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Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Over 2000 (new to me) source records

I rarely get enthusiastic about a "new" website or computer program for more than a few minutes. When I was operating my Apple Dealership, I used to review dozens of programs a week. So, to some extent, it is a rare exception when I find something that changes the face of world of computers and it is even rarer to find something new in genealogy. This year has definitely been and exception.

One of those exceptional developments has been a long time coming and is still on the way, so to speak. That is the development of a replacement for New.FamilySearch.org in the form of FamilySearch Family Tree.

But now, there is a second significant and totally unforeseen development in the Record Match feature of MyHeritage.com. Why is this significant? And why would I care? Don't I already have a subscription to Ancestry.com and doesn't that pretty well cover everything? Well, no to be blunt. Ancestry.com's usefulness is not diminished by an additional tool. In the commercial world, MyHeritage.com and Ancestry.com may be competitors, but from the genealogist's perspective, it is like having Sam's Club and Costco on the same block. They are competitors but we go to both stores, depending on what we are looking for. (As an aside, there is a place in Salt Lake City, Utah where the two stores are less than a block apart).

Why go on and on about MyHeritage.com? Simply put, because of the depth of the searches and the number of valid source records discovered.

You can upload either part or all of your genealogical file to MyHeritage.com, just as you can with Ancestry.com or any of dozens of other programs. Ancestry.com pioneered the concept of giving you "hints" in the form of green leaves, on your uploaded file with suggestions as to records in the Ancestry.com data base. I have been mining those records for some time now. Right now, my file shows 114 leaf suggestions. The way this works in Ancestry.com is slick. You look at the suggestion and if it applies, you simply attach the record to your ancestor. This connection between your online database is very convenient.

Now, we come to MyHeritage.com. With the same file, Record Match has found 2313 source matches for my family tree. The number looks significantly greater than Ancestry.com's figure, but in actuality, they are different numbers. Ancestry.com's number is the "new" matches found. MyHeritage.com's number is the total. In both cases I have more records than I can comfortably process.

MyHeritage.com's suggested records are what makes a difference. They do not come from one huge database, but from dozens upon dozens of separate unrelated databases around the world. I do not recall Ancestry.com ever giving me a suggestion for records for my Australian ancestors, but there are suggestions from MyHeritage.com. I cannot remember Ancestry.com ever giving me a suggestion for newspaper obituaries with copies of the entire newspaper page to download. Likewise, Ancestry.com's suggestions for FindAGrave.com are from an index. MyHeritage.com gives links to the actual website. I would spend hundreds of hours even beginning to locate the records suggested by MyHeritage.com. The existence of this tool gives a whole new perspective to the process of searching for and finding source records.

Neither Ancestry.com nor MyHeritage.com find "all" of the sources by any means. But both are valuable tools and MyHeritage.com extends the search to places neither you nor I could imagine going.

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