Posted on

Introduction to Automatic Internet Data Matching


Since we first announced Family Historian to the world, about 13 years ago, I have been surprised by the number of non-genealogists who aren’t clear what a genealogy program is for. A common question is “Family tree program huh? You mean it automatically goes off to the Internet and finds out who your ancestors were?” Well, after many years of having to answer with a slightly dispiriting “No” to that question, it’s very satisfying to be able finally to say: “Well – sort of”.

I?m talking about Automatic Internet Data Matching of course – one of the new features in Family Historian 6. Actually what it does is to find records on MyHeritage that match Individuals already recorded within Family Historian ? but these records can of course provide important new discoveries. The matching records can be either historical records or family tree profiles. At time of writing, MyHeritage has approximately 6 billion historical records in valuable collections from around the world, including census, birth, marriage and death records, newspapers, military and immigration records, and more. Family tree profiles incidentally are family trees, compiled by other genealogists ? but only family trees that the owner has chosen to make available for matching.

Someone asked: if I can see other people?s family tree profiles on MyHeritage, does that mean that other people can match their records against my records in Family Historian? Does it mean that MyHeritage is storing copies of my data? The answer to both questions is No. Automatic Internet Data Matching is a one-way research tool for your benefit only. It?s essentially just a way ? albeit a very convenient way ? of finding out where there are useful records about people you?re interested in. See MyHeritage Matches & Privacy Policy for more on this.

Some people aren?t interested in other people?s family tree profiles. They?re just interested in historical record matches. That?s not a problem. Go to ?Preferences? on the ?Tool? menu, and on the Internet Data Matches tab specify what you want. You can also set your required ?confidence? level. Set it low to find more matches. Set it high for fewer matches but greater accuracy.

How Do I Use it?

The way it works is simple. When you look at the Focus Window (the main workspace window) Family Historian asks MyHeritage for matches for the individuals displayed in either the ?Spouses & Children? tab or the ?Parents & Siblings? tab ? whichever you?re looking at. This ?conversation? happens behind the scenes. You don?t have to do anything. A little white and green circle, called a ?hint?, is displayed next to each person for whom matches are found. The number in the circles is the number of matches found. In the picture above,?9 matches have been found for Michael Munro, and 13 for his son.

It can take a minute or two for hints to arrive. You may notice a tiny little grey clock in the corner of each box while this is happening. It means that matches are being checked. If the clock disappears and no hint is displayed, it just means that no match was found for that person. You don?t have to wait for hints to appear of course.

If you move your mouse over one of the hints, a little balloon appears giving you more information about the match ? like the one shown in the picture for the?9 matches for Michael Munro above. One nice feature is that the balloon even tells you what information is held in the matching records, that you don?t already have ? the ?added value?. If you want to view the matching records, you just click on the link shown in the balloon. Clicking on the hint itself does the same thing. This takes you to a web page, showing a list of matching records for the person in question.

Get 25% Discount on MyHeritage Data Subscriptions

myheritage-discountTo view the list of matching records, you don?t need to open an account with MyHeritage. But to view the records themselves, you normally will need a data subscription. If one is needed, when you click on the ?View Record? button to view a listed record, MyHeritage will prompt you to set one up if you don?t already have one. The good news is that Family Historian users automatically get 25% discount on these, so be sure to follow this route to setting one up. If you just go to the MyHeritage website and set up a data subscription ahead of time, it will still work but you won?t get the discount.

Copy Record Details to Family Historian using Web Clipping

The recommended steps when working with matches?are: review the match, extract its useful information, confirm it (or reject it), and move on to the next match. Extracting the data is not automatic, but we?ve made it much easier in version 6, with its new web clipping capability. A full discussion of web clipping will have to wait for another blog; but the key point is that you shouldn?t normally need to re-type anything. Text, in particular, can usually be dragged directly from a web-page (a MyHeritage web page, or any other web page) and dropped into the appropriate field within the Property Box. Obviously it?s important to provide appropriate source citations. The Automatic Source Citation pane is designed to make this quick and easy ? and you can drag-and-drop onto it too. To open the Automatic Source Citations pane, click on the Automatic Source Citations button auto-source-citation-button?on the main toolbar to open the panel. Then click on the Help button on the right-hand side to learn how to use it.

Drag-and-drop works best if you?re using the new Web Search window to display web pages. You can use an external browser, if you prefer; but you may find that you have to play around with the browser settings to get drag-and-drop to work. Bear in mind that you can use copy-and-paste as an alternative if you wish (press Ctrl-C to copy selected text, and Ctrl-V to paste it).

Once a match has been confirmed or rejected, it will normally no longer show up as a match in the Focus Window ? but that?s also something you can override in Preferences if you wish.


Automatic Internet Data Matching is a great new feature, that can make your research a lot easier and a lot more fun. To learn more, please see


Simon Orde, Family Historian Designer