For almost a year now, I have been tapping into the resources of the genealogical database provider known as MyHeritage.com. I started out by creating a free website, then I downloaded its free computer family tree database program Family Tree Builder. Intrigued by what I found, I next opened a subscription that provided access to more services and storage space.
One thing I noticed early on was the matching of my ancestor lines with those of Finnish genealogical researchers in Finland who had posted family trees. My paternal ancestry is based in Finland, with my paternal grandparents immigrating to America from Finland in 1902 and 1903. Now I know that most readers don’t have an interest in Finnish records, but I offer it as an indication of what might be available for other ethnicities either now or in the future.
A Global Presence
As I used the service, I did some digging and learned why: MyHeritage is a global company with a presence in every country in the world, and websites in 42 different languages. In total, more than 80 million members are sharing 28 million family trees. If you are researching ancestors from Europe (and who isn’t?), this should get your attention.
With some more poking around on the MyHeritage home page and with Google searches, I learned that in September 2016 the company introduced the “most significant collection of Finnish Historical Records Ever Published Online.”
In a news release announcing the addition of Finnish records, MyHeritage claims:
With this latest addition from Finland, MyHeritage extends its genealogy market leadership in the Nordic countries, with millions of registered users and hundreds of millions of historical records from Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. MyHeritage was the first company to release the invaluable Swedish household examination (census) records, followed by multiple collections of Census Records from Denmark. MyHeritage is committed to continue to digitize important historical records and bring them online for the first time, for the benefit of the global family history community.
The following from the news release gives more details:
Extensive collection of 33 million Church records digitized by MyHeritage covers the population of Finland during 300 years, providing a treasure trove of information for anyone with Finnish ancestors
MyHeritage, the fastest-growing destination for discovering, preserving and sharing family history, announced today the addition of a new historical records collection: Finland Church Census and Pre-confirmation Rolls, 1657-1950. The collection, indexed and searchable in its entirety, is currently available only on MyHeritage, along with millions of scanned original documents. It was created with the cooperation of the National Archives Service of Finland.
The collection includes clerical surveys (rippikirjat) and pre-confirmation books (lastenkirjat) for a period starting in 1657 and spanning nearly 300 years. MyHeritage is the first organization to index this collection. Users can access the collection on SuperSearch™, MyHeritage’s global search engine for historical records. In addition, users who upload their family trees to MyHeritage immediately benefit from Record Matching technology that automatically reveals new information about their ancestors who appear in the records.
Records from the collection list family households and include family relationships; more recent records include birth dates and birthplaces, and notes on marriages, deaths, and migrations. Records may also include notes on a person’s reputation and physical appearance.
The news release concludes with this boast:
MyHeritage is the world’s fastest-growing destination for discovering, preserving and sharing family history. As technology thought leaders, MyHeritage is transforming family history into an activity that’s accessible and instantly rewarding. Its global user community enjoys access to a massive library of historical records, the most internationally diverse collection of family trees and groundbreaking search and matching technologies. Trusted by millions of families, MyHeritage provides an easy way to share family stories, past and present, and treasure them for generations to come. MyHeritage is available in 42 languages. www.myheritage.com.
MyHeritage Now Offering DNA Testing
As you might guess, I have been quite satisfied with my experience with MyHeritage. I am looking forward to more rewarding experiences following testing of my DNA by MyHeritage. This is a relatively new service introduced in November 2016. Here is the official announcement:
MyHeritage, the leading international destination for discovering, preserving and sharing family history, announced today the launch of MyHeritage DNA, its global integrated genetic testing service. The move represents a major turning point for the DNA industry, as MyHeritage DNA debuts an international mass-market home-testing kit that is simple, affordable and will offer some of the best ethnicity reports in the world.
DNA is the hereditary material in the cells of the human body and it carries within it a unique genetic record. The MyHeritage DNA kit enables users to test their DNA to reveal valuable information about their family history and ethnic origins. The kit consists of a simple cheek swab and takes only a minute to complete, with no need for blood or saliva. The sample is then mailed to MyHeritage DNA’s lab for analysis and the user is invited to view the results on the MyHeritage website. In its initial version, MyHeritage DNA provides two main features: detailed ethnicity reports that map the user’s ethnic and geographic origins, and DNA Matches for finding relatives. Additional features and capabilities are planned for the future.
MyHeritage DNA results include fascinating ethnicity reports, showing the percentage of the user’s DNA that come from different populations around the world. The initial reports currently include 25 ethnicities, but this will improve dramatically thanks to MyHeritage’s unique Founder Population project unveiled today — the largest of its kind ever conducted. More than 5000 participants have been handpicked for this project by MyHeritage from its 85 million members, by virtue of their family trees exemplifying consistent ancestry from the same region or ethnicity for many generations. In the next few months, the project will be completed, resulting in a rich DNA data set of more than 100 ethnicities that will enable MyHeritage to show users their ancestral roots with far greater resolution than other services. To this end, the company has been sending its DNA kits to project participants far and wide, from Uzbekistan to Fiji, from Greenland to South Africa, and every corner of the globe. Standard ethnicity reports are currently available, with the expert reports to be released at no additional cost to users following the completion of the Founder Population project.
DNA test results complement MyHeritage’s core offerings, including family trees and historical records — the tools traditionally used by family history enthusiasts. DNA can be used to prove or disprove a documented family tree connection, or answer the question of whether two people sharing the same rare surname are actually related. DNA is also indispensable for overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles in traditional research, as in the case of adoptees searching for their biological family without access to their adoption records. On the other hand, when DNA locates a match between two people who have the same ancestor or ancestors, family trees and historical records are often essential for piecing together the exact relationship path between them.
MyHeritage DNA is seamlessly integrated with the other services provided by MyHeritage on all web and mobile platforms, as well as offered on a dedicated standalone mobile app released today named MyHeritage DNA. Thanks to its expertise in family trees and its vibrant community, MyHeritage provides its DNA customers with features not offered by most competing services including 23andMe, such as viewing family trees of the majority of their DNA Matches to pinpoint the connection path, and automatically identifying which surnames and geographical locations they have in common. DNA can be a fascinating introduction to the world of family history, and customers who embark on this journey by taking a DNA test can easily use MyHeritage’s tools to further explore what made them what they are.
“DNA testing is the future of family history,” said MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet. “We see DNA as a natural evolution of our business and look forward to harnessing it to reunite families, engage in new pro bono projects, and enrich the lives of millions of users.”
MyHeritage DNA kits are available at the affordable introductory price of $79 + shipping (prices vary by location). To order, visit the MyHeritage DNA website. MyHeritage has already amassed a significant number of DNA kits uploaded by its users from other DNA services, providing valuable matches on MyHeritage from day one. With the launch of MyHeritage DNA, the company will cease to offer DNA kits of other vendors. Users who have already tested their DNA on other services are welcome for a limited time to upload their DNA data to MyHeritage at no cost to benefit from free DNA Matches.
FYI, I announced my ethnicity report from MyHeritage in a blog posting on March 14. You can read it here. As expected, this DNA test found that the majority of my ethnicity was Finnish.