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Genealogy Basics Chapter Five: Digitizing and Storing Photos and Documents

2020. szeptember 17., csütörtök 9:45:14

Welcome back to our Genealogy Basics series! In Chapter Four, we discussed what you can learn by examining old family photos carefully. In today’s post, we’ll talk about how to digitize and store your photos and documents.

Scanning and digitizing your documents is not just an easy way to preserve them for yourself and for future generations. It also makes it easier to organize, browse, and share files with other family members — and it means you can take advantage of online tools like MyHeritage In Color™ and the MyHeritage Photo Enhancer, which bring your old family photos to life with advanced colorization and photo enhancement technology. The Photo Enhancer brings blurry faces into sharp focus, bringing out details you may not have noticed otherwise, and it might even improve the clarity and readability of scanned documents.

How to digitize your photos

The gold standard of digitization is a high-quality scanner. However, these days, it’s easiest to simply use your smartphone or tablet. Most mobile devices are equipped with high-quality cameras that capture sharp, high-resolution images. MyHeritage’s mobile app has a built-in scanner that produces excellent-quality scans using your device’s camera — and saves the images directly to the relevant profile on your MyHeritage family tree. The app includes filters that enhance the image, sometimes even making documents more legible or photographs more vivid. You can learn more about how to use the MyHeritage mobile app scanner here.

Best practices for digitization

If you digitize your documents and photos but they come out blurry or low-quality, precious information might be lost. Keep these best practices in mind:

  • Make sure you’re using a good scanner that produces sharp, high-resolution images.
  • If you’re using a smartphone or tablet camera scanner, make sure the room has enough light, or use the flash. Good scanner apps like the MyHeritage scanner should have the option of locating the corners of the document and straightening out the image, which makes it possible to take a photo from an angle and still produce a clear, non-distorted scan. This helps you find the best angle and avoid shadows or glare.
  • Scanning the original document, rather than a copy, will produce the highest-quality scan.
  • Use simple, easy-to-understand metadata and labels for files and collections.
  • Label and catalogue the images immediately after scanning so you don’t forget where they belong. You don’t want to spend hours sifting through hundreds of images to find the one you need.
  • Store the documents in more than one place. For example, on an external hard drive and on a cloud-based online service. That way, if something happens to one of the storage options, you will always have backup.
  • Remember that technology is always changing. Don’t keep your files in a format that may become obsolete — make sure to convert or transfer them to more current formats.
  • Consider transcribing documents with text and saving them as text files. That will make them much easier to read, search, and work with.

Colorizing and enhancing your photos

Once your photos and documents have been digitized, you can upload them to MyHeritage and use our groundbreaking colorization and photo enhancement tools.

MyHeritage In Color™ brings old black and white photos to life by automatically colorizing them. It’s super easy to do: you can upload your photos directly to MyHeritage In Color™, or, if you’ve already uploaded them to MyHeritage, you can colorize them directly from the photo page on the website or the app. Click here to learn more about colorizing photos with MyHeritage In Color™.

The MyHeritage Photo Enhancer turns lower-quality, grainy photos into stunning, crystal-clear images, and brings blurry faces into sharp focus. The results will likely be even clearer than the original. Sometimes, the Photo Enhancer might even clarify text on a scanned document, making it easier to read.

Like MyHeritage In Color™, you can upload your photos directly to the Photo Enhancer, or enhance your existing photos on MyHeritage on the website or app. Click here to learn more about enhancing your photos with the MyHeritage Photo Enhancer.

Sharing scanned documents and photos

Scanned files may be large and cumbersome to send via email. Sending images through messenger apps will compress the files and reduce their quality. Furthermore, though you may have the files neatly organized on your hard drive, it may be hard for family members to organize those files themselves.

Therefore, the easiest solution is uploading the files to your family tree website and granting family members access to your tree. That way, all the files will already be tagged and organized and family members can access them from anywhere.

Get to it!

Download the MyHeritage mobile app and start scanning! And be sure to give MyHeritage In Color™ and the Photo Enhancer a try.

The post Genealogy Basics Chapter Five: Digitizing and Storing Photos and Documents appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

Here Are the Winners of the #EnhancedandColorized Photo Contest!

2020. szeptember 15., kedd 20:45:51

Last month, we unlocked the MyHeritage photo tools — the Photo Enhancer and MyHeritage In Color™ — for all users to enjoy for free for a limited time. To celebrate the occasion, we launched the #EnhancedandColorized photo contest and offered to award a free Complete plan to 3 lucky winners who shared their enhanced and colorized family photos on social media.

The response was incredible! We have truly enjoyed going through the entries and seeing your family photos come to life thanks to MyHeritage’s groundbreaking photo enhancement and colorization tools. So first, we’d like to extend a special thank you to each and every person who shared their results with us.

Below are some of the entries we thought deserved an honorable mention:

Honorable mentions

We love the poses with the 1940s and 1950s vehicles in this entry from Layla Aburish:

Check out the stripes on that tie in this image of Efim Ilinykh’s father and grandfather!

We were struck by Santa’s cottony beard and the detail on his hands in this entry from Fred Couch:

This enhanced and colorized image of these lovely ladies, including the great-grandmother of user Alona Tester, looks like it could have been taken yesterday. Check out the flowers embroidered on the throw pillow:

Love the 1920s bob and the design on the dress in this entry from Anita Bonita! Looks like satin and velvet:

The Photo Enhancer really did a fantastic job bringing out the details in this one from Alon Tsur, from the sash on the boater hat to the pout on this adorable little girl’s face:

We’re floored at the before/after effect in this entry from Cristina! Incredible how this very faded sepia photo was transformed — and it’s nice to know that it was still hard to get kids to hold still and look at the camera back in 1897:

What an incredible photo from John Burroughs, and how amazing to see the colors on the items in the display windows of this 19th-century family store:

Such a sweet photo from Norman Jacobs — the colorization really brings out the polka dot pattern on the dress:

We’re excited right along with Andrei Cucuruz to see the incredibly detailed expressions in this photo of his grandfather and great-grandfather:

“Troll Embusque” found these photos in a house in Burgundy, depicting a family in Oran. Given the age of the girl and the lack of a groom present, it appears that this may have been her first Communion day. 

Simon Horna’s grandfather had us fooled in this one! We wonder where he got that plaid skirt:

What a sweet gift from Barry Benton’s great-grandfather to his great-grandmother so long ago, from the polka-dot tie to the lovestruck expression on his face:

Barry also shared all these incredible photos:

We love the slick pompadours on Wansung Parizotto’s grandparents:

That’s quite a ‘stache on Helfrich Bornheim’s ancestor:

What lovely eyes in this image from Lauxmann Jochen!

Love the rich wood on the violin and the pattern on the tablecloth in this one from René Holder-McClean:

René also shared this one of his father. He says he remembers playing with this hat as a child:

Astonishing transformation on this classic portrait from Charles C. Andrews:

And on this one from Jean Marconi! We’re especially impressed by the detail on the face of the woman on the right:

And on this one from John Newmark! What a lovely group of women:

Incredible to see the detail on Lezwon Castelino’s great-grandmother’s traditional dress:

We love the expression on this user’s grandfather’s face. We’re so glad they discovered us!

View this post on Instagram

A lovely photograph of my late Grandfather (circa 1940's) which has been restored. I feel like I am seeing my ancestors for the first time ever- all thanks to #enhancedandcolorized @myheritage_official 🎞📸😘 This black + white photo is the original and the second photo is the restored photograph!👌 The third photo is a side-by-by side comparison, before + after restoration. I have always been fascinated by coins (old+new) and how they can really give you an insight into history. It was my fascination with coins that led me to setting up this Instagram account. 📲 But another one of my hobbies is Genealogy, which I have been doing for over a decade. And it was only over the weekend that I discovered this great feature on 'my heritage' which has really started to bring my family tree to life. 🌱📜🌳🎞☺ There are so many details I can now see in my old photographs which is amazing- I really feel like I am now seeing the full picture and I feel like I am seeing my ancestors for the first time with this great piece of kit.📸 Thank you @myheritage_official for bringing me closer to my ancestral family 💚🌳 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – #myheritage #myheritagedna #myheritage_official #enhancedandcolorized #genealogy #family #familytree #familyhistory #history #photography #photograph #oldphotos #oldphoto #oldphotograph #past #time #ancestors #ancestry #tree #dna #restoration #competition #photorestoration #old #1940s #1950s #england #win #hobby #pasttime

A post shared by Coin-Eye (@coin.eye) on

Samantha Fidge found out what color the uniforms (probably) were on her ancestors who played in the Dysart Town Band!

Check out the sparkle in the eyes of Lesley Hulbert’s father in this enhanced enlistment photo (third photo in the carousel):

Queenie’s windswept hair is particularly striking in this one, also from Lesley:

A great one of Lesley’s grandmother, great-aunt, and great-grandmother:

From about 1902 this photo of my English grandmother ( the youngest) with her older sister and Mum has been…

Posted by Lesley Hulbert on Friday, September 4, 2020

What a beautiful mother-daughter portrait of Thijs DeVries’s grandmother and great-grandmother:

View this post on Instagram

Oma en Overgrootmoeder bewerkt via #EnhancedandColorized

A post shared by Thijs DeVries (@thijs_deej_de_vries) on

Angel Collado shares this photo of his dapper great-grandfather with his brothers at their tailor shop, and says his cousin served as taylor to the Count of Barcelona and to King Juan Carlos I of Spain:

Such determination on the face of Sara Higley’s great-grandfather in this entry:

What a fun photo from Nicola, and we love the story behind it, too.

View this post on Instagram

This is my favourite picture of my grandad – and it’s up in pride of place in my kitchen. I’m currently researching my family tree on @myheritage_official and found such INCREDIBLE things and on one line I’ve found royalty and gone back to 20BC!! (If interested I can share what I have found and how I have done it). But what I also love about My Heritage is how you can colourise your favourite photos! Swipe to see the difference. This pic of my grandad was taken in the 1940s in Canada. He lived over there in his 20s (but had to come back home to Scotland when his father was sick). He was in a band and even made a record! I’ve always wondered who the other guys were and it would be truly incredible if anyone recognise their grandfather in this pic!!! (My grandad is on the mic wearing the jacket; he had such a wonderful voice). I have always been fascinated by history and having triplets just spurred me on even more to see if I could find any multiples and I love love loveeee all the things I can do on this site!! #MyHeritage #enhancedandcolorized #myhistory #familyhistory #canada #hamiltoncanada #ontariocanada #family #lockdownproject

A post shared by Nicola (@tripletmamalife) on

Amazing how crisp the details are in this one from Jürgen Siebert!

And how clear the colors are in this one from Melissa Allen:

Melissa also gave us this beautiful rendering of a photo of her great-great-grandfather:

We’re so moved to hear that we helped Chandré see the grandfather she never met in full color:

Such a sweet photo from Roger Moffat:

Here they are again – the direct image files rather than photos of printed magnet…#enhancedandcolorized MyHeritage

Posted by Roger Moffat on Thursday, August 13, 2020

Blown away by this collection from Black Visali:

For many years I have been involved in genealogical research on my Family. I have discovered the names of more than 5000…

Posted by Black Vilasi on Monday, September 7, 2020

And this one from Valerie Lambert:

Black and white photos….now colorized and it seems the past comes to life! A stunning way to see old photos! MyHeritage #EnhancedAndColorizedLambert and Dalton Family. Dayton and Big Stone Gap

Posted by Valerie Lambert on Saturday, September 5, 2020

Amazing detail on the pony in this one from Heather Sabin:

Just one more for my Nolan Family for now. About 1913. Tom, Ed, John, James and Mary. #EnhancedandColorized MyHeritage

Posted by Heather Sabin on Saturday, August 15, 2020

This one from “Know Who Wears the Genes in Your Family” makes us feel like we’re standing right in this market:

This was an absolutely fantastic colorization job on this over 100 year old pic of my ancestor's meat market on MyHeritage! #EnhancedandColorized

Posted by Know Who Wears the Genes in Your Family: Family History and Genealogy on Sunday, August 16, 2020

This one from Karen Red is just so cute!

Love this From now until September 10th, My Heritage enhanced and colorization tool is free. #enhancedandcolorized #myheritage

Posted by Karen Red on Monday, August 17, 2020

Such incredible results in this one from Michael Johne, which depicts his uncle’s baptism at Luther Church in Radebeul, Germany:

Meine Teilnahme zum Gewinnspiel von MyHeritage Deutsch ( Foto zeigt einen Gruppenbild meiner…

Posted by Michael Johne on Monday, August 24, 2020

Anneli Ighil transformed images of her family in Sweden, amazing results:

Entry from Louise with pictures from her grandma’s old photo album from the time her family was in USA in the 1920s, and also some from when they came back to Sweden.

We just love this big, happy family from the 1920s:

This photo itself is still a bit blurry, but the story behind it really struck us: “Clara (in the center, standing), abandoned in a 19th century foundling wheel when she was a newborn, had to work hard to survive the harsh portuguese countryside life. Being a single mother of two (the girls standing on her right and left sides) was a challenge in the strict patriarchal society of that time. Yet, she brought another abandoned girl (sitting below her) and raised her into her modest family. Clara knew what was like to be a rejected soul. Despite already knowing their resilient hearts, I can finally get a better glimpse of the faces of these strongminded women, about 100 years later, thanks to @MyHeritage_official.” Thank you for sharing this incredible story with us!

Linda Kvist entered an incredible photo of her grandmother’s uncle Voldemar Verno from 1925. He was the youngest of 8 children and worked at the theater in Tallinn.

Wow. So many marvelous entries! We had such a hard time picking the winners!

The Winners

Congratulations to Meli Alexander for this winning entry! Such an expressive photo of her grandfather:

Congratulations to Georgina Gibson on this winning entry! Every one of these photos is amazing:

And congratulations to Welt der Vorfahen for this winning entry! She says it was taken in 1892 and depicts her great-grandmother with her family in front of their summer house in Terijoki, Finland (now Selenogorsk, Russia). The family was displaced by the Bolsheviks in 1917. The Photo Enhancer and MyHeritage In Color™ really brings them to life!

Also, ich bin ja wirklich begeistert von der Fotoverbesserung & -kolorierung von MyHeritage Deutsch 😎Ich habe nun…

Posted by Welt der Vorfahren on Monday, September 7, 2020

Once again, a huge thank you to all participants — we wish we could award a prize to all of you…

Though our special offer is coming to a close, you can still colorize and enhance your first several family photos for free, and if you have a Complete plan, you can use these tools to your heart’s content. Check out the Photo Enhancer and MyHeritage In Color™ today!

The post Here Are the Winners of the #EnhancedandColorized Photo Contest! appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

Historical Record Collections Added in August 2020

2020. szeptember 13., vasárnap 15:17:50

Last month, 19.3 million records across 15 different collections were added from all over the world. The new collections include seven from the U.S.: death indexes from Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Nebraska; birth indexes from Massachusetts and Wisconsin; and a marriage index from Wisconsin. Three new collections from Australia were added: a birth index, a passenger list, and a wills and probate collection. From Canada, a Nova Scotia birth records collection was added. We also added updates to both the Greece Electoral Rolls collection and to the France Death Index. Furthermore, we added an index of displaced persons and refugees from the World War II era and an update to the Israel Genealogy Research Association collection, both completely free. The August collections bring the total number of historical records on MyHeritage to 12.52 billion historical records.

Here are more details on each of the collections:

CollectionDescription Number of RecordsLink to Search
United States, Massachusetts, Birth Index, 1840-1910
An index of births recorded in the state of Massachusetts from 1840 to 1910.3,406,032 recordsSearch collection now
United States, Massachusetts, Death Index, 1840-1910
An index of deaths recorded in the state of Massachusetts from 1840 to 1910.2,277,752 records
Search collection now
Wisconsin, Marriage Index, 1808-1907
An index of marriages in the state of Wisconsin from 1808 to 1907.
1,247,207 recordsSearch collection now
Wisconsin, Birth Index, 1808-1920
An index of of births in the state of Wisconsin from 1808 to 1920.1,013,525 records

Search collection now
Wisconsin, Death Index, 1808-1909
An index of deaths in the state of Wisconsin from 1808 to 1909.418,991 records

Search collection now
Arkansas, Death Index, 1935-1961
An index of deaths in the state of Arkansas from 1935 to 1961.
744,411 recordsSearch collection now
Nebraska, Death Index, 1956-1968
An index of deaths in the state of Nebraska from 1956 to 1968.185,779 records

Search collection now
Australia, New South Wales Birth Index, 1787-1916
An index of births registered in the Australian state of New South Wales from 1787 to 1916. 4,913,072 records

Search collection now
Australia, Outwards Passengers from Victoria, 1852-1915

An index of passengers leaving Victoria, Australia between the years 1852 to 1915.
1,753,944 records
Search collection now
Australia, Victoria, Will and Probate Index 1850-2009

An index of will and probate registers for Victoria, Australia from 1850 to 2009.1,389,178 records
Search collection now
Canada, Nova Scotia, Birth Index, 1908-1917
An index of birth records from Nova Scotia, Canada from 1908 to 1917.357,815 recordsSearch collection now
Greece, Electoral Rolls and Male Registers, 1856-1950, UPDATE
An index of voter lists in Greece from 1856 to 1950.402,039 new records for a total of 1,408,633 records
Search collection now
France Death Index, 1970-2020 UPDATE
An index of of deaths in France from 1970 to 2020.446,660 new records added for a total of 25,172,330 records

Search collection now
Index of Jewish Displaced Person and Refugee Cards, 1943-1959
An index of emigrant and refugee registrations from 1943 to 1959.241,259 records
Search collection now
Israel Genealogy Research Association - IGRA, UPDATE
An index of genealogy records in Israel from 1837 to 2020.558,592 new records added for a total of 972,287 records

Search collection now

United States, Massachusetts, Birth Index, 1840–1910

This collection of 3.4 million records contains information on births recorded in the U.S. State of Massachusetts. Records include the first name and last name of the child and the year and place of birth, and note the volume and page number where the record appears.

The birth of Joseph Patrick Kennedy — father of John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States — is recorded in this collection.

Birth record of Joseph Patrick Kennedy [Credit: MyHeritage United States, Massachusetts, Birth Index, 1840–1910]
Birth record of Joseph Patrick Kennedy [Credit: MyHeritage United States, Massachusetts, Birth Index, 1840–1910]
Search United States, Massachusetts, Birth Index, 1840-1910

United States, Massachusetts, Death Index, 1840–1910

The 2.2 million records in the Massachusetts Death Index contain information on deaths recorded in Massachusetts, United States, between 1840 and 1910. The index contains information on the deceased and year and place of death, and note the volume and page number where the record appears.

Search United States, Massachusetts, Death Index, 1840–1910

Wisconsin, Marriage Index, 1808–1907

This collection of 1.2 million records consists of marriage records from the state of Wisconsin from 1808 to 1907. The records include the name of the bride and groom, marriage date, and marriage county.

The marriage record of Jerome Case and Lydia Bull can be found in this collection. Jerome was a businessman who manufactured threshing machines. Later, he went on to become the mayor of Racine, Wisconsin and a member of the Wisconsin State Senate.

Marriage record of Jerome Case and Lydia Bull [MyHeritage Wisconsin, Marriage Index, 1808–1907]
Marriage record of Jerome Case and Lydia Bull [MyHeritage Wisconsin, Marriage Index, 1808–1907]
Search Wisconsin, Marriage Index, 1808–1907

Wisconsin, Birth Index, 1808–1920

The 1 million records in the collection consist of birth records from the state of Wisconsin from 1808 to 1920 and include the name of the infant, birth date, and birth county.

This collection contains a record of the birth of actor Robert E. O’Connor — most famous for his role as Paddy Ryan in the 1931 film, The Public Enemy.

Birth record of Robert E. O’Connor [MyHeritage Wisconsin, Birth Index, 1808–1920]
Birth record of Robert E. O’Connor [MyHeritage Wisconsin, Birth Index, 1808–1920]
Search Wisconsin, Birth Index, 1808–1920

Wisconsin, Death Index, 1808–1909

This collection consists of death records from the state of Wisconsin from 1808 to 1909 and includes the name of the deceased, death date, and death county.

This collection includes the death record of businessman, officer, and politician John Benton Callis. John served in the Civil War as an officer for the Union Army and later served as a representative from Alabama in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Death record of John B. Callus, [MyHeritage Wisconsin, Death Index, 1808–1909]
Death record of John B. Callus, [MyHeritage Wisconsin, Death Index, 1808–1909]
Search Wisconsin, Death Index, 1808–1909

Arkansas, Death Index, 1935–1961

This collection is an index of deaths filed in the state of Arkansas from 1935 to 1961 and contains the given and surname of the deceased, the date of death, and the mother’s given name. In some records, you can also find details on the death and/or birth location.

Search the Arkansas, Death Index, 1935–1961

Nebraska, Death Index, 1956–1968

This collection is an index of deaths in the state of Nebraska from 1956 to 1968. Records may contain the full name of the deceased, the date of death, the county within Nebraska, and a state file number. 

The collection has been obtained thanks to the outstanding work and tireless efforts of Reclaim the Records.

Search Nebraska, Death Index, 1956–1968

Australia, New South Wales Birth Index, 1787–1916

This collection of 4.9 million records is an index of births registered in the Australian state of New South Wales. Records contain the first and last name of the child, the name of the father and mother, and the year of birth.

While this index is predominantly pertaining to New South Wales, it is possible that births that occurred elsewhere but were registered in New South Wales may also be included.

The birth of social reformer and suffragist, Rose Scott, can be found in this collection.

Birth record of Rose Scott [MyHeritage Australia, New South Wales Birth Index, 1787–1916]
Birth record of Rose Scott [MyHeritage Australia, New South Wales Birth Index, 1787–1916]
Search Australia, New South Wales Birth Index, 1787–1916

Australia, Outwards Passengers from Victoria, 1852–1915

This collection of 1.7 million records provides passenger lists of individuals leaving Victoria, Australia between the years 1852 and 1915. Records may contain the last name and given names of the departing individual, estimated year of birth, month and year of departure, and first and last name of the ship master.

In some records you can also find the name of the ship, destination, a title or note about the circumstances of the individual, age at departure, name of the alternate ship master, and information about the original records. All of the original records are located in the Public Record Office of Victoria. In the near future, we will also be adding quality scans of the records to the collection.

The passenger record of Sir John Bowser, the 26th Premier of Victoria, appears in this collection. In the record below, we see that John was traveling from Australia to London, England. John would ultimately make his way to Scotland to study at Edinburgh University before returning to Australia to begin his life as a statesman.

Passenger record of John Bowser [MyHeritage Australia, Outwards Passengers from Victoria, 1852–1915]
Passenger record of John Bowser [MyHeritage Australia, Outwards Passengers from Victoria, 1852–1915]
Search Australia, Outwards Passengers from Victoria, 1852–1915

Australia, Victoria, Will and Probate Index 1850–2009

These 1.3 million records are an index of probate registers for Victoria located in Melbourne, Australia. The collection includes the name of testator, death date, place of residence and address, occupation, date of testament, declaration, names of children or heirs, name of spouse, name of administrator of will, guardians and relationships, nature of grant, and names of witnesses.

Most of the documentation listed in the probate registers are wills that were handwritten in narrative form. Probate records are court records created after an individual’s death that relate to a court’s decisions regarding the distribution of the estate to the heirs or creditors and the care of dependents. This takes place regardless of whether there is a will or not. The Probate Registry is responsible for determining what document or documents constitute the last will of the deceased and/or who is entitled to be the personal representative of the deceased. When these determinations have been made, a grant is issued to the estate of the deceased person. Like Australia, Outwards Passengers from Victoria, 1852–1915, mentioned above, high-quality scans of the records will soon be added to the collection.

The will and probate record of renowned opera singer, Nellie Melba, can be found in this collection. Nellie, originally named Helen Porter Mitchell, changed her last name to Melba because she came from Melbourne Australia.

Will and probate record of Nellie Melba [MyHeritage Australia, Victoria, Will and Probate Index 1850–2009]
Will and probate record of Nellie Melba [MyHeritage Australia, Victoria, Will and Probate Index 1850–2009]
Search Australia, Victoria, Will and Probate Index 1850–2009

Canada, Nova Scotia, Birth Index, 1908–1917

This collection contains birth records from the province of Nova Scotia from 1908 to 1917. Records include the name of the child, the date of birth, place of birth, and gender of the child.

When available, you will also find registration information that can be helpful when looking for the original birth certificate.

Search Canada, Nova Scotia, Birth Index, 1908–1917

Greece, Electoral Rolls and Male Registers, 1856-1950, Update

This collection includes information on male voters throughout Greece from 1856 to 1950. The records, which include images, contain the voter’s given name and surname, father’s name, age, and occupation.

The collection consists of voter lists from 56 regions of Greece, and two male registers from another two regions. Most of the material covers the decades of 1860, 1870, and 1880, while the voter lists of Athens include records from the 1920s. The voter lists are sorted by province (επαρχία), municipality (δήμος), and town/village.

The information in this collection is from the Vlachogiannis Collection of the General State Archives of Greece. With this month’s update, there are now a total of 1.4 million records in the collection.

We recognize and thank Greg Kontos for his invaluable contributions to the publication of this collection.

In this collection, you can find the voting record of 19th century Greek painter, Nikiforos Lytras. The record includes information about his age at the time of his registration to vote, his occupation, his father’s name, and his residence.

Voter registration record of Nikiforos Lytras [MyHeritage Greece, Electoral Rolls and Male Registers, 1856–1950]
Voter registration record of Nikiforos Lytras [MyHeritage Greece, Electoral Rolls and Male Registers, 1856–1950]
Search Greece, Electoral Rolls and Male Registers, 1856–1950

France Death Index, 1970–2020, Updated

This collection contains death records of French citizens and nationals from 1970 to 2020. Records contain the deceased person’s full name, gender, date and place of birth, and date and place of death. This index will be helpful to genealogists looking for more information about their French family members who passed away since the early 1970s. With this month’s update, the collection now contains 25 million records. This collection will continue to be updated regularly as additional records are released.

While most of the birth and death locations in this collection are in France, there are over 2.5 million records of persons who were born or died in neighboring and nearby countries such as Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Poland, as well as countries which were former French colonies — such as Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Madagascar, and Vietnam.

The death record of Georges Pompidou, the President of France from 1969 to 1974, can be found in this collection.

Death record of George Jean Raymond Pompidou [MyHeritage France Death Index, 1970–2020]
Death record of George Jean Raymond Pompidou [MyHeritage France Death Index, 1970–2020]
Search France Death Index, 1970–2020

Index of Jewish Displaced Person and Refugee Cards, 1943–1959, Free

This free collection consists of emigrant registration cards from Munich and Vienna from 1945 to the mid 1950s, refugee case cards from Barcelona from 1943–1945, refugee registration cards from Hungary from 1956–1957, and emigration case files from Warsaw from 1945–1949. Records contain the first and last name of the primary individual, birth date, birth place, the names of any accompanying individuals, the place of emigration, and the destination. Records are from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).

After the fall of France, tens of thousands of Jewish refugees seeking to flee Nazi Europe streamed into Spain from France. The JDC set up an office in Barcelona and provided support, housing, and emigration assistance to these refugees. The JDC also assisted refugees waiting for emigration papers and passage on transatlantic vessels. There are index cards for 8,220 refugees supported by the JDC.

With the outbreak of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, more than 18,000 Jews fled to Austria. The JDC helped emigrants waiting for resettlement, housing some 11,000 refugees in hotels, private dwellings, and camps. The JDC also supported two kosher kitchens in Vienna and furnished medical and religious supplies. While some stayed in Europe, refugees emigrated to the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and Latin America.

The JDC’s operations in Poland were reestablished immediately after the end of World War II. One of the JDC’s principal activities was to provide assistance to those seeking to emigrate. Most of Poland’s surviving Jews, including those repatriated from the Soviet Union, left Poland during this period, particularly after the Kielce pogrom of 1946. There are approximately 6,400 case file cards.

The registration cards from Munich and Vienna pertain to Jewish survivors who registered with the Emigration Department of the JDC in Munich and Vienna after World War II for help in emigrating to countries other than Israel. There are individual cards for 51,554 displaced persons in Munich and 25,374 for persons in Vienna.

Each record contains a link to view the full record on the JDC website.

Search Index of Jewish Displaced Person and Refugee Cards, 1943–1959

Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA), Free 

This free collection contains various genealogy-related records found in Israel or related to Israel, mostly in Hebrew and English, and they appear in their original language from the Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA) database from 1837 to 2020. The records come from archives as well as publications on open shelves in libraries where archival permission has been granted.

Surnames and first names are transliterated to Hebrew or English, depending on the language of the original material, to enable researchers who are not familiar with one of these languages to find the information they seek.

Including this month’s update, the total number of records in the collection is 972,287.

For more information visit

Search Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA)


We hope these valuable collections offer new avenues for your family history research. Searching these collections on MyHeritage is free. To view these records or to save records to your family tree, you’ll need a Data or Complete subscription. Records from the free collections, such as the Index of Jewish Displaced Person and Refugee Cards and the Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA), do not require a paid subscription to view or save records. 

If you have a family tree on MyHeritage, our Record Matching technology will notify you automatically if records from these collections match your relatives. You’ll then be able to review the record and decide if you’d like to add the new information to your tree.

Enjoy the new collections!

The post Historical Record Collections Added in August 2020 appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

The Grandma Effect: How Grandmothers Are Essential to the Survival of the Human Race

2020. szeptember 13., vasárnap 8:17:49

September 13 is National Grandparents Day! This year it takes on particular significance as we find ourselves challenged with finding new ways to connect to this beloved generation. Many grandparents across the world have made acquaintance with new technology that allows them to interact with their children and grandchildren without risking their health. It’s no small accomplishment for people who learned how the world works in the days before home computers and the Internet.

It goes without saying that grandparents have a special role in our lives — especially our grandmothers. Since the dawn of time, they’ve been actively involved in raising their grandchildren. Those of us who have been lucky enough to know our grandparents often have very fond memories of them.

But according to anthropologist Kristen Hawkes, the role of grandmothers may be more essential than we realized.

The grandmother hypothesis

Kristen Hawkes, a researcher at the University of Utah, set out to solve an evolutionary mystery: why do women live past menopause?

The lifespans of most other living things usually don’t extend very far past their reproductive years. Men’s fertility decreases after the age of 45, but technically they can still father children quite late in life. Charlie Chaplin and Mick Jagger both became fathers at the age of 73. Women, however, lose their ability to bear children around the age of 50 or 60. Dr. Hawkes wanted to know: what did our species gain, from an evolutionary perspective, from having so many older women who could easily live 30, 40, even 50 years past the point at which they were no longer fertile?

As part of her research, Dr. Hawkes traveled to Tanzania to observe the lives of the native Hadza people. The Hadza lead a traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle, much like our ancestors from thousands of years ago. Dr. Hawkes noticed that the health of young Hadza children was correlated with their mothers’ foraging efforts — except when the mother was nursing an infant. In that case, the health of the child correlated not with its mother’s foraging success, but with its grandmother’s foraging success. In other words, it was the grandmother’s efforts to assist in feeding and tending to the older siblings of a young baby that ensured the health of the family as a whole.

Dr. Hawkes observed a similar phenomenon in other hunter-gatherer tribes, and developed what she called the “grandmother hypothesis”: the theory that grandmothers are essential to the survival of the species because they help make it possible for mothers to care for more children who are born at relatively short intervals. Grandmothers who lived longer were able to help their daughters raise more children, and therefore, through natural selection, females who lived past menopause became very common among humans.

In October 2012, Dr. Hawkes published a fascinating study together with her colleagues Peter Kim and James Coxworth that supports her theory using a mathematical model. The researchers applied the concept of menopause and grandmothers to the social structure of a hypothetical species of chimpanzees, and found that, within the computer simulation, the grandmother effect alone doubled the lifespan of the species within less than 60,000 years.

From berries in the forest to ice cream at the playground

But does this effect still apply to a more modern lifestyle? Other researchers have explored this question. In 2008, Rebecca Sear and Ruth Mace, anthropologists from London, published a review of 45 studies examining the role of kin on child survival, and it showed that most studies examining the role of contemporary grandmothers do indicate that they have a positive influence on the longevity of their grandchildren.

For many people who have been blessed with a grandmother in their lives, these findings are not surprising. Parenting young children is utterly exhausting, especially caring for several children who are still young and very dependent. Dr. Sear and Dr. Mace state at the beginning of their review that “the extended period of childhood dependency and short interbirth intervals mean that human mothers have to care for several dependent children simultaneously. Most evolutionary anthropologists now agree that this is too much of an energetic burden for mothers to manage alone and that they must enlist help from other relatives to share the costs of raising children.”

We may not need our grandmothers to go find berries in the forest for our toddlers, but when Grandma steps in to take the toddler out for ice cream at the playground so his mom and the new baby can grab a nap — that’s a lifesaver in the modern age. In more traditional societies where women tend to have more children at shorter intervals, it is very common to find that these young mothers live near their own mothers, and rely on their assistance on a regular basis.

A different bond

The relationship between a grandmother and a grandchild is usually quite different from that between mother and child: less strained, more straightforward, and full of comfort and simple love. Dr. Hawkes is quoted in the Smithsonian as saying that grandmothers may have contributed to the larger brains and social traits unique to humans. “If you are a chimpanzee, gorilla, or orangutan baby, you mom is thinking about nothing but you,” she says. “But if you are a human baby, your mom has other kids she is worrying about, and that means now there is selection on you — which was not on any other apes — to much more actively engage her: ‘Mom! Pay attention to me!’… Grandmothering gave us the kind of upbringing that made us more dependent on each other socially and prone to engage each other’s attention.”

It’s important to note that the grandmother hypothesis is not definitive, and there are scholars who argue against it. Some believe that human females live past their reproductive years not for the benefit of their grandchildren, but for that of their own children, since human young still require active involvement for many years compared to other species. They call that theory “the mother hypothesis.” Still, the mathematical model published by Dr. Hawkes and her colleagues in October 2012 lends strong support to the grandmother hypothesis.

So in honor of National Grandparents Day, celebrated on September 13 — here’s to our grandmothers, literal saviors of our species!

Have you entered all your grandmother’s information on your MyHeritage family tree yet? You never know what discoveries about her background are waiting for you at MyHeritage. Start building your family tree today!

The post The Grandma Effect: How Grandmothers Are Essential to the Survival of the Human Race appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

Spanish Naming Conventions: Everything You Need to Know

2020. szeptember 8., kedd 18:54:53

Spanish culture has had an immeasurable impact on our world. As such, you may very well have Spanish roots somewhere in your family tree. However, finding your ancestors may prove a little challenging if you are unfamiliar with Spanish naming conventions — which may be quite different from the naming conventions you’re used to. For one thing, you may have noticed that Spanish names contain more words. Understanding the way these names work is crucial if you wish to find your ancestors in historical records.

Spanish given names

In Spanish cultures, people either have one or two given names — and frequently more than two. 

In Anglophone countries like the United States, most people have a middle name which is seldom used. People with middle names typically go by their first given name (or perhaps a nickname based on that first given name). For example, a Robert John Smith would probably go by Robert or Bob, but usually not John or Johnny. There are always exceptions, of course, but this is the typical practice.

In contrast, your ancestors in Spain and Latin America may have had multiple names, and they may have used one or more interchangeably — and not necessarily the first name. First names were often given to honor a saint or other religious figure. A woman named María Belén del Cármen Islas might go by María, but more likely, she would choose to go by Belén or Cármen. Some records might list her full name, but others might only call her Belén Islas. Therefore, it’s important to be flexible when you search.

There are many instances in genealogical research where you will find a family where the parents named all of their sons José or Juan and all of their daughters María. But each will also have a second or third name that is distinct, and the child will often go by that name. There may be 3 brothers called Juan Antonio, Juan José, and Juan Eduardo, but likely none of them will go by Juan in day-to-day life. Instead, they’ll likely go by Antonio, José, and Eduardo.

Some people, like former Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, use their two names as one compound name: José Luis, not just José or just Luis. In this particular case, Luis is not the Prime Minister’s middle name but part of a full, single, given name: José Luis.

A brief note on nicknames: though they’re less commonly used in historical records, it’s helpful to be aware of some nickname and diminutive variants that exist in Spanish. For example, Ramona might be called Ramoncita, or “little Ramona.” Alberto or Roberto might be called Beto; Ignacio becomes Nacho, and Paco or Pancho are often short for Francisco. María Ana might also be called Mariana and María Elena can be truncated to Marilena.

Spanish surnames

In Spanish cultures, people traditionally have two surnames.

The first is the paternal surname (apellido paterno) — the father’s first surname — and the second is the maternal surname (apellido materno) — the mother’s first surname.

This means that what someone in an Anglophone culture would call the mother’s maiden name is passed down one generation further.

Going back to our friend José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, in light of the information above, we now understand that Rodriguez is his paternal surname, and Zapatero is his maternal surname.

This point about the paternal surname coming first and the maternal surname coming second is an important one to remember, as we’ll discuss below.

Married and family surnames in Spanish cultures

In most Spanish-language cultures, women do not change their last names when married. In searching for your female ancestors, therefore, make sure you’re looking for a wife under her maiden name. Sometimes a husband’s surname will be added as a suffix, but it never replaces the maiden surname. For example, if Luz Sánchez marries Jorge Ramos, she might sometimes be referred to as Luz Sánchez de Ramos, but never as Luz Ramos.

This means that the mother, father, and children in one family will generally all have different surnames.

For instance:

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is married to Sonsoles Espinosa Díaz — Espinosa is her paternal surname and Diaz is her maternal surname. Their children’s names are Laura Rodríguez Espinosa and Alba Rodríguez Espinosa.

Which surname should you use to address someone in Spanish cultures?

When addressing someone by their surname in Spanish cultures, as a general rule, you use their paternal surname.

So, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero would be known as Señor Rodriguez, not Señor Zapatero.

Still, it is important to note that sometimes, people will drop their paternal surname if it’s a very common one. This is the case with José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who — because Rodriguez is so common — is actually known as Zapatero.

That said, when in doubt, go by the paternal surname.

Also, keep in mind that it’s becoming more popular amongst Hispanic cultures in the Americas to hyphenate the two surnames. This is an attempt to avoid confusion when dealing with Anglophone countries that aren’t familiar with Spanish naming conventions. In some countries, the article ‘y’ meaning ‘and’ is also put between the names, as in Alejandro Castillo y Garcia.

Common Spanish surnames

The Spanish-speaking world is large, but most countries tend to share some similar most-common surnames. They usually include the following, though not in the same order everywhere:

  • García
  • Hernández
  • López
  • Rodríguez
  • Pérez
  • Martínez
  • Sánchez
  • Gómez
  • Vásquez
  • Díaz

You can start searching for your Spanish ancestors using MyHeritage’s historical record collections. Try searching the baptism, marriage, and death record collections from the 16th century onward.

Some surnames are more regionally represented. For example, Rivera and Betancourt are in the top fifteen most common last names in Puerto Rico, but not in Spain or Mexico. Marroquin is more commonly represented in Guatemala, Álvarez in Cuba, Soto in Chile, and Jiménez in Spain. 

Other surnames might indicate ultimate origins in specific areas of Europe, such as the historical Basque Country, located in modern-day Spain and France. Aguirre and Echeverría are examples of typical Basque surnames. MyHeritage has several historical record collections from that region, such as Spain, Bilbao Diocese, Catholic Parish Records, 1501–1900, Spain, Vitoria Diocese, Index of Baptisms, 1535–1903, and Spain, Navarre, Index of Deaths, 1592–1986.

Spelling Variations

Spanish is mostly a phonetic language, and most names are spelled as they sound. This does not mean, however, that spelling variations never occur in genealogy research! Standard spellings are a relatively recent convention. In the years before literacy was widespread, individuals may not have known how to spell their names, and priests or clerks may not have been consistent about how they did so.

Sometimes it’s a simple change of ending letters: your ancestor may have been called Martínes in one record and Martínez in another. Resist the urge to worry that there’s been a mistake or that you’re looking at the wrong person.

Sometimes a change that seems less intuitive to non-native speakers reflects slight nuances in pronunciation. For example, the surname Valencia is sometimes written Balencia, because the letters ‘b’ and ‘v’ sound very similar in Spanish. Especially in earlier historical records, these letters can be interchangeable. This is also the case for letters ‘j’ and ‘x’ and ‘g.’ Trujillo, Truxillo, and Trugillo are all the same name, pronounced the same way, and you might find each version in various documents referring to the same individual. 

Two versions of the same surname (Valencia vs. Balencia), pertaining to the same woman in different historical records in nineteenth-century New Mexico.

Now that you have the basics of Spanish naming conventions down, you’re ready to begin searching for your Spanish ancestors! Visit the MyHeritage historical record collections to get started.

Need some help researching your Spanish ancestry? Legacy Tree Genealogists can help you every step of the way. Legacy Tree Genealogists is the world’s highest client-rated genealogy research firm, and recommended research partner of MyHeritage. Founded in 2004, the company provides full-service genealogical research for clients worldwide, helping them discover their roots and personal history through records, narratives, and DNA. To request a free quote, visit:

The post Spanish Naming Conventions: Everything You Need to Know appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

Who Really Founded Labor Day?

2020. szeptember 3., csütörtök 14:32:58

While Labor Day may now be associated with great sales, tasty barbeques, and the last hurrah of summer, the origins of the day tell a completely different tale. The day was originally established to honor the laborers and workers in the United States — and it wasn’t just about recognition and celebration.

During the industrial revolution, laborers throughout the world dealt with extremely harsh and inhumane conditions. With no labor laws yet in place, employers were under no legal obligation to provide their workers with the rights we all take for granted today: minimum wage, a safe work environment, basic hygienic commodities, and so on. Those rights only became commonplace thanks to the hard work of men and women who fought for them, sometimes risking their jobs, their freedom, and even their lives to protest the terrible conditions.

Labor Day was an initiative to raise awareness of the situation and help elevate the status of these workers who were sometimes treated as little more than slaves. It began with a parade in New York City on September 5, 1882, and the first Monday of September was slowly adopted throughout the United States as an official holiday celebrating workers.

Illustration of the first American Labor parade held in New York City on September 5, 1882 as it appeared in Frank Leslie’s Weekly Illustrated Newspaper’s September 16, 1882 issue.

Most sources credit a man named Peter McGuire with the invention of the concept of Labor Day. However, evidence has come to light that there may have been someone else — another trade union leader with a similar last name — who actually suggested the idea.

So who really founded Labor Day? Our Research team dug into newspaper collections to investigate.

Peter McGuire: Founder of Labor Day?

Peter J. McGuire was born in New York on July 6, 1852 to a large Catholic Irish family. He had to quit school at a young age to go to work and help his family make ends meet, and his experiences as a child laborer led him to dedicate his life to improving working conditions for workers in the United States.

Peter J. McGuire (July 6, 1852 - February 18, 1906)
Peter J. McGuire (July 6, 1852 – February 18, 1906)

At first, he was a political activist, believing that political organization would be a more effective way to ensure workers’ rights than unionism. During this time, he advocated strongly for the 8-hour workday, and led a successful strike of carpenters in St. Louis for this cause.

Eventually, he changed his mind and supported trade unionism. He became the vice president of the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, and during its first 20 years was one of its most important leaders.

The MyHeritage research team found several articles crediting Peter McGuire with the establishment of Labor Day. According to the Central New Jersey Home News from New Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1937, Peter McGuire was revered as a local hero:

The Central New Jersey Home News, New Brunswick, New Jersey, September 5, 1937, page 51
The Central New Jersey Home News, New Brunswick, New Jersey, September 5, 1937, page 51

“Peter J. McGuire, ‘Father of Labor Day,’ modest figure in American history, is scarcely known throughout the nation, but in his southern New Jersey community his memory is revered,” the paper reports. “Hundreds who know of the bitter struggle waged to advance the position of organized labor annually bow in homage at his simple grave in picturesque Arlington Cemetery.”

Another article that ran the next day in The Morning Post from Camden, New Jersey, painted a similar picture:

The Morning Post, Camden, New Jersey, September 6, 1937, page 16
The Morning Post, Camden, New Jersey, September 6, 1937, page 16

“Forty-three years ago the dream of a young Camden carpenter came true,” the article begins. “On that date Labor Day was born, the creator of this holiday for the worker being the late Peter J. McGuire, whose body lies buried in Arlington Cemetery, and whose grave is ever a shrine at which the loyal labor unionist bows on Memorial Day.”

“While others beside McGuire share in the credit of the formation of the American Federation of Labor,” it continues, “Peter J. McGuire alone deserves the credit for the establishment of Labor Day.”

31 years later, the Cincinnati Enquirer presented this colorful depiction of Peter’s “eureka” moment:

The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, September 1, 1968, Page 66
The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, September 1, 1968, Page 66

“‘Wife,’ Mr. McGuire continued, ‘Why not have a day for all of us laborers. We could call it… eh… I don’t know, maybe… Labor day. Yes, that’s it. This could be a festive day during which there would be a parade through the streets of the city that would permit public tribute to American industry,’” wrote Bob Rothe of the Enquirer staff. “Mr. McGuire went to a meeting of the Central Labor Union on 13th Street in New York City. That was May 18, 1882. Peter J. McGuire presented his idea. There were a few giggles, but September 5 of the same year saw 10,000 laborers marching through Manhattan.”

These sources all clearly indicate that Peter J. McGuire was the undisputed founder of Labor Day.

However, there are other sources that contradict this and give the credit to someone else: Matthew Maguire.

Matthew Maguire ‘never really cared who was credited with founding Labor Day’

Matthew Maguire (1850-1917) [Credit: Find A Grave]
Matthew Maguire (1850-1917) [Credit: Find A Grave]
Matthew Maguire was born on June 28, 1850, also in New York. 

He was a machinist and served as secretary of the Central Labor Union, and according to some accounts, the first Labor Day parade in 1882 was actually proposed by him, not by Peter McGuire.

Consider the following clipping from The News of Paterson, New Jersey, printed in July 1896:

The News, Paterson, New Jersey, July 10, 1896, page 1
The News, Paterson, New Jersey, July 10, 1896, page 1

“Mr. Maguire claims to be the author of Labor Day,” it reads.

This article from The Record of Hackensack, New Jersey, ran in 1973:

The Record, Hackensack, New Jersey, September 2, 1973, page 81
The Record, Hackensack, New Jersey, September 2, 1973, page 81

“Irish family claims kin is Labor Day creator,” reads the headline.

“Matthew Maguire never really cared who was credited with founding Labor Day,” the article states, “and until 1967, the credit traditionally went to Peter J. McGuire, an official in a Camden carpenters’ union. But in September 1967, the Paterson Morning Call published a copyrighted article indicating that Matthew Maguire, not Peter J. McGuire, started Labor Day.”

“Peter J. McGuire’s claim is based on a story he wrote in 1882 in a labor magazine noting that he suggested at a meeting of labor officials that a holiday for the working man be established,” the article continues. “But research conducted by a Morning Call reporter showed that the meeting McGuire described did not occur and that Maguire was credited with founding Labor Day from 1894, when it became an official holiday, until 1924, when McGuire’s claim was substituted.”

The MyHeritage Research team managed to build a family tree for Matthew Maguire and track down a living descendant: William (Bill) Collins, Matthew’s great-grandson. The team reached out to him to hear his opinion on the matter.

Bill is 75 years old and is originally from New Jersey, but has been living in Florida for the past 3 years. A retired high school U.S. history teacher, Bill was familiar with the history of Labor Day and believes that his great-grandfather was indeed the founder. He said there is a record that proves it, but was unable to find it.

So who is the true founder?

Without any concrete evidence one way or the other, it’s impossible to know which account is correct. What is clear is that both of these men devoted their lives to creating a better, safer, and more dignified life for their fellow workers, and both contributed enormously to bringing us where we are today in terms of labor laws.

No matter who is the true founder of Labor Day — today we raise a glass to both of them, and to all the workers and laborers throughout the world, the bedrock of modern society.

What do you think? Who is the real founder of Labor Day? Dive into our newspaper collections and see if you can solve this as well as your own family mysteries!

Read more about what the MyHeritage Research team discovered in the New York Times and Time Magazine.

The post Who Really Founded Labor Day? appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

MyHeritage Online Events for September

2020. szeptember 3., csütörtök 12:01:07

A very unusual summer is coming to a close! We hope you have managed to enjoy it despite the limitations and challenges. As always, we are here with you and ready for another month of fantastic online sessions to help you take your genealogy research to the next level!

Our live sessions feature top experts in genealogy, family history, and DNA, and you can ask your questions and interact with the lecturers in real time. Even if you can’t make it to the live events, you can still enjoy all recorded FB Live sessions in the Videos section of the MyHeritage Facebook page.

Facebook Live Sessions

No advance registration is required for these sessions: you can join them straight from our Facebook page. Simply visit the page when the session is scheduled to start, and look out for the live video broadcast at the top of the feed. You’ll be able to ask questions in the comments, and the speakers will respond to them live.

September 7, 9 A.M. EDT

Topic: Discover Unexpected Clues in Old Family Photos

Speaker: Lisa Lisson

Description: Writer, educator, and genealogist Lisa Lisson will show you a new way to look at old family photos that can reveal clues and details you may not have known about.

September 9, 2 P.M. EDT

Topic: DNA Q&A

Speaker: Diahan Southard

Description: Diahan Southard, founder of Your DNA Guide, will be available to answer your questions about interpreting your DNA results.

September 14, 2 P.M. EDT

Topic: Essential Habits for Becoming a Better Genealogist

Speaker: Diana Elder and Nicole Dyer 

Description: Accurate, thorough genealogy research is all about good habits. In this session, mother and daughter duo, Diana Elder and Nicole Dyer, founders of, will show you what essential habits will help you become a better researcher.

September 17, 2 P.M. EDT

Topic: School Days and Your Ancestors: Researching in School Records

Speaker: Melissa Barker

Description: Melissa Barker, Archives Manager and Public Historian, will show you how to find fascinating information about your ancestors in school records.

September 21, 9 A.M. EDT

Topic: You Use WHAT for Your Genealogy?!

Speaker: Thomas MacEntee

Description: Genealogy expert and educator Thomas MacEntee will show you some of the less conventional resources you can call upon in your genealogy research.

September 23, 11 A.M. GMT (7 A.M. EDT)

Topic: Hints and Tips for British Research Using MyHeritage

Speaker: Caroline Gurney

Description: Bristol-based genealogist and historical researcher Caroline Gurney will offer special tricks and tips for researching your British ancestors on MyHeritage.

September 30, 2 P.M. EDT

Topic: Working with Different Family Tree Views on MyHeritage

Speaker: Uri Gonen

Description: Uri Gonen, our Senior VP of Product Management, will show you how to utilize the 4 tree views on MyHeritage to make the most of the unique features of each.

Ask the Expert Sessions

These webinars with our Genealogy Expert Daniel Horowitz cover a wide range of topics. The sessions are free, but registration is required. Simply click the link provided for each session below to register.

September 3, 1 P.M. EDT

Topic: Open Mic: Ask Your Questions About MyHeritage

Description: Be ready to TALK, as Daniel Horowitz will open your mic to hear your questions and answer them live. Feel free to send questions in advance on registration.

Click here to register for Open Mic: Ask Your Questions About MyHeritage.

September 10, 1 P.M. EDT

Topic: Set the Record Straight: How to Report Errors in MyHeritage Records

Description: Have you ever come across a record with incorrect information? On MyHeritage, you can report the error and make suggestions for fixing it. Learn how in this session.

Click here to register for Set the Record Straight: How to Report Errors in MyHeritage Records.

September 17, 1 P.M. EDT

Topic: FTB vs. Web: Which Do I Need? Which Is Best?

Description: The offline software Family Tree Builder and the online trees on MyHeritage each have their benefits and drawbacks. Learn how to determine which of these options will work best for you.

Click here to register for FTB vs. Web: Which Do I Need? Which Is Best?

September 24, 1 P.M. EDT

Topic: Hidden Treasures on MyHeritage: Yearbooks

Description: Yearbooks are a much-overlooked resource that can provide so much rich detail about the lives of our ancestors. Learn how to get the most of this lesser-known, but highly valuable collection on MyHeritage.

Click here to register for Hidden Treasures on MyHeritage: Yearbooks.

We look forward to having you join us!

The post MyHeritage Online Events for September appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

Can’t Stand Cilantro? Your Genes Might Be to Blame

2020. augusztus 30., vasárnap 21:01:52

To some, it tastes like fresh, lemony goodness.

To others, it tastes like dish detergent.

Cilantro, also known as coriander, is a green leafy herb native to Iran. From Indian chutneys to Chinese salads, from Middle Eastern marinades to Mexican sauces, cilantro is beloved in cuisines all over the world… except among a certain slice of the population that can’t stand the stuff.

They say there’s no accounting for taste, but when it comes to this most controversial of herbs, the debate may be buried far deeper than our taste buds. Your love or hatred for cilantro may be embedded in your DNA.

Mmm, aldehyde

Though we tend to associate our perception of flavor with taste buds, there are other sensory receptors involved — most importantly, our sense of smell. If you’ve ever had a stuffy nose, you already know this. Food tastes much blander to us when we can’t smell it.

This works the other way, too: a certain strong scent may influence whether we enjoy the food we’re tasting.

And here’s where genetics come into play. In a 2012 study published in the journal Flavour, Eriksson et al identified a genetic variant located in a cluster of olfactory-receptor genes that influence how we perceive the “soapy” smell. One of those genes, OR6A2, is responsible for a receptor that is sensitive to a chemical called aldehyde — a chemical also found in cilantro. People who have this genetic variant are particularly sensitive to the smell of aldehyde. So when they are served cilantro, their senses are overwhelmed by the “soapy” components of the herb.

How much of it is genes, though?

Despite this find, Eriksson et al write that the heritability of cilantro soapy-scent detection is low: less than 10%. “It is possible that… there is not a strong genetic component to cilantro preference,” they write.

Food preferences in general can be influenced by many factors, and many of them are environmental. Strong flavors and spices that are popular in one culture may be revolting to people from a different culture, and that could be largely a function of what people are used to and what foods are available in their native regions. Fetuses even develop food preferences in utero based on their mothers’ diets!

Cilantro in different cultures

A study by Mauer & El-Sohemy published in the journal Flavour in 2012 examined the phenomenon of cilantro aversion in various ethnocultural groups. They found that the prevalence of disliking cilantro ranged from 3% in some groups to 21% in other groups. 21% of East Asians, 17% of Caucasians, 14% of people of African descent, 7% of South Asian, 4% of Hispanics, and 3% of Middle Easterners were found to dislike cilantro.

It’s interesting to note that in cultures where cilantro is used very liberally — such as Latin American and Middle Eastern cuisines — the prevalence of cilantro aversion is quite low. It could very well be that the genetic component of cilantro preference comes into play here.

Can cilantro-haters be converted?

If the very concept of cilantro nauseates you, at least you’re in good company. Julia Child famously said that she never ordered dishes with it, and that if she saw it in her food, she would pick it out and throw it on the floor!

Research shows, however, that it may be possible for people who hate cilantro to overcome their aversion. A 2010 study by Quynh et al, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, suggested that crushing cilantro speeds up the process of breaking down aldehyde, the chemical that makes cilantro-haters gag. This might mean that crushing the herb could make it more palatable to them. New York Times food writer Harold McGee suggested that mild pestos combining the crushed herbed with nuts, olive oil, garlic, and a sharp cheese may be a good place to start.

In any case, it’s not clear whether your genes are to blame. But there are many other secrets to unlock in your DNA! Take a MyHeritage DNA test and start your journey of discovery.

The post Can’t Stand Cilantro? Your Genes Might Be to Blame appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.

Through MyHeritage, Great-Grandmother of 2 is Reunited with Uncles and Aunt She Never Knew Existed

2020. augusztus 19., szerda 12:29:55

Shona Wise was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and immigrated to Perth, Australia with her family as a young child. She had always been intrigued by her family history — she knew her mother had been born out of wedlock in Scotland in 1937, but neither she nor her mother knew the identity of her mother’s biological father.

Shona’s mother

Now a mother of 4, grandmother of 12, and great-grandmother of 2, it was important to Shona for her children and their children to know about their heritage, so she ordered some birth certificates. When her mother’s birth certificate arrived, she was in for a surprise: her mother’s biological father was listed on it — under his full name.

Armed with this information, Shona began digging (with some help from her sister-in-law). Her biological grandfather had an unusual middle name, which made him a little easier to find. After some research, Shona came across a family tree on MyHeritage that listed that exact name — and the user who built the tree was living in Scotland.

With some hesitation, Shona decided to message the user explaining what she’d discovered. She mentioned in the message that if he didn’t want to respond, she would understand.

But a few days later, he wrote back. It turned out that this man was the son of the person Shona believed to be her biological grandfather. About a week later, he shared a photograph of his father. Shona was floored. “The similarities with one of my sons was uncanny!” she exclaims.

After about 9 months of writing back and forth, Shona and her new contact decided to do a DNA test to confirm their relationship once and for all.

Each of them received their test kits, swabbed their cheeks, and sent their tests to the lab.

“The waiting was excruciating,” Shona recalls. “My results came back first with no matches, and then a few days later I received an email… I was so nervous that it took me 2 days to open it.”

When she eventually opened it, the results were exactly as expected: the user she’d contacted was her uncle, and the man in the photograph he’d sent was her grandfather.

“I had found my Mum’s family,” she says. “My brother and I now have an aunt and uncle living in Scotland and an Uncle living in Melbourne who immigrated to Australia in 1966 with his family.”

“Fancy that — Mum had a half-brother living on the other side of the same continent and didn’t know!” says Shona. 

It turns out that Shona’s aunt in Scotland had done extensive family research going back 6 generations, all the way to the 1720s.

Since the discovery, Shona and her family have met their uncles and aunt and a few of their cousins.

Shona’s uncles and aunt

“My brother and I grew up thinking that we had no aunties or uncles, as both of our parents were only children,” says Shona. “We are delighted!”

“Our Mum always felt that there was something missing in her life,” Shona goes on. “Well, we have found that missing link. My only regret is that Mum isn’t with us anymore to finally meet her family. She died in 1972 at the age of 34.”

What advice does Shona have for people setting out to find the missing links in their own families? “Research one line at a time and keep hard copies of what you discover,” she says. “When I started, I was trying to do everyone at the same time, and it became very confusing.”

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Love in the Time of the Spanish Flu

2020. augusztus 15., szombat 19:53:41

Over the past several months, it’s become clear that the coronavirus pandemic will change our lives in many ways — not least of which, the way we connect to our loved ones. Experts say that social distancing is the only effective weapon humanity has right now to slow the spread of the pandemic. In many places all over the world, leaders have called on their citizens to express their love for others in a way that is the complete opposite of what we are used to: instead of increasing our physical closeness, we’re supposed to stay away from each other and avoid contact, including hugging and kissing.

Kissing is one of the most common ways humans show affection for each other. Norms differ from culture to culture: in some places, friends kiss each other as a greeting, whereas in other places, kisses are reserved for lovers and close family members. Throughout history, people have kissed the hands or feet of their leaders and elders to show respect, and this is still practiced in some parts of the world. Whatever the norms, the gesture is a universal expression of love and admiration.

Unfortunately, kissing is also one of the most surefire ways of spreading infection.

So what does it mean to outlaw kissing as a way to protect our loved ones from the virus?

We are not the first generation to cope with this dilemma. The MyHeritage Research team dug into the digital archives, including our extensive collection of historical newspapers, to learn how people related to kissing during the Spanish flu pandemic 102 years ago. Just like today, social distancing was key to fighting the spread of the disease, and people were forced to take a new attitude towards kissing.

Here are the team’s findings:

Stop kissing already

By January 1919, it had become abundantly clear that kissing was “no laughing matter.”

Source: The Seattle Star, January 13, 1919

This piece from The Seattle Star describes a cartoon making light out of the flu, and goes on to say that people also laughed at the idea that kissing spread the disease. “Now people know kissing is no laughing matter in a ‘flu’ epidemic,” it says. “Neither is the ‘flu.’”

Indeed, the tone of some articles calling on citizens to stop “unnecessary kissing” was anything but light:

Source: Daily News (Perth, WA), March 26, 1919

The above article from the Daily News in Perth, Washington, takes particular aim at women, “who peck each other’s cheek in promiscuous spots, while oftentimes their hearts are hard within them.”

“A kiss should be a sacred rite, only indulged in between people who have for each other a deep and real love,” it says. “Let us at least practise care and refrain from that effusive and generally totally unnecessary kissing which is practised in daily by a multitude of people… Let us at this trying time plump for sanitation, and let sentiment take care of itself… The public should take a firm stand, at least until this devastating epidemic is over, and be contented with a hand-shake and thus avoid the risk of passing from lip to lip the germs of ‘flu.’”

It’s interesting to note that in our time, hand-shaking has also been strongly discouraged, as hand-to-hand contact is also a major risk factor. Instead, leaders have urged people to bump elbows or bow to each other without contact. The “Wuhan shake” — a greeting that involves tapping feet against each other — even emerged in China as a result of these measures.

Source: Asbury Park Press, January 1, 1909

This article from the Asbury Park Press called kissing an “unhealthy habit”: “The often repeated danger of transmitting disease by the practice of kissing should be heeded for the sake of helpless babies and little children… Suppose for humanity’s sake we all have a care for ourselves as well as our neighbor and stop this unhealthy habit… to be on the safe side stop kissing at once.”

Some, however, dismissed these warnings — including local leaders such as Cincinnati mayor John Galvin:

Source: The Meriden Daily Journal, Mar 3, 1919:

“There being no ‘anti-kissing’ ordinance in Cincinnati, Mayor John Galvin, addressing 800 returned Ohio troops, said: ‘We will now give you an opportunity to kiss your sisters. Of course, if it doesn’t happen to be your sister, er — well, we will look the other way. There is no ‘anti-kissing’ ordinance and if there was, er — the Mayor is not disposed at this time to think it would be enforced.” 

In our day, as well, there have been local leaders who have shrugged off the dangers of social gatherings and social closeness.

The kissing screen

As awareness of germ theory grew, people began to understand that disease could be spread through kissing. Almost a decade before the Spanish flu broke out, a product called an “osculatory screen” was approved by the National Pharmaceutical Society:

Source: Oakland Tribune, May 1, 1910

The screen was “designed to render the kiss hygienic and safeguard lovers from the danger of germs,” claims this 1910 article from the Oakland Tribune. It describes the screen as “disinfected silk gauze through which the kiss is accomplished, the gauze being held in an ivory frame and placed between the two pairs of lips before they meet.”

The product also appeared in The Oklahoma News in 1912:

Source: The Oklahoma News, February 22, 1912

Little did they know, this device would have particular relevance several years later. In February 1920, Popular Science Monthly ran an article about it as well:

Source: Popular Science Monthly, February 1920

“Scientists warn us that kisses are unhygienic — transmitting all sorts of dangerous disease germs,” it reads. “Most of us are willing to run this risk, but there are always a few careful ones who strive after the pure and perfect kiss. One of them has invented this kissing screen, which might easily be used as a pin-point racket in its idle moments.” Good to know it was multi-purpose!

Of course, we know now that a screen like this would be useless, even if the “antiseptic” the netting was supposedly covered with was effective. Germs are spread not only through the mouth, but through the nose, too. It seems that many in our day have not internalized this, however, since it is still common to see people wearing masks that cover only the mouth and not the nose.

From Denmark to Mexico

The United States was not the only place where people were dealing with the problem of kissing — just like it is a global issue today. The MyHeritage Research team also found some articles from newspapers in other countries weighing in on the matter.

This article from a Danish newspaper, Middelfart Avis, published December 8, 1918, is titled “Dangerous kisses.” It discusses how critical it is to avoid kissing, bringing an example of a ship from Spain that brought the fever to the coast of Florida. Crew members were forbidden from going ashore, but one man snuck out to meet his girlfriend in the town. A few days later, she got the flu, and 200 of the town’s 1,500 people ended up dying from it.

Source: Middelfart Avis, Denmark, December 8, 1918

El Nacional, a Mexican newspaper, ran a front-page article titled “Cómo combatir la Influenza” (“How to Fight the Influenza”). It listed 13 measures that would help stop the spread of the virus, and item number 4 reads: “The greeting, which between men is shaking hands and between women is with a kiss, is a very effective way of transmitting the microbe. Adopt a hygienic greeting.”

Source: El Nacional, Mexico, November 8, 1918

A world without kissing

How do we cope in a world without kissing? A world where we can’t express our love and affection for one another in such a natural and human way?

There’s no doubt that this and the other social distancing restrictions are difficult for many, especially those of us who are relatively isolated and don’t live in the same household as our loved ones. Humans are a creative species and we have come up with many ingenious ways to connect despite the distance. But nothing can truly replace being able to touch, hold, and kiss the people we love.

While we wait for this difficult time to pass, we can at least draw comfort from the fact that people all over the world dealt with these same restrictions a century ago, and though it was surely hard for them — it didn’t last forever. Things went back to normal after a few years. And they didn’t have the technology and advanced medicine we have today.

Learn more about drawing comfort and inspiration from the stories of our ancestors in our earlier blog post, Drawing on Your Ancestors’ Resilience Can Help You Get Through Tough Times.

You can also find fascinating stories about your own ancestors in our newspaper collection.

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