User Story: How Smart Matches helped Andrzej discover new relatives and new friends

User Story: How Smart Matches helped Andrzej discover new relatives and new friends

(This is a translation. The original Polish version can be found here.)

Today we would like to present a story about Andrzej Pfeiffer one of our polish users and how the MyHeritage Smart Matches feature helped his family history research. Andrzej started his family’s genealogy a few years ago and tells his story below.

I was very happy when “Smart Matches” was launched, but in the beginning I did not realize how much time I would spend working with this feature.

In my tree there are more than 1,400 people and it is not surprising that the program informed me of more than 800 matches. I have reviewed all of them, which of course does not mean the end, because the program is adding new matches every time I change some info in my tree. By the way, I learned that there are a lot of people that have more than one tree at MyHeritage, and … I do not know why?

Andrzej with his wife Barbara

Andrzej with his wife Barbara

To fully benefit from “Smart Matches” is sometimes impossible. This is the case for very common surnames, with the lack of basic data and data on their relatives is hidden. In this situation, I would love the ability to remove them from the list of incorrect matching results, or at least indicate that a tree has already been checked and is wrong. It is interesting that in the program Family Tree Builder 4.0 that possibility exists. From reported Smart Matches I learned that currently there are ten trees on MyHeritage whose authors are also people who appear in my tree. If the Matches indicated that my data was complete I did not contact the webmaster of those trees. On the other hand, I wrote to those who have similar data with a different day or month of birth of a specific person and asked on what basis they submitted this data. Most of the webmasters I asked replied and then together we set the reliability of the information.

Thanks to “Smart Matches” I was able to verify or complete data of 86 people and added 12 new people to my tree – in four cases we were able to enjoy discovery of new family members collectively. In addition, I acquired a few pictures of my family and allowed others to copy many photos from my albums.

Family Szostkiewicz

Family Szostkiewicz

It is interesting that despite appearances, there is a problem with the information about well-known people in our existing trees. As is the case of General Jan Henryk Dąbrowski. Different sources give different dates of birth, place of birth or place of death or even burial. We performed a tiny survey together and found which data was most believable.

“Smart Matches” also allowed me to establish contact with people who wished to help me to solve problems e.g. to establish a common spelling of a town or to identify someone’s location. This was very important, especially for tracking relatives who were born in places such as Kresy.

For people from these borderlands we already had names, but now we were able to find someone who was willing and able to go there and look for our ancestors. In this way, we were able to determine, amongst other things, the burial place of several people, and, as a result, on two occasions I have had the opportunity to visit these burial places and light a candle for my relatives.

There is one more particular benefit I found from the existence of “Smart Matches.” It happened that on a few occasions there were two trees where there were the same names, but … it was a completely different person. While it turned out that often that information wasn’t useful for me, for others I spoke to the information was very valuable.

Irena and Zdzisław Pfeiffer, Lviv, Ukraine 1922

Irena and Zdzisław Pfeiffer, Lviv, Ukraine 1922

Also, even when the information wasn’t useful for the other person either it was still nice to make connections with other researches and to go through the process of comparing data.

I have one last request to everyone reading this and to all users of MyHeritage, especially to those who use  “Smart Matches”. If it is possible please try to find and record the middle and second surnames of people. There are many Jan Nowaks, but far fewer Jan Seweryn Nowak. Family history research will work better for us all if we can remember these middle and maiden names and also if we make data of people who have passed away available.

I would like to say thank you to everyone with whom I had a chance to meet and work with as I built my family tree – thank you very much.

Andrzej Pfeiffer from Sandomierz, Poland


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  • A Talwar

    September 28, 2010

    Dear Andrez,
    I read your story about smart searches, this tool in our programme, I have not yet used, but amazing is your search for your family, you have achieved, with that.

    I am doing on my Talwar surname research, and I find some are linked with English / European names, did U come across any one, please let me know or send my request to them. I would love to know about those families.

    Arun Talwar, Auckland, NZ

  • Andrzej

    September 30, 2010

    Hello, I’m glad you liked my family research. Of course if I ever come across any information about people with your surname, I will send it straight to you. Greetings!


  • Tara

    May 9, 2015

    My Pfefer ancestors were from the Radom-Kielce area (Ostrowiec), near where you live now. But they were Jews. I also hired a genealogical researcher who lives in Kielce. Contact me if you’d like to know more.