WorldVitalRecords offers access to billions of U.S. and international genealogy records through its own collections and those of its parent company, MyHeritage.com.
The combined data resources of WorldVitalRecords and MyHeritage present a very formidable family history research platform. The collections offer a nice balance between global records and North American resources. At the top of the list is the MyHeritage family tree collection, with information on more than 2 billion people. The site’s newspaper archives include more than 2.1 billion records and the MyHeritage photo collection includes nearly 30 million images. The full set of U.S. Census records from 1790-1940 is included, while death records include the U.S. Social Security Death Index (SSDI) with more than 94 million names. Vital records include birth, marriage and death indexes from many U.S. states. Overall, there are nearly 21,680 searchable collections available on WorldVitalRecords.
The international collections are just as impressive. A sampling includes Hungary Catholic church records, England marriages, Spain baptisms 1502-1940, the England and Wales census, German marriages (1558-1929), Italy deaths and burials (1809-1900), Essex (England) parish registers 1538-1900), Australian electoral rolls, Australia city directories, British and Irish passenger lists, Canada city directories, the 1878 New Zealand Gazette and much more. The browsable card catalog of resources on WorldVitalRecords runs 867 pages. Only a few genealogy web sites offer this kind of breadth and depth of information. All of the above information is searchable from the WorldVitalRecords.com site, but subscribers also have access on the MyHeritage.com website. Certainly there is much overlap in records, but the MyHeritage site has advanced tools for creating and managing family trees and conducting automated searches for potential records matches.
There are plenty of search options on WorldVitalRecords and its parent site, MyHeritage.com. Global searches can be done by name, place, keyword and year, or you can start by narrowing the query to a specific collection. To test the search engine, we ran a query for Harry S. Truman, the 33rd president of the United States. It returned 354,926 potential matches in 65 data collections. Data relevant to “give ‘em hell, Harry” was at the top of the results, including correct matches for the U.S. Census, more than 220 related family trees, 64 military records and more than 350,000 newspaper references. Since Truman is so well known, we also ran a search using a personal relative who died in the 1940s. That query returned 285 potential matches in four collections, including accurate U.S. Census listings for 1900, 1920 and 1940, plus dozens of news clippings. The news items even included obscure society notes, such as who came to dinner on a Sunday in September 1934.
The search engine at WorldVitalRecords.com worked very well, as did the one at MyHeritage.com. In the search dialog box at WorldVitalRecords appeared a graphic saying the search was “powered by PerfectSearch.” This sounded impressive, so we clicked on the graphic to learn about PerfectSearch. We were led to the web site of a healthcare data company and could find no references to genealogy or PerfectSearch. No doubt this is some kind of remnant from a previous era, but it is curious such an item would be left on the web site. This was among several instances we found with outdated information on the site and its social media channels. Thankfully, it does not appear to affect the quality of the search or quantity of returns.
The WorldVitalRecords web site has a decent graphic design, although perhaps a bit dated. It offers various ways to access data in its collections, from browsing to advanced searching to a card catalog with resources listed by record count. We encountered problems logging into the site when first establishing an account. First, there was a browser warning that the site’s security certificate was expired. Then we were prompted on a several occasions for a “client certificate” to verify our identity on return visits. These glitches can leave the impression that nobody’s home at the web site. Once we were on the site, things functioned well. One flaw to the dual subscription is there does not appear to be any integration between WorldVitalRecords.com and MyHeritage.com. If you make a discovery on WorldVitalRecords, you can download the document, but there is no option to save it to your family tree on MyHeritage. So users are forced to treat the two sites as separate research tools with separate logins. Both sites are well designed and easy to use, they just don’t interact.
The WorldVitalRecords site is fairly light on extras, but the included access to MyHeritage has plenty of features and extras. The family tree builder is robust, interactive, and easy to use. The companion Family Tree Builder software for Windows and Mac can be downloaded from the web site, or WorldVitalRecords will mail out a CD-ROM version. The MyHeritage system searches the site’s collections for potential matches, then adds a small icon to each person’s name in the family tree to indicate new records to review. DNA testing kits are available for sale on the MyHeritage site through its partner, 23andMe Inc. The cost is $199 and results can be uploaded to MyHeritage.com. Users can access their MyHeritage trees and data using free mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. MyHeritage has an active blog, and a new community discussion area where genealogists can pose questions, seek advice or look for others researching the same family names.
Annual subscription - $89.99 USD
WorldVitalRecords offers a relatively low-cost subscription that provides access to its collections and those of parent company, MyHeritage. For $89.99, users get one year of access to both sites, plus a CD version of Family Tree Builder software. A free seven-day trial is also available. This is an impressive bargain, but it is important to carefully read the terms. After the first year at $89.99, users then pay the standard rate for a data subscription at MyHeritage. Current pricing and renewal details are found under the user’s My Purchases page. The site does run subscription specials, so it is good to check often. The first year cost is $89.99, not $9.00 as it appeared on one subscription page we viewed.
WorldVitalRecords and MyHeritage offer a formidable one-two combination through an affordable joint subscription. Though they lack integration that could make them an unbeatable resource, the sites provide access to a wealth of genealogy records and resources that any family historian will find most valuable.
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