Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, March 16, 2018

Observations on the Large Online Genealogy Database Websites

While the various online genealogy companies are not actually blind, they do have individual disparate views of genealogy and genealogical research. Although the differences may not be readily apparent, they exist none-the-less. As I was thinking about these differing philosophies, which seem to me to be fairly obvious, I was wondering whether to identify the websites in question or leave that task up to the readers to determine from my descriptional analysis. Since the whole idea is totally mine, I decided I would have to identify which website was which so there would be no misunderstandings. I am not going to indulge in value judgments. There will not be a series of "star" ratings or anything like that. I am merely writing about my perceptions concerning how each of the large websites works. I am also writing this without the benefit of using any explicit references to the websites' own corporate missions or objectives.

Disclaimer: My observations are not intended to be critical of anything done or not done by the various websites but I cannot guarantee that you may think that some of my observations are intended to be critical.

I will start with Nearly every promotional statement made by refers to the claim to be the largest online genealogy company. A quick look at the basis for that claim indicates that in at least some categories it is the "largest." But since detailed information about collections, records, users, members and other factors are not readily available in a format that can be compared to the other websites, the claim cannot be accurately substantiated. certainly has the lion's share of the online market measured by internet traffic.

The first question that is raised by a claim to being the "largest" in any field is to determine whether large equates with useful, good, helpful, etc. In short, what good does it do to be large if large isn't the main issue? Which immediately brings up the question of what is the main issue. Simply put, the best website is the one that has what you are looking for. Like many other online commercial websites, is fee-based. There is a significant level of "blow-back" from genealogists about the whole idea of charging a fee for what is essentially information about their own families, but the reality is that all of the large online databases incur substantial costs and those costs have to be paid from either donations or revenue. I think it is time to write about this subject again, so look for a post in the near future.

Back to I have been watching the website (and all of the others) for years now. In the past, Ancestry would participate actively in large and small genealogy conferences and support local genealogical societies. That involvement has been dramatically curtailed. In addition, because of the dramatic increase in DNA testing, Ancestry has begun emphasizing DNA testing at the expense of any mention or promotion of their genealogical records. According to, "In the past 30 days, Ancestry has had 5,041 airings and earned an airing rank of #123 with a spend ranking of #76 as compared to all other advertisers." See Ancestry TV Commercials. My perception of those commercials is that almost all of them are promoting Ancestry's DNA testing kits. What happened to the rest of genealogy? Well, DNA is the part making a lot of money right now.

It is also my perception that this emphasis on DNA testing has been at the expense of any significant growth in their online database records. I used to get notifications about new records but that has almost completely stopped. The current records on are extremely valuable for genealogical research in some areas of the world and there have been some notable acquisitions such as in Mexico. But by and large, even though record collections are continuing to be added, there is little promotion of that aspect of the website.

In addition, there has been little or no changes or improvements to the family tree program on the website for some time now. will likely continue to promote DNA testing. It is too early to tell if the testing itself without a major involvement with a family tree supported by genealogical research will keep the company growing.

Next, FamilySearch is the only one of the very large online database companies that is completely free. Its main limit is the reduced number of indexed records compared to the huge number of unindexed records. FamilySearch is growing very rapidly due to the digitization of its vast microfilm collection and its ongoing digitization projects around the world. The number of records online and available increases every week. Currently, many of the digitized records are only available through searching in the website's Catalog. Over time, however, there is no doubt that the website will continue to grow at an increasing rate.

From a genealogical standpoint, the increased availability of the records, especially those from many parts of the world not covered by other easily available, free websites, will keep FamilySearch at or near the front in the area of providing genealogical records. There is no indication whatsoever that FamilySearch intends to "get into the DNA business." But there are some indications that they might begin to support DNA testing results in the huge cooperative Family Tree program. It is interesting to me that many "serious" genealogists will travel across the country and around the world to visit the famous Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah but those same researchers are sometimes less than knowledgeable about the huge offerings on the website. It is an interesting experience to sit in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and show people how to find records on the website when I could do that from anyplace with internet access.

The Family Tree is somewhat controversial because of its collaborative nature, but as it develops it will become the "go to" place for genealogists to determine the status of research in any particular family line. Currently, there are over 910 million source listings in the Family Tree and over 1.2 billion individual records. There is still a lot of work to do in "cleaning up" the existing records, but that work is being done at an extraordinary rate of progress. The main limitation of the website is its growing pains. Use of the website and the number of records being added constantly taxes the ability of the developers to keep the website working well online. This is a good problem to have and will be solved as time goes on. is the British offering of a huge online genealogical database. It is a relative newcomer to the family tree business but it has an extensive and very valuable collection of records of the British Islands, Ireland and the former British Empire countries. Its record collections in the United States are also growing rapidly. The website's search engines lack some detail, for example, the limited number of options when searching for an individual. When you search for an individual, you cannot add a spouse to assist in finding a match. In other respects, however, their search engine is wonderfully efficient in focusing research on a particular county or parish.

One limitation of the website is not at all the fault of the developers. The limitation lies with the unavailability to see original British records online without paying for copies. The website has some transcriptions of these original records, but it is always a good idea to look at the original if you can. This problem is caused by the fact that most of the records from the British General Register Office (GRO) are only available by paying a rather substantial fee. Sometimes you cannot determine if a person is a relative without looking at the original record and since digital copies of the records cost money, you may expend quite a bit of money without finding the right person. is an excellent online example of an aggressive and rapidly growing genealogical collection. New records are added almost weekly and the website constantly increases in value.

I am constantly amazed that so many people in the United States who have British ancestors are unaware of the resources of this vast website. I helped a man recently who had done extensive research on his Virginia ancestors and was trying to connect his immigrant ancestor back to England in the 1600s. But he had never really looked at to do any research. His loss. is in a class by itself both because of its size and membership but also because it is the obvious leader in genealogical technology in the world. Genealogists in the United States who would be greatly assisted by using the website are, for the most part, totally unaware of its existence and benefits. The website is aggressive pursuing records and recently added 325 million new records in one week to its collection of over 8.9 billion records. Based in Israel, the website has over 93 million registered members in every country of the world. is also aggressively promoting DNA testing and is also implementing and developing the infrastructure of the website to take advantage of the relationships discovered through  DNA testing. During the week of the recent conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, dominated the news with the innovative announcements it made. I have recently written several blog posts about the new developments from MyHeritage and you can be sure there will be more coming.

One example of the breadth of this website is its large online newspaper collections. My family came from a small town in Eastern Arizona. MyHeritage has a connection to the Library of Congress's Chronicling America, Digital Newspaper Project. Because of this connection, MyHeritage provides automatic Record Matches to individual newspaper articles from the local newspaper with references to my ancestors.

If you consider the number of records available from using all four of these websites, you can begin to appreciate the huge impact these website are having and will continue to have in the future of genealogy.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Find out what's really happening in genealogy: A Presentation by MyHeritage's CEO

Perspectives on Combining Genealogy and Genetics

If you want to know what is really happening in genealogy in 2018, then watch this presentation by MyHeritage's founder and CEO, Gilad Japeth. I really can't say much more than that. Near the end of his presentation, he gives the following summary. You need to watch the whole presentation to understand the full impact of what he is saying. Here is the summary:
  • Combining DNA, family trees and historical records seamlessly
  • Offer paper trail theories to explain DNA matches
  • Offer DNA connections to explain paper trails
  • Clustering of triangulated segments
  • Automatic chromosome painting
  • Escalation of segments to ancestors
  • Indication for matches, how they are related to you (estimated path)
  • Resurrecting DNA of dead ancestors, for matching
  • Future: by taking a DNA test, and building a small tree stub, MyHeritage could build someone's tree automatically
You may have to watch his presentation several times to understand what he is saying and also to understand the list above. Basically, he is outlining what he said last year, that, in the future, if you give your DNA to MyHeritage, they will be able to build a family tree for you. This is how it is going to work. 

Thoughts on Social Media

Online social media is the phenomenon of the age. The news is filled with articles and analysis of the impact of social media on children, adolescents, families, consumers, social organizations, brand loyalty, consumer decisions, holiday travel planning, software engineering, innovation, travel, learning, corporate greenwash, emergency management, health communication, and ad infinitum.

Well, guess what? Social networking is also changing genealogy and everything else having to do with life on the planet. There are almost as many articles, studies and commentaries on smartphone usage as there are on social media. The current population of the earth is estimated to be 7.442 billion people. Of those billions, 2.53 billion own smartphones. See "Number of smartphone users worldwide from 2014 to 2020 (in billions)." There is a direct relationship between the number of smartphone users and the rise of social media. Yes, one-third of all the people on the face of the earth own smartphones.

To give an example of what social media can do, the most popular YouTube sensation has 61 million subscribers. By the way, the top 50 are almost exclusively entertainers, mostly comedy and music. My additional comment is that most also use language and images that I will not look at or listen to.

However, if I go by my own experience with genealogists, I am guessing that, as a group, they will likely be the last smartphone holdouts in the world. But that is another post for another time.

The key to controlling this huge flood of social media lies in the simple fact that these devices have an off switch. Most of my children and their families have strict "device time" controls. Perhaps, we should all employ some kind of controls. I am best known, by the way, as a social media person. But I do not spend as much as an hour a week on social media. Yes, I write compulsively, but I look at social media, such as Facebook, only occasionally or not at all. Our family now uses Instagram almost exclusively for communicating and that is the only social network I look at regularly.

However, this post will go out over social networking outlets all over the world. Hence, my immersion in the social networking world.

To begin to control social media, I think we need to acknowledge its place in our lives and the lives of others. We can't pretend to stick our heads in the sand and wish that it would go away. It is not going away, it is getting more pervasive. My maternal grandfather was a newspaperman. He worked for newspapers all his life. My main memory of him is that he came home every day from work and read the newspaper. Today, I haven't read a real physical newspaper for a very long time. But I have learned that there is very little "news" that I really care about reading. So, I use "filters" and subscribe to only those news outlets I am interested in learning about. But I am far from the "usual" case. I spend most of my days in front of a computer. Even now, as we are digitizing records at the Maryland State Archives, we are using computers to operate the cameras and store and transfer the images.

I view computers, including all the other devices like smartphones and tablets, as "tools." I use them for specific purposes. The key, for me, is realizing that they are merely tools to do things I want to do. Yesterday, when we went to Washington, D.C. to visit the National Postal Museum, we used our smartphones to see how the traffic was on the freeways. We used our smartphones to find the museum and for information about which Metro train to take. We used our smartphones to find out about the bus system in D.C. and to find bus stops and Metro stations. We looked up things about the exhibits in the museum that interested us. We used the smartphones to keep in touch with our children and monitor email. We used our smartphones to find a way back to our apartment and avoid the crush of traffic on the freeways. Most of these activities would have been impossible just a few short years ago.

I used my computer this morning to look up the statistics cited in this article. Living here in Annapolis would be immeasurably more difficult without our smartphones and our connection to the internet. Uncontrolled usage is when the social media begins to be the object of your activities rather than the tool to doing what you would really like to achieve in life.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Impact of the MyHeritage Family Tree Study on Genealogical Research
One of the common challenges of doing genealogical research is differentiating people with the same or very similar names. This problem is directly addressed by my Rule Nine: There are patterns everywhere. See "New Rules Added to the Old: The Rules of Genealogy Revisited." As the explanation for this rule indicates, computers are very good at looking for and finding these patterns. recently posted about the following scientific article.

Kaplanis, Joanna, Assaf Gordon, Tal Shor, Omer Weissbrod, Dan Geiger, Mary Wahl, Michael Gershovits, et al. “Quantitative Analysis of Population-Scale Family Trees with Millions of Relatives.” Science, March 1, 2018, eaam9309.

This article is a masterpiece that fully supports Rule 9. The problem addressed by the findings of the study reported in the article and by Rule 9 is that many researchers focus on names to the exclusion of other important information about ancestral families. For example, I commonly find English families with children born in different locations around the country in the early 1700s. Here is one example.

In this family, the parents are shown to have been born and married in Sussex, England. Incidentally, the first three children lack birth information. The last child is said to have been born in Tenterden, Kent, England.

Thomas Byant, 1702-1770 christened in Beckley, Sussex, Kent.
Elizabeth Hovenden, 1700-1734 christened in Northiam, Sussex
daughter May Bryant, 1724 christened in Northiam, Sussex
daughter Elizabeth Bryant, 1727 christened in Tenterden, Kent
son John Bryant, 1730-1762 christened in Tenterden, Kent
daughter Rebecca Bryant, 1734-1801 christened in Tenterden, Kent

There is always an argument, that this was possible. But what about the sources? There is a marriage record for Thomas Bryant marrying Elizabeth Hovenden in Northiam, Sussex. There are also christening records for each of the four children in Tenterden with parents named Thomas and Elizabeth.

Here is a map of England showing where these two places are located.

Could the places in this family be possible? Possible yes, likely no. Why? Now, back to the MyHeritage study. Here is a quote from the blog about the study.
The team found that industrialization profoundly altered family life. Before 1750, most Americans found a spouse within six miles of their birthplace, but for those born in 1950,  [1850?] that distance had stretched to about 60 miles. Before 1850, marrying in the family was common — on average, fourth cousins married each other, compared to seventh cousins today. Curiously, they found that between 1800 and 1850, people traveled farther than ever to find a mate — nearly 12 miles on average — but were more likely to marry a fourth cousin or closer. Their hypothesis is that changing social norms, rather than rising mobility, may have led people to shun close kin as marriage partners. In a related observation, they found that women in Europe and North America have migrated more than men over the last 300 years, but when men did migrate, they traveled significantly farther on average.
Apparently, no problem here. Both the parents were supposedly born and married in Northiam. But what about the children? Would it help to know that this husband and wife were likely related? Let's see how likely it is that the children have the right parents.

Using another program,, I can see how many Bryants there are in the millions of records on this huge website. Searches on show that during the time period of 1702 plus or minus two years, there were 52,027 records of Bryants in England. By editing the search, I find that there are only about 503 records of Bryants in Sussex during that same time period and of those only 41 were named Thomas. Interestingly, none of these records show any births. However, there is a Thomas Bryant who dies in Northiam in 1762. However, the records on do show a marriage for Thomas and Elizabeth in Northiam in 1724.

Is this the same Thomas and Elizabeth that are shown as the parents in Tenterden? That is the question. The study would tend to make me consider the conclusion as unlikely.

Ignoring for the moment that we do not have a source for Thomas Bryant's birth, let's look at the Bryants in Tenterden, Kent about nine miles away. Back to

There are 1.106 records listed for Bryants in Kent in around 1702 and 68 of them are named Thomas. There are again no christening records for a Thomas Bryant but there is one death record in Tenterden. So, we have a Thomas in this time period who dies in Tenterden and another one who dies in Northiam, where Thomas and Elizabeth are married. A search in shows that there are no marriage records for a Thomas and Elizabeth in that time period in Tenterden. only has a death record.

Do we have the right parents for these four children? How does the information provided by the study impact your opinion as to whether or not we have found the right parents? Does the fact that we have no birth information for the father in either location and that there is a Thomas Bryant who dies in Northiam have any bearing on your conclusion?

I think that the study done by et al. is going to become an important factor in determining the reasonableness of many conclusions. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

New Digital Public Library of America Website

The Digital Public Library of America, or the DP.LA is a rapidly growing nationwide website. Here is a description from that website.
DPLA connects people to the riches held within America’s libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions. All of the materials found through DPLA—photographs, books, maps, news footage, oral histories, personal letters, museum objects, artwork, government documents, and so much more—are free and immediately available in digital format. The cultural institutions participating in DPLA represent the richness and diversity of America itself, from the smallest local history museum to our nation’s largest cultural institutions. To learn more about DPLA as an organization, our partners, and the communities we serve, please visit DPLA Pro.
As the DPLA accumulates a vast collection of resources it necessarily includes many genealogical important resources. As shown above, in the image, there are over 20 million images, texts, videos, and sounds from across the United States. Take some time to explore the new website.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Impact of 23andMe DNA Cancer Testing., one of the major suppliers of DNA kits for testing your ancestry, has just recently announced Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval for a limited type of testing for genetic risks for cancer. Here is a quote from their press release.
Authorization allows 23andMe to report on BRCA1- and BRCA2-related genetic risk for breast, ovarian and prostate cancer 
Mountain View, California – March 6, 2018 – 23andMe, Inc., the leading personal genetics company, today received the first-ever FDA authorization for a direct-to-consumer genetic test for cancer risk. The authorization allows 23andMe to provide customers, without a prescription, information on three genetic variants found on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes known to be associated with higher risk for breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.

“Being the first and only direct-to-consumer genetics company to receive FDA authorization to test for cancer risk without a prescription is a major milestone for 23andMe and for the consumer,” said Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe CEO and co-founder. “We believe it’s important for consumers to have direct and affordable access to this potentially life-saving information. We will continue pioneering a path for greater access to health information, and promoting a more consumer-driven, preventative approach to health care.”
Quoting from the International Society of Genetic Genealogy Wiki (ISOGG:
23andMe is a privately held personal genomics and biotechnology company based in Mountain View, California, that claims to be developing new methods and technologies that will enable consumers to understand their own genetic information. The company is named for the 23 pairs of chromosomes in a human cell.
Some years ago, 23andMe was doing extensive genetic screening for a variety of health issues including cancer. In 2013 the FDA shut down further sales of the saliva home-test kit, citing the “potential health consequences that could result from false positive or false negative assessments for high-risk indications. Apparently, now 23andMe has overcome that initial set back and gotten into the genetic health risk assessment market.

I have been watching the large online genealogy database companies as some of the companies began supporting their family tree programs with DNA testing. I thought it was significant that began subsidiary companies with the names of AncestryDNA and AncestryHealth. Here is a quote from from back in 2015 about the launch of AncestryHealth company:
The company saw an opportunity in consumer genetic testing similar to 23andMe three years ago and launched AncestryDNA as a subsidiary of Ancestry’s patented algorithm began matching users to relatives as well as DNA matches to ancestors as far back as the 1700’s. 
The company is now taking those family connections a step further with the introduction of generational health information.

Let's face it, the health industry is immeasurably larger than the genealogy industry. Once these companies get involved in DNA testing, it is a natural step to extend their testing services and then become involved in other aspects of health care. In the case of, we haven't heard much about AncestryHealth since its introduction. At this point, I can only speculate that the siren call of the health industry may pull some of the genealogy companies away from providing only genealogically interesting products and that raises the question of how they will allocate their resources if they are making a lot of their profits from health-related products.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Please Find the Babies!

The reverberations of the recently announced study conducted by staff and others will continue to affect the way we do genealogical research for a long time. Here is the citation to the article.

Kaplanis, Joanna, Assaf Gordon, Tal Shor, Omer Weissbrod, Dan Geiger, Mary Wahl, Michael Gershovits, et al. “Quantitative Analysis of Population-Scale Family Trees with Millions of Relatives.” Science, March 1, 2018, eaam9309.

One of the most shocking findings of the study involves the number of babies missed in doing research. My son Jared Tanner, a neuropsychology professor at the University of Florida, has been reading the publication and we have been writing back and forth about some of the startling conclusions that can be drawn from the data supplied with the article. Here is a comment he recently sent to me about the babies missing from our genealogical research. 
For every 100 people born in the U.S. in 1900, there should be (on average) 10 who died before age 1. Of those 10, based on this article, we expect only 6-7 are listed in a family tree. The other 3-4 are missing.

If there are higher infant mortality rates (e.g., in 1800 [there are not great records]), there are more missing babies but at the same rate (50%). So if infant mortality was 20%, there would be 20 deaths for every 100 babies born. 6-8 of them would not be listed in a family tree.

Infant mortality rates could be much higher or a little lower in any given location and race/ethnicity. In the U.S. black babies died at higher rates than white, on average. So there are more unknown black than white babies.

At a minimum, family trees on average are missing 3% of infants born around the year 1900. That percent is higher (up to 10% or even more) for other times and locations.

My interpretation of the statistics could be wrong but, as you said, there are many missing babies. Someone is watching over these fallen sparrows.
Here is an earlier statement Jared made:
One interesting finding is the predicted mortality for infants dying < age 1 is 50% lower than expected. This means the number of included names of infants who died before age 1 is about 50% lower than it should be. If we use a conservative estimate of 10% of children dying before age 1 (in the U.S. in 1900;, for every 7 included names of children dying before age 1, there are at least 3 missing. It's likely quite a bit higher (1700 and 1800 mortality rates were likely higher). There are a lot of missing babies in the family trees.
For me, this is a very emotional issue having just gotten back from taking care of a newborn grandbaby. But also because of my effort to digitize the Mesa, Arizona Cemetery Records. This collection, now on, has records of hundreds of babies who died in the early years of the settlement of Mesa, Arizona. While I was digitizing the records, I had to avoid reading them because I got too sad and could not work. If you want to see the images of the records, here is the link and citation.

"Arizona, Maricopa, Mesa City Cemetery Records, 1885-1960." Database with images. FamilySearch. 27 January 2017. Mesa City Cemetery. 

This study, sponsored by will eventually have a tremendous impact on how and possibly why we continue to do genealogical research. 

English Freedom of the City Records

London, England, Freedom of the City Admission Papers, 1681-1930

This is a Freedom of the City Admission Paper for my ancestor Joseph George DeFriez. From this document, I learned the following on, About London, England, Freedom of the City Admission Papers, 1681-1930:
Freedom admission papers can record many biographical details about the individual to whom Freemen status is awarded making this collection of particular interest to genealogists. Many of the documents in this collection are "indentures" or sealed agreements for things like apprenticeship agreements. The original document was made with all copies on the same page of parchment. An "indented" or wavy line was drawn between these copies, which were then cut apart straight through the wavy line. When brought together later these copies could be realigned or "tallied" by matching the indented lines. 
The word "indenture" comes from the Late Middle English word endenture, via Anglo-Norman French from medieval Latin indentura, from indentatus, past participle of indentare. Consistent with the description the word has come to be applied to a deed or agreement executed in two or more copies with edges correspondingly indented as a means of identification. Here is an image of an indentured document:

So, an indentured servant is one who subject to a contract or an agreement. Anciently, the documents were validated by the wavy line. 

The Freedom of the City document above is described by the City of London website as follows:
Freedom of the City
One of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies still in existence today, is believed to have been first presented in 1237. 
History and origins
The medieval term 'freeman' meant someone who was not the property of a feudal lord but enjoyed privileges such as the right to earn money and own land. Town dwellers who were protected by the charter of their town or city were often free – hence the term 'freedom' of the City. 
From the Middle Ages and the Victorian era, the Freedom was the right to trade, enabling members of a Guild or Livery to carry out their trade or craft in the Square Mile. 
A fee or fine would be charged and in return the Livery Companies would ensure that the goods and services provided would be of the highest possible standards. In 1835, the Freedom was widened to incorporate not just members of Livery Companies but also people living or working in the City or those with a strong London connection. 
Modern Freedom
Today most of the practical reasons for obtaining the Freedom of the City have disappeared. It nevertheless remains as a unique part of London’s history to which many people who have lived or worked in the City have been proud to be admitted. 
Prior to 1996, the Freedom was only open to British or Commonwealth Citizens. Now, however, it has been extended globally and persons of any nationality may be admitted either through nomination or by being presented by a Livery Company. There is a long standing tradition of admitting women. 
The City of London is keen to maintain the Freedom as a living tradition. The Freedom is open to all who are genuinely interested and invited or born to it. The City Freemen are a very broad cross-section of the population. 
The Freedom in the City today is still closely associated with membership of the City Livery Companies.
In a real sense, the Freedom of the City guaranteed that the person was not an indentured servant.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Digital Public Library of America adds Ohio Digital Network

The Digital Public Library of America or DP.LA has added 90,000 new items from the Ohio Digital Network. These are apparently items that have not been online previously. Everything on the DP.LA is free. You can see the new DP.LA website in this screenshot.

You can view all of the items on the DP.LA by viewing the collections by Partner. Here is what is on the Ohio page.

New York Catholic Church Records from Findmypast

As the image above indicates, has added over 1 million New York Roman Catholic Parish Baptisms to the website. These records have never before been available online. Here is the description of the records:
Transcripts of the original parish registers make up this collection. There are 163 parishes included. You can explore the full parish list with years covered in the parish list located in the Useful links and resources. There is a 100-year cut-off for baptisms included.
In each transcript, you can learn all or some of the following information:
  • First name(s)
  • Last name
  • Birth year
  • Birth date
  • Birth place
  • Baptism year
  • Baptism date
  • Baptism location
  • Father’s first name(s)
  • Father’s last name
  • Mother’s first name(s)
  • Mother’s last name
  • Language
  • Parish
  • County
  • Archdiocese
  • State
  • Country
I can only wish to have such records about my own ancestors. Here is the link that goes directly to the records. Of course, you will need a subscription to to search the records. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

MyHeritage adds 325 Million New Records to SuperSearch

If you are getting the idea that dominates the genealogical community for innovation and adding new records, you are correct. As I have mentioned, I have been searching for other announcements of new products and improvements coming from any of the companies at #RootsTech 2018 and have found the offerings to be paltry with the exception of MyHeritage. Current statistics from show that they have the following:

Of course, with today's announcement, the number of Historical Records just jumped to 8.8 Billion. Here is the announcement:
We’re delighted to announce the addition of 325 million important historical records to SuperSearch™, bringing the total number of global records available to 8.8 billion. 
The collections added today include the 1939 Register of England & Wales, an innovative name index for the US yearbooks collection published in December 2017 and Canadian obituaries.
Please read their blog post entitled, "MyHeritage releases new collections with 325 million historical records" for a detailed explanation of the new records. The new record sets include the following:

Friday, March 2, 2018

Major Upgrade to the Chromosome Browser on MyHeritage has today announced a major upgrade to the Chromosome Browser. Here is the announcement:
We are excited to announce a major upgrade to the Chromosome Browser on MyHeritage. With this upgrade, we’ve upped our genetic genealogy game considerably to help people better understand how they are related to their DNA Matches. Together with family tree details like shared ancestral surnames and shared Smart Matches, users may be able to trace back the common ancestors who passed down shared DNA segments to them and their DNA Matches, and reconstruct the exact relationship path between themselves and DNA Matches that they find intriguing. 
The initial version of the MyHeritage Chromosome Browser, released in January 2018, was a one-to-one chromosome browser. It displays DNA segments shared by you with one DNA Match. 
The new One-to-Many Chromosome Browser, with its support for indicating triangulated segments, is an exciting addition to MyHeritage’s growing arsenal of useful tools for genetic genealogy. The tool is completely free. 
Also new is the ability to export the list of DNA Matches, along with several other export capabilities.
The Chromosome Browser is part of the website and available to all who have a DNA test on the website. Since there is a Conference discount on the DNA kits, if you have not taken a DNA test, I suggest going to the MyHeritage booth and seeing if there are any left. 

There are so many new announcements from that I have not yet had time to write about all of them in depth. You can expect a lot more posts about all the new developments. I guess is the only company that has announcements to make at #RootsTech 2018, because I have yet to get even one notice from any other company at the Conference. Hmm. Or maybe because I am not physically present, I am being ignored? I did find two different press releases from other companies posted on another website. 

Large Online Family Trees Validated by Scientifically Conducted MyHeritage Study

Here is a citation to this original article:

Kaplanis, Joanna, Assaf Gordon, Tal Shor, Omer Weissbrod, Dan Geiger, Mary Wahl, Michael Gershovits, et al. “Quantitative Analysis of Population-Scale Family Trees with Millions of Relatives.” Science, March 1, 2018, eaam9309.

Here is an interesting summary of the article.

“Giant Family Tree of 13 Million People Just Created.” Accessed March 2, 2018.

Here is a list of links to articles that have been written about the original study.
Once and a while, a new scientific article comes along that changes an entire discipline. For example, an article published in The Bell System Technical Journal, Vol. 27, pp. 379–423, 623–656, July, October, 1948 entitled "A Mathematical Theory of Communication" by Claude Shannon invented the whole idea of communication theory and had a huge impact on the development of computers. The study done by the authors of the article in Science will produce such an effect. One of the statements from the study may give a hint of the radical change this study could have on how genealogy is done in the future.
Taken together, these results demonstrate that millions of genealogists can collaborate in order to produce high-quality population-scale family trees.
The study also validates the use of cluster analysis in advanced genealogical research. It also validates many of things I have been teaching and writing about for the past fifteen years or so but modifies and corrects some other things I have taught and written about.

It is truly amazing what has announced and produced during this week during the RootsTech 2018 Conference. I will have plenty to write about for a long time.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Free DNA Testing for Adoptees from

DNAQuest is the new free DNA testing program from for U.S. Adoptees. Here is the text of the announcement.
MyHeritage is excited to announce a new pro bono initiative — DNA Quest — to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through DNA testing.
As part of DNA Quest, we are giving out 15,000 MyHeritage DNA kits — worth more than one million dollars — for free, with free shipping, to eligible participants.

MyHeritage has set up an advisory board of top experts in the fields of genetic genealogy and adoption to guide and support this initiative on a voluntary basis. The advisory board includes: CeCe Moore, founder of The DNA Detectives; Blaine Bettinger, The Genetic Genealogist; Richard Weiss of DNA Adoption; Richard Hill, DNA Testing Adviser; Katharine Tanya, founder of; Brianne Kirkpatrick, founder of Watershed DNA; Pamela Slaton, investigative genealogist; Leah Larkin, The DNA Geek; and Susan Friel-Williams, Vice President, American Adoption Congress. 
Participation is open to adoptees seeking to find their biological family members, or anyone looking for a family member who was placed for adoption. Preference will be given to people who are not able to afford genetic testing, and to those who apply first. The first phase of the initiative is open to U.S. residents, involving adoptions that took place in the U.S. Additional phases may be considered in the future based on the success of the first phase, which begins now. Future phases may include other countries as well as additional circumstances, such as children of sperm donors and non-paternity events. 
Adoptees and family members searching for their biological relatives can apply for a free MyHeritage DNA kit at through April 30, 2018. Participants will be selected, and their free DNA kits will be shipped to them by the end of May 2018. Results are expected as early as July 2018. The DNA Quest website includes additional information about the initiative, and a detailed section with answers to frequently asked questions.
Here is the link:

Introducing Tree Sync BETA from

Every once and while a new development in genealogy is important enough for me to post the notice on both my genealogy blogs. This is one of those developments. I will be reporting additional comments on the new synchronization program on my Rejoice, and be exceeding glad blog.

If you want fabulous news from #RootsTech 2018, then you don't have to go too far to find it. has announced a BETA version of their family tree program that will completely synchronize with the Family Tree. This is for LDS users who have or want to have a tree on both websites. Quoting from the Blog post entitles, "New FamilySearch Tree Sync (beta) allows FamilySearch users to synchronize their family trees with MyHeritage.'  The blog post also has instructions on how to get started.
For the past 2.5 years, MyHeritage and FamilySearch engineers have been developing together a unique feature — FamilySearch Tree Sync — that allows members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) to easily and accurately import a portion of their tree from FamilySearch into MyHeritage, and then keep their MyHeritage and FamilySearch trees synchronized. This feature is now released in a limited beta, and volunteers who are LDS members are invited to try it out. LDS members are entitled to receive free MyHeritage Data and PremiumPlus subscriptions which will give them access to more tools and historical records to further enhance their family history research. 
FamilySearch Tree Sync is only available and applicable to MyHeritage users who are also LDS Church members. Users of MyHeritage who are not LDS Church members will not have their trees synced to FamilySearch.
If you would like to try the BETA version of the program, you will need to follow these instructions:
FamilySearch Tree Sync is now in beta and requires an access code in order to participate. LDS members who want to try this integration can receive an access code by sending a request to If you are not an LDS member, you do not have the privileges on FamilySearch and this functionality does not apply to you. 
Once you have an access code, start by importing your FamilySearch tree from the FamilySearch MyHeritage partner page.
The BETA version (and I assume the final version) requires you to import a new "Tree Sync" copy of your portion of the family tree from to  I have had access to the program for some time and think it is great. I already have over 4400 Record Matches waiting to be added to my new family tree on The synchronization is seamless. When you add a source to it now appears as a source on the Family Tree. The synchronization process can take some time if, like me, you have a large family tree.

I will be writing a lot more about this new innovative and long awaited feature very soon.

#RootsTech 2018: MyHeritage offers DNA Test for $49 will be offering their popular DNA Testing Kit for $49 at their booth at #RootsTech 2018. This is only the beginning of the news from MyHeritage at the Conference. Here is the schedule for the classes where you can learn about all the new features and opportunities.
  • Dr. Yaniv Erlich, MyHeritage’s Chief Science Officer, will be covering ‘DNA 101: From Test to Results’ (Thu 1, 11am, Room: Ballroom A, Session: RT9906) – this session will also be live-streamed via the RootsTech website.
  • Mike Mansfield will be speaking about ‘Using MyHeritage to Drive Genealogical Discovery’ (Wed 28, 11am, Room: 255B, Session: RT0218). He will also be helping users discover their Nordic heritage (Sat 2, 1:30pm, Room: 255E, Session: RT0208).
  • Daniel Horowitz will be talking about the MyHeritage app (Thu 1, 3pm, Room: 255B, Session: RT9479) and again on Sat 3 (3pm, Room: 155E, Session: GS9479). He will also be talking about DNA results and verifying matches (Thu 1, 4:30pm, Room: 251B, Session: LAB9594 and again on Fri 2 (11am, Room: 250E, Session: LAB9594).
  • Aaron Godfrey will be helping you get started on MyHeritage (Fri 2, 3pm, Room: 155B, Session: GS8859).