Friday, October 25, 2013

Using MyHeritage Record Matches to Add Family History Content

In my spare time (um, usually in the evening these days), I try to spend an hour or two every day adding content and sources to my genealogy database.  One of the richest sources of information for me is the MyHeritage Record Matches.

The MyHeritage Record Matches look at my family tree on MyHeritage and tries to find records in their record databases (which includes WorldVitalRecords, Newspaper Archives, and other online data providers) for my tree persons.  I've added quite a few names, dates, places, events and sources to my database using the Social Security Death Index, Find A Grave, California Death Index, and other record collections over the past year or so.

You see, MyHeritage searches for these records without my requesting them (even while I'm sleeping, apparently), and then provides them to me in a list by database.  They also send me an email when they find more record matches!

Here's the top of the screen for the current status of my MyHeritage Record Matches (sorted by number of matches to be confirmed):

Today, I decided to look at some of the Newspaper Archive record matches.  I have 540 matches to review and either confirm or reject, or attach to a person in my MyHeritage tree.  Here's the top of that list:

Down the first page was an article for a distant cousin's death, in The Emporia (KS) Gazette newspaper:

I clicked on the article for James Doctor, and saw the OCR summary and a small image of the newspaper page:

By clicking on the magnifying glass at the bottom of the screen above (not shown on the screen above), you can see the full newspaper page:

The name of the person is highlighted in light blue on the image above (but it's hard to see!).  Magnifying the page and scrolling down and across to see the article, I saw:

The article is titled "Burns Fatal to Belleville Man," and describes how James Doctor died by an explosion and fire in the coal shed on 14 March 1939.  It also notes that his mother had died a week before!

Back on the third screen above, another article for the daughter of James Doctor was presented.  I clicked on that and saw the article about the death of Ellen Frances (Doctor) Brown:

I can Confirm or Reject the record match, which indicates that I have acted upon it.  I can also add content, and the record image (if available) and the source to my MyHeritage family tree.

These types of articles are very helpful in creating a family history of a person.  I have saved the articles to my database, and will transcribe them into my database and attach a source for the events involved.

I have found that the records suggested by MyHeritage Record Matches are in the range of 95% to 99% accurate - meaning almost all of them apply to the person in my MyHeritage tree.  However, the Newspaper Archive matches are significantly lower, in the 60% to 70% range.  This occurs because the newspaper articles rarely use a full name or provide a birth, marriage or death date in a specific place, which is how MyHeritage tries to match the record with the tree person.  Your mileage may vary, of course.

As I said, these record matches "magically" appear on my Record Match list.  I don't have to search for them.  I do have to act on them - confirm or reject, add content and the source to my database and tree, etc.  I still have lots of them to review and act on - 12,891 according to the top screen above (but 9,800 are from entries in WikiTree, and most of those are my own).

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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Disclosure:  I have a complimentary Data subscription and Family Tree subscription through MyHeritage, for which I am grateful.  The subscriptions do not affect my objectivity in evaluating and analyzing the product.


T said...

If you have a paid subscription to My Heritage, do you get those documents for free or is there a charge when you get to the source web site? If I were to subscribe to My Heritage, how much money would I end up spending to get documents they have found?

Randy Seaver said...

The best information I can find about access to records on MyHeritage is $120 per year for an annual Data subscription. If you have a WorldVitalRecords subscription, that counts as a Data subscription (you might have to call them to make it work).

That is on top of your MyHeritage subscription of $75 for a Premium subscription (tree limit of 2500 tree people) or $120 for a PremiumPlus subscription (unlimited number of tree people).

Unknown said...

Randy, I've also been doing a lot of this lately, and I've found a problem with using the Census data in this manner. Specifically, when a person is found in more than one Census (US Census in my usage), and you accept the address data for one Census, when you add the next Census in this manner it changes the date but does not allow you to change the address data. It appears to just over-write the existing Census with the new one, although I believe it does add the new citation separately.

Have you tried this? What was your experience with that situation?

Unknown said...

More on this: I find that the Find-A-Grave matching is excellent, and the records I've matched have supplied a bunch of missing or limited date information. However, the newspaper matching has been rather poor in my experience. The OCR is abysmal, generally. So the success rate is rather hit-or-miss depending on your existing data and which type of records you're matching.

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

Small World, again! We lived in Emporia, KS, where I was a University Professor for 15 years. Read the Emporia Gazette faithful. Your article was from the year I was born, however... ;-)

Gilad said...

Randy, thanks for this post and the answer you have provided regarding subscription prices, which is accurate. I will only add that MyHeritage also allows the purchase of a bundle (data subscription + PremiumPlus) at a discounted price.

Daniel Dillman, thank you for your feedback. What you describe is indeed a bug, that we have confirmed and will fix very shortly. The "Extract Info" functionality compares information from the census record to the family tree profile, and currently doesn't let you add residence information from two different census years into the profile. The temporary workaround in this scenario is not to use the Extract page but to edit the profile and manually add the new information. This will be fixed quickly.

With regards to the newspaper matching, its accuracy is indeed lower than 97% (the avg. accuracy of MyHeritage matching of structured records), as Randy noted and as you experienced. However, it is still the only matching technology for newspapers available on the market; and any correct match it will find for you may be one you would not have found yourself. So despite the errors I encourage you to review your newspaper matches and glean all the value that you can.

Best regards,
Founder of MyHeritage

Diane Gould Hall said...

Hi Randy. I was reading your post about MyHeritage. I rec'd a notice from NEHGS about a deal they are offering for MyHeritage right now. And, don't you know they have referenced your blog as a place to find information.
So, I'd like to ask you personally, is it worth the $119 for the year. I don't mind spending the money. I already subscribe to Ancestry, Fold3 and Genealogybank.
From what you have written I'm assuming your answer will still be yes.