Chris Armstrong | Jun 19, 2017

Getting to Know the Big 4: MyHeritage

This is the fourth of a four-part series analyzing the strengths and limitations of FamilySearch, Ancestry, Findmypast, and MyHeritage to help you use them more effectively.

Over the past three weeks, we’ve written about three of the major players of the genealogical industry: FamilySearch, Ancestry, and Findmypast. Today we’ll examine the strengths and limitations of the fourth powerhouse, MyHeritage. Together, these organizations make up what’s referred to as the big 4.

While you may have a favorite resource that you use more frequently than others, it’s good to understand each of these industry giants so your research can be thorough and well documented.

Much of the content in this article comes from Sunny Morton’s 2017 RootsTech presentation. Morton is a professional genealogist, contributing editor at GenealogyGems.com and author of “Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites.”

About MyHeritage

Based in Israel, MyHeritage has over 7 billion historical records, including newspapers and names from family trees, with nearly 4 billion indexed historical records and 28 million trees with 2.1 billion names.

Strong Search Hinting Technology

MyHeritage is known for its powerful search hinting technologies, which have proven to be more accurate than some of its competitors.

“I love their search and their hinting technologies,” said Sunny Morton in her 2017 RootsTech presentation. “They are particularly strong and particularly accurate, and they translate across many languages. And in fact, if I know that there are records on another site that I haven’t been able to find, I might go to MyHeritage next and try to search their interface because it’s so good and they’re going to find a little bit more.”

MyHeritage is the only website of the big 4 that includes unindexed digitized newspapers in automated hinting. Once you’ve registered on the site, SmartMatches (record hints) will regularly be emailed to you.

Records

MyHeritage offers a strong collection of Scandinavian records as well as records from Germany and England with an emphasis on Jewish genealogy.

Within the MyHeritage records you’ll find:

DNA Testing Program

MyHeritage recently launched their own DNA testing program, MyHeritage DNA, aimed at helping people discover their ethnic origins and new relatives.

“I’m excited that they’ve got DNA testing going … that’s pretty new, and they’re integrating that with the trees,” said Morton.

MyHeritage also allows you to upload the results of DNA samples that were taken elsewhere.

Family Features

Once you register for an account with MyHeritage, free or paid, you’ll be given a unique URL that will allow you to build your own family website with your family tree. This website and tree can then be shared with other family members and can become an online gathering place for family members to communicate, share family history stories, or plan reunions.

“There is a neat calendar that you’ll see [when you log in] over on the right that says ‘Upcoming Events,’” said Morton. “MyHeritage actually populates that for you with the birthdays and anniversaries of all your living relatives so that you can see who’s got a birthday or anniversary coming up.”

“You can also go in and add custom events to that family calendar and then share it in that format so that if you have a family reunion or a wedding or some other kind of gathering coming up, you can talk about it here,” said Morton. “This is the place where you can invite your relatives, even those with no interest in genealogy at all, to come in and put pictures that they’d like to share with the family.”

Limitations of MyHeritage

Historical record content is not as strong or unique as on other websites.

The MyHeritage desktop software syncs only with your tree on MyHeritage.

Online tutorials focus more on how to use the site and less on becoming a better researcher.

How do you use MyHeritage? Tweet us @RootsTechConf to share your experience.

Chris Armstrong

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