Take the 2-minute tour ×
Genealogy & Family History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for expert genealogists and people interested in genealogy or family history. It's 100% free, no registration required.

There are several compiled indices of US Public Records which have been referred to as the "US Public Records Index". In its various forms, it is compiled from an assortment of different records which are open to the Public in the United States.

Who compiles this information?

There seem to be at least four different collections which have been published under this name over the years. First, the collections on Ancestry.com:

  • The "Old" USPRI (current data on living people)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009: Randy Seaver's Blog Genea-Musings: "Old" US Public Records Index gone from Ancestry.com

It looks like http://www.ancestry.com/ has taken the United States Public Records Index database down from their collection. They said one week ago that they would do this in an Ancestry.com blog post:

I only did a very quick search, but I did not find the Ancesty blog post Randy quoted from. He goes on to say:

The previous U.S. Public Records Index was for the time period of about 2000 to the present, although the user could never tell what years were included for a specific locality or a specific person.

  • The "New" USPRI ("historical" data)

On Thursday, March 26, 2009, Randy posted about the "New" U.S. Public Records Index on Ancestry.com and his blog post says Ancestry.com was showing the source information as follows:

"Source Information: Ancestry.com. U.S. Public Records Index [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2009. Original data: Merlin Data Publishing Corporation, comp. Historical Residential White Page, Directory Assistance and Other Household Database Listings. Merlin Data Publishing Corporation, 215 South Complex Drive, Kalispell, MT 59901.

On the Ancestry.com blog, Heather Erickson posted on April 7, 2010: More U.S. Public Records = More Ancestry Hints describes the updated collection. The link in the blog post to the U.S. Public Records Index goes to a landing page which has the following information and cautions:

The U.S. Public Records Index is a compilation of various public records spanning all 50 states in the United States from 1950 to 1993. These records are all accessible to the general public by contacting the appropriate agency. Ancestry.com has simply made the process of finding certain public records easier by making them available in an online searchable database.

and

As Ancestry.com is neither the author nor the compiler of the data in its indexes, we cannot assume responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

The included data sets are:

Source Information: Ancestry.com. U.S. Public Records Index, Volume 1 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Voter Registration Lists, Public Record Filings, Historical Residential Records, and Other Household Database Listings

About U.S. Public Records Index, Volume 1

The U.S. Public Records Index is a compilation of various public records spanning all 50 states in the United States from 1950 to 1993.

Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S. Public Records Index, Volume 2 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Voter Registration Lists, Public Record Filings, Historical Residential Records, and Other Household Database Listings

About U.S. Public Records Index, Volume 2

The U.S. Public Records Index is a compilation of various public records spanning all 50 states in the United States from 1950 to 1993.

There is nothing in the current descriptions of this index to indicate which third party compiles this database, or why there are multiple "Volumes" of this index.

  • The FamilySearch.org USPRI

Family Search now has a collection United States Public Records Index. The catalog description says:

This collection is an index of names, birthdates, addresses, phone numbers, and possible relatives of people who reside in the United States between 1970 and 2010. These records were generated from telephone directories, property tax assessments, credit applications, and other records available to the public. The collection is now 53% complete. New records will be added as the data is processed.

Note that this collection covers a different timespan than what Ancestry was calling the "historical" USPRI back around the changeover in 2009. The 'learn more' link on the catalog description page goes to the Family Search Wiki article, United States, Public Record Index (FamilySearch Historical Records). In addition to the catalog description already quoted above, the wiki says:

These records have been gathered from multiple sources. The original sources are not available.

Farther down in the article, the section How to Remove Records from the U.S. Public Records Collection describes how to opt-out by making a request at PeopleFinders.com.

PeopleFinders is a leading Data-as-a-Service ("DaaS") provider for consumers and businesses seeking detailed insights on people, places and things. The Company is one of the largest owners of public records data in the U.S. including information on virtually every adult in the U.S., and has unique access to other commercial data sources. This proprietary data ownership and access powers PeopleFinders’ network of websites and services that help customers find and connect with anyone, anywhere.

PeopleFinders.com is a premier online service that helps consumers quickly search billions of records spanning the last 40 years, and delivers more comprehensive and accurate results than competitor sites. The service provides access to "people", "place" and "thing" searches on a subscription ("membership") or per-transaction basis including: people search, phone and address records, background checks, criminal checks, business ownership and other public records. PeopleFinders.com was founded in 1988 and is headquartered in Sacramento, California.

This site is the most reliable source for locating family members, friends, classmates, military buddies or anyone you want to get in touch with. We realize that few things compare to the joy of reconnecting with people you haven't seen in years, and we're ready to help you find anyone using a name, address, email or most any other information you have.

However, at the very bottom of the article, the Wiki says:

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.

"United States Public Records Index." Index and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing MyRelatives.com, a third party aggregator of publicly available information.

Clearly the information in the Ancestry.com USPRI and the FamilySearch.org USPRI cannot be identical if one collection has coverage from 1950 to 1993, and the other has coverage from 1970 to 2010. But how many companies have provided this information to these two sites? Is the MyRelatives.com site owned by Peoplefinders.com or vice-versa, and are either one of these companies a rebranded version of what in 2009 was the Merlin Data Publishing Corporation?

Whatever the source of this information may be, it is one of the most annoying sources ever, since it compiles data from all these sources and throws it all into one big pot with no way of telling which original record it might have come from. Even worse, I've seen this collection cited as the United States Public Records Office, which makes it sound like some official government entity (as opposed to a commercial data provider). I'd like to find out more about the compiler(s) of these collections so I can give the real history to the people who are mis-citing it.

share|improve this question
    
MyHeritage also has myheritage.com/research/collection-10220/… "This collection is an index of names, addresses, phone numbers, and possible relatives of people who resided in the United States between 1970 and 2010. These records were generated from telephone directories, property tax assessments, credit applications, voter registration lists and other records available to the public." –  Jan Murphy Apr 2 at 8:58

1 Answer 1

So I can at least answer the question regarding myrelatives.com and peoplefinders.com because although the latter domain is registered through a proxy service that doesn't provide information on the registrant, the former is not.

The myrelatives.com domain is registered with the following registrant details:

Registrant Name: Robert Miller
Registrant Organization: Confi-chek, Inc.
Registrant Street: 1821 Q Street
Registrant City: Sacramento
Registrant State/Province: California
Registrant Postal Code: 95811
Registrant Country: United States
Registrant Phone: +1.9164434822
Registrant Phone Ext: 
Registrant Fax: +1.9164437420
Registrant Fax Ext: 
Registrant Email: domains@peoplefinders.com

So it appears from the email address used that myrelatives.com is indeed related to peoplefinders.com and that both are provided by Confi-chek, Inc.

share|improve this answer
    
Not to be confused with checkpeople.com which is based in Palo Alto. –  Jan Murphy Apr 2 at 9:01

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.