MyHeritage: Breakthrough Feature! Global Name Translation™ Technology to Drive Family History Discoveries

The amazing tools for genealogists and family historians just keep coming from MyHeritage! Check out the new Global Name Translation Technology!

[Editor’s Note: We just received the following press release from MyHeritage . . . and it looks like they’ve added another outstanding feature to their set of tools for genealogy research!]

MyHeritage Launches Breakthrough Global Name Translation™ Technology to Power Family History Discoveries

New technology eliminates language barriers to enhance family history research and preservation

TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI, Utah – July 8, 2015: MyHeritage, the leading destination for discovering, preserving and sharing family history, today announced the launch of Global Name Translation™, a new technology to help families break through language barriers in the quest to uncover their past. The technology automatically translates names found in historical records and family trees from one language into another, in very high accuracy, generating all the plausible translations, to facilitate matches between names in different languages. In addition, a manual search in one language will also provide results in other languages, translated back to the user’s language for convenience. This is a unique innovation not offered elsewhere, useful for anyone interested in discovering their global roots.

There are many immediate benefits for users. For example, people living in the USA with Russian roots previously had to search for their ancestors in Russian to maximize their chances of finding pertinent information. The new technology will now accept searches in English, automatically increase their scope to cover Russian and Ukrainian as well, and conveniently translate all results back to English.

The new technology also enhances the acclaimed MyHeritage matching technologies to bridge across language gaps. For example, If a user from Greece with a family tree in Greek, is related to a user from Israel with a family tree entered in Hebrew, MyHeritage will be able to connect them, automatically matching between names in the ancient languages of Greek and Hebrew, and show the two users how their family trees overlap, leading to exciting family reunions like never before.

“Global Name Translation™ helps overcome the Tower of Babel syndrome”, said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage. “The world is getting smaller and more connected, yet information from other countries is still mostly hidden from those who don’t speak the language. It’s our mission to develop the best technologies for facilitating family history discoveries for everyone, everywhere. Therefore we set an ambitious goal of taking down one of the most formidable walls that hampers research and discovery – the difficulty of translating names from one language to another. We’re proud to have pioneered this solution and thrilled with the value that it will provide to users around the world.”

MyHeritage has developed this technology using original research, advanced algorithms and based on its massive multilingual and international database of 6 billion family tree profiles and historical records. The technology covers first names and last names and is able to tackle not only names encountered in the past but also new names it has never encountered before. The technology is generic but also utilizes extensive dictionaries built by MyHeritage to cover synonyms and nicknames. Therefore a search for Alessandro (Alexander in Italian) will also find “Саша” which is the Russian form of Sasha, a popular nickname of Alexander in Russia.

The first version successfully translates names in between English, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Greek, Hebrew, Polish, Czech, Russian and Ukrainian. The next version currently in development will add Chinese and Japanese, and additional languages will follow.

To take advantage of Global Name Translation™ technology, create a new family tree for free on MyHeritage and enjoy the automatic matches or use MyHeritage’s SuperSearch search engine for historical records.

About MyHeritage

MyHeritage is the leading destination for discovering, preserving and sharing family history. As technology thought leaders, MyHeritage is transforming family history into an activity that’s accessible and instantly rewarding. Its global user community enjoys access to a massive library of historical records, the most internationally diverse collection of family trees and ground-breaking search and matching technologies. Trusted by millions of families, MyHeritage provides an easy way to share family stories, past and present, and treasure them for generations to come. MyHeritage is available in 42 languages.


Genealogy Do-Over – Week 13, Cycle 2: 26 June – 2 July 2015

The Genealogy Do-Over - Week 13 Topics: 1) Securing research data and 2) Reviewing the journey

Click here to download this article in PDF format.

[Editor’s note: Much of the text below is unchanged from the original Week 13 posting on March 27, 2015, except for my personal updates.]

Topics: 1) Securing research data and 2) Reviewing the journey

This is it: the final week of the Genealogy Do-Over. We wrap things up by discussing the best ways to preserve and secure our genealogy research and then review the 13-week journey.

The Genealogy Do-Over: Cycle 3

Do you feel you got a late start on the Genealogy Do-Over? Perhaps you didn’t find out about us until Week 6 or even Week 12? Or you just want to hop on for another ride? No matter your motivation, the Genealogy Do-Over will start again with Week 1 on Friday 3 July 2015. We’ll call this “Cycle 3” and it will run through Thursday 1 October 2015. Stay tuned right here for more information!

* * *

Securing Research Data

Whether you are brand new to genealogy and the Genealogy Do-Over is your first serious effort at research OR you’ve accumulated years and years of research, let me ask you this question: What have you done to preserve and “future proof” all your hard work?

More difficult questions include:

  • If you lost all your data, would you be able to recreate it?
  • Would you even know where to begin?
  • If you died today, do you know what your family would do with your research?
  • Have you made plans to preserve your research for generations to come?

Backing Up Your Genealogy Data

Your genealogy research data is an investment reflecting the time and effort you’ve spent tracing your roots. Like any other investment, your genealogy data should be safe and secure for future use.

The best way to get started on backing up your genealogy data:

  • Create a backup plan. Just like a research plan for your genealogy, you need to determine what data needs to be backed up and how.
  • Identify data for backup. Sounds familiar . . . like one of the topics in Week 1 of the Genealogy Do-Over, right? Don’t forget that as genealogists we tend to store data in many different places. Do you have emails and Internet favorites related to genealogy? Are you certain that information is backed up?
  • Identify a backup method that works for you. Don’t select a backup method, such as copying data each week to a flash drive, if you aren’t going to perform the task on a set schedule. Look for automated backups such as cloud backup or an external hard drive with auto-backup software.
  • Test your backup data. Why bother backing up data if you can’t prove it works? Run a test restore on data and make sure you’re covered.
  • Future-proof your technology. Don’t rely on outdated tech such as backing up to CDs and DVDs (did you know the coating degrades on these items after just five years?). Upgrade to current technology that has been proven and tested, not the “latest” new thing just on the market.

Future Proofing Your Genealogy Research

Do you have concerns about what will happen to your research once you’ve passed on? More and more genealogists are realizing that they haven’t put safeguards into place to ensure that their years of work won’t simply be discarded by family members and friends.

Here are areas that require your attention:

  • Take inventory. Determine what you have and this includes hard copy as well as digital assets and online sites.
  • Include in estate planning. Create a codicil to your will or make sure there are some form of instructions concerning your genealogy research.
  • Have that conversation with family. Be very clear about where your genealogy research is located, why it is important, and what you want done with it.
  • Contact organizations. Determine which libraries, societies and archives will accept all or part of your collection. Donate items you don’t need NOW.
  • Post items online. Consider starting a blog – even a private one – to preserve your family stories. Do the same with a family tree on Ancestry or one of the popular genealogy sites.
  • Do stuff NOW. Tell your own stories NOW. Write that genealogy book NOW. Interview family members NOW.

I’ll admit that none of this is easy to do. It is easy to talk about and give advice on the topic, but many of us just tend to put it off . . . until it is too late.

  • What I Plan to Do: Right now I am very comfortable with my current data backup plan which follows the recommended 3-2-1 plan: 3 copies of my data, 2 different backup media and 1 offsite copy (cloud). In addition, I already have made provisions in my estate planning papers for the disposition of my genealogy research materials once I’ve passed on.
  • “All-In” and Modified Participant Options: Seriously consider creating an action plan for both backing up your genealogy research data and ensuring that it is preserved for future generations.

Reviewing the Journey

Wow . . . 13 weeks and didn’t it just seem to zoom by? I can’t speak for those who either participated in the Genealogy Do-Over or who just watched from the sidelines. I can, however, relate what I’ve learned and discovered during this cycle of the Genealogy Do-Over:

  • There is a need for change: Folks who have been doing genealogy for years and years have begun to realize that their early genealogy research may not provide the foundation that they want for a solid family tree.
  • No guilt, no shame, and no regrets: More importantly, we’ve had an honest discussion about our past practices and ways to improve them. With your input, we’ve created a “safe space” where anyone can admit they were a name collector or didn’t cite their sources.
  • Collaboration counts: Genealogists have always been collaborators; this is nothing new. In years past we would gather at society meetings and exchange information as well as research tips. We would attend conferences to improve our research knowledge and to network with others. Now with social media and groups such as the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook Group, we’re continuing the collaborative tradition. Remember this: very few of our ancestors arrived in a new place and could survive on their own. They counted on the wisdom and knowledge of those that arrived before them.
  • Honor and respect: I’ve also learned that genealogists are people (amazing, right?) We all have our quirks, our biases . . . we are human after all. Even with close to 8,000 members in the Facebook Group, we’ve managed to agree on many issues and yet disagree on how to approach them. Many people told me I was crazy to try and “supervise the sand box” and that doing so would just suck the life and energy out of me. It turned out that the opposite has been true: I’ve enjoyed the dialog and I’ve gained real insights as to what drives and motivates genealogists. There have been less than five times when I’ve had to delete a post or ban a member of the group for various reasons such as being rude or hijacking posts. I think this track record says quite a bit about the genealogy community.
  • A big thank you to the professionals: One of the most amazing aspects of the Genealogy Do-Over is how the concept has been embraced by various professional genealogists. And I don’t mean that they’ve “capitalized” on an active audience or tried to sell their own products and services to the crowd. Many of them have spent hours posting advice in the Facebook Group on citing sources, locating records, tracking research and more. In particular, Elizabeth Shown Mills has been a regular presence and I’m grateful for all her contributions.
  • Genealogy was meant to be fun: Have you had fun during the Genealogy Do-Over? I have and it has been due to the combination of energy and humor contributed by group members. Thanks to everyone who posted a funny cartoon or quotation. Thanks to those who were able to tell their funny and even most embarrassing stories about their early research. If genealogy isn’t fun, I just don’t think I’d be doing it.
  • A continual journey: And finally, I’ve come to realize that you just can’t do the Genealogy Do-Over in 13 weeks. No one can – not even me. When I created this program, I wanted something short and sweet and that would serve as a foundation for constant and continued improvement of genealogical research skills. I think that has been accomplished. I know that I will be working through the Genealogy Do-Over in Cycles 3 and 4. I also know some folks will take a break, perhaps take the summer off, and come back for Cycle 4. Just know that you are always welcome here and we’ll be waiting for you to hop back on board.

Once again, thank you for being a part of this amazing journey. Your participation, your input at the Facebook Group, your comments on live lectures and webinars and more – all of these have energized me and have made me even more committed to continue leading a discussion on improving genealogical research habits.

  • What I Plan to Do: I’m looking forward to Cycle 3 actually and here’s why: When I planned out the Genealogy Do-Over, I didn’t anticipate that “life” and its challenges could and would run interference against my best efforts. In these past 13 weeks I’ve had a lot on my plate in terms of speaking engagements and with the loss of my mother to Alzheimer’s Disease. But looking back, I realize that it is what it is and that I need a firm foundation of solid research habits to get me through the periods when I put research down and can’t pick it up again for weeks or months. For me, that is the true value in the Genealogy Do-Over.
  • “All-In” Participant Options: Evaluate how the Genealogy Do-Over has improved your research habits. Consider participating in Cycle 3 and focusing on those topics where you feel you still need improvement.
  • Modified Participant Options: Evaluate how the Genealogy Do-Over has improved your research habits even in a “review” perspective of your existing research.

* * *

And that’s all I have for this week’s topic of the Genealogy Do-Over. For those of you who are stepping off the Genealogy Do-Over train now that we’re at the end of the ride, thank you for being part of this amazing experience.

Next Week: Week 1, Cycle 3: 3-9 July 2015

  • Setting Previous Research Aside
  • Preparing to Research
  • Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines

Thanks for being a part of the Genealogy Do-Over and your feedback is always appreciated. You can leave a comment on the blog post at GeneaBloggers, email me at or post at the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook Group.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Privacy and Our Ancestors: Hotel Visitors

100 years ago, it was common for newspapers to publish a list of visitors registered at local hotels. Do you really have less privacy today than your ancestors?

This past week, the United States Supreme Court declared a local ordinance in Los Angeles unconstitutional since it violated the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution (protection against unreasonable searches). What was the local law? The ability of law enforcement to demand inspection of a hotel’s guest register on demand and without probable cause or a warrant.

Genealogists and family historians who use historical newspapers as research resources already know that it was common for some communities to publish a list of hotel guests in the local newspaper. Seriously.

Source: "Hotel Arrivals", 24 July 1903, Los Angeles Herald, Vol. 30, No. 290, p. 7, col. 4, California Digital Newspaper Collection ( accessed 24 June 2015).

Source: “Hotel Arrivals”, 24 July 1903, Los Angeles Herald, Vol. 30, No. 290, p. 7, col. 4, California Digital Newspaper Collection ( accessed 24 June 2015).

These articles have great research value especially since they can help pinpoint the location of an ancestor in those “off year” periods between federal and state censuses. In addition, the articles will often state the marital status of a guest and even a wife’s first name.

In many communities, many residents believed there was a “right to know” who was visiting and where they were staying. I doubt in 2015 that you would see an Orlando, Florida newspaper announcing your arrival at a Disney World hotel; modern expectations of privacy are much different than they were 100 or even 50 years ago.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.