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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Who Owns the Genealogy Companies -- Websites Part Two

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This image is a work of a U.S. Army soldier or employee, taken or made during the course of the person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.
This is part of a series on Who Owns the Genealogy Companies. The last post focused on the websites owned by Ancestry.com. This post is directed at MyHeritage.com. But before getting into the sites affiliated with or run by MyHeritage.com, it is important to understand that there is nothing per se bad about these relationships. In fact, one of the greatest benefits of having the Internet is the opportunity to access original source records without the time and expense of traveling to various jurisdictions to do the research in person. For example, I can go to Genealogy.az.gov and obtain a free copy of my own father's birth certificate without paying a copy fee or traveling across Phoenix to the Office of Vital Records, filling out a form, standing in line, paying a fee, and then waiting for two or more weeks for the copy to be mailed to me.

Many researchers chaff at the cost of online services. Their concerns are unrealistically misplaced. I can use the same website, sponsored, in this case, by the State of Arizona, to obtain birth and death certificates for dozens of my relatives. If I were required to pay for each of those certificates, I would quickly and for just this one type of record, spend more than the annual fee for any one or more of the large online databases. This would be the case more assuredly if I were required to go the the time and expense for certificates and documents all over the United States and even the world. Online services may not eliminate the need to travel and pay for copies of documents entirely, but they go a long way in establishing a basic framework of both positive and negative results. I would rather check online to find that a record no longer exists than spend a week traveling across the country to discover the same information.

MyHeritage.com has ratcheted up the services available online for locating documents. I presently subscribe to MyHeritage.com by means of a complimentary subscription. As a result in one document category alone, burial records on FindAGrave.com, I have 496 matches waiting to be processed. Using my uploaded data file, MyHeritage.com's Record Match program has automatically found that many matches in FindAGrave.com alone. In total, presently, the program has 2403 document matches for members of my family. Can you imagine how long it would take me to look up 496 people (or more) on FindAGrave.com? Knowing this, I would gladly pay for the service.

So, asking the question I have posed before; why do I care and why should you care who owns or operates the websites? One of the best reasons is to make sure you aren't buying the same product with a different wrapper and also the converse, to avoid unfounded beliefs that all of these companies are somehow in collaboration with the same ownership.

So here goes the list for MyHeritage.com. Bear in mind that some of these entities were absorbed into MyHeritage.com and no longer function separately.

It is an easy prediction that MyHeritage.com will continue to expand and make further acquisitions. 








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