Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com Signs New Digitization Agreement with NARA

Posted by Ancestry.com on May 20, 2008 in Company News

Today The Generations Network and The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) signed an agreement that will make millions of historical records available on Ancestry.com. With the new agreement, Ancestry.com will have technicians and scanning machines onsite at NARA to continually digitize content for online access faster than ever before. To learn more about this agreement as well as NARA documents already available on Ancestry.com, visit http://www.ancestry.com/nara.

To commemorate this agreement and to celebrate Memorial Day, we’re making the entire Ancestry.com U.S. Military Collection available for free to the public from May 20 through May 31. Visit http://www.ancestry.com/military to view more than 100 million names and 700 titles and databases of military records, the majority of which come from NARA.

You can also read the entire press release.

10 comments

Comments
1 Warren CushingMay 20, 2008 at 9:57 am

Awesome.

2 LindaMay 20, 2008 at 10:44 am

It would be awesome if Ancestry.com had quality processes I could trust in dealing with these records.

Thousands of Ancestry’s WWII Draft registration index records, for example, have inaccurate data in one of the fields of data and missing one field that was imported directly from NARA records. The NARA index is correct so Ancestry.com didn’t bother to check that the import process was accurate by relating the various tables correctly. Ancestry.com told me they were aware of the problem at least six months ago! I just checked the free military record search and it still hasn’t been fixed. It would be better to hide that inaccurate field than display it for people to pick up as accurate. Just one of many reasons I dropped my 10+ year subscription to Ancestry.com last month.

The images of census records and the indexing process is far poorer than with Heritage Quest. Another sign that Ancestry.com doesn’t pay attention to the quality of the records provided. Our government could have made a better choice in their partnership!

3 anna morinMay 20, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Having been an ancestry subscriber for years, this shouldn’t be too big of news as they have had these collections that they are promoting now for a long time. It just means they have a formal partnership with nara now.

As per Lindas comment. Ancestry does have poor quality images. They tend to favor quantity over quality when it comes to images.

I haven’t used Heritage quest much, but recently I have come across Footnote.com and their image quality is superb. They have millions of NARA images too, maybe even more than ancestry. They are always adding to it too.

4 JUDY ADAMSMay 21, 2008 at 4:55 am

that is good news. this is the area that ancestry needs to concentrate on as the capture and access to records is what interests those who use your site. its about time more effert and money was spent in such a way.
having watch ancestry spend so much time and money on those two white elephents OWT and AMT makes me wonder how many historical records could have been saved insted. ancestry the subscribers want historical records not bells and whistle software to a system many do not like.
so for once i can say well done ancestry on this deal.

5 LisaMay 21, 2008 at 5:06 pm

Judy,

I am afraid WE have to disagree with you regarding Ancestry Member Trees.

My family and my wife’s family are using AMT heavily. We have over 200 members in our trees all collaborating on research of historical records, preserving old family photos, making comments on photos, adding stories and having a lot of fun preserving our family history.

We LOVE AMT and are always looking for more bells and whistles and improvements.

Thanks
Lisa

6 CaroleMay 23, 2008 at 12:09 pm

Lisa, 200 members of your family are collaborating on one tree? All have editing abilities?

How do you keep track of who is doing what? I sure would not want “Uncle Henry” changing dates or removing an ex-wife of “Uncle Joe” because he didn’t like her. You get the idea?

Are all 200 members researching documents on Ancestry.com and are subscribers?

Does anyone else see what I see?

Lisa, you may love the new AMT system for all the bells and whistles it affords your family. You may love the ability to merge information from other trees into your own trees, but those bells and whistles that Ancestry is awarding to the AMT users are not always what they are presented to be.

You and your 200 family members are uploading documents and pictures into Ancestry’s servers, and once they are uploaded they become the property of Ancestry. There are no copyright privileges. In addition, unless your family tree is private, anyone in the world can take your documents, pictures and information and merge it into their own trees. I am not saying that sharing pictures is wrong. I love to see what my ancestors looked like. I don’t like the idea of researching and paying for documents, uploading them to Ancestry.com and giving them away for free to countless thousands when we are already paying Ancestry.com a hefty price for the privilege of using their website and looking at the information they have there.

Most people merging information from other trees are accepting that information as-is, and are not bothering to check if that information is sourced or not.

I have come across countless trees with my immediate family information in them, and these trees are all clones of one another. These trees have duplicate children with different name variations, have children attached to the wrong mothers, and children from other families placed with the wrong parents. One after another, these incorrect trees are being copied, courtesy of the Ancestry Hints Merge feature.

For my own research purposes, I placed a possible but likely spouse with a certain family member on my Rootsweb tree, along with a large print disclaimer “Spouse and children not confirmed. DO NOT COPY. For research purposes only.” Within 3 days this spouse and the entire family line was copied into an AM tree, and then within another week, two other AMTs had this same family in their trees. For crying out loud.

This is a perfect example of good intentions gone wrong. Things like that cause to me reconsider sharing my tree information on line.

Lisa, there are hundreds of people just like you. It is wonderful that you love the new Ancestry tree, but know too that this tree system is lacking in too many features. This tree system does not promote professionalism nor good genealogy. The tree system provides a visual abundance of graphics geared towards people who don’t think outside of the box.

Judy, we all know you hate the OWT. I dislike it too. Kenny has already informed us that the OWT is here to stay. Until Ancestry gets their head out of that dark place, there is nothing we can do about it.

7 LisaMay 27, 2008 at 11:42 am

Carole,

“Lisa, 200 members of your family are collaborating on one tree?”

No, I said trees. We have 3 primary trees that we are involved with

“All have editing abilities? ”

No. Most are contributors. Contributors can add photos, stories, comments, etc but cannot delete people or edit people. They can add comments concernings the changes that need to be made. They add wonderful comments on photos about their memories of the event concerning the photo. We are capturing memories and stories from many many family members that would not be possible without something like Ancestry Member Trees.

“How do you keep track of who is doing what?”

The system records who added a story, photo, comment, etc. Currently the system does NOT capture who added or changed an individual in the tree. That is another bells and whistle feature we want and have requested an enhancement request for.

“Are all 200 members researching documents on Ancestry.com and are subscribers?”

NO. Of course I don’t know everyone in the family that subscribes, but I do know 5 do.

“You may love the ability to merge information from other trees into your own trees”

Not a feature I requested or use.

“Anyone in the world can take your documents, pictures and information and merge it into their own trees. I am not saying that sharing pictures is wrong. I love to see what my ancestors looked like. I don’t like the idea of researching and paying for documents, uploading them to Ancestry.com and giving them away for free to countless thousands when we are already paying Ancestry.com a hefty price for the privilege of using their website and looking at the information they have there.”

Not an issue for us. Only documents for deceased indivuals are shared with other ancestry members who are not already tree members. So if they want to view the documents that is fine with us. That is what we want. To preserve our family history so after we gone it will be available to our family NOW and in the and those that come after us.

“Most people merging information from other trees are accepting that information as-is, and are not bothering to check if that information is sourced or not.”

I agree, some are. And believe me I have griped about it. But if it is online where people can see it it will be copied.

“I have come across countless trees with my immediate family information in them, and these trees are all clones of one another. These trees have duplicate children with different name variations, have children attached to the wrong mothers, and children from other families placed with the wrong parents. One after another, these incorrect trees are being copied, courtesy of the Ancestry Hints Merge feature.”

I agree. I have seen merges done from the OWT where it combines spouses for two different men all into one family as if our ancestor. More on OWT below.

“For my own research purposes, I placed a possible but likely spouse with a certain family member on my Rootsweb tree”

If you put it on the internet anywhere at all, it will be shared and copied by others.

“This is a perfect example of good intentions gone wrong. Things like that cause to me reconsider sharing my tree information on line.”

It doesn’t matter where you put the information on the internet, if you put it where others can find it, then it will be used by them.

“but know too that this tree system is lacking in too many features”

We agree. Many many more features are needed. As Judy calls them bells and whistles. And these things have been already been documented on these blogs and Ancestry community threads.

“This tree system does not promote professionalism nor good genealogy.
The tree system provides a visual abundance of graphics geared towards people who don’t think outside of the box.”

We feel very comfortable with how the system works for documenting our family, events, stories, photos, attaching our source documents, and historical sources/records. And it is not all about documenting the past, as we are documenting the present with stories, comments, photos, etc. 10 years from now our family will hopefully appreciate this effort.

“OWT”
We have expressed our concerns with it as well, how it presents as one family several unrelated trees combined. We have provided proof to Kenny several times and we are hoping that OWT hints are changed to NOT point to the consolidated view of trees but instead to one tree at a time as the original submitter of the tree intended it to be viewed.

Thanks

8 RandyJune 2, 2008 at 6:41 pm

I have to agree with Lisa. I have an Ancestry Member Tree with over 6000 individuals. All have been entered by me and sourced thru census records, geneology.az.gov birth/death records, AZ Gravestones, newspaper obits, LDS records, Western States Marriage records, etc. This tree is public for one specific purpose and that is to share information I have researched and documented.

My tree is a culmination of many years research. Whether that research can be defined as “professional” or “good genealogy” I can’t say. And the fact that I pay for the subscription is immaterial. What is important is that information be preserved, if not for my sake then for the general community.

It is true that errors exist in Ancestry records, as well as other official government records. But, these can be remedied with a correction submission, if one is willing to take the time. As for accuracy, the census enumerators were not infallible. My tree is predominantly hispanic. It is only thru many years of research that one can fairly guess that Aguirre, Higuera, Yguerra can be the same family.

A less experienced person would not be aware of the variations in spelling. The vast majority of families in my tree are not even direct descendants. When I was unable to find “professional, genealogical” documention, I widened my search which lead to the inclusion of all individuals connected. This was simply to eliminate the need to retrace the same searches over and over. Every individual added was researched, I did not merge or simply add names.

The public nature of this tree has resulted in many inquiries regarding the families. I have no qualms about sharing my sources because I have paid for a subscription or documents. If my intent was to withhold information, I would certainly not even use the internet.

Additionally, I have met some of the most generous, knowledgeable, and helpful individuals online thru AMT. I have been provided with a spreadsheet of the 1852 MX census, and with the mortuary records (30,000) for Yuma. I have been provided with numerous photos to be included in my tree. All for free, no copyright restrictions, no quid pro quo mentality.

I have linked many to this tree who have provided me with updates to their families. I only link as “guests” which allows me to control what is added and provide a source record for new individuals. Much of this information would not be possible if it were not provided by family members with first-hand knowledge. One reason for the mis-matched families may be that the census enumerator was not aware of the family composition. Head of Household, wife, children–no matter that both adults had prior marriages and both brought children to the marriage.

If one is aware that someone has incorrect relationships in their tree, it is a simple matter to contact them and alert them to this. That said, these trees will not be used in any legal capacity–nor can I imagine that a “professional genealogist” would use them. In the end, the longer you research, the more apparent the errors become. If I can’t balance my checkbook, who does it hurt?

It’s commendable that Ancestry continues to provide additional resources. Anyone who has ever scanned a stack of documents will certainly recognize what a monumental task it is to digitize and convert millions of these records. To expect absolute perfection belittles their efforts and shows a lack of knowledge as to what is entailed in these conversions.

Most importantly, Ancestry has provided a method for experienced and inexperienced researchers to build their personal family trees. The AMT enables members to preserve their photos, their stories, and their history. As Lisa said, it’s also about preserving the present.

I personally am so grateful to Ancestry that I will rarely have to use a microfiche reader!

9 BrendaJune 12, 2008 at 2:28 pm

I would like to know if i get a refund
and how long it will take
thanks for the free site

10 joe harringtonSeptember 1, 2008 at 3:35 pm

i am having a hard time eliminating duplicates myself. So far the picture quality has been ok with me as far as records are concerned but I am finding I am having to quit out of ancestory because it stops responding. Ancestory is the only site that freeze’s on me.

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