Collection of Historical U.S. City Directories Released by MyHeritage

Here’s news we love to hear:  the publication of a huge collection of historical U.S. city directories that has been two years in the making!

City Directories at MyHeritage

City Directories at MyHeritage

MyHeritage Announces US City Directories Collection

TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI, Utah —

MyHeritage, the leading global service for discovering your past and empowering your future, announced today the publication of a huge collection of historical U.S. city directories that has been two years in the making.

The collection was produced by MyHeritage from 25,000 public U.S. city directories published between 1860 and 1960. It comprises 545 million aggregated records that have been automatically consolidated from 1.3 billion records. This addition grows the total size of MyHeritage’s historical record database to 11.9 billion records. 

MyHeritage teams applied innovative technologies to produce this collection and make it as useful and easy-to-use as possible.

Machine-Learning and OCR Technology 

The city directories in this collection were published by cities and towns all over the U.S., and each directory is formatted differently. To overcome the formatting differences and unify the structures, MyHeritage corrected errors in the Optical Character Recognition of the scanned directory pages, and then employed several advanced technologies, including Record Extraction, Name Entity Recognition, and Conditional Random Fields to parse the data. By training a machine learning model how to parse raw free-text records into names, occupations, and addresses, the company produced a searchable, structured index of valuable historical information.

As an important resource for family history research, city directories can provide fascinating new discoveries for anyone exploring their family history in mid-19th to mid-20th century America. The records contain valuable insights on everyday American life spanning the time period from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement.

Cities in the United States have been producing and distributing directories since the 1700s, providing an up-to-date resource to help residents find and contact local individuals and businesses.

What You Can Find in City Directories

The city directories provide a wealth of information regarding family life during those years, listing names, residences, occupations, and relationships between individuals.

Thanks to their exceptional level of detail, city directories can also provide a viable alternative to U.S. census records during non-census years, and can fill in the gaps in situations where census records were lost or destroyed. In 1921, a fire at the U.S. Department of Commerce destroyed most of the records from the 1890 census. Despite the loss of the records in the fire, much of the data can be reconstructed using the 1890 city directories on MyHeritage, which consist of directory books from 344 cities across the country, including 88 of the 100 most populated cities during that year.

Example: Thome Edison in US City Directories at MyHeritage

Example: Thome Edison in US City Directories at MyHeritage

“We are harnessing new technologies to make family history research more accessible than ever before,” said Tal Erlichman, Director of Product Management at MyHeritage. “The use of machine learning to process the city directory records highlights the major strides MyHeritage is making in digitizing global historical records.”

MyHeritage automatically consolidated multiple entries for the same individual into one robust record that includes data from all the years an individual lived at the same address. This makes it easy to track changing life circumstances over the years. Users may be able to see more easily when their ancestors changed professions or got married, divorced, or were widowed — and MyHeritage automatically inferred approximate dates for such life events. Inferred dates contribute to improved matching between family trees and historical records on MyHeritage.

MyHeritage is currently indexing thousands of additional U.S. city directories that will be added to the collection in the coming months. This addition will include directories dating back to the late 18th century, as well as a large and unique set of directories from the late 20th century. 

The online collection of U.S. city directories is now available on SuperSearch™, MyHeritage’s search engine for historical records. Searching the collection is free. A subscription is required to view the full records and to access Record Matches.

How to Search the Collection

Click here to go to MyHeritageUnder Research in the menu click Collection Catalog and then click Directories in the side menu.

City Directories at MyHeritage

City Directories at MyHeritage

Searching the U.S. City Directories is free, but a subscription is required to view the records.

Users with a Data or Complete subscription can view the full records including the high-resolution scans of the original directories, confirm Record Matches, extract information from the record straight to their family trees, and view Related Records for the person appearing in a historical record they are currently viewing.

Click here to go to MyHeritage.

Family History Episode 21 – RootsMagic and Irish Genealogy Research

 

Listen to the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke. It’s a great series for learning the research ropes and well as refreshing your skills.

Originally published 2009. Republished March 4, 2014

https://lisalouisecooke.com/familyhistorypodcast/audio/fh21.mp3

Download the Show Notes for this Episode

Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008-2009. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.

Episode 21: RootsMagic and Irish Genealogy

Lacey Cooke guest-hosts this double-feature episode on two big topics in family history: RootsMagic genealogy software and how to get started in Irish research.

In the first segment you’ll from Bruce Buzbee, president and founder of RootsMagic Genealogy Software. He talks about his industry-leading software, RootsMagic, which you can try in basic form for free (RootsMagic Essentials) or purchase with all the bells and whistles (totally worth it!) for $29.95.

And in our second segment you’ll hear from Judith Wight. This is a very timely conversation since we are soon to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and Judith is a professional genealogist whose specialty (and personal passion) is Irish research.  This is your chance to learn from a master about how to find those elusive Irish ancestors! Listen for her tips on finding Church of Ireland records, civil registrations, estate records and how history helps us understand gaps in the records.

More Irish Research Links!

Irish Genealogy

RootsIreland

 

 

 

MyHeritage Launches Colorized Photos!

Today MyHeritage launched MyHeritage In Color™ — a breakthrough new feature that automatically colorizes your black and white photos in seconds!

I’ve tried my hand at colorizing, both by hand many years ago, and more recently with software. It brings depth and life to old family photos. However, both methods are time-consuming. When making a choice between colorizing and more genealogy research, research definitely wins out. 

The exciting news is that we don’t have to make that choice any more. This amazing new technology from MyHeritage makes it almost instantaneous! These are going to make great conversation pieces both online and in person. 

Here’s the MyHeritage Announcement About MyHeritage In Color™ 

Based on deep learning technology, MyHeritage In Color™ brings your family history to life, revealing never-before-seen details — the results will blow you away! 

This feature uses the world’s most advanced technology for photo colorization, which is available exclusively on MyHeritage and is under license from DeOldify, created by Jason Antic and Dana Kelley. It allows you to do more than look at old photos — it lets you experience them, creating a deeper connection with your family history than you ever thought possible. 

A Commitment to Authentic Preservation

Moreover, as part of our commitment to preserving the authenticity of historical documents, colorized photos will appear with a special embossed palette symbol at the bottom left corner of the photo to differentiate them from images photographed originally in color. All original black and white photos will, of course, remain intact and are not changed by the colorization process. 

Symbol indicates the photo has been colorized

Supporting authentic preservation.

Use our new MyHeritage In Color™ page to upload photos to MyHeritage and colorize them instantly or scan in your photos using MyHeritage’s free mobile app. 

Examples of MyHeritage In Color™ Colorized Photos

Here are some incredible examples of historical photos that we’ve colorized using MyHeritage In Color™.

Before:

After:

 
Manager of the Alamo bar, and Mildred Irwin, entertainer – North Platte, Nebraska, 1938

Before:

After:

 
High school cadet marching band – Johannesburg, South Africa, early 1940s. Photo courtesy of Adam Fisher

Before:

After:

 
The Cow Boy

Before:

Family Dinner

After:

 dining_family_color

Family of Timothy Levy Crouch, a Rogerene Quaker, at their annual Thanksgiving Day dinner – Ledyard, Connecticut,

We sincerely hope that you enjoy bringing your family’s black and white photos to life with MyHeritage In Color™.

My Experience with MyHeritage In Color™

My husband has been peering over my shoulder, fascinated as I colorized old photos from his side of the family. I love what MyHeritage In Color™ did with the photo of Eddie Larson and his new bride:

myheritage photo colorization

And I’ve shared this photo of myhusband’s grandfather Raymond at his father’s motor works home business in England:

cooke before colorizing

And here it is after colorizing:

cooke after colorizing

 

Happy colorizing!

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