MyHeritage Introduced U.S. City Directories

MyHeritage introduced a huge collection of historical U.S. city directories. The collection was produced exclusively by MyHeritage from 25,000 public U.S. city directories published between 1860 and 1960. It comprises 545 million aggregated records that have been consolidated from 1.3 billion records, many of which included similar entries for the same individual.

The addition of this collection brings the total number of historical records on MyHeritage to 11.9 billion records.

The new city directories collection on MyHeritage is a rich source of information for anyone seeking to learn more about their family in the United States in the mid-19th to mid 20th century. The directories contain valuable insights on everyday American life spanning the time period from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement.

MyHeritage used Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to convert the scanned images of the directories into text. This process can result in errors in the output, so they created algorithms to detect and correct some of these errors.

Next, they needed to parse the records to identify names, occupations, addresses, and more. Their team used methods such as Name Entity Recognition (NER) and Conditional Random Field (CRF) to train an algorithm using a per-book model – meaning that for each of the 25,000 books, they manually labeled the records and used it to train the algorithm how to parse that directory.

The U.S. City Directories collection on MyHeritage is a treasure trove for anyone searching for more information about their ancestors in the United States. Searching the directories is free, but a subscription is required to view the records.

Users with a Data or Complete subscription can view the 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.

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