Monday, April 5, 2021

MyHeritage Releases 10 "Special Animations" for Deep Nostalgia

We've released 10 additional "special" animations for Deep Nostalgia™ today, doubling the number of animations available and allowing you to see your ancestors express a wider spectrum of gestures and emotions, for example, dance, blow a kiss, smile wholeheartedly, nod approval, and more. The special animations are available to subscribers on the Complete plan.


Deep Nostalgia™ has taken social media by storm, and since its launch 5 weeks ago, 72 million animations have been created!

Please share this wonderful news with your audience and on all your social channels. You can find a complete overview of the special animations in the blog post.

Here are some examples of the special animations:

Dance 2:



When you animate a photo, the initial animation is selected by default so as to match the pose and angle of the person in your photo perfectly. That initial animation is always one of the first 10 general animations and is never one of the special animations. The special animations need to be selected manually.

Selecting a special animation is not available from the landing page, which is only meant for quick animation and sharing, and is only available from the "My Photos" section of the website and the "Photos" section of the MyHeritage mobile app, where in both locations more advanced functionality is at your disposal.

I hope you enjoy seeing your ancestors move with these new animations!


Daniel Horowitz

Genealogy Expert

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The 1950 Census is coming in 2022!


Preparing for the 1950 Census

The next Decennial (ten-year) Census of the United States will be available online next year. In 1978, Public Law 95-416, also known as the “72-Year Rule,” restricted access to decennial records to everyone except for the individual named on the record for 72 years. The National Archives will release the 1950 Census records in April 2022.

The 1950 Census contains an estimated:

  • 7,816,000 population schedule pages
  • 9,634 enumeration district maps
  • 60,000 “Indian Census” pages

The agency has been preparing for this launch for the last decade. Right after we launched the 1940 website in 2012, we developed a list of lessons learned, and began planning for the scanning of the 1950 Census.  It is a good thing we started early, too, because we have had limited access to our buildings during the pandemic. Fortunately, selected staff who have received special clearances to work on these records have scanned the majority of the pages and are also able to work remotely on indexing efforts. Our staff are busy ensuring that state, county, city and enumeration district metadata will be available at the time of launch. 

Population schedule page from the 13th Census of the United States: 1910, National Archives Identifier 53333251.

Our User Experience team has been working with a variety of NARA staff and public stakeholders to develop the website. Using agile and human-centered design methodologies, we have recently completed our first sprints working with wireframes to develop what will be the layout of the webpage. We are planning to use current cloud technologies to ensure that the website will be able to withstand the expected crush of users when we launch in April 2022 and beyond. We are also exploring ways to provide person names, which we know are the most common searches for family historians and researchers. 

In addition to the website, we are exploring possibilities for providing bulk downloads of the 1950 Census for those who would like to work with the data as a whole or in large chunks, for digital humanities and other purposes beyond the traditional genealogical value that the Census holds. 

WPA Workers Indexing 1920 Census Records, National Archives Identifier 175739355

We know that the Census data is important to so many of you. Supporting public access to these records is right at the heart of our mission–to make access happen. We have much to do, many constraints, and relatively little time left to accomplish our vision.  Stay tuned for upcoming developments as we work toward our April 2022 launch. 

For more information about Census records at the National Archives, see our Census Records web pages. See also the Census Bureau’s overview of the 1950 Census.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

MyHeritage Announces View Genetic Groups and Updated Swedish Household Records

Viewing Genetic Groups of DNA Matches

As part of our continued improvement of Genetic Groups on MyHeritage, you can now compare your Genetic Groups to those of your DNA Matches! Previously, you were able to view the Ethnicity Estimate of your DNA Matches and see which ethnicities you share. Now, you can drill down even further and see which Genetic Groups they belong to, and which ones you have in common. This addition has important genealogical value, and may enable you to narrow down which side of your family a DNA Match comes from. Read more about this exciting new addition in the blog post.  


Significant Update to Swedish Historical Records on MyHeritage

We recently added 19.35 million records to our collection of Sweden Household Examination Books. The new records cover the years 1820–1839, and bring the total number of records in this collection to 144.5 million. The records in this collection are the #1 source of information about families and individuals who lived in Sweden in the 19th and 20th centuries. This is great news for all genealogists with Swedish roots, who may now be able to date their family tree back even further and make new discoveries.


You can search the collection now, and read more about it on our blog

My March through the FamilySearch Family Tree: Day 31 (what's next?)

The month flew by, but I feel that I ended it with a much stronger family tree on FamilySearch Family Tree, especially my paternal side, but also my maternal-side ancestors. There are still things to do, but I think that I learned enough that the month-long experiment was worth doing.

I encourage anyone who has never used the FamilySearch Family Tree to explore it. And I encourage those who have tried it in the past but who were disappointed with all the problems to look at it again, and consider doing it, at least in part.

There are other collaborative trees out there. WikiTree is one, and I will be expecting to write about my experiences there sometime in August. Between now and then, I may take a closer look at Geni. There are other sites, too, but one can only spend so much time with these things. I also will continue to work on my "official" tree on my own computer, and I will upload copies to public sites (Ancestry, MyHeritage, etc.).

I am hopeful that my actions will result in collaborations with previously unknown cousins. Part of the fun of doing genealogy is doing it with others. Imagine working with a distant cousin to attempt to break down a brick wall involving common ancestors!

I would love to hear about your own experiences in using FamilySearch Family Tree, especially successes. I want to hear about any tricks you have learned. I posted links to this entire series on Facebook in The Genealogy Squad group, and that is a great place to engage with other genealogists, including me!

I am also going to talk to the folks at FamilySearch who are the official Family Tree managers. I can give them the benefit of my own experience and perhaps suggest ways to improve it.

I hope you enjoyed my "march" in March. If there are other sites or tools you'd like me to spend a month exploring, let me know.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

My March through the FamilySearch Family Tree: Day 30 (what I've learned)

With only two days left in the month of March, I realize that I won't have time to review all of the descendants of my maternal-side ancestors. So I have decided to use these two days to reflect on the past month in terms of what I've learned about my own family tree and about the FamilySearch Family Tree.

First, I learned that I hadn't spent nearly enough time collecting sources to support the conclusions I had formed about relationships and the facts of my ancestors' lives. The Family Tree system made it easy to find many relevant sources and to connect them to my relatives, and its suggestions were nearly always right. In so doing, I had less reason to believe that the work I had done would be undone by others.

Second, I learned that it takes work, and a good family tree isn't really built in a month. Of course, I wasn't starting from scratch. Some of my lines I had researched as early as nearly 30 years ago, although in other cases I had learned about some direct ancestors only as recently as the past few years. 

Third, I learned that the Family Tree had been designed extremely well in order to enter new information, to change existing information, and to remove duplications. On the negative side, in one sense, a lot of duplicates had been created by an automated system where birth records for siblings might generate a new set of parents for each child, which meant that all of those parents would need to be merged together. But at least they were findable by those descended from those particular children.

So what's next? I'll talk about that tomorrow.

Monday, March 29, 2021

My March through the FamilySearch Family Tree: Day 29 (descendants of the earlier Smiths)

Once I had taken care of Mary Ann Bannon's siblings and their families, it was time to look again at my Smith ancestors and their descendants. On Day 5 I had worked my way back through my grandfather William Henry Smith, my great-grandfather Charles Henry Smith, my 2g-grandfather James Smith, and my 3g-grandfather Philip Smith. It was time to come forward in the Family Tree.

Philip, the immigrant ancestor (together with his wife Catharine and their 4 children, including my 2g-grandfather James) arrived in Newark in 1842, according to a letter that Philip sent his married daughter Anna years later. She had married a Kelly and settled in Mobile, Alabama. Fortunately, one of their descendants, living in Houston, had found me and emailed me a digital copy of the letter. Life in Newark wasn't pleasant. Lots of cholera. The letter also talked about who Philip had heard from back in County Cavan (and nearby), Ireland, and who he hadn't.

I added Anna (and her husband), James, and Catharine to Philip and Catharine's record.

I then moved down to my 2g-grandfather James. I had already added his and Mary Ann Reilly's children, but I needed to fix some middle names and add sources, so I proceeded to do that.

Then I looked at the spouses of the Smith sons. Oldest son Philip Smith was married to Jane Stephens, so when I went to add her, it turns out that there were already 5 different Jane Stephens married to a Philip Smith. This was going to take some work to look through them and see if they were the same couple. I decided that it was easier to add her as a new person, then let FamilySearch find all the duplicates again so that I could compare them more easily. Once I started this process, even more duplicates were found.

As I worked my way down through the children of Philip and Jane, I found individuals who were already in the Family Tree, but who may have had some errors in their records. 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

My March through the FamilySearch Family Tree: Day 28 (the Bannons and Hylands come together)

William Bannon married Mary Ann Hyland while his sister Elizabeth Bannon married Mary Ann's brother Peter Hyland. Fortunately, William and Mary Ann had a much smaller family than most of their siblings, with only 3 children: my great-grandmother Mary Ann Bannon who married my great-grandfather Charles Henry Smith, her brother James Joseph Bannon who married Elizabeth Monica "Lizzie" Kearns, and her sister Catherine R. "Kate" Bannon who married Patrick J. O'Connor.

I knew that my great-grandparents were buried in the same plot with Charles mother Mary Ann Reilly Smith, but had no idea where William Bannon and Mary Ann Hyland Bannon were buried, and originally I had no idea what happened to James Joseph Bannon or his sister Kate. But then I had a DNA match to an O'Connor, and in his tree was his ancestor Patrick married to Catherine Bannon. When I then looked at their burial site, it was in the same cemetery as my great-grandparents (Holy Sepulchre in Essex County, NJ), and in the same plot were William and Mary Ann Bannon. A major mystery solved in part due to DNA testing!

I worked on the children for James Joseph Bannon and his wife Elizabeth Monica "Lizzie" Kearns, merging together duplicates and attaching sources. I ended up with 20 sources for James and 24 for Elizabeth.

Then I worked on the children for Patrick J. O'Connor and Catherine R. "Kate" Bannon. By the time I was done, I had added all 10. Kate now had 9 sources.