Disclaimer: I was an early subscriber to MyHeritage and paid for my subscription for many years. I currently am comped with a free subscription. However, my opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.
Compared to FamilySearch and Ancestry, which started as the American Genealogical Lending Library (AGLL) in the 1980s, MyHeritage, founded in 2003, is a relative newcomer to the genealogy world.
MyHeritage is definitely the third member of the “Big 3” of genealogical resources, but it doesn’t seem to pop into people’s minds as quickly as, say, Ancestry. That is probably due to (1) there are no annoying lederhosen commercials on TV advertising its products and (2) it is based in Israel, which might make some beginners think its resources are mostly European-based. Not true!
MyHeritage is actually a robust genealogical resource, packed with databases of use not only to Europeans/others, but plenty to offer for United States researchers.
Here are some of the reasons why I love MyHeritage, not presented in any particular order, except how they popped into my mind:
Yes, there are census records, online family trees, city directories and many of the same kinds of databases offered on FamilySearch and Ancestry. However, they are not all the exact same set of records. I honestly don’t know if the same indexing is shared by all three companies, but having an additional database to search might turn up family members who have been mis-indexed by another company.
DNA matches with many European cousins from Denmark, Sweden and Slovakia (way more than the handful on Ancestry) – If you are seeking European cousins, I have found MANY more cousins on MyHeritage, probably because it is a European-based company. Although my some of my ancestry leads back to those countries, my matches live not only there, but in England, Ireland, Canada and Australia!
DNA Tools – MyHeritage offers a chromosome browser, autoclusters and ethnicity estimates.
Ellis Island Immigration Records – Years ago, the Ellis Island Foundation prettied up their website, but totally messed up the search engine with most of my searches coming up linked to one or two pages away from the actual record. MyHeritage not only provides access to the ship passenger lists, they have expanded the search parameters to include the final destination of the passengers. That allowed me to prove my Nana’s statement that her father returned to the U.s. in the 1900s after the family had permanently returned to Ujak, Slovakia. Nana’s maternal uncle stated that his final destination in 1912 was the home of his brother-in-law, Michael Scerbak!
Theories of Family Relativity – As with Ancestry’s ThruLines, MyHeritage offers suggested possible ancestors, not only displaying the possible way matches are linked, but also including others to whom I might be related. Because of the “others” links, if my possible cousin has an online tree consisting of one private person, I can often figure out the branch of the family tree that we share because of the “other” cousin matches. That allows me to decide if the connection is such that I want to make contact with the person.
Swedish Household Examination Books – Given my one Swedish branch in the family tree, this record set is invaluable. Swedish records are typically through ArkivDigital or the world Ancestry subscription.
Danish Church Records & Censuses (up to 1940) – This is another record set helpful to me because my Swedish and Danish ancestors married each other before their son emigrated to America in 1884.
Canada Censuses – I have a number of Loyalist ancestors and have traced their descendants, some of whom returned to the U.S. and others who remained in Canada. Library and Archives Canada offers free access to census images, but the search engine is a bit clunky and the website would often be beaten in a race by a snail. MyHeritage offers the Canadian censuses with much faster results. The images are from LAC, but are good quality.
MyHeritage is always working to bring new resources and apps to its subscribers.
Did you know that MyHeritage offers free genealogy education? You don’t even have to have a subscription. Just visit the MyHeritage Knowledge Base, browse and decide what you want to learn more about.
MyHeritage has introduced several new items this year. I enjoy learning about the stories of long-lost relatives who have found each other. There is now a podcast, Blast from the Past, that tells some of these incredible stories.
They’ve also created a process for users to colorize and restore old photos, MyHeritage Deep Nostalgia, which allows users to animate family photos and Deep Story, which gives voices to people in your photos. Non-subscribers can try out these features with a limited number of photos.
I enjoy my animated photos, but to tell the truth, I find the Deep Story voices a bit creepy, at least for family members whose voices I remember!
I also receive regular emails sharing either new smart matches with other possible cousins or DNA matches. There is also a link on the website to Instant Discoveries (photo or person), which is a hints database to all the people in my tree.
MyHeritage Photo Tagger App – This new photo tagger was released just a couple of weeks ago. Everyone in the photos that I’ve uploaded to MyHeritage family tree can now be tagged. (Right now, it’s only available on the mobile app, not on a desktop computer.) How great is this?
If you aren’t a MyHeritage subscriber and are interested in learning more, contact MyHeritage. It has a lot to offer genealogical researchers.
Disclaimer: See above. Also, I do not receive any considerations of any kind from MyHeritage by writing about the company. MyHeritage resources have greatly helped along my own family history research and I wanted to share some of my favorite finds in their databases and support resources.