During the past few months, I have been making some very public statements about MyHeritage. Subsequent to my presentations at the St. George Family History Expo and most recently as a keynote speaker at RootsTech 2013, watch the keynote here, fast forward to minute 31:28 in the video. I had several questions and comments from attendees. In addition, I was invited by MyHeritage to team up with them in making a special offer to my blog readers.
Because of this, I felt it necessary to clearly state my experience with MyHeritage. There are several reasons why I have decided that they deserve a much higher profile than they have in the past. This blog post is intended to explain my personal opinions regarding the programs.
I have been using MyHeritage for the past three or four years. During the past two years, MyHeritage has dramatically increased both its online family trees and has acquired a large amount of genealogical source content through the purchase of WorldVitalRecords.com. Since that acquisition, MyHeritage has also introduced its Record Match capability. This allows those who upload their family tree to MyHeritage.com to have automatic searches made of the records, also available as a MyHeritage Data plan, and other sources associated with MyHeritage. At the same time, MyHeritage has significantly increased the record content and improved the search capabilities.
Although this type of service has previously been available from Ancestry.com, MyHeritage takes automatic record searching to an entirely new level. For example, I have my family tree on Ancestry.com and presently I have 742 “green leaves” waiting for me to process. My experience is that a significant number of these source suggestions from Ancestry.com are “false positives,” that is, they are for people to whom I am not related: my guess is more than half. On the other hand, I also have my family tree on MyHeritage.com and with the Record Match capability; I presently have 2,400 Record Matches waiting for me to process on MyHeritage. Significantly, nearly all, probably more than 95% of these are actually people in my family tree. I have found these records to be extremely valuable. For example, MyHeritage’s Record Match has found over 400 matches to FindAGrave.com to people in my family tree. To me, this alone is worth the cost of a subscription.
I am not trying to discourage anyone from using or subscribing to Ancestry.com. I am merely pointing out that there is now a viable and useful alternative. With its constant addition of new records MyHeritage.com will only get more and more useful as time goes on. At Rootstech we learned that the entire US Census Collection will be available through MyHeritage in the coming weeks! I am very excited to see the record matches in my tree come to life with this new important update.
One of the major factors in my positive experiences with MyHeritage is the responsiveness of the owners and staff. Any questions I have had concerning either program has been promptly and courteously answered and this was the case even before my blog became popular. Because of my comments and suggestions about both programs, which I had been using on my personal computer and through the free access to WorldVitalRecords.com at the Mesa FamilySearch Library, MyHeritage recently offered me complimentary access to both programs. I should also mention that for over a year, I also had complimentary access to Ancestry.com.
MyHeritage is not a replacement for, but a supplement to a subscription to Ancestry.com. They have different records and both are extremely valuable. But because of the high visibility of Ancestry.com and the lower visibility of MyHeritage, I have felt it is important to educate those who read my blog and attend my classes as to the relative merits of the two companies’ programs and the huge strides MyHeritage has made recently.
Since MyHeritage.com started in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, it has a huge user base in those countries compared to other online family tree programs. It has since spread around the world, not just in English speaking countries. If you look at their map of the MyHeritage users, you will see how valuable this service can be if any of your ancestors came from countries other than those where English is predominant. MyHeritage matches people in your family tree with those in the entire database and suggests relevant records. Expanding this capability to the countries where your ancestors originated is a valuable asset.
In addition, MyHeritage has a free genealogical database program for your personal computer called Family Tree Builder available for Windows operating system, which allows you to create a family tree and optionally upload your information to your online family tree. Ancestry.com also has its own programs for your personal use for both the Apple and Windows operating systems called Family Tree Maker. However, the Ancestry.com programs are not free.
For these reasons, I have strongly encouraged my readers and the attendees at my presentations to consider MyHeritage.com as well as Ancestry.com.
If you have any questions about my relationship with any entities mentioned in this blog, please see my Disclosures and Disclaimers page linked in the heading.