonzalo received a DNA kit as a gift and uploaded his results to MyHeritage. Every so often, he received alerts about new DNA matches, but none led to any amazing discoveries… until February 2018.

He was sitting at the computer at the Family History Center where he frequently conducts his research, reviewing a new match he’d just received with a man named Pietro Scattina from Italy. He took a look at Pietro’s family tree and was blown away: Pietro’s mother’s name was Rosa Ballestrero. As he perused the tree, more names jumped out at him that he recognized — and then he found Pietro De Fillipi, his own 3rd-great-grandfather… and great-grandfather of Pietro Scattina!

Pietro Scattina, the son of Rosa Ballestrero.

Within 24 hours, Gonzalo had written to Pietro’s daughter, Ila Scattina, and sent her the photos of her ancestors that he had scanned almost 20 years before. He was delighted when Ila recognized her grandmother right away in the photographs.

But that’s not even the best part. It turned out that Ila’s ancestors were not the only ones sending photographs. Gonzalo’s ancestors had sent photographs to Ila’s family too, more than a hundred years ago! And just like Gonzalo, Ila’s relatives had been wondering about the identities of the mysterious individuals in these photographs their ancestors had kept from Chile. Ila sent the photographs to Gonzalo right away.

“I couldn’t believe it,” says Gonzalo. “Perfectly preserved photos, clearly inscribed in Spanish by my grandma when she was 11 years old, by her siblings, by my own great-grandparents. By my great-great-grandfather. The research I’d done on my family made it possible for me to recognize all of their handwriting immediately. Truly incredible photos we had never seen. I went straight to my mother to show them to her. You have no idea how tears filled her eyes to see that, among the photos they sent us, was the original photo of the negative we had of my grandmother and great-aunt Lilia: they had sent the photo to their relatives, and my grandmother wrote a message on the back.”

The missing photograph — found with the Scattina family in Italy — that was developed from the negative Gonzalo’s grandmother had given him

Almost 20 years after Gonzalo had decided to dedicate his life to finding relatives with whom to share the photo of his great-great-grandfather, he received a gift from the universe in kind: priceless photos of his ancestors that he never knew existed. In so doing, he closed a circle from more than a hundred years ago: a family divided across continents, sending photographs across the ocean to try and maintain a presence in each other’s lives, eventually falling out of touch due to the distance… but finally brought back together thanks to the wonders of modern technology on MyHeritage.

Gonzalo says he cried to receive these beautiful testaments of his ancestors’ love for each other. “More than a hundred years later, the ocean and continents don’t stand in the way,” he says.

The post 100+ Years Later, a Family That Exchanged Photos to Keep In Touch Across Continents Is Reunited appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

Record Collections Added in the Second Half of December

2020. január 6., hétfő 11:11:24

821.2 million records were added to MyHeritage in the last two weeks of December — bringing the total number of historical records in MyHeritage SuperSearch™ to 11 billion records!

Here is the list of the new collections added:

CollectionDescription Number of RecordsLink to Search
Historical Books - Index of Authors and People Mentioned, 1811–2003An index of persons mentioned in various English-language public domain books as well as the names of authors of these publications.494,096,291 records in 3,024,213 booksSearch collection now
Authors of Scholarly ArticlesNames of authors of millions of scholarly articles272,046,994 records
Search collection now
Texas Marriages and DivorcesAn index of marriage license applications from all counties in the state of Texas for the years 1966 to 2016. This collection was updated.26,591,435 recordsSearch collection now
France, Military Death Index, 1914–1961An index of death records of individuals who died fighting in the French armed forces, members of foreign armed forces who died fighting in France, and civilians who were killed in France.5,332,260 records

Search collection now
Germany, Hesse Marriage Index, 1849–1931An index of marriage records from several communities that are within the state of Hesse in Germany.4,770,560 records
Search collection now
Germany, Hesse Birth Index, 1874–1911An index of birth records from several communities that are within the state of Hesse in Germany.3,784,938 records
Search collection now
Florida Newspapers, 1901–2009A compendium of newspapers published in various cities and towns in the state of Florida from 1901 to 2009.8,084,846 pages in 25 newspaper titles

Search collection now
Wisconsin Newspapers, 1884–2009As above for Wisconsin, from 1884 to 2009.2,887,946 pages in 3 newspaper titles

Search collection now
Kansas Newspapers, 1869–2009As above for Kansas, from 1869 to 2009.1,473,037 pages in 39 newspaper titles

Search collection now
Texas Newspapers, 1848–2009As above for Texas, from 1848 to 2009.1,254,230 pages in 33 newspaper titles

Search collection now
Oklahoma Newspapers, 1927-2009As above for Oklahoma, from 1927 to 2009.521,793 pages in 14 newspaper titles

Search collection now
Montana Newspapers, 1890–2009As above for Montana, from 1890 until 2009.155,210 pages in 94 newspaper titles
Search collection now
Minnesota Newspapers, 1902–2009As above for Minnesota, from 1902 until 2009.92,171 pages in 26 newspaper titles
Search collection now
Illinois Newspapers, 1840–2009As above for Illinois, from 1840 until 2009.83,452 pages in 14 newspaper titles
Search collection now
Tennessee Newspapers, 1870–2009As above for Tennessee, from 1870 until 2009.66,994 pages in 8 newspaper titles
Search collection now

Historical Books – Index of Authors and People Mentioned, 1811–2003

This collection of 494 million records is an index of persons mentioned in various English-language public domain books as well as the names of authors of these publications. The number of digitized books is over 3 million. The following searchable information can be found in most records in the index: the title and the year of publication, name of the author(s), birth and death year of the author(s), the names of all the individuals mentioned in the publication, the publisher, and the subject(s) of the publication.

Authors of Scholarly Articles

This collection of 272 million records includes the names of authors of millions of scholarly articles. Authors’ names are collected from over 50,000 journals and open-access repositories from all over the world. Records typically include the given name and surname of authors and co-authors, the article’s title and date, the name of the journal, and the name of its publisher. For some of the articles, a link is provided to view the article online.

Texas Marriages and Divorces

This collection was updated and now contains 26 million records.

France, Military Death Index, 1914–1961

This free collection of 5 million records is an index of death records of individuals who died fighting in the French armed forces, members of foreign armed forces who died fighting in France, and civilians who were killed in France. The majority of the records pertain to the First World War, although there are also records from the Second World War, the Franco-Prussian War, and various other conflicts that occurred in France or that involved the French armed forces. Records may contain the following searchable information: first and last name of the individual, date and place of birth, date and place of death, burial place, and the first and last names of the individual’s parents and spouse.

The following information may also be found in most records: rank and regiment, company, conflict, military decorations, additional notes on locations, and the individual’s family situation.

Germany, Hesse Marriage Index, 1849–1931

This collection of 4.77 million records includes marriage records from several communities within the state of Hesse in Germany. Marriages were usually recorded in the bride’s place of residence. When the information is available a record will include the groom’s given name and surname, age or birthdate, birthplace, residence, occupation, marriage date, and information about the groom’s parents. A record will also include the bride’s given name and surname or maiden name, age or birthdate, birthplace, residence, occupation, and information about the bride’s parents.

Starting in 1874, the state mandated that new local civil registry offices be responsible for creating civil registers of birth, marriage, and death records in the former Prussian provinces, among them many communities in Hesse.

Germany, Hesse Birth Index, 1874–1911

This collection of 3.78 million records includes birth records from several communities within the state of Hesse in Germany. When the information is available a record will include the child’s given name, the date of a birth, and sex. Information about the mother includes given name, maiden name, last name, address, and spouse. Information is also provided about the informant. An informant was often the father of the child or a midwife.

Newspaper collections from Florida, Wisconsin, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Montana, Minnesota, Illinois, and Tennessee

This is the next installment in our U.S. newspaper collections. We have added 14.6 million pages from nine states: Florida, Wisconsin, Kansas, Texas, Montana, Minnesota, Illinois, and Tennessee. The newspapers in this update range in date from the late 19th/early 20th century to 2009.

Newspapers are an important resource for genealogy and family history research as they contain obituaries and other vital record substitutes such as birth, marriage, and death notices. Additionally, society pages and stories of local interest contain rich information on activities and events in the community and often provide details about the persons involved.

Before vital records were recorded by city, county, or state governments, local newspapers often published articles listing or detailing these events. Obituaries contain vital and biographical information on the deceased as well as his or her family and relatives.

Society pages began as a way to entice readers with gossip and news about the wealthy and famous but soon evolved to cover the goings-on of “average” citizens. An incredible array of information can be discovered in these society pages or sections from seemingly mundane notices and reports on events such as parties, job changes, hospital stays, and social visits by friends or relatives. These pages are a source of historical events that are unlikely to exist in any other record.

Coverage and completeness in this collection varies by title.

Florida Newspapers, 1901–2009

This collection is a compendium of over 8 million newspaper pages from 25 newspaper titles published in various cities and towns in the state of Florida from 1901 until 2009.

Wisconsin Newspapers, 1884–2009

This collection of 2.8 million newspaper pages is a compendium of newspapers published in various cities and towns in the state of Wisconsin from 1884 until 2009.

Kansas Newspapers, 1869–2009

This collection of 1.4 million newspaper pages is a compendium of newspapers published in various cities and towns in the state of Kansas from 1869 until 2009.

Texas Newspapers, 1848–2009

This collection of 1.2 million records is a compendium of newspapers published in various cities and towns in the state of Texas from 1848 until 2009.

Oklahoma Newspapers, 1927-2009

This collection is a compendium of newspapers published in various cities and towns in the state of Oklahoma from 1927 until 2009.

Montana Newspapers, 1890–2009

This collection is a compendium of newspapers published in various cities and towns in the state of Montana from 1890 until 2009.

Minnesota Newspapers, 1902–2009

This collection is a compendium of newspapers published in various cities and towns in the state of Minnesota from 1902 until 2009.

Illinois Newspapers, 1840–2009

This collection is a compendium of newspapers published in various cities and towns in the state of Illinois from 1840 until 2009.

Tennessee Newspapers, 1870–2009

This collection is a compendium of newspapers published in various cities and towns in the state of Tennessee from 1870 until 2009.


Searching all of these collections in MyHeritage SuperSearch™ is free, but a Data or Complete subscription is required to view the full records, save them to your family tree, and fully access Record Matches. Our Record Matching technology will automatically find relevant historical records revealing new information about any ancestors who appear in these records.

We hope this recent update will help boost your family history research in the new year. Leave us a comment below and let us know what treasures you discover!

The post Record Collections Added in the Second Half of December appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

The World’s Oldest Known Computer Was Made by Ancient Greeks

2020. január 5., vasárnap 13:38:50

When we think of early computers, usually what comes to mind is punch cards and gigantic WWII-era machines that filled entire rooms. But humans have been using mechanical devices to make complex calculations for hundreds and thousands of years… and not just abacuses and slide rules, either. Some of our ancestors invented machines of astounding complexity, usually to assist them in calculating large distances and the movements of the stars and planets.

Though there are references to the existence of these devices from as early as 150 B.C.E. in ancient Greece, the oldest such device that’s been discovered is the Antikythera mechanism.

The Antikythera shipwreck

In the year 1900, fishermen diving for sponges noticed a bronze hand on the sea floor off the coast of the Greek island Antikythera. This led to the discovery of an ancient Roman shipwreck containing myriad treasures, such as fine sculptures, coins, jewelry, and ceramics. Among these artifacts was a lump of corroded bronze and wood that went ignored for the first 2 years as museum staff enthusiastically worked on the items of more obvious value.

In May 1902, however, an archeologist noticed a metal gear embedded in that lump. At first, he believed it was an astronomical clock, but that didn’t fit the dating of the other items in the wreck. The shipwreck seemed to have occurred sometime between 87 B.C.E. and 60 B.C.E., and astronomical clocks were first seen in the Middle Ages. So scientists abandoned further attempts to investigate the device until a British science historian, Derek J. de Solla Price, began studying it in 1951. 20 years later, he and a colleague took X-ray and gamma-ray images of the mechanism’s fragments and began to piece together its construction and functions. In recent years, scientists were able to use more advanced technology to analyze the inscriptions found on the device that provided instructions for its use.

What they found is a device of incredible ingenuity that was used to indicate the exact position of the sun and moon and lunar phase on a given date, as well as the date’s position in the Metonic cycle — and to predict lunar and solar eclipses.

A research team exploring the Antikythera shipwreck in 2012 (credit

How it worked

According to modern-day reconstructions, the Antikythera mechanism was a system of interlocking gears housed in a wooden box with two bronze faces on opposite sides and a small crank on one side. On one of the device’s faces, there was one dial with a pointer indicating the date on the Egyptian calendar and its position within the zodiac. Another dowel held a small sphere that turned on its axis, representing the moon shifting through its phases.

On the other side, there were two main dials. One of the dials represented the date’s position within the Metonic cycle. The Metonic cycle is a 19-year period that is a common multiple of the lunar and solar calendars — meaning, it can be used to align these calendars. It is still used today to regulate the Hebrew calendar, which incorporates lunar and solar components.

The other dial indicated lunar and solar eclipses expected during a given saros cycle. A saros is a period of 223 lunar months that can be used to predict eclipses.

Ahead of its time

Incorporating all these components, some of which were quite irregular, into a single mechanical device took an astounding level of complex knowledge. Price, the researcher who first pieced together the mechanism’s functions in the 1970s, believed that the mechanism was built in 87 B.C.E. and lost only a few years later. While the Byzantine and Islamic periods yielded their own inventions for similar types of calculations, it was not until the 14th century C.E. that devices of such complexity reappeared.

Did you know that the Greeks invented devices as intricate and sophisticated as this? What’s the oldest calendar or calculator you’ve seen? Tell us in the comments.

The post The World’s Oldest Known Computer Was Made by Ancient Greeks appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

Full Siblings Reunite After 60 Years

2020. január 2., csütörtök 15:02:58

David Anderson was adopted at the age of one month. Growing up in Grand Junction, Colorado, he experienced the thoughts and fears of many adopted children: that his family hadn’t wanted him, hadn’t wanted him to be part of their family. As an adult, he tried to find out more about his family and went to the hospital where he was born to look for records, but nothing turned up.

He took a MyHeritage DNA test wanting to know about his ethnicity. He had no idea it might help him find his biological family.

Imagine his astonishment when his full biological sister, Misty De La Rosa, popped up in his results!

“It was an emotional experience,” David explains. “You know, not knowing that you have any siblings or anything like that and then all the sudden, within a real brief period of time, you find out that you’re not an island out here, you know, you’ve got relatives, you’ve got a huge family.”

Not only that, he discovered that his birth family lived quite nearby. His wife, Tammy, actually went to school with his sister!

Misty De La Rosa was raised in Denver, Colorado by her father along with four other siblings. She didn’t know that she had a younger brother who had been put up for adoption. “I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world because I’ve been able to find and see that I have a brother. I have another part of me that I can be close to and that I can share our life together, because we missed out on it. I mean, I’m 62, and you know, that’s a long time to never know that you have a sibling.”

Have you made any wonderful connections via a MyHeritage DNA test? We want to hear from you. Let us know in the comments below!

The post Full Siblings Reunite After 60 Years appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.