MyHeritage Launches Book Matching

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We’re excited to announce the release of a revolutionary new technology — Book Matching — perhaps our best technology yet. Book Matching automatically researches individuals found in family trees on MyHeritage in our vast collection of digitized historical books. Unique to MyHeritage, the innovative new technology uses semantic analysis to understand every sentence in every page in the digitized books, in order to find matches with very high accuracy. Book Matching has already produced over 80 million new matches for our users! Every match is a paragraph from a book specifically about the person in the family tree, providing direct access to that paragraph and the ability to browse through the rest of the book.

With Book Matching, you’ll discover fascinating family information that you would not find otherwise. You may even discover new relatives and ancestors. Use this information to expand your family tree and add color to it.

By way of background, we first launched SuperSearch™, our search engine for historical records, in 2012. In December 2015, the collection of digitized historical books was added to SuperSearch™. Very recently, we’ve tripled the books in the Compilation of Published Sources from 150,000 to 450,000 books, with a total of 91 million pages. We’ve assembled a team of hard-working curators and plan to add hundreds of millions of additional pages of digitized books to the collection each year.

The challenge

Books have always been one of the best sources for family history research, but searching them efficiently has been nearly impossible. Even after books are photographed and converted to digital, searchable text using optical character recognition (OCR), they always used to require a big investment of time and willingness to wade one’s way through endless false positives. For example, if you have a Richard Thomas in your family tree, doing a text search in books would find results for people called Richard, or Thomas, with no regard to first or last name. Even if a Richard Thomas were found, it would likely not the one that you were looking for. There is no way to find the exact Richard Thomas that you are looking for, such as the Richard Thomas born in Virginia in the early 1940s who married a Wilma Griffith.

Book Matching to the rescue

Our Book Matching technology overcomes these difficulties by automatically understanding narrative describing people in the historical books, including names, events, dates, places and relationships, and matching it with extremely high accuracy and speed to the 2 billion individuals in the family trees on MyHeritage; and this is repeated automatically as you grow your tree and as we add more books.

A daunting task made simple

Extracting genealogical information from books is not a simple task. In structured documents, such as birth certificates or census records, it is very clear what type of information is presented in the data you encounter. It is clear where to find surnames, birth dates, and so on. On the other hand, in unstructured free-text data, like digitized historical books, facts such as birth dates, locations, and death dates can be written in many different ways and varying contexts and the information has no designated location or order. While general phrases like “death,” “died,” “passed away,” can all refer to a person’s death, so can less commonly-used phrases such as “expired,” “ended his earthly career,” or “summoned to the home beyond.” We currently have a huge number of rules just for detecting expressions describing death! Books often do not refer to a person by a full name; for example, a paragraph can mention a woman by her first name and then continue to name and describe her father – specialized technology is needed to follow this and piece it together. We have worked hard to build numerous algorithms to harvest family history information from books. These have been tested and tweaked, iterated and perfected to ensure a high level of accuracy, and to gather as much information as possible from the books. In the process, we also successfully overcame millions of OCR errors and fixed them. For example, if the OCR process thought that a person was born in “]\lay”, we understand that it’s really May, “Apnl” is really “April”, and so on.

Currently, some books in the collection of digitized books are duplicated because they were contributed to the public domain multiple times by different groups. Nobody was able to figure out that some of them are redundant. We are currently putting the finishing touches to specialized technology that is able to de-duplicate the books. Shortly, once we complete this work, most of the duplicate matches will automatically disappear.

Book Matching in Action

We recently showed some of the leading genealogy bloggers (or geneabloggers as they’re sometimes known in the genealogy community) their Book Matches, so they could see first-hand the matches found for their own family trees.

Dick Eastman of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter has been researching his family history for years. He has about 2780 people in his family tree on MyHeritage, and he received about 500 book matches. The majority of the information in the Book Matches was new to him.

For example, Elizabeth Fifield, Dick’s direct ancestor (8 generations)’s aunt, appeared in his family tree with only birth and death dates, and siblings.

An automatic Book Match was found for Elizabeth in the book “Genealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of the state of Massachusetts; by Cutter, William Richard, 1847-1918,” a source that Dick Eastman may never have thought to examine himself.

The excerpt below is the section that was found by MyHeritage. The exciting new information here lists Elizabeth’s husband, and other historical information about him and his family, such as their six children and their dates of birth, information that Dick did not previously have and that he can now add to his family tree, and add a complete line to his family tree.

Lifelong genealogist Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings has more than 40,000 people in his family tree on MyHeritage. With a whopping 17,323 20,609 Book Matches, he is now able to glean a mountain of new information about people in his family tree!

For example, Randy has a relative, William Seaver Woods, in his family tree with a birth date, and he is listed as unmarried.

In the yearbook “Alumni Record of Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 1921”, MyHeritage found a perfect match for William.

William happened to study in this university, and the page lists his achievements, and mentions that he had a wife and child, both of whom are missing in Randy’s tree. Note that their son, Robert, used the surname of Crombie coming from his mother Grace. Since Robert didn’t use the Seaver or Woods surname, Randy may not have discovered him without this gem. Now Randy has a fresh lead. He can research this family line and bring it to the present when it was previously a dead-end.

Leland Meitzler of Genealogy Blog has imported his family tree of 5106 people to MyHeritage. He received 694 Book Matches. Leland was notified about a match for Elisha Mills in his family tree, found in the book “A Walloon Family in America: Lockwood de Forest and His Forbears 1500-1848,” (1914).

The match adds Elisha’s parents and describes his accomplishments during the Revolutionary War.

Finally, Pat Richley of Dear Myrtle also received some Book Matches. Thomas Wasden, Pat’s great-great-grandfather, was previously shown in the tree with basic information, including dates and places.

A match for Thomas was automatically found in the book “Colonial Families of Philadelphia by Jordan, John Woolf, 1840-1921” (1911).

The match included a photograph of him from the 19th century. What a great find that Pat can now add to her family tree.

The geneabloggers were blown away by these exciting, never-before-seen matches, which add valuable information to their family trees. Literally no false positives were encountered. If Book Matching can introduce such an enormous amount of new data to seasoned genealogists who have been researching their family history for decades, you can imagine how helpful Book Matching can be for you and almost every user of MyHeritage.

The Compilation of Published Sources collection is free to access. Viewing Book Matches requires a MyHeritage Data subscription.

What’s next? Book Matching is currently available for English books only, but the technology will soon be enhanced to cover other languages. We’re continually expanding our repository of digitized historical records, facilitating easier family history research. We expect the corpus of digitized books on MyHeritage to be doubled soon. We will be adding amazing genealogy books from all over Europe, in all major European languages!

How do you know if you have Book Matches? Simply log in to your family site and check your Record Matches via the Discoveries menu, or check your inbox for your Record Match emails – these will be sent to our users as of the next few days, delivering newly found matches. Any match you receive from a book is made possible by this new technology.

New to MyHeritage? Sign up from the homepage and upload your family tree as a GEDCOM file, and benefit quickly from Book Matching — which is exclusive to MyHeritage.

You’ll be amazed at the value of books and gain a new appreciation for them as a genealogical resource with the new Book Matching technology.

Enjoy!

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  • John Wood


    April 8, 2016

    WOW! What an incredibly powerful new tool! Thank you for putting this in our hands; I can’t wait to try it out.

  • Lois Balfour


    April 9, 2016

    That is truly amazing. Thank you so much.

  • Jenni


    April 10, 2016

    Does our family tree have to be uploaded to GEDCOM before we can use the BOOK MATCHING? Thanks!

    • Esther


      April 10, 2016

      Hi Jenni,

      In order to receive Book Matches, which are unique to MyHeritage, your family tree has to be on a MyHeritage family site. It’s very easy to upload your GEDCOM file at http://www.myheritage.com, and you will start receiving matches almost immediately!

      Best Regards,
      Esther / MyHeritage Team

  • Kathleen


    April 10, 2016

    I really want to try this, can this also be done with British Ancestors?

    • Esther


      April 11, 2016

      Hi Kathleen,

      Book Matches are currently available for English books, including ones from the UK. Let us know what you discover!

      Best Regards,
      Esther / MyHeritage Team

  • Susan Turner


    April 15, 2016

    Exciting! Can’t wait to check my tree and see if there is a match!

  • Norah


    April 17, 2016

    I am in process of moving my family tree from Ancestry.com to My heritage, as I prefer your site to the new Ancestry site! I’d be interested in this Book Matching section too.

    • Esther


      April 17, 2016

      Hi Norah,

      After importing your family tree to MyHeritage, you should start receiving matches very soon.

      Let us know what you uncover!

      Best Regards,
      Esther / MyHeritage Team

  • Jack Stafford


    April 20, 2016

    How do i sign up for this ?

    • Esther


      April 26, 2016

      Hi Jack,

      All that you have to do is upload your GEDCOM file of your family tree to MyHeritage.com. If your family tree is already on MyHeritage, you should receive Book Matches under the Record Matches section.

      Best Regards,
      Esther / MyHeritage Team

  • Helle


    April 20, 2016

    That is going to be so great, some of my Danish relatives has immigrated to the US, it can help locate data, because I got stuck. Can hardly wait for the Danish books to be digitized.

  • Marilyn Minogue Stark


    April 21, 2016

    First I’m a older lady so I don’t understand completely I first went with Ancestry, then I found myheritage and liked what I saw so joined it. I would love to complete my fathers history he was Irish and German they lived in Vermont then Chicago. I would love to understand what this is all about.

  • Gail Woodin Bisiack


    April 21, 2016

    This is so Very Amazing!! I’m very curious what will come back from MyHeritage…I’m very pleased with MyHeritage….so happy with everything you offer! Thank you!

  • Carolyn Miller


    April 21, 2016

    WOW ,Would love to see where this takes me .

  • Margaret Crabtree nee CLINTON , But the name Sale was used by my grt grandfather..


    April 21, 2016

    This sounds so fantastic. I have been ” on hold” re my ancestry. We hit a brick wall and cannot get over it. i come from a family whose grandfather had two names, He was a provincial actor and we do not know his beginnings. we were with Genes, then my laptop developed a big problem and i lost all my history. I will pass this site on to my cousins who are younger than I am and what you have may be of interest to them.

  • Beth


    April 21, 2016

    Awesome! I cant find anything on my grandfather on my dads side. I do not know his parents names. Maybe a miracle will happen with book match 🙂

  • Joe P Bumbles


    April 21, 2016

    These new finds will definately help a lot. I am missing information in my family tree and look at many possibilities of matches, but only a few are helpful. I will be trying these new finds today. Thank you for gathering this information.

  • Glen Mainard


    April 21, 2016

    Looking forward in using this site.

  • Jeffery Hanna


    April 21, 2016

    This is GREAT ! Thank you for a new tool to help in our search.

  • Evelyn


    April 21, 2016

    Very excited to see what happens with my family tree. I have hit a dead end on one of my direct ancestors branch.

  • Diane


    April 21, 2016

    Yes, I prefer MyHeritage as opposed to Ancestry.com as well. Thanks and look forward to uncovering more.

  • Richard E Petersen


    April 21, 2016

    Look forward to it!

  • Gerald Sondergaard


    April 21, 2016

    Keep up the good work. I am pleased I moved my work to “My Heritage”.

  • Judith Rosen


    April 21, 2016

    This sounds like a wonderful tool for those whose roots are deeply North American and /or written in a book written in English. My daughter-in-law does….. my twin grandchildren, on her side, are 18th generation American and she goes back to the year 1000 in England.
    My mother taught me not to envy others and to respect myself for myself. But, I think if she lived in today’s world, I think she would envy anyone who could follow their ancestors. Nothing is more important than family.
    My problem is that my husband and I are 1st generation Canadian and even those books that are freed up in some of the countries are, of course, written in that country ‘s main language and some are even in a different alphabet from ours. Please let those who can find their roots, please know that I am very happy for them and and I wish you, Good Hunting. It is really worth it. After all, I am proud to say that my grandchildren’s roots are very deep!

  • kwhatmough


    April 21, 2016

    Sounds like a good project. Many people should be pleaased with what you’ve accomplished.

  • Charlotte Olsen


    April 21, 2016

    I am excited about this new technology. My brick wall is in Pommern, Prussia. I’m curious how long before we have German books. Also, the other half of my genealogy is in Hordaland, Norway and Akershus, Norway. An excellent resource would be the many bygdeboks. I would recommend when Norwegian books are used, that bygedboks be given high priority.

  • Alberto Butti


    April 22, 2016

    Lets see what happens

  • Marie j Trammell


    April 22, 2016

    I would be interested if my family is on this site. Thank you for making it available.

  • Derek T. Rowswell


    April 22, 2016

    Thank you, for the great news, my tree at present goes back 40 generations (England and Scotland) overflowing into Europe. At present i am reading an historical novel featuring my family ancestors. My database is struggling to upload to MyHeritage as larger than 11500 persons. Thank you for these search engines 🙂 Great programming breakthroughs 🙂
    Derek T. Rowswell

  • Mary Jane O’Brien


    April 22, 2016

    Magic

  • Marian Byrne


    April 22, 2016

    Amazing

  • Joanne Una Smith


    April 22, 2016

    New great way to find family members cannot wait to try it out.

  • Don Garcia


    April 22, 2016

    THIS SOUNDS AWESOME. MAYBE I CAN GO FURTHER INTO MY GREAT, GREAT GRANDFATHER’S ANCESTORS IN LONDON. HE WAS BORN IN 1799 OR 1800

  • Carol


    April 22, 2016

    Does it work in Australia?

    • Esther


      April 26, 2016

      Hi Carol,

      We currently have Book Matching for English books from all over the world. In addition, we hope to add books in other languages as well.

      Let us know what you discover!

      Best Regards,
      Esther

  • Val


    April 22, 2016

    Where do I find book matching.

    • Esther


      April 26, 2016

      Hi Val,

      Book Matching will be located in your Record Matches. You will see matched with the Compilation of Published Sources (NEW).

      Good luck with your research!

      Best Regards,
      Esther

  • Doug Hamilton


    April 22, 2016

    Sounds very interesting. Will it be of use in Australia?

  • Dajana


    April 22, 2016

    Hi Esther,

    This Book Matching sounds fantastic and I am sure my husband will be thrilled to discover more relatives and ancestors. I, however do battle as I come from the Balkans and that part is rather scarcely covered by My Heritage.

    Are there any plans to extend the current coverage and include all the countries on the European continent?

  • ALLEN BREAUX


    April 22, 2016

    A MOST INTERESTING WEBSITE.

  • Arlene Hunter


    April 22, 2016

    I am going to Myheritage and proceed to get Gedcom. I am more interested in the “Hunter” which would be Ireland I think. I will let you know. Thank you.

  • Maureen Spark


    April 23, 2016

    it would be interesting to see how it works see if the matches are to your family tree can’t wait to find out

  • Janice


    April 23, 2016

    Just started checking these book matches. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what you’re doing! Thank you.

  • jan


    April 24, 2016

    will give this a try , as just starting to do our family tree

  • Cynthia Van Dam


    April 24, 2016

    If the same book shows up as a match multiple times. Should I reject it or should I just ignore it. I know you said your are working on correcting the problem.

    • Esther


      April 26, 2016

      Hi Cynthia,

      You can ignore it for now. We hope to have that issue resolved very soon.

      Best,
      Esther / MyHeritage Team

  • Lydia Binedell-Durrant


    April 24, 2016

    Fantastic!!! A great time saver and amazing help!

  • Judith Pobjecky


    April 25, 2016

    Absolutely want to do this

  • Siemu Taase and Sikaleti Tafea


    April 26, 2016

    Hopefully you can guide me how to track down as far as it can pls

  • Prasit Jirojanakul


    April 26, 2016

    It will be most interesting to me if Book Matching is available for Chinese books.

  • Jenny


    April 26, 2016

    It is a wondrous good thing! Congratulations to the team’s work.
    Regards:
    Jenny

  • abdallah


    April 28, 2016

    that good way to improve knowledge and know our roots
    best regard

  • William Brodhead


    May 21, 2016

    Looks good!

  • Manish Johari


    May 26, 2016

    It’s amazing ,
    Very attractive ,

    I like it

    Thanks

  • Redonnia Coffey


    May 29, 2016

    This is the most awsome thing in the world. I have just started finding about my family and my heritage is the best. Thank you.

  • Manish


    May 31, 2016

    easy search ,
    Fast ,
    Nice research ,
    Very good ,