As the Geauga County Public Library Genealogist, I was pleased when our library recently subscribed to MyHeritage Library Edition. Now that I’ve used it several times, it’s become a regular resource for myself and my patrons. The full subscription version at MyHeritage.com has a highly effective search engine, unique records, accurate hints and newly-announced technology to match DNA results to individuals on family trees. The website is deep in European records, complemented by more than 2.4 billion names from internationally diverse family trees. Their growing U.S. record collections include the complete U.S. Federal census (1790 – 1940), a digital newspaper collection (including some Ohio newspapers), yearbooks, digital books, military, immigration, passenger lists and more.
The MyHeritage Library Edition doesn’t allow you to sign in with a personal login and use the hinting technologies, but you can use their great search technologies to find records. If your library subscribes, the MyHeritage Library Edition can be accessed from home with a library card, unlike Ancestry Library Edition, which can only be accessed at the library.
If you have Ohio ancestors, consider searching the Ohio digital newspapers for mentions of them. On the site, find Ohio newspapers under Research > Categories > Newspapers > Ohio Newspapers, 1793-2009. Fill in the person’s first and last name. To filter to a specific publication, location or date, fill in those fields. The results will give you enough context to be able to guess at good matches. The search engine ranks the results by first showing the name in the designated publication and date, then in earlier dates, then in other Ohio publications, then in earlier dates for the designated publication.
Using keywords instead of names is also possible, though not as targeted as a name search. A search for the phrase Columbus High School might result in matches for every instance of Columbus, High and School. The keyword search can be frustrating if using more than one word, since there appears to be no ability to search for an exact phrase. Putting quotations around a phrase (like you do in Google searching) doesn’t work, and clicking the Exact Search box just makes the search exact to those words, not the entire phrase.
Patrons in the Geauga County Public Library system are especially enjoying having digitized access to the Painesville Telegraph newspaper. The Painesville Telegraph covered much of Geauga County from the 1820s to the 1970s. The digital version in MyHeritage seems to cover from about 1851 to the 1950s. (The catalog does not give specific dates for each publication’s coverage.) It’s much easier to search the digitized version than to use microfilm and some issues are simply not otherwise accessible.
Our library patrons consult the Painesville Telegraph not just for genealogy but other local history questions, too. Recent examples of their research topics include finding high school construction dates, locating information on public officials, finding the history of a country club, accessing articles on a well-known Cleveland area businessman and finding information on a tavern that no longer exists but was once a hot-spot for night-clubbers from Cleveland.
Other MyHeritage collections have been popular, too. Yearbooks have helped patrons find photos and memories of old friends. The family trees and naturalization records have helped a patron locate Polish immigrant ancestors from Russia.
If you have exhausted your traditional sources and other big websites, give MyHeritage.com a free trial or check out the Library Edition at a library or Family History Center. Find a Family History Center near you at Family Search. Consider asking your public library system to subscribe, too. You may find yourself a new tool!