Not a Genealogy Cage Match: MyHeritage First Impressions

I just can’t let the cage match idea go! Once something is in my brain, it’s there fermenting for awhile. So I apologize for the terminology. This is definitely not a cage match. This is just me, giving things a chance for once. 

To get a good first impression, I didn’t want to base it solely on working my way up the tree. That means I am using my old file of reasonably documented people to do these tests. I feel like to truly get to know a website, you have to use it a lot and with a variety of different challenges. Otherwise you’ll never really know until way down the line when you actually start finding those things.

First Impression: MyHeritage

To be fair I will say when I first started using MyHeritage a few weeks back, I hated the family tree section. The Family View was really hard to navigate. Note: This was before Pedigree View was added. My screenshots were taken this week and not when I first tried using MyHeritage.

My Heritage Family View

As you can see from my screenshot, the wideness of the tree made it really hard to navigate. Especially if I was working on someone not in my direct tree. Since a lot of my families have 5 or more children, I go on genealogy tangents often and this view was just too hard to use. This was a big disadvantage over Ancestry’s easy to navigate Family Tree.

Pedigree View

MyHeritage Pedigree View

Then MyHeritage added a read only Pedigree view. I was immediately upset that I wasn’t in the first wave of the roll-out. Haha! Then I got it. I won’t lie. After about a week of trying to get used to pedigree view, I went back to trying to use the Family View. It was easier to navigate in Pedigree, but since I was still so new to the site, I just couldn’t figure out what I was doing. I kept trying though, because pedigree view is essential for me and my brain.

Pedigree view is now fully live with edit mode. No more having to go through a thousand clicks (Exaggeration obviously) just to feel like I was getting things done. To be honest though, I don’t think I even use the edit mode now that I am working on merging records hints and smart matches. I imagine I will use this feature much more when I start adding new people to the site. Right now I have a bare minimum just for DNA matches.

The Search is AMAZING

Sorry, not sorry for the use of caps. I can’t help it. I am finding things in records so much easier right now. It makes me so annoyed that I can’t really use them yet because of my Genealogy Do-Over. I am still noting them in my old file but I am trying not to get too involved and it’s killing me!

Exhibit 1: William Redford

I have been searching for William Redford after 1910 for ages. I know he must have passed away. However, without a New Jersey death index available online, I was stuck waiting to save up for a trip to the archives and then searching all years after 1910. 

I have searched all other kinds of records looking for a hint. The best record I have found is the city directories in absence of a death index. William Redford, not being a direct ancestor, might have been relegated to the bottom of a list somewhere without this one search at MyHeritage.

Exhibit 1: Newspaper

A newspaper article! I don’t even remember the last time I found something in a newspaper search on Ancestry! I assumed they have moved most of that business to Newspapers [dot] com which I don’t have a subscription to right now. 

This could just be a lucky case though, so let’s try another example.

Exhibit 2: California Indexes

Ancestry has the California Birth Index, 1905-1995. My Heritage has California Births, 1905-1995. 

They are both just indexes, no images in this set. Ancestry’s collection has 24,592,168 names and MyHeritage has 49,185,281 names in theirs. 

Wait… what? 

That’s right, they have over twice as many names in their index. It’s no wonder I started finding people and quickly once I started looking.

Truth moment: Once I actually knew the name of someone and searched them specifically I was able to find them in the Ancestry database as well. I’m not going to spend a lot of time searching for one name that is only in one database. That’s just a waste of energy. The point being that I found it quicker and easier in one afternoon on MyHeritage than I have in my 15 years as a paying Ancestry customer.

My Favorite Part. Not kidding here.

MyHeritage Search Results

Excuse me if I just geek out right here. This is my favorite part of MyHeritage right now. I have been going through my tree, re-doing everybody in it. Kicking people out and putting different ones in. (Technically not yet, but I’m ready to if the need arises.) This search result page is everything I need in life right now. 

It allows me to switch between census records and birth records with one click. I don’t lose my spot. You have all the collections right there in the sidebar. Other sites if you aren’t in the top collections, you end up having the collection be on a summary page and usually it involves a million clicks (exaggeration). MyHeritage also has the summary page, but they also allow you to select from the sidebar. Before you ask, yes I would rather scroll for the rest of my life than click around forever. It’s just who I am. 

This just feels more efficient to me. I can’t explain it, it feels like their computer geniuses have gone through the site, gathered a bunch of information and handed it to me in an organized notebook that I can just keep open and browse through at my leisure.

Note: Once you click on a record, it does change pages, but those are easily opened to a new tab. 

Part B: Record Detective

MyHeritage Record Detective

Once I clicked on the 1910 census record for William it brought me to a separate page for the census. It gives the transcribed information for my guy, source information, a image view of the image with a full screen option, a transcription of the household breakdown and then the Record Detective.

Mr. Record Detective (screenshot above) has some recommended records for me. This feature is comparable to suggested records over at Ancestry. 

The ones for this specific record actually all point to head of household Herbert Redford, my direct ancestor and William’s brother. To be fair though, they were very close in age and William lived with Herbert for most of his life.

Conclusion for the First Impression

I would definitely say there is a learning curve. Once you browse around the site and play with it a bit, it starts feeling a lot more comfortable. I really do feel like the search works better overall than any other site I’ve been using. Not only better, but it’s faster as well. 

I haven’t delved into things like citations or records matches for this entry. This is just my initial impression using a few examples. I will give Find My Past it’s own entry next week. 

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2 thoughts on “Not a Genealogy Cage Match: MyHeritage First Impressions

  1. John Sparrow says:

    I have been using FTB for about 10 years. Initially, I put my info directly in the program, but then found the ‘import/export to a spreadsheet’ facility. Fortunately, the amount of info I had was not great, so I converted to having a spreadsheet as my primary source of data insertion, and then as required, updated to the program. The advantage is seen when inserting a large amount of info (in Australia, such as electoral roll info) where each entry is very similar. I use copy and paste in the spreadsheet. One caveat here – up to version 6, import facility worked for both people and families (read marriages). Versions 7 and 8 have a bug that does no allow the import of families.

    • Kathleen Moore says:

      I can definitely see how that method would be more beneficial. Copy/Paste is a big deal. When I started I wasn’t that familiar with Excel or computer spreadsheets. I am getting very good at them now though and I am constantly tweaking my spreadsheets. I will have to look at my program and see what kinds of import/export options there are.

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