A genealogy website must include a 'card catalog' listing all record collections, with descriptions, time periods and number of records in the collection clearly labeled. This isn't evident when I reviewed MyHeritage Record Matches. I would have to know that MyHeritage is searching WorldVitalRecords.com databases and scanned images, a resource purchased by MyHeritage during the past year. A newbie researcher would not have this institutional history in mind when reviewing MyHeritage Record Matches.
Identifying 'included' databases helps one evaluate the usefulness of a subscription website. A 'catalog' of contents permits understanding the website's resources in the context of a reasonably exhaustive 'broad search', an element of the Genealogical Proof Standard, specifically designed to minimize "the probability that undiscovered evidence will overturn a too-hasty conclusion."
WHAT ARE OTHERS SAYING?
Fellow genealogy blogger Randy Seaver just posted MyHeritage Record Matching test drive results, posing important questions concerning content and scope of searches. Randy's First Look at Record Matches on MyHeritage is a must read.
EVALUATING A SEARCH ENGINE
Understanding the 'depth' to which a genealogy website's computers will search isn't immediately evident at any of the sites I know. Is it just until the search 'times out'? Is it only for generations showing on the screen? What if the search engine starts searching in a different portion of an array of hard drives in a server farm today than it did yesterday, before it 'times out'?
Ol' Myrt here has previously discussed cursory and deep searches in my Ancestry Trees webinars where I distinguish between the 'shaky leaf' and the 'magnifying glass' search results. See below my screen shot showing two types of suggestions for my ancestor Lewis L. Terry:
- NOTE: Clickable link to "4 Ancestry hints" indicated by the Ancestry.com 'shaky leaf", known commonly among researchers as the "low hanging" fruit" potential matches already found by Ancestry.com computers for this ancestor. (limited # of databases)
- NOTE: Clickable "search records" button indicated by the magnifying glass. Clicking this causes Ancestry.com's computer to do a more extensive, real-time, context sensitive search of its 40,000+ databases for possible matches.
UNIQUE DIGITAL COLLECTIONS
I discovered items about ancestors on using MyHeritage Record Matches not previously known to me through personal microfilm, online newspaper and Ancestry.com Member Tree research. All it takes is one tidbit of additional information to break through a brick wall, so finding anything that mentions an ancestor is critically important.
QUASI SUMMARY (though I suspect we haven't heard the last of this topic!)
I continue to advise my DearREADERS to revisit genealogy websites at least quarterly, as new content is added daily.
I cringe when someone says "I looked at XWZ genealogy website three years ago, and they don't have anything about my ancestors."
Happy family tree climbing!
Your friend in genealogy.
G+: +Pat Richley-Erickson
Second Life: Clarise Beaumont