Archive for the ‘This is Us’ Category

Colorado Family History Expo 2012: Come say hello!

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

MyHeritage’s US genealogy adviser Schelly Talalay Dardashti and business development manager and genealogist Mark Olsen are heading off to theColorado Springs (Colorado) Family History Expo 2012 this weekend, Friday, June 1 and Saturday, June 2.

In-demand speakers, each will  present several programs, in addition to staffing the booth (#9,10). Here’s a preview of their sessions:

Schelly and Mark

Schelly and Mark (Click Image to Register for the event)

Friday June 1, 2012 – Salon F

4.50 pm: Sephardic Research Comes of Age - Schelly
This session will provide many recent and relatively unknown resources for Sephardic genealogy (for those whose Jewish ancestors came from Spain), covering global country resources, searchable databases, books, libraries/archives, online sites, conferences, personalities, music and many additional aspects of the “other” side of Jewish genealogy.

6.30 pm: Online Ancestral Communities - Schelly
For many of today’s genealogists, their ancestral communities – regardless of origin – live only in half-remembered memories of parents and grandparents. Today’s technology and social media provide methods to easily recreate these communities and preserve those memories for future generations. In this session, learn about types of communities, why we should care, how to find others who share these memories, what a project might include, how to put it together and view projects that others have already created. Help preserve your roots for the future, while collaborating with other descendants around the world.

7.50 pm: Google Hangouts – Connecting Genealogists with History Worldwide - Mark
Google Plus is quickly becoming a go to place for genealogy. Never before has it been easier to connect, share, and record family history – gather for a genealogy society meeting – attend a genealogy conference – meet with a client – connect for the first time with a distant cousin – interview an elderly relative and much more. Mark, the creator of the longest Google Hangout, which lasted 77 days, will teach how to quickly connect with people from around the world to accomplish shared genealogy goals. Mark will demonstrate how you can quickly join a hangout in process or create your own. He will also teach how you can use this technology to gather your family or society together to teach, record and share experiences. This presentation will be broadcast live to the Google Plus community and - assuming a good internet connection - will involve genealogists from around the globe.

Saturday June 2, 2012 – Salon F

11.20 am: Social Media for 21st Century Genealogists - Schelly
Do you want to learn how to use today’s social media to advance your family history research? Has your society scheduled the best program in the country, but don’t know how to get the message out? Learn how to use social media to your advantage. Learn the basics of publicity along with information on the essentials of organizing an event.

1:10 pm: The 1940 Census – Mark
Having trouble finding people in the 1940 US census? Need some practical tips to make the most of available information? Mark will take you step-by-step through researching the census and will demonstrate how to find the people you’re looking for and understand the records you find. He’ll also demonstrate how to use other methods to help reveal records such as using city directories or converting previous census EDs, how to decipher the information and follow clues for further research. MyHeritage was the first commercial vendor to have all the 1940 US Census images available following its release on April 2.

Stop by the MyHeritage booth (#9-10) to meet Schelly and Mark. Special activities will include:

  • A demonstration of our new, improved version of family sites.
  • Make family discoveries in the 1940 census.
  • Participate in the “MyHeritage Challenge.” Bring your family tree on a flash-drive in GEDCOM format for a free “SmartMatch” check. Receive a special gift.
  • Already enjoying the MyHeritage app on your iPhone, iPad or Android? Visit the booth, show us the app, tell us why you like it and receive a gift! Don’t have the app yet? Download it for free from App Storeor Google Play and start making smart discoveries.

Mark and Schelly look forward to greeting you in Colorado Springs this weekend, so do stop by to say hello.

Four Ways to ‘Freshen Up’ your Search

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Family history research can happen in waves. When research is going well, it’s easy to keep on digging.  However, when searching is less fruitful, research slips down the priority list.

Not long ago, I was at a low point in my research. In desperation, I cast a wider net in hopes of hitting something that could provide motivation in my research quest.

Courtesy San Antonio Express 1938

Here’s what happened: I attempted to look for anything remotely related to the family I was researching. I wanted to jumpstart my research. Logging into my account at, I typed in the surname and location.

Despite feeling discouraged at the time, I found nearly 200 matches in the newspaper collection.

I had seen these records before. This time I approached them with an open mind, hoping to find a clue toget better results. With a new perspective I quickly discovered several newspaper articles about a football guard at Texas A&M University.

As I read the articles, I recalled mention of a great-uncle who played college ball. Could this be the person mentioned in the Texas newspaper? I had never heard of the town where the article was published.

Described in those articles was a football player with my surname. The article lists the position he played and shares a quote that spurred a rally to the winning touchdown. “Big boy, John Kimbrough is coming through here this time, and I don’t know what you’re gonna do; but I’m going to get the h— out of his way.”  If those were my uncle’s words I wanted to find out – my desire to keep searching was spurred on.

Curious to know if this was truly my great-uncle, I pulled out a photo and talked with family members. Through my discussions with family, I determined that this was my great-uncle and he played the same position as my brother. They even resemble each other!

One fascinating story details a time when my newly found uncle spent some time in the hospital after a particularly grueling game. (more…)

Family Trees: Nurture and care – a lasting legacy

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

A neighbor recently offered us some trees because they had too many in their yard. My wife said yes.

We went over and began to dig.  One tree was about 10 feet tall with a trunk an inch or more in diameter.  It was more like a stick with branches as buds had not yet formed.  We managed to pull its massive root system mostly intact. The other five trees included one with a single stem along with some 6-7 foot trees with great potential and few new buds.

Family Trees

Family Trees

When we were finished, some only had four or five roots and the main branch, which couldn’t be yet called a trunk. Our neighbor assured us the trees would do fine if they were well-watered and if we used a tree transplant additive to give them a boost.

This past week, I’ve re-aligned the sprinkler system to keep the new trees moist. A day after we transplanted them, I mixed the transplant formula and watered the trees with it.

Today, I’m happy to report that all of them have buds – although tiny, they are a bright, healthy green.   Others are already forming leaves. We even acquired a small walnut tree. Though the smallest tree, it has many new buds and appears to have a happy future in our yard.

What does this have to do with genealogy?

We all know that our family tree will only grow and prosper with proper care. Our tree must be kept well pruned, nourished and fed.  It requires sunlight and other essential nutrients to thrive.

Here are my top five nutrients for a thriving family tree: (more…)

NGS 2012: Recap

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
MyHeritage Team with Dennis Brimhall CEO of FamilySearch

MyHeritage Team with Dennis Brimhall CEO of FamilySearch

Last week, the MyHeritage team was kept very busy in a whirlwind of work, learning and fun at very well attended National Genealogical Society’s 2012 conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

On Wednesday, the team was busy at the booth answering questions and providing more information to attendees who had heard about MyHeritage from speakers who spoke about our very social family trees, data, facial recognition technology and much more.

A Man hides behind a post in his quest for freedom - National Underground Railroad Museum Cincinnati Ohio

Portrayal of a man hiding behind a tree in his quest for freedom - National Underground Railroad Museum Cincinnati, Ohio

In the evening, Daniel Horowitz and Mark Olsen joined hundreds of conference-goers at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center for a moving experience as they learned about the lives of thousands of freedom seekers and “conductors” (those of all races and backgrounds who assisted the enslaved to reach the Ohio River and beyond – freedom – at their own and their families’ risk). Although not an actual railroad, nor underground, it was the secret route used to transfer the slaves from one location to another – from one farm or home to the next – until he or she reached freedom.

Many moving scenes are portrayed. If you visit Cincinnati, the museum should be on your must-see list.

Thursday was another fabulous day full of hundreds of great interactions with customers at the booth and conference goers looking to soak in as much information as they could through classes and interactions with other genealogists and vendors.

On Friday NGS organizers announced that the official NGS attendance was 2,155, resulting in packed session rooms. Many sessions reached capacity, and fire codes are very strict. There were reports of some attendees who could not get a seat in the session they wanted to attend. Technology and census sessions seem to be drawing the largest crowds.

The Ancestry Insider along with others at the blogger dinner hosted by FamilySearch who wish to remain unnamed

The Ancestry Insider along with others at the blogger dinner hosted by FamilySearch who wish to remain unnamed


Webinar: Family history research made easier

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

This is a post from the MyHeritage Blog regarding a Family Tree Builder Webinar this week.  We hope to see you there.

Family Tree Builder 6.0 (click to enlarge)Family Tree Builder 6.0 (click to enlarge)

Following the success of How to find your relatives in the 1940 US Census, we invite you to register for our next webinar: “Family Tree Builder: Tips and tricks to make family history research easier.” The webinar will take place on Thursday, May 17 at 2pm EDT*.

Want to learn the tricks of the trade from our MyHeritage experts? In this session, we’ll discuss: (more…)

NGS: Day one

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

NGS 2012 began today with a huge line to enter the exhibit hall.

NGS 2012 Kicks Off

Exhibit hall traffic was heavy throughout the day as thousands came to get a good deal on products and service and find answers to their genealogy questions. (more…)

NGS: Ohio – Gateway to the Western Frontier

Monday, May 7th, 2012

NGS 2012

NGS 2012 - Click image to learn more

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) will hold its annual conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, May 9-12.

The conference logo says much about the history of the United States.

The Ohio River – Gateway to the western frontier.

The Ohio River begins in Pennsylvania, flows through West Virginia, Kentucky, through Indiana and ends as it enters the great Mississippi River in Illinois – not too far from Missouri.  People from the northeast headed to the Ohio River to board steamboats that traveled the length of the river in more comfort (and faster) than those who traveled by foot, train, wagon.

Cincinnati – A gateway to the west

Cincinnati – a major city along the river -was also an historic part of the westward journey:

The Ohio River provided Cincinnati residents with numerous business opportunities. Hotels, restaurants, and taverns quickly opened to meet the needs of settlers traveling westward on the Ohio River. Steamboats were manufactured and repaired in the city. Farmers brought their crops to the city to send down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans, Louisiana, one of Ohio’s major markets.

Steamboats – Made in Cincinnati

The conference logo includes a steamboat – a major mode of transportation to the West. Cincinnati was where the boats were built and repaired for the river journey.

MyHeritage at NGS 2012

Daniel, Schelly, Mark

Daniel, Schelly, Mark

The MyHeritage team is not just going to the event, but to an important place in American history.

We’ll remember the river’s history, the city and the area that expanded the US from the original 13 colonies to 50 states – all of which are now in the recently-released 1940 Census.

Daniel Horowitz will speak at 11am on Thursday, May 10, in the GenTech Room on “Research Genealogical Resources in Israel from your Couch.”

MyHeritage will be demonstrating new features of its products:

  • 3-3.20pm on Wednesday, May 9, at Demonstration Stage A
  • 1-1.20pm on Friday, May 11, at Demonstration Stage B

MyHeritage NGS Official Bloggers

MyHeritage will be displaying at Booth NO. 430

Along with Daniel, Schelly and Mark are looking forward to greeting you at the event.

Schelly and Mark have been named Official Bloggers for NGS 2012!  We are very excited and will bring you great posts and images from the events.

We’ll help with your questions and demonstrate the latest MyHeritage tools, features and resources, ranging from the 1940 Census to our new searchable mobile app.

We look forward to seeing you!

Follow all our blog posts and other social updates from NGS:

Twitter – @WorldVRecords and @MyHeritage


Mark Olsen

Webinar: Find your relatives in the 1940 US Census

Monday, April 30th, 2012

1940 Census on MyHeritageHaving trouble finding people in the 1940 US census? Need some practical tips to make the most of available information?

Join MyHeritage’s experts on Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 2pm EDT* for a free, live webinar: How to find your relatives in the 1940 US Census – (register for the webinar).

Laurence HarrisLaurence Harris

Laurence Harris and Mark Olsen will take you step-by-step through researching the census. They’ll demonstrate how to find the people you’re looking for and how to understand the records you find.

We’ll also look at other methods to help reveal records such as using city directories or converting previous census EDs, how to decipher the information and follow clues for further research.

A question-and-answer session with our expert panel - also including Daniel Horowitz and Schelly Talalay Dardashti -  will follow.

Mark OlsenMark Olsen

MyHeritage was the first commercial entity to have all the census images online. Search the entire census.

We’ve also updated our MyHeritage Mobile App so you can search the census on-the-go.

Register for the webinar.

* Time Zones:
London, UK 7pm
New York, 2pm
Chicago, 1pm
Salt Lake City, 12 noon
Los Angeles, 11am

Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Put them in the comments below, and we’ll address them during the webinar.

Feel free to “like” this post. Share it with your friends so they can also join in – the webinar is open to everyone.

We look forward to seeing you online.

Posted by Aaron on April 30th, 2012 – 18:13
Tagged as: , , , , , ,

NGS Mobile App

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

NGS 2012: A new conference mobile app

WorldVitalRecords and MyHeritage are gearing up for the National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference, set for Cincinnati, Ohio, from May 9-12. Read more about the NGS conference here.

Mobile App for NGS

NGS just released a mobile app for the conference.  Several recent events – such as Jamboree 2011 and Rootstech 2012 – also provided very popular mobile apps, used by many attendees to check sessions, special  events, speaker information and much more on their smart phones, IPads and other devices. No longer do conference attendees need to carry around a heavy printed syllabus.

Click image to get the NGS mobile app

Click image to get the NGS mobile app

Some of the mobile app’s best features:

  • Schedule

With the Mobile app, you can browse the entire schedule by day, speaker, and topic (track). You can also check topics by audience skill level – beginner, beginner intermediate, intermediate, intermediate advanced, advanced and all. Can’t decide which level is appropriate for you? There’s probably an app for that!

  • My Schedule

As you flip through the pages of speakers, topics, levels, simply click to add those of interest to “My Schedule” to your calendar. Remember to have your smartphone or device turned on, the guidebook app running and calendar running to be reminded of events you select.


[Guest Post] Commemorating the Titanic

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Nick Barratt
Nick Barratt

This is a guest post from Dr Nick Barratt, (author, historian and broadcaster) who runs Sticks Research Agency and is a regular presenter of TV shows as well as his own vodcast, in association with He currently serves as the President of the Federation of Family History Societies, Vice President of AGRA, Executive Director of FreeBMD, Editor in Chief of Your Family History magazine, Honorary Teaching Fellow at the University of Dundee, and Trustee at the Society of Genealogists.

Don’t forget to
send your family’s Titanic stories to by Friday for your chance to win a copy of Dr Barratt’s book – Lost Voices from the Titanic.

2012 is meant to be a year about celebration. We have the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, shaping the tone of our approach to public occasions – a chance to forget the doom and gloom surrounding the economy and have a party.

Maybe that explains some of the celebratory noises associated with the centenary of the Titanic’s maiden voyage, and subsequent place in the annals of maritime history when it struck an iceberg and sank. As this anniversary approaches, it is terribly easy to forget the horrific loss of life – over 1,500 people died in a few minutes – as plans are made to re-release the Hollywood blockbuster,  hold events and exhibitions, even street parties in a couple of locations.

In the main, though, the feeling is of commemorating rather than celebrating this moment of contemporary history.  I have a personal bias towards this approach, having written the book – Lost Voices from the Titanic - which features eyewitness statements rarely used or published in their own right, having been collated by historian Walter Lord in the 1950s, as he wrote his own account of the tragedy, made into a haunting film, “A Night to Remember.”

The majority of the collection is at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and it is distressing to read. Each one transports the reader back in time to that fateful night, placing you where the people themselves stood – on the deck waiting for instructions, in the bowels of the ship trying to save the stricken vessel, in the communications room frantically trying to raise the alarm and secure rescue, and in the lifeboats, watching the ship sink below the icy waters of the Atlantic.

You cannot help but be moved by some of these accounts. Among the most poignant and eloquent is Charlotte Collyer, who watched her husband Harvey remain on board as the lifeboat containing her and their daughter, Marjorie, descend towards relative safety, knowing there was little chance of seeing him again. She describes the emotional scene as a young lad tries to jump in with them, and is ordered at gunpoint by the officer on board to leave the ship and act like a man; sobbing, the youth leaves to meet his fate. She transports us to the deck of the Carpathia, the first ship on the scene, as women desperately tried to see if their husbands had made it to safety, in the main to be bitterly disappointed as she was. Her story ends with a letter back to her parents-in-law, grief stricken and having to face the journey home having lost everything but her daughter.

I was fortunate enough to meet the last surviving passenger, Millvina Dean, before she passed away in 2009. She summed up the way I think we should approach the Titanic; it changed her life in so many ways, but she cannot bear the thought that people would visit the wreck, or bring up objects from the sea bed. “After all,” she said, “that’s my father’s grave. He lies down there, somewhere. Let him rest in peace.”

Now that the last living link with the ship has passed away, we should commemorate the centenary, and only then begin to look afresh now that the Titanic has become part of history, not a living reminder of personal tragedy.

Laura Mabel Francatelli and Other Survivors (Taken from the Discovery Channel –