2016 has been a historic year around the world and also a significant year for MyHeritage.
We’re happy to present the highlights of the year on MyHeritage:
In January, we released the new Audio Recordings feature in the MyHeritage mobile app. Now you can interview relatives directly from their family tree profile, and store the interview for future generations.
In February, we released a new version of our popular Family Tree Builder software, completely rewriting the internal infrastructure to add support for very large family trees, deliver faster performance, and offer improved data integrity.
We then headed to Utah for RootsTech 2016, the world’s most important annual genealogy conference. We had a great time giving numerous live demonstrations at the MyHeritage booth and presenting classes and workshops to large audiences during the event.
At RootsTech, our VP of Marketing, Aaron Godfrey, delivered a keynote address outlining MyHeritage’s vision.
Aaron screened a video describing the important work MyHeritage does to help people discover their long-lost relatives and to reunite families.
In February, we also launched a company-wide volunteer program, where our employees regularly visit a local high school, giving mentoring talks to disadvantaged youth. We’ve been told that the students enjoy the classes, and look forward to the monthly talks.
In March, MyHeritage employees organized a visit to a local hospital, bringing music and cheer to children who are sick.
In April, we launched a revolutionary and unique new technology — Book Matching — which automatically finds matches for people in family trees in our vast collection of digitized historical books, bringing new information that you would not have found otherwise. MyHeritage is the only company to offer this kind of technology that can match free-text in books to family trees.
We also released Record Detective™ II, significantly building on its predecessor, and adding over 2.2 billion new matches and many more matching documents for each record. This new version generates many new family history leads and discoveries.
Another exciting addition in April was the new Community-Powered Q&A Hub. We created the MyHeritage Community for our 85 million global registered users to collaborate and to help each other in the true spirit of genealogy. Users may request help to translate records, decipher barely-legible handwriting, identify unknown people in photos and search for long-lost ancestors, as well as lending a helping hand to others with their own requests.
Many beautiful stories have already come to light from families who have reconnected through the MyHeritage Community, such as Joanne who found her biological family, and Helen who found and reunited with her seven siblings!
The MyHeritage mobile app was updated to include full Record Matching and Smart Matching™ functionality, the ability to save match information directly to your family tree, and Instant Discoveries™.
In May, we introduced Tribal Quest, a MyHeritage pro bono initiative with the goal of documenting family stories of tribal communities around the world. We’re helping tribes, who have no access to technology, to preserve their family history for future generations. The Tribal Quest team has already visited Namibia and Papua New Guinea and is planning to embark on its next expedition in the near future.
June brought the launch of the Sun Chart, a beautiful new family tree chart format. The Sun Chart is the world’s first descendant fan chart with personal photos and unlimited generations. After selecting an ancestor to display in the center of the chart, all his/her descendants will be shown in concentric outer rings.
MyHeritage researchers introduced Nata Gattegno, a Holocaust survivor from Corfu, to cousins she never knew existed. During the emotional reunion, we brought the family a beautiful Sun Chart. Nata’s enormous Sun Chart included some 900 people, measured six feet in circumference, and had a great impact on the family, as you can see in the heartwarming video below.
We revamped the photos section on the family site with an entirely new interface, making it easier and faster to view, upload and share photos.
Also in June, MyHeritage was featured in the media for the extensive research that we conducted on the Jewish community of the Greek island of Corfu. The highlight was a reunion of the descendants of a Jewish family hidden during WWII on Ereikoussa, a tiny island north of Corfu, and the descendants of the courageous Greek islanders who risked their lives to save this family. Through this research, we’ve uncovered many emotional side stories and our journey became a larger project to reconstruct the history of Corfu’s Jewish community. When our research connected the saved Jewish family with the Corfiot grandparents of Amir Ziv, it prompted him to recount his childhood memories of his grandparents in a lovely, sentimental write-up.
Throughout the year, we continued our efforts to photograph cemetery headstones and index the information they offer to preserve the data for future generations. It is a highly important project to which we are committed in carrying out worldwide. In September, we shared the news of completing over 50% of our goal to digitize every cemetery in Israel — aiming to make it the first country in the world to have all of its gravestones preserved online and searchable. All of the gravestone data that we’re digitizing is available on MyHeritage for free.
At the end of June, we launched PedigreeMap™, an innovative free feature that plots births, marriages, and deaths — as well as digital photos and scanned historical photos — from MyHeritage family trees on an interactive map. It provides geographical and historical insights into your family history.
We also expanded the office space in our global headquarters, to accommodate our ever-expanding team.
In September, we introduced DNA Matching, inviting people to upload their existing DNA results and receive DNA matches to find their relatives. We offered and are still offering DNA Matches for free for anyone who has taken a DNA test already and wants to upload the data to MyHeritage.
We released SuperSearch™ Alerts shortly after. It automatically repeats your previous searches, looking for new results that did not exist at the time of your original search. Instead of coming back to repeat the same searches that you have previously done manually, you don’t need to do a thing. Instead, we do all the work for you.
In November, we also released another update to our mobile app, which allows you to receive real-time discovery notifications and view your family tree in a List View, on both the mobile app and while viewing your tree in an internet browser on your mobile phone.
A highlight of our year was announcing the launch of MyHeritage DNA — our new global DNA testing service — in November. Our DNA test can help you find previously unknown relatives and uncover your ethnic origins. When we announced MyHeritage DNA, we were slammed with a huge demand for our DNA kits but we have overcome the logistical challenges and are now shipping kits as quickly as they are ordered.
We’re also currently conducting the world’s most in-depth Founder Populations study, to build the largest and most accurate DNA data set of ethnicities. We will soon have the best DNA ethnicity results available on the market.
We’ve also just expanded our Israel HQ and opened a beautiful additional office in downtown Tel Aviv, which is now the workplace of 60 happy employees.
We released many exciting new historical record collections throughout 2016, including many exclusive collections, online for the very first time:
14 Million Australian Newspaper Records
5 Million Rotterdam City Archive Records
19 Million 1911 England & Wales Census Records
10 million pages in 1,952 sources of Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, 1836-1922
40 million records from England & Wales, Marriage Index, 1866-1920 & 1984-2005
97 Million Records from England & Wales, Birth Index, 1866-1920 & 1984-2005
41 Million Records from England & Wales, Death Index, 1866-1920 & 1984-2005
1 million searchable Online Familieberichten – Dutch Death Notice records
27 Million Canada Census Records (1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911)
21 Million Denmark Census Records (1870, 1890, 1901, 1906, 1911, 1916, 1921, 1925)
33 Million Finland Church Census and Pre-Confirmation Books, 1657-1950
26 million Denmark Church Records, 1814-1919
24 Million United States World War I Draft Registrations, 1917-1918
6 Million New York City Marriages 1950-1995
Here are some statistics from the past year at MyHeritage:
802 million new historical records added.
727 million new family tree profiles added.
61 million new photos added.
76 employees joined the company in 2016 (we went up from 249 to 325).
Everything we do is about helping discover, preserve and share their family history. Here is a glimpse at some of our favorite family reunions of 2016. We’re so proud to have made these special moments possible.
Over the past year, many of our users have shared their stories of what they’ve uncovered and learned about their families, using MyHeritage.
Our efforts have also been appreciated in the genealogy industry. Just this week, well-known Dutch genealogy blogger, opinion leader and industry influencer, Tamura Jones, published his annual GeneAwards for 2016 and we’re proud that he selected MyHeritage as the best genealogy organization for 2016. In his summary, Tamura wrote:
MyHeritage did what it should be doing; improve their products and services to deliver increased value to their users.
As the new year begins, we pledge to continue on our mission to innovate and develop new and improved technologies for family history, doing things that no one has done before. We have a whole list of exciting features and digitized historical records that we will add in the coming year. We look at the future and are excited about what is to come.
We wish you and your family all the best for 2017.