Wednesday, December 10, 2014

MyHeritage Introduces Instant Discoveries Feature

My Heritage released a new feature today called "Instant Discoveries."  You can read a description of it on the MyHeritage Blog in Introducing Instant Discoveries.

Basically, the feature permits anyone with an email address to create a new family tree on MyHeritage, by inputting their name, their parents and grandparents, and letting MyHeritage find records, and perhaps more ancestors for the grandparents, for free.

There is a YouTube video of the feature being tested on the streets of New York City in

Unfortunately, I couldn't determine how to access this feature from my MyHeritage account.  So I did what any resourceful researcher would do, I faked it.

I used my wife's email address to log in, and took screen shots of the process.  I used a Seaver family in my RootsMagic database that lived in the 20th century for the parents, and I had several more generations on the Seaver line.  Here is what I saw:

1)  On the website (not logged in), I saw fields to add my name, email address, and birth year, and the names of the parents:

I filled in the fields and clicked on the orange "Get Started" button.

2)  A welcome screen said that "Discoveries await you!  Tell us about your grandparents and we'll help you explore your roots."

3)  After clicking on the blue "Continue" button, there was a screen to input the Mother's mother and father (which I didn't know), and then a screen for the Father's mother and father, including name, birth and death years, and country of birth.  

4)  I clicked the blue "Done" button above and waited awhile...the screen showed me:

5)  After awhile (several minutes, I think), the screen told me that "No discoveries found:"

I clicked on the green "Go to Family Tree" button and saw the sparse five person tree (the person, the parents, and the paternal grandparents."

I deleted the tree on MyHeritage since the starting person wasn't really related to the parents - it was just a test.

6)  Obviously, this particular test didn't work.  The feature didn't find records or ancestors of the parents or grandparents that I input.  They were real historical persons.  I chose them at random from my database.  They lived long lives...but the father and the grandparents don't seem to be in any U.S. census up to 1940.  The two parents and two grandparents all have Find A Grave memorials, but those weren't found (perhaps because the grandfather's memorial is for Edward rather than Arthur - Edward was his middle name).  It probably didn't help not knowing them other's parents names also.

I did a search on MyHeritage for Alfred Seaver born 1888 in Iowa and did not find useful results.  A search for Edward Seaver born 1888 in Iowa turned up a 1930 U.S. census entry, with the wife's name "Berdie" and the son's name "Junior."  It also found a 1940 U.S. census entry with the wife named Bertha and son Jean (brother of James, who was not in the household).

I thought that MyHeritage searched Find A Grave, but the search did not find those records.

Perhaps my test was unfair, but it is typical of problems that can occur when you encounter someone who gives you their parents names and grandparents names without knowing much else.

Because I'm a MyHeritage subscriber, I couldn't use any of my email addresses, and I didn't bother creating a new one for this test.

7)  I think this can be a useful tool to start beginning researchers out, and I will use it in that situation.  It's a great move on MyHeritage's part, saying, "here, try it out for free, and let's see what you find out."  It would be interesting to know what percentage of trials revealed no information.

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Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Finn said...

Randy, I, like you am a subscriber of MyHeritage. I was interested in how Instant Discoveries worked. I found that if you get into MyHeritage and go to Family Tree tab and then select Manage trees, you will be taken to a screen showing your tree/s, in the upper right hand corner, click on -add family tree. That will take you to Add Family Tree with option 4 checked and that will take you into the function to start a tree.