Monday, June 25, 2012

SuperSearch Feature Introduced on has announced the introduction of a SuperSearch feature on their website that searches for historical records and MyHeritage family trees.  See the press release at

You can see how it works by watching a short YouTube video at or click it below:

The Research tab at MyHeritage is  The page looks like this:

The search form is the basic form, and has only fields for first name, last name, year of birth, place, and keywords.  I did a search for John Richman born about 1790 with a place name of Hilperton and received over 220,000 results:

Whoa!!  That's too many to look through.  My particular John Richman may be in those listings, but...I'm not going to spend time looking.  There is a link that says I have 101 matches in the UK collections (which is useful, because my John Richman resided in Wilshire!).

I went back to the Research page and clicked on the "Advanced Search" link and added a range of plus/minus 5 years to the birth year:

The number of matches for John Richman was reduced to just over 2,000 matches, including 105 from the UK collections:

Almost all of the first 20 matches on the page are for John Richman persons in MyHeritage trees, including several for the John Richman that I am searching for.

I clicked on the UK Collections link, since that is what I really want to explore.  The list of collections with matches are listed:

In the 1841 UK Census (actually England and Wales, right?) I found my John Richman in Hilperton, Wiltshire - the record shows (two screens):

The person summary is above the census page image (which can be zoomed in/out, or panned), and the list of household members is below the image.

After considerable checking, I found that inputting an English county in the Place or Residence search fields doesn't work - only a town or parish name works.  In the search above, my guy was not listed as "John" but as "Jno" and he was not found as "John."  It is not clear to me if the Advanced Search fields are matched as "Exact" or "Soundex."  Perhaps someone more knowledgeable will comment.

I also found that these searches work from within the free Family Tree Builder 6.0 software program.

Please note that, unless you have a WorldVitalRecords subscription, you will not see historical record collection matches, unless the collection is freely available (e.g., Find-A-Grave, or the 1940 U.S. Census - but only two states have any index at this time).  It appears that, if you do not have a MyHeritage subscription, that you cannot see the MyHeritage tree entries (I was told that previously you could see them, but I don't have an independent recollection of that).

Disclosure:  I have a complimentary subscription, and a complimentary MyHeritage Plus subscription.  The gifts I have received from both organizations have not affected my objective review of these sites.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver


Anonymous said...

I tried this new Super Search yesterday. With my search, including name and year of birth, there were 200,000+ results returned, none being closely relevant to my search criteria.

Gilad said...

Hi Randy,

Thanks for checking out SuperSearch. There is a lot to explore so you are invited to continue test driving SuperSearch. Please keep in mind that this is a new product which was released officially today.

We plan on improving the UK county selection in queries, this is not convenient as you've noticed.

The default search includes synonyms for first names and some DM Soundex for last names. This often results in many matches but the best are listed first so there is no need to review them all. The results are ranked with stars so if the best results have very few stars, it means there are no good matches for the query. This also answers the point above made by an anonymous commenter.

If you want exact results only, go to Advanced Search and select Exact for the first and last name options. We plan on adding a box for setting the entire search to exact more easily.

Some clarifications regarding access to data. Searches are free to do and users do not need to be logged on or signed up to run them. Search results are displayed for free with some condensed overview information about each record (and thumbnails for photos, etc).
Drilling down into records to see all their details, and sometimes a scanned image if available, is where paid access may be required. Some collections are completely free, such as the Social Security Death Index, the 1930 and 1940 US census, Find-A-Grave tombstones, Ellis Island, and so on. They can be viewed even without signing up, contrary to other sites.

For paid-only records, SuperSearch supports pay-as-you-go credits allowing users to pay only for specific records they want to view, which is a good fit for users uncomfortable with a subscription. Ancestry does not have credits as an option.
The alternative is an annual data subscription which is supported, and is recommended for users who intend to view a lot of records. Data subscriptions are currently discounted 36%, to $76 only which is approx. only 25% of the cost of the equivalent subscription at Ancestry.

Because a lot of the content on SuperSearch (though not all) came through the acquisition of World Vital Records by MyHeritage, users who have purchased a subscription on World Vital Records in the past received a complimentary data subscription on SuperSearch, which they are welcome to use in order to benefit from the more advanced search functionality, and the integration with family trees, and the upcoming Record Matching, which are not offered on World Vital Records.

Users with a World Vital Records subscription or a MyHeritage data subscription can view all records on SuperSearch. In addition, as a courtesy to PremiumPlus family tree subscribers on MyHeritage, they can view family tree records on SuperSearch without buying a data subscription.

Best regards,
Founder of MyHeritage

Gilad said...

The comparison of MyHeritage SuperSearch with Ancestry is unavoidable for many, so I will provide some detail about it below, noting that I am far from objective so my words should be taken accordingly.

Ancestry has been founded in 1983 so it has had a 20 year head start on MyHeritage, founded in 2003. So how does the new SuperSearch historical records search engine released today match up?

In terms of functionality and power, I believe you will find them to be close and each has some unique advantages.

SuperSearch is available in 38 languages and Ancestry in about 5, so international users are definitely going to feel much more at home with SuperSearch.

An annual subscription on SuperSearch costs about 25% of the equivalent subscription on Ancestry.

SuperSearch has less data than Ancestry at the moment, and that is an important factor, but the gap is not great and is fast being closed, and even Ancestry subscribers will find a lot of unique content on SuperSearch that they cannot get on Ancestry (such as one billion MyHeritage family tree profiles, hundreds of millions of historical photos, newspapers and other records). SuperSearch also has content by license from leading genealogy websites, which is not found on Ancestry, such as tombstone photos.

This makes MyHeritage SuperSearch a viable option for users who cannot afford Ancestry, don't like Ancestry, or would like to complement it with more data.

How big is the content gap? One way to measure it is by doing a SMITH search. If you do an exact last name search for SMITH, today, you will find 65.3 million records on Ancestry and 38.6 million on MyHeritage. This is a fairly large gap, SuperSearch has about 60%. However, SuperSearch was launched today, so take that into account. The number of records for MyHeritage is expected to grow 15% or more in the next month alone. Additionally, if you search for international names, e.g. Janssen or Jansen which are together the most common last names in the Netherlands, SuperSearch has 785k records vs. 869k in Ancestry (90%); and for the name Almeida which is one the most common last names in Portugal, SuperSearch has 222k records vs. 154k for Ancestry (144%); and if you search for כהן which is the Hebrew version of Cohen, one of the most common last names in the Jewish world, SuperSearch has 46.8k records and Ancestry has zero. Fernandez which is one of the most popular Spanish last names is found in 1.047m records on SuperSearch vs. 1.187m on Ancestry (88%); and so on.

The bottom line is that for common US names Ancestry has an edge on quantity, and with international names the quantity is often tied or the lead with MyHeritage. Even when there is a 10% gap, this doesn't mean that Ancestry has all records as SuperSearch and a few more, but rather that each of them is often unique in its content but the total quantity differs, and a genealogist seeking maximum coverage for his/her research can benefit from getting both. If he/she can afford only one, can make up their mind based on the various factors, and this is where the MyHeritage SuperSearch price tag which is only 25% of Ancestry, and support for pay-as-you-go credits found only on SuperSearch, can make a difference.