Category Archives: MyHeritage

Checking Out MyHeritageWiki

Disclaimer: I receive a complimentary full subscription to MyHeritage, but receive no other compensation and my opinions are my own.

Did you know that in December 2023 the brand new MyHeritageWiki was launched? I love wikis as they are an excellent source of detailed information on a variety of subjects that can be found with very few online clicks.

Because wikis take a lot of time to develop and expand, I’ve waited a few months before taking a deep dive into the articles that are already posted.

So, what did I find?

The wiki home page is clean and simple to navigate. There is a search box and a short list of categories that have so far been created and have articles submitted – Genealogy Research by Location, Genetic Origins, Naming Traditions, Primer on Historical Records, and How-to Guides.

In my mind, these categories are listed in order based on estimated visits with the more popular categories introduced first.

What types of articles can be found in each category?

Let’s start with How-to Guides and work back up the list. Two of the articles are Guide to Abbreviations and Key Genealogy Terms, written by James Tanner, a well known genealogy blogger. Another article is How to Evaluate Your Genealogy Research by another well known genealogist, Thomas MacEntee. Both articles are well written and presented in a way that won’t overwhelm beginners.

Next, we have Primer on Historical Records and I chose Archives to read by Melissa Barker, who is the Houston County, Tennessee county archivist. Melissa defined “archive” and then suggested various types of archives where records might be stored. Another well written article, which included additional related links at the end, including how to research Eastern European archives online, contributed by Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

The third category in the wiki is Naming Traditions. My choice in this category was Danish Surnames, written by Maor Malul, given that my maternal great grandmother was from Copenhagen.

The author presented a short history of Danish surnames, first mandated by the king in 1526 when noble families were obligated to adopt a surname. Scandinavian surnames in general, because of the patronymic naming system (e.g. Iverson = son of Iver) which changed with each generation, can be confusing. There are excellent examples of the types of surnames created and how the Danish naming system has been updated through the years.

The final two (current) categories on the Wiki will undoubtedly be the most visited. Genetic Origins encompasses all of the DNA information. Autosomal DNA, my article of choice in this category, has no attributed author. Exactly what autosomal DNA is and what it can tell researchers is described and adds suggestions, such as testing the oldest members of a family first. There are additional links to Y-DNA and mtDNA.

The final category in the MyHeritageWiki is the first in the list and will likely be the first stop of visitors to the wiki – Genealogy Research by Location. Although the introductory paragraphs highlights popular articles on Germany, Finland, France, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland, don’t be fooled into thinking that is all there is. The category title is actually a live link that opens a lengthy list of countries that are already written up.

There are about 70 countries, but note that The Netherlands The Balkans are indexed under T (the THE), not under N and B.

The United States page has a robust number of article categories, including several way-less-common articles:

Articles have been submitted about the Kaw Nation, a Native American tribe in Oklahoma, researching ancestors who died at sea, and researching religious excommunication records. These are not common topics and are a boon to those interested in these research paths.

My first impressions?

MyHeritageWiki is small, but mighty, and a work in progress. The articles posted so far are well written, providing a good overview of the topic with relevant details for a genealogy researcher. Over time, the MyHeritageWiki will become a powerful resource for genealogists.

Take some time to look around the website. You may well find an article that pertains to your own research and opens the way to new strategies.

If you would like to contribute an article, or two – or more! – it’s easy to sign up. In addition to writers, other volunteers are also needed:

Interesting Finds on OldNews.com

Disclaimer: I receive a complimentary full subscription to MyHeritage, but receive no other compensation and my opinions are my own.

MyHeritage announced the launch of OldNews.com last week during RootsTech 2024. It’s always good news when new options for accessing historical newspapers become available and I decided to look for information about my husband’s Bandy family, originally from Virginia. However, a group of them settled in Peoria County, Illinois towards the middle of the 1800s and lived there for decades.

I love old newspapers because they tell details of the life stories of ancestors that might otherwise be lost. In this case, they provide a snapshot of one day in their lives.

Three interesting articles popped up in the search for “Bandy Peoria” when I entered 1880 plus or minus 20 years and then 1900 with the same span of years.

This first article is dated 1882 and pertains to a child of Samuel Coleman Bandy and his wife, Salina Waters. Coleman, as he was known, and Salina married in 1864 in Peoria County. In 1900, she reported 8 children living with 4 deceased.

By 1882, probably 11 of her 12 children had been born (10 can be accounted for in census records) with the youngest known son, George Henry, born in May 1884. That eliminates him as the child who wedged a revolver cartridge into its nose.

The five youngest children were Nellie, born 1874, Walter, born 1877, Gertrude, born 1879, probably an unknown child born c1881 and then George, born 1884.

I would assume an eight year old girl and six year old boy would know enough not to stick a cartridge into their noses. That leaves Gertrude, who would have been 3 in 1882 and the possible unknown child who would have been about 1 year old. Either of them might be the child in the article. Note that the doctor apparently had to cut open the nostril to retrieve the cartridge! Ouch!

The second article is the announcement of the marriage of Gertrude Bandy to Bob West in a place that is unexpected. Robert West was born in Mississippi and from the article, he and and Gertrude met while Bob lived in Illinois.

It also confirms that Gertrude was one of the first Bandy family members to leave Illinois.

Lastly, this announcement about the death of John Bandy, Gertrude’s brother, doesn’t tell most of the story. John Marion Bandy was the fourth born child of Samuel Coleman and Salina (Waters) Bandy, born in 1867.

He never married and his death certificate was recorded in Illinois. He died of chronic tuberculosis, from which he suffered for a year and he died at the county farm (poor house), probably too ill to care for himself as the TB got worse.

His death record says he was buried in a cemetery in Pekin, Tazewell, Illinois, which is very close to Peoria. However, if any of his family members chipped in to pay for a gravestone, it hasn’t been found on Find-a-Grave.

So, today, I’ve learned three new tidbits of Bandy family information thanks to OldNews.

If you haven’t checked out OldNews, you should take the time to look at the website. It is an additional subscription apart from MyHeritage. I’ll be checking back with OldNews because new issues of newspapers will be added over time.

Lots of News from MyHeritage

Disclaimer: I receive a complimentary full subscription to MyHeritage, but receive no other compensation and my opinions are my own.

As most of the genealogy world knows, RootsTech 2024 took place this past weekend. Many companies wait for this conference to make major announcements and MyHeritage, I think, had the most exciting news with multiple announcements.

It’s also been a while since I focused one blog post on one company, and some of what I’m sharing aren’t new features, but are capabilites unique to MyHeritage.

First, it’s hard to believe that it’s been two decades, but MyHeritage is now 20 years old and celebrated with a multi-part documentary, tracing its history, accomplishments and it future:

MyHeritage Documentary Part 1: The Early Years – A Dream Takes Root

MyHeritage Documentary Part 2: Starting Up – Turning Vision into Reality

MyHeritage Documentary Part 3: Getting Noticed – The World Begins to Watch

MyHeritage Documentary Part 4: Leveling Up – Expanding Horizons

MyHeritage Documentary Part 5: Making An Impact – Changing Lives Worldwide

MyHeritage Documentary Part 6: Stepping into the Future – The Next Chapter

As for recent announcements, the biggest and most important – BECAUSE THE OFFER EXPIRES TODAY – is by uploading new DNA results to MyHeritage, you will have FREE access to ALL DNA features FOREVER!!! Yes, free FOREVER!!! That definitely is not true anymore of the other big company, which recently announced a fee-based plan.

More big news included the announcement that MyHeritage has just released OldNews.com, giving researchers another option for finding just the historical newspaper article that they are seeking. FYI, newspapers that are currently in a MyHeritage subscription, will remain accessible. NEW historical newspapers in the OldNews collection will require a separate subscription.

The third big piece of news from MyHeritage was the access to the ALL NEW Profile Page with HINTS! Here is the new Profile for my great grandfather, Michael Scerbak:

Notice the hint to give a more complete name. In Michael’s case, he had no middle name, so the name entered is already complete. There are 21 matches for me to check out. His biography is auto-generated, but does include this snippet: Michael departed from Hamburg, Germany on 18 May 1890 on the S.S. Bohemia, a steamship. It was part of the Hamburg-Amerikanische line. The ship’s captain was Leithauser. Michael traveled in steerage. There are also three images for me to review and a Sources tab to add citations.

This format is easy to navigate and facts are clearly presented.

Those were the main updates shared at RootsTech 2024.

However, I’d like to mention some of the other innovations that MyHeritage has released over the last few years.

It’s been several years now, but since I have late 19th and early 20th century immigrants in the paternal side of my family tree, Ellis Island records are an important resource for me. I used to go directly to the Ellis Island site until they “updated” and redesigned option tabs. That produced incorrect links to passenger lists for every name I searched.

MyHeritage came along and greatly improved access to the records.

Just click on the Research tab on the home page for the drop down menu, which includes Immigration Records. Not only are the links to the passenger lists correct, but MyHeritage added one of my favorite features of all time. Part of the index system includes the NAME of the person with whom the immigrant was going to live! That option allowed me to prove that my great grandfather (Michael Scerbak, above) did return to the U.S. after the family left in 1898 because in 1912, his brother-in-law was traveling to live with him (found in the index) in Garfield, Bergen, New Jersey! My grandmother said her father returned at least twice, but he came in between census years and isn’t even found in the city directories.

Another feature I love on MyHeritage is the Photo Dater, introduced in August 2023. I use the Photo Dater a lot to narrow down when the picture was taken and, for older photos, to identify possible people in the pictures. It’s really easy to use.

Photo Tagger is also easy to use, so identifying people in the pictures won’t be an issue for future viewers.

Along with dating photographs, MyHeritage in Color makes it simple to colorize black and white photos and to use the Enhancer to restore photos. Since I don’t have Photoshop, or the skills to use its advanced features, I find that MyHeritage meets my needs well.

These photo options were followed by Deep Nostalgia, which not only animates a photo, but a voice can tell the life story of the person in the picture. I like the animation, but I have to admit I am a little creeped out by the voice, at least when it is used with a family member I knew because the voice I remembered obviously doesn’t sound at all like the person I knew. However, for great grandparents and earlier ancestors, it’s an interesting way to catch the attention of the younger generation.

Last, but certainly not least, MyHeritage has launched its WIKI, which is a work in progress. New contributors are welcomed!

I haven’t even touched on all the records housed at MyHeritage:

One last word about MyHeritage – its competitor has a huge American base. I have found, though, that searching for my ancestors and distant cousins still living in Europe (for me, that includes Denmark, Sweden and Slovakia), I am able to access those records I need for my research on MyHeritage. Also, I have many more European matches to my DNA results than on other websites. I believe that is because MyHeritage is based in Europe and has many more European subscribers than other big genealogy companies.

I think I’ve caught up sharing all the more recent features of MyHeritage that I love.

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