19    Feb 20094 comments

Easy searching: MyHeritage Advanced Search

Did you know that MyHeritage offers an advanced search? It provides more specific, more relevant results, and makes searches quicker and more efficient.

Here's how to find it:

Advanced Search

Go to the Genealogy tab -> Research -> New Research -> Advanced Search, and see this box:

Advanced Search

With the Advanced Search option, users can add birth and death dates and also specify the country in which ancestors were born or died. This filters the results, making the retrieved data more relevant, and making searches quicker and more efficient.

Always store and annotate your searches, so they are available for future reference and you can avoid multiple, duplicate searches on the same names. This feature is available in Advanced Search. Another useful feature is that searches can be scheduled automatically for new information as databases are added, saving more time. Even better, MyHeritage members can link from Family Tree Builder directly to MyHeritage Search.

Researchers can perform a name search using an exact spelling match, Soundex spelling or our unique Megadex spelling variations. Megadex lets you choose commonly used surname spelling variations, reducing the time needed to research different spellings. Searching (below) for Talalay provides a listing of common variants. Our name seems to be relatively simple, phonetic but notice how many variations exist. My research has turned up some 30 spellings of relatives in records of all types. This example shows what may be discovered:

Name Variants

Megadex is free, but viewers must register to use it. Once registered, viewers can utilize all the features of this powerful tool, including store and annotate and automatic searching.

MyHeritage believes that these features will make it even easier to research your family history and add to your family tree.

We are always interested in learning what you think and how your experience with these features has helped you achieve success.

I'm looking forward to reading your comments.

18    Feb 20094 comments

Improved, Expanded: MyHeritage Research

MyHeritage Research - our genealogy search engine - has been improved and expanded.

MyHeritage Research

Currently, it includes 1,526 genealogically relevant resource databases - representing more than 12 billion names - to provide usable information to family history researchers.

Even better, MyHeritage members can access the search engine directly from Family Tree Builder.

The latest edition includes 156 new sources. Among them:

  • Spock people finder

  • Facebook
  • Michigan Census
  • German Emigrants Database
  • BMD Registers UK
  • USA Gov search
  • Western Michigan Newspapers
  • Digg
  • Palatines to America
  • US Social Security Death Index
  • Prague Police Headquarters Conscriptions (1850-1914)
  • Consolidated Index of Sephardic Surnames
  • Arizona Birth and Death Certificates
  • European Patent Office
  • Some sites are free, some require subscriptions. For a paid site search, MyHeritage viewers will see the details that the subscription site provides on its free search. To see more than that, however, a subscription to that site is required. In the US, many public libraries offer free access to some major subscription-only databases.

    Using MyHeritage Research accesses only genealogically relevant resources which helps researchers find those websites and databases most relevant to their unique family histories.

    Start using it now to expand your family tree. Click here to search. To learn more about how MyHeritage Research works, click here.

    Even better, MyHeritage members can access the search engine directly from Family Tree Builder.

    We are always interested in how members have used new or expanded features. What have you found in the latest database that has helped you add leaves to your tree?

    I look forward to reading your comments.

    10    Feb 20091 comment

    February is Black History Month

    Click to view photo in full size

    Black History Month was established in the US in 1926.

    OurBlackAncestry.com offers information and has a Facebook page. It includes a very good selection of research links. Check African American Cemeteries for many state resources.

    For many black families with roots in the Southern states, genealogy research can be frustrating. Although African American genealogy research can get back to the 1880s. It is difficult for most to follow a trail back to an earlier time.

    Every day more resources are available online. If you cannot find what you are looking for today, check again tomorrow or next week.

    Southern records do exist, although prior to Emancipation, records of birth, marriages and deaths are rare. Slave owners didn't usually keep these records. Records for free blacks also exist. Some researchers have been successful in finding useful records of sale, land, personal property and the wills of white owners.

    In 1867, blacks were required to adopt last names, although some slaves adopted family names earlier. Some took the names of their owners, but there were no restrictions on what names could be adopted.

    Like most ethnic groups in the US, names were not exactly permanent. Spellings would change and the names themselves might change several times before settling into a more permanent form.

    After being freed, black families were usually too poor to have land or personal property, and many remained as sharecroppers on the plantations of their former owners. Thus, there are few land or estate records with which to trace them. The poorer the families, the fewer the records.

    It is hard for most blacks to use a paper trail to trace their ancestry to a specific part of Africa. Slaves came from all parts of Africa, but those of different tribes were mixed together when shipped from various ports. DNA research is being conducted by Henry Louis Gates to trace African origins to a specific area. Some researchers have found that their DNA tests returned European genetic markers.

    For more on DNA testing for African Americans, read the articles here

    Use MyHeritage Smart Research to access indexes for many free and subscription sites - all at one click. However, you will need to have a subscription to see the document images. Be aware that many US public libraries offer free access to paid subscription services, so check your public library/

    On Ancestry.com, begin at African American History, and find information on these databases:

    1870 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule): The first census listing former slaves by name and age.
    Colored Troops Military Service Records (1861-1865)
    Freedmen’s Marriage Records (1861-1869)
    Freedman's Bank Records:Nearly 180,000 names of depositors of Freedman's Savings and Trust, which served thousands of African-American former slaves (1865-1874) throughout the Southern States.
    Freedmen Bureau Records of Field Offices (1865-1872): covering District of Columbia, Georgia, North Carolina, New Orleans, Florida, Virginia and Tennessee.
    Slave Registers of Former British Colonial Dependencies (1812-1834)
    Southern Claims Master Index (1871-1880)
    Southern Claims Commission Allowed Claims (1871-1880)
    Southern Claims Commission Disallowed and Barred Claims (1871-1880)

    On Footnote.com, find

    Southern Claims Commission Records: Some 20,000 compensation claim petitions for damage, crops, livestock and other assets seized by Union troops during the Civil War. Many records record the testimony of African American witnesses.

    For more information, see this previous January 2008 post at the MyHeritage Genealogy Blog

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