Monday, May 28, 2018

Mining the 1939 Register of England & Wales on MyHeritage

As most readers know, I do all of my family tree data entry work in RootsMagic desktop family tree software, and I try to "mine" (meaning to dig out ancestral family information) the available genealogy record collections when I have the opportunity.  I upload my RootsMagic family tree to Ancestry, MyHeritage, FamilySearch Family Tree, and Findmypast on an occasional basis.

Ancestry provides Record Hints for several persons in your Ancestry Member Tree every day, unless you change a profile in your tree, and then they provide more Hints for the changed profiles.  But they don't provide every Hint for every profile all at one time.

MyHeritage is the only record provider that looks for Record Matches for all persons in your family tree at once, usually within a month of a new tree being uploaded.  I much prefer that because I can organize my search for records and simplify my source citation creation in RootsMagic - I can use the same master source and just change the citation details.

I knew that MyHeritage had recently added the "1939 Register of England & Wales," and I know that the collection provides relation to head of household, birth dates, residences, marital status, and occupations for persons in the Index.  I have quite a few English-born persons in my RootsMagic tree that were living in 1939, so this is a good opportunity to update their birth information using the MyHeritage 1939 collection.  However, the MyHeritage collection does not provide the record image like and Findmypast do.

1)  When I opened my MyHeritage tree, I selected "Discoveries" and then "By Source" and then "Record Matches," then I scrolled down to where the "1939 Register of England & Wales" collection was:

The screen above shows me that I have 120 matches in the collection.

2)  I clicked on the orange "Review 120 Matches" button for the collection:

The "pending match" page above provides information for all 120 of my matches, including what I have in my tree (on the left) and the information in the collection (on the right).  It tells me what new information there is in the collection for each match.

3)  I clicked on the first match on my list, and now can see more detail for the record, including all of the indexed information (two screen below) and source material:

Frankly, I really don't think that the actual 1939 Register record has this person's married surname in it...but it shows that for some reason.  The information shown should be what's in the actual record.  That should be corrected, in my humble opinion.

UPDATED:  Reader Bill G. emailed me saying:
"I appreciate the benefit of MyHeritage having all the new records identified instead of the some now, some later in Ancestry.  However Ancestry (and FindMyPast) have actual images of the 1939 records which I find always have some unique info that doesn't appear in indices.
"In the case of the 1939 register for example, you would have seen that Hebditch married name written in green next to the black original writing.  I have also found interesting additional notes, and info etc. in the image that's not in the index.  Plus I always prefer to have the image in my files vs index info when it's available.
"Perhaps a process would be to use MyHeritage to ID the tree names with 1939 connections, then search Ancestry or Find My Past to get to the actual record...  Even if not already identified as hints, they are showing up in searches."
My thanks to Bill for correcting my statement about MyHeritage adding information to the profile that I thought wasn't there.

4)  I clicked on the orange "Confirm Match" button to add information to my MyHeritage tree. 

I can extract the 1939 Register information and save it to the profile in my MyHeritage tree.

5)  I clicked on the "View profile" link on the left side and can see what I have for this profile already.  

As you can see, the added information includes the parents and brother.

6)  I added the 1939 Register information to my RootsMagic tree - as an event for the registry at the address in Exeter, and as a source for the birth date and for the registry event.  I don't have a good model yet for the 1939 Registry, so I used the information that MyHeritage provided in the Census area of the record, and crafted this:

"1939 Register of England & Wales," indexed database, MyHeritage (, Exeter County Borough, Devon, Schedule 38, ED Letter Code WDBY, TNA Reference RG101/6757B/003/19, Piece 6757B, Item #3, Line 19, Margaret M. Mason entry.

That may be too much information, but a reader could certainly find the record.

I do wish that MyHeritage provided an Evidence Explained quality source citation, but they don't.  They provide the Census information shown above all run together

7)  I did not add the parents and brother to my RootsMagic family tree.  I could, but they are not my ancestors.

Well, that was fun.  119 more to go.  I may not finish them all today.


I have a complimentary MyHeritage tree and data subscription, and have accepted other material considerations (meals, air travel, etc.) from MyHeritage over the past ten years.

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Marian B. Wood said...

Randy, I'm always grateful for your RM7 tips. I'm still learning it and when you blog about features and functions, it encourages me to try what you've shown in your blog, complete with screen captures. TY!

Brighton Transista said...

Hi Randy
It is probable that the original image does include the married name and it is not myheritage indexing. Looking at the findmypast images is worthwhile to see how names were frequently crossed out and replaced with married names after 1939. Because these registers were working documents and official records well into the postwar period and recorded (very crudely) name changes for official purposes.
Thanks for the blog.

David said...

"I knew that MyHeritage had recently added the "1939 Register of England & Wales," and I know that the collection provides relation to head of household, birth dates, residences, marital status, and occupations for persons in the Index."

One thing you've got wrong there. The register does not provide relationship to head of household. That's one of the big things that sets it apart from a census. You can usually infer relationships given ages and surnames, but without other information it is inference. However since the BMD indices contain mother's maiden name etc it is much easier to track down what is going on than it is with earlier records.

Also the married names are indeed on the original indices. They are the married names of those who got married after the original information was collected. They were recorded first to keep the identity card database up to date and later to keep NHS records up to date. This register was the basis of the first NHS register in 1948.

Audrey Collins said...

Thanks fort his, Randy, your tips will be very helpful for anyone attaching records to their tree. I thought you might like some extra information about the different versions. It's a record set that is unlike any other, and there are more differences between the Findmypast and Ancestry versions than is the case for census or military records etc. Records of people born less than 100 years ago are closed unless they are known to be deceased. As records hit the 100-year mark, or evidence of death is produced, they are individually opened on the original Findmypast version, so the record set itself is always changing. When the images were made available to other companies, Ancestry were supplied with a set and made their own transcriptions from them, but updates will be only be made annually, when they receive the new set of images reflecting the records that have been opened during the past year on Findmypast.

The transcriptions on My Heritage are data supplied by Findmypast, but the My Heritage algorithms for hints are excellent, so using My Heritage for hints and then going to Findmypast for the images is a really good idea. But as far as I know they won't be updated, so over time as more records are added to Findmypast the two databases will diverge.

The correct way to cite an entry for a person is to use The National Archives' reference eg RG 101/1636H, then the schedule and sub-number for that person. A reference in the format RG101/1636H/005/15 includes a 'page' (005) and a line number (15), but this is not a durable reference because the 'page' is actually an electronic image number, which can be subject to change in some circumstances - which would render the line number invalid, too. The schedule number and sub-number are unique to an individual because they were designed to be issued as unique identity card numbers. The four-letter code and the Borough or district name are useful as checks in case a number has been copied wrongly copied, but aren't essential.