U.S. Content Update: Ancestry now digitizing onsite at NARA

Posted by on June 27, 2008 in Site, Content

naracl.jpgFor years we’ve been purchasing and digitizing microfilm publications from The National Archives, such as the U.S. Federal Census, passenger lists, and naturalization records. Upon completion, each digitized collection is then published on, making it possible for subscribers to access these records online at home, or wherever they connect to the internet.

Some of you might have heard of a recent agreement reached between NARA and The Generations Network. This agreement now allows us to operate digitization equipment onsite at The National Archives, thus making it possible to bring to you records that have never been available outside the NARA facility where they are stored.

After months of intense (and intensely fun) research, we’ve selected several collections and have begun digitizing them. Two of the early projects are 1) Death Reports of American Citizens Abroad, 1835-1974 and 2) Passenger and Crew Arrival and Departure Lists, 1897-1958.

So, instead of you having to travel to Washington, D.C. to browse through these records, we’re bringing them to you. Stay tuned.


1 Tim AgazioJuly 3, 2008 at 2:40 pm

This is good news…I’ve always wondered, however…how do you choose which collections from NARA to digitize? The two you mentioned in the post sound good, but a little obscure and will probably only be useful to a narrow group of researchers.

Tim Agazio

2 NetzbandJuly 7, 2008 at 12:49 pm

Are you doing this back in a private place or in the second floor research room? The reason I ask is because I was there recently and noticed four people at a table next to me, all with scanners, busy digitizing whole boxes of records. Of course, I could have asked, but I became suddenly shy. I thought–either Footnote or Ancestry–maybe. Anyway, I think it’s great.

3 Jaems RobertsonJuly 12, 2008 at 7:24 pm

I have found numerous errors in you indexing to the census records. People at the National Archives confirm that they hear that quite a bit.

I understand this is a human process but index books for the old census records have been available for years. I found cases where they were more accurate that your online search.

I also like the interface of Ancestrylibrary better than

4 Eunita MaplesJuly 14, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Would like to find out some information Lydon B. Johnson, Lady Bird her madan name was Taylor. To see if she related to me? And information on johnny Cash, his grandmother was a Taylor. Looking for more information.

5 Kevin LJuly 17, 2008 at 2:29 pm

Hope to see big things from this relationship. Footnote gets really nice quality scans so I hope you get the same.

6 Michael FlynnAugust 7, 2008 at 2:38 am

Some people upload scanned documents as pictures, but it would be useful to have a category of scanned document storage that incldes indexing the data on the document so others can search on it.

I would like to be able to scan all my source documents to archive them online and be able to cite them as sources.

Vital recorda on living people could have the same privacy restrictions as the tree that uploaded them.

If one of those documents is relevant to a future search, it should come up as a hit.

I expect there are hobbyists who would enjoy uploading indexed pictures of headstones, and other things.

If this feature becomes popular, it could become a significant soutce of archived, searchable documents and would be a way for individuals to preserve documents in their posession.

7 Darrell WesleyAugust 19, 2008 at 3:33 pm

Is there any intention to film the complete Civil War Pension Files not just the index cards?

8 Chris LydiksenSeptember 1, 2008 at 10:13 pm

3) Jaems, all of the U.S. censuses will be improved in accordance with our recent agreement with FamilySearch.

9 CarolynJanuary 31, 2009 at 6:57 am

I agree with Michael there. It looks like Footnote is attempting this too. It would be great tot upload all we have to share and have them indexed. Not just the tags, but the content. We all have tons of material, probate records, deeds, everything under the sun that could be indexed accd. to name, location, etc. Thanks!

About the blog

Here you will find informational, and sometimes fun, posts from the folks behind the scenes here at We hope you’ll notice just how passionate we are about family history and about the products we’re building to help connect families over distance and time.


Receive updates from the blog Learn more