Findmypast and Sister Site Mocavo Come Together

The following is from FindMyPast:

· Findmypast aims to deliver a more focussed, efficient and comprehensive service to US family historians

· The move is part of Findmypast’s plans for continued expansion in the US

January 18, 2016 – Leading family history website Findmypast, has today announced that sister site Mocavo will be incorporated into Findmypast to create a single experience for customers interested in discovering more about their family history.

The move forms an important part of the US growth strategy set out by Annelies van den Belt, CEO of Findmypast, and will bring the best aspects and features of both sites into one place.

The two websites are currently working together to transfer Mocavo’s strengths and expansive record collections over to Findmypast.

The transition will begin immediately and is expected to be completed within the next few months.

The move is part of Findmypast’s continued expansion and growth in the US market. By merging the two brands, Findmypast will create a more focussed and efficient business that will offer a more comprehensive experience to US customers while continuing to offer the industry’s best British and Irish collections.

In 2016, Findmypast will also be publishing hundreds of millions of new and exclusive US records to further enhance the experience for US family historians.

As part of Findmypast’s commitment to sustain Mocavo’s ‘free forever’ promise, Mocavo subscribers will continue to enjoy free access to all of the same records that were previously published for free on Mocavo. In addition, they will be invited to take advantage of a subscription to Findmypast equivalent to their existing Mocavo subscription. Mocavo customers can easily import their family trees onto Findmypast and can immediately start to receive hints opening the door to new discoveries that they never knew existed. A subscription to Findmypast will allow them access to the site’s entire collection of records, containing over eight billion names, as well as the thousands of new records released by Findmypast every week.

Mocavo Acquired by Findmypast / DC Thomson Family History

June 22, 2014 – The following news release was received from Cliff Shaw, founder of Mocavo.com:

Today is an exciting day for genealogists everywhere as we’re announcing that Mocavo has been acquired by Findmypast/DC Thomson Family History. This is a groundbreaking development for the industry and a major turning point in Mocavo’s quest to bring all the world’s historical information online for free. The wonderful folks at DC Thomson Family History share our vision of the future of family history, and we couldn’t be more excited to join them.

For the past few years, the Mocavo team and I have dedicated ourselves to bringing innovation and competition to an industry that is sorely lacking in both. From the very beginning of Mocavo’s history, we had this burning desire to figure out how to organize all of the historical information disparately spread across the Web. Not long ago, even with a hard-working and incredibly talented team, our service wasn’t resonating with users and our business wasn’t working. In October of last year, we decided to do something audacious and bold – something never before tried in the industry. We launched our Free Forever revolution and this became the day when Mocavo’s soul was born. Everything turned around once we put a stake in the ground and stood for free genealogy (and now Mocavo is growing rapidly, putting more than 1,000 free databases online every single day and more users discovering us than ever). We have our loyal and supportive users to thank more than anyone!

One of the immediate benefits of the acquisition is that we’re putting the complete US Census index online for free (forever!), making us the first commercial provider in history to ever do this. Search the United States Federal Census Now.

The next few months are going to be incredibly exciting as we bring together two companies with enormous resources, content, and technology to bring you more of what you love. I’ll also note that nothing on either site will be going away – just getting better (and quickly!).

Lastly, we could not have done this without the support of our loyal community members. We appreciate your dedication and patience, and we look forward to helping you discover even more of your family’s story.

Best regards,
Cliff Shaw, Founder

Just in case you were wondering…
Is Mocavo’s Free Forever movement going away?

Not remotely. It’s only getting better. As part of our commitment, we’re now putting the US Census index online for free. No commercial provider has ever done that in the history of this industry, and we’re just getting started.

What will change about Mocavo?
Mocavo and Findmypast will only get better as we merge an enormous amount of technology with vast amounts of content (and great people on both teams).

Mocavo Adds 450 New Records Indexes Which Include 25M Records from the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand

Mocavo.com

On March 7, I got a note from Cliff Shaw at Mocavo stating that “Today alone, we are adding more than 450 new record indexes in addition to the 1,000 databases that we usually launch every day. These indexes include 25 million names from a variety of countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.”

Sound interesting?

View the 283, 660 collections (as of today) now indexed and available at Mocavo.com

Gold-level Universal Search FREE at Mocavo.com Until Midnight on Sunday

The following was just received from Mocovo.com:
Mocavo-Valentines-Day

We think Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to say thank you for all of the support you have given us in the last few months. With your support, we’ve kept our promise and launched more than 1,000 new databases every day, all of them free forever. And in the past five months, we’ve added more than 150,000 new databases to our existing collections – bringing our total count to an all time high – more than 255,000 databases!

As a Valentine’s Day treat, we are giving the entire Mocavo Community free access to our Gold-level Universal Search from now until midnight on Sunday.

Try A Search Now

Mocavo Adds 20,000 Additional Databases in One Day

The following is from Mocavo:
Mocavo

In October 2013, we announced our Free Forever Revolution and made a commitment to launch 1,000 new databases every day. With the support of the Mocavo Community, we’ve kept our promise by adding more than 150,000 databases to our existing collection in less than four months.

Today, as a thank you to the entire Mocavo community, we are stepping it up and adding more than 20,000 new databases in one day, bringing our total count to all time high – more than 250,000 databases!

Staying true to our mission, you can now enjoy free access to more than a billion of records that will help you discover your story and pass it on.

Search the 20,000 databases we added today

Search all 250,000 databases

A Search Program That Will Read Handwritten Text?

Cliff Shaw seems to always be on the cutting edge of genealogy technology, especially as deals with the web. Now he says that it looks like they are close to being able to search on handwritten text. If his company can pull this off, it changes everything…

The following was received last night from Cliff Shaw, with Mocavo.com:

A little over a year ago, Mocavo acquired ReadyMicro and the incredible mind known as Matt Garner. One of Matt’s lifelong passions and curiosities is to enable computers to read historical handwritten documents to bring genealogy search to the next level. It’s well known in the genealogy industry that historical handwriting recognition is the Holy Grail – the single largest technological advancement that would enable more content to become accessible online (except for maybe the invention of the Web). For the past year, we’ve joined with Matt to tackle this very hard problem, and have finally made enough progress that we can begin to report on it.

Let me start by explaining the problem. Ask a computer to read the page below and it will stumble all over place.

Mocovo Illustration 1

OCR (optical character recognition) technology could read some of the typewritten text – but would be confused by the handwriting (and invent typewritten letters that it thinks it sees inside handwritten text). To make matters worse, this page has multiple typewritten font types, including one that looks like cursive handwriting.

The first process we had to develop was a way to perfectly separate handwriting from typewritten text. If we could do this, the OCR could read the typewritten text, and Matt’s code could attempt to read the handwritten text. We call this process Handwriting Detection, and we figured that if the system couldn’t detect the presence of handwriting, how on Earth would we hope to decipher the marks into words? In the example below, you can see how our system marks typewritten text in green and handwritten text in red – with blue to denote what it believes are graphics or images. It’s not 100% perfect, but hopefully you agree that it’s headed in the right direction.

Mocovo Illustration 2

Now that we’ve detected where the handwriting is, we can start having some fun. Let’s go back 130 years and change the ink from black to blue.

Mocovo Illustration 3

Now, this is just handwriting detection (where we don’t understand what’s written – we just know that handwriting is there).

Let’s talk recognition.

Historical handwriting recognition is one of the toughest technical challenges to solve. First, penmanship is entirely unique to the individual. Second, because it’s historical handwriting, it’s in cursive. All the letters run together, adding another layer of complexity. Third, the way we wrote cursive in the 1700′s is different than the cursive we write now. There are even variations between decades. Our mind has an incredible capability of seeing through incomplete sets of data (a missing character stroke, poor handwriting, an A that sort of looks like an O, etc). Our brains do all of this for us and we don’t even notice it. When you think about how to describe this to a computer, you begin to lose your mind! I believe some of the greatest problems mankind can solve are those that someone would never have started if they had known how hard the challenge was ahead of time. Matt fooled himself just enough to start on the problem and now he’s making real progress from which we are all going to benefit.

Here’s the exciting part: Our recognition technology is starting to work. With limited vocabularies (potential answers), we’re achieving 90-95% accuracy. Sometimes, the technology is able to read things we’re convinced are unreadable (but after getting the answer back from the computer, you realize what was actually written). We grow closer to the Holy Grail every day and can’t wait until we can use the technology to bring more content online, free forever.

Matt and I will keep you updated on our progress over the coming weeks and months, which should hopefully make for some exciting news in genealogy.

Mocavo Community Digitization Grant Made to Bethany Children’s Home

Bethany Children's Home
This past Saturday, Mocavo announced the winner of their Mocavo Community Digitization Grant. Last November they made a commitment to provide $25,000 in digitization services to preserve historical records and make them available for free access. Bethany Children’s Home has been selected as their grant recipient. For more information please go to this link: http://blog.mocavo.com/2013/04/bethany-childrens-home-awarded-mocavo-digitization-grant. The story of the Bethany Children’s Home is truly inspiring! They picked a very worthy recipient for the project.

Mocavo’s Family Tree Viewer

Mocavo has announced the addition of a Family Tree Viewer. The following is from their blog:

The viewer enables you to build a new family tree from scratch, and/or upload a GEDCOM file to your Mocavo profile. Once you have created or uploaded a family tree, you will then have access to an entirely new set of features that will further help you uncover the mystery of your family history.

With the new Family Tree Viewer you can:

  • Build multiple family trees
  • Create profile pages for each ancestor
  • Save discoveries to ancestor profile pages
  • Search for ancestors within your tree
  • Export your tree to a GEDCOM file
  • Set custom alerts for the ancestors in your tree

You can create or upload as many family trees as you would like. You can make your tree public (share your tree with the Mocavo Community to help others discover their family history) or keep it completely private (no one will be able to view, or search for your tree).

Read the full blog for more information.

Mocavo and FreeBMD Announce Partnership – Search 300 Million English and Welsh BMD Records with Mocavo

The following news release is from the Mocavo.com blog website:

Today at the Who Do You Think You Are? Live conference in London, England we are excited to announce our new partnership with the FreeBMD Trust. The FreeBMD Trust shares Mocavo’s commitment to bring all of the world’s genealogical information online for free putting everyone’s family history within reach.

Beginning today, Mocavo community members can search nearly 300 million FreeBMD records through the Mocavo search engine. Information from FreeBMD will also be automatically matched to Mocavo members’ family trees. When one of our community members finds information from FreeBMD, they will be able to review that information in full detail on the FreeBMD Trust’s websites at freebmd.org.uk, freecen.org.uk and freereg.org.uk

The FreeBMD Trust oversees the FreeBMD, FreeCEN and FreeREG projects in the UK, which are dedicated to transcribing the UK Civil Registration Index, UK Census Data and UK Parish registers respectively. These projects are undertaken exclusively by volunteer transcribers who have dedicated countless hours to making this invaluable genealogical resource available and free for all to access. To date the amazing work of these volunteers has resulted in the transcription of nearly 300 million records. In 2007, the FreeBMD Trust was awarded the Prince Michael of Kent award by the UK Society of Genealogists for their ongoing contributions to genealogical research. In addition to our partnership with the FreeBMD Trust, Mocavo is also honored to announce that we have joined the Open Genealogy Alliance. Like the FreeBMD Trust, the OGA is aligned with Mocavo’s mission to bring all of the world’s genealogical information online for free putting everyone’s family history within reach. The FreeBMD Trust, Open Knowledge Foundation and the Open Rights Group are existing members of the Open Genealogy Alliance. We are joining forces with them to enable everyone to easily discover their heritage. There are many sources of genealogical information that exist in the public domain but are still beyond the reach of most genealogists because they are in analog format, are only made available through paid subscriptions or are made available by public agencies on antiquated and unnavigable websites. Mocavo is in the process of digitizing valuable records, hosting them for free and organizing them in ways that make it easier than ever for our community to make new discoveries about their pasts on a daily basis. We look forward to working with the OGA and FreeBMD Trust on this important mission. Start searching FreeBMD on Mocavo now!

Mocavo Gets $4 Million Venture Capital from the Foundry Group

I’ve had some great successes with Mocovo.com, and it looks like they’ve come into some venture capital. Good…

The following news release is from the May 16 2012 edition of Bizjournals.com:

Mocavo, an online genealogy research service, has landed a $4 million venture capital investment from the Foundry Group .
Both companies are based in Boulder.

Mocavo is a subscription service that helps users find ancestors in its online genealogy database, which it calls the world’s largest.

Mocavo’s technology also automatically trolls the web on behalf of users and tries to flesh out family trees from public troves of genealogical information and user-submitted sources as well as from public record data bases.

Read the full article.

Read Foundry Groups’ Seth Levine’s comments on the investment by their company.