Ancestry Blog » Digitization The official blog of Ancestry Thu, 02 Jul 2015 19:42:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 and FamilySearch to Make a Billion Global Records Available Online Thu, 05 Sep 2013 19:15:37 +0000 Crista Cowan Read more]]> The following press release was issued this afternoon by and FamilySearch.

Groundbreaking Agreement to Deliver Valuable Historical Content Over the Next Five Years

PROVO, Utah, September 5, 2013 – and FamilySearch International (online at, the two largest providers of family history resources, announced today an agreement that is expected to make approximately 1 billion global historical records available online and more easily accessible to the public for the first time. With this long-term strategic agreement, the two services will work together with the archive community over the next five years to digitize, index and publish these records from the FamilySearch vault.

The access to the global collection of records marks a major investment in international content as continues to invest in expanding family history interest in its current markets and worldwide. expects to invest more than $60 million over the next five years in the project alongside thousands of hours of volunteer efforts facilitated by FamilySearch.

“This agreement sets a path for the future for and FamilySearch to increasingly share international sets of records more collaboratively,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of “A significant part of our vision for family history is helping provide a rich, engaging experience on a global scale. We are excited about the opportunities it will bring to help benefit the family history community and look forward to collaborating with FamilySearch to identify other opportunities to help people discover and share their family history.”

The organizations will also be looking at other ways to share content across the two organizations. Both organizations expect to add to the already digitized records shared across the two websites in addition to new record projects to be completed over the next five years.

“We are excited to work with on a vision we both share,” said Dennis Brimhall, President of FamilySearch. “Expanding online access to historical records through this type of collaboration can help millions more people discover and share their family’s history.”

This marks a groundbreaking agreement between the two services. But the two organizations aren’t strangers to working with each other; hundreds of millions of records have already been shared and are available on and The companies also announced in early 2013 an additional project where they plan to publish 140 million U.S. Wills & Probate images and indexes over the next three years—creating a national database of wills and other probate documents spanning 1800-1930 online for the very first time.

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New England Family History Comes Alive with 220 Million New Records! Thu, 18 Jul 2013 20:58:53 +0000 Pam Velazquez Read more]]> We are very excited to announce we have added more than 220 million historical New England records to our existing database creating the most comprehensive collection of New England records available online!

Included in the new collections are birth, marriage and death records for hundreds of millions of residents in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as images, diaries and articles from Colonial times to the 1980s.


Over the past few months, we have spent more than 10,000 hours digitizing and indexing historical records from the region in order to make them easily accessible online.  The new records reveal countless facts of people from the region, from population to job growth, while also bringing insights into the life of notable New Englanders.


While the new records will help people discover their family’s New England history, they also shed light on what life was like for the typical New Englander in various periods of the region’s history.


Notable New Englanders

The new collections are not only a treasure trove of information for those trying to learn more about their family origins, but also those interested in learning more about notable New Englanders throughout history. Norman Rockwell’s indexed death record and Benjamin Franklin’s birth record are included in the new collections, along with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s obituary and even a record of Dr. Seuss’ birth (Theodor Geisel). The new collections also contain unique subject matter such as original letters regarding the Salem Witch trials.


The Name Legacy of a Founding Father

The new collections also reveal that the nation’s Founding Fathers left a lasting impression in many New England families. From 1850-1940 more than 500 people were named after John Adams, compared to 37 named after George Washington.

From July 18-21st, will make all of these impactful records from the New England Historic Genealogical Society – along with several other New England record sets – available free of charge for the public to search at This will enable beginner and expert family historians alike to explore curiosities and research their New England heritage.


Explore this fascinating new collection of records and explore what life was like in New England in the era of your ancestors! Learn more about New England by checking out our infographic!

New England In The 1900s

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Introducing…The World Memory Project Tue, 03 May 2011 19:23:29 +0000 Crista Cowan Read more]]>  

Today, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and announce the launch of the World Memory Project. The goal is to build the largest free online resource for information about victims and survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution during World War II.


The Museum’s archives contain information on well over 17 million people targeted by Nazi racial and political policies, including Jews, Poles, Roma, Ukrainians, political prisoners, and many others. The Museum assists thousands of people worldwide every year that are searching for information about individuals in its collections. The World Memory Project will greatly expand the accessibility of the Museum’s archival collection and enable millions of people to search for their own answers online.


“The Nazis’ genocidal policies quickly turned millions of individual lives, filled with hopes and dreams, into massive statistics that are hard to comprehend. Through our partnership with, we hope to remind the public that the Holocaust is not about numbers but about individuals just like us and to help families uncover histories they thought were lost,” says Sara J. Bloomfield, Director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “The Museum’s vast archives contain documentation that may be the only remaining link to an individual life. Preserving these personal histories and making them available online is one of the most powerful ways we can learn from history and honor the victims.”


Despite the Nazis’ efforts to erase human history, millions of their victims’ experiences were recorded in documents that still exist today. The World Memory Project enables anyone to help bring the information from these documents online – one record and a few minutes at a time – to help families discover the fate of lost loved ones and forge new connections that transcend war and time.


That is where you come in. The World Memory Project is a component of the Ancestry World Archives Project (AWAP), which we started a little over three years ago to help preserve records for generations, plus make them free and accessible online. It’s easy to get involved – anyone with a keyboard, a little time and an interest in helping preserve history can input information from the documents for the World Memory Project. And the indexes you help create will be available, searchable and online, free, to anyone at any time. You’ll find details about contributing as well as simple instructions for “keying” the records at


Even a few minutes of your time can help families discover what happened to their loved ones and restore the identities of people the Nazis tried to erase from history. The power of truth is in your hands.

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In Minutes You Can Preserve Centuries Fri, 29 Oct 2010 16:21:12 +0000 Kenny Freestone Read more]]> They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Some pictures, however, are priceless.

For example, these photos of my grandpa Jerry Ogden (who died when I was too young to have any memory of him) are priceless to me.
Our ancestors were living, breathing people. And they left behind visual cues to their lives, like photographs, documents and stories. When you add these details to your tree family, the history you share is more exciting and complete, and it’s a great way to get kids or grandkids interested in learning more.

Sometimes scanning in all those pictures can feel like an overwhelming project, but it can go pretty quickly with a digital camera.  A few months ago while visiting my grandma, I grabbed my camera and quickly photographed a bunch of papers and artifacts from grandpa’s world war II days.
It took less than an hour to preserve the whole shoebox.  So go dig out those old boxes of photos and documents and put them somewhere everyone can appreciate them — in your family tree.

Your family tree can be either public or private, so you can share those family photos and memories with just your relatives, or you can also let everyone enjoy Grandpa’s incredible handlebar mustache.

We’ve recently made lots of improvements to make uploading all kinds of media a snap.

It just takes a few simple steps:
1.  Click on an ancestor in your family tree.
2.  Click the “upload photos” link in the media gallery.
3.  Select the images you want to add from your computer.
4.  That’s it.

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Enhanced U.S. Census Collection Thu, 10 Dec 2009 16:28:00 +0000 Heather Erickson Read more]]> In a survey of members last year, top on your wish list was improved images for U.S. Federal Censuses. As you know, the U.S. Censuses are one of the richest sources of information for family history searches. So, improving this collection has been a top priority at throughout 2009.

We’ve enhanced six new U.S. Census collections – in addition to the six we released a few months ago.  In all, we’ve gone through over 200 million records to greatly improve images and many indexes.

Enhanced and clearer images are now available for the 1790-1900 censuses and indexes have been improved for the 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1900 censuses. If you have had a hard time finding your ancestors in these censuses, it’s time to search again.

It’s amazing that these wonderful records that chronicle American families for the past 200 years are now available to us in the comfort of our homes. The journey that the U.S. census took from the hands of the census taker who knocked on your ancestor’s door, to the screen of your home computer is a long one. Understanding that route can help you when it comes to interpreting your finds and weighing any conflicting details the census reveals.

You’ll notice all of the images have a cleaner, crisper look. And occasionally you’ll find you can read names that were illegible before—either because they were too light, too dark, too blurry, covered in tape, or even in some cases missing, etc. census BA images

So if you found a record before that you couldn’t quite decipher (“Is that really my ancestor’s name? What is his occupation? I can’t quite make it out. . . .”) you’ll want to look again. The images will be updated on your family trees as well, so if you saved the record there, you can just revisit it on your tree.

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Video: Behind the Scenes at Ancestry.com Fri, 04 Dec 2009 17:45:43 +0000 Heather Erickson Ever wonder what happens behind the scenes at Take a look at the people and thinking behind our company and how helps you easily discover your story online.

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Meeting with the nation’s archivists Thu, 31 Jul 2008 17:54:21 +0000 Ancestry Team Read more]]> This is my first post on the Blog. I work in the Content group and I’m responsible for many of the relationships with State Archives and Vital Records groups.

NAGARAThis past week, I along with Quinton Atkinson and Brian Peterson, some of the Content group colleagues, attended a conference of the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA), of which the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) is a subset. Most all of the states were represented there by their State Archivist and some of their staff. It was a great opportunity to get together with them and understand their needs and how can work with them. We were specifically focused on how we can collaborate on digitization efforts.

Currently has either signed or has pending agreements with close to 20 U.S. State Archives. The agreements cover various types of records including vital, military, naturalization, court and land records and address mutually beneficial priorities.

At the conference, personnel participated in several sessions. We joined FamilySearch for a grant writing reality type presentation. Both parties offered grants to NAGARA members for digitization services. The applicant finalists made presentations and then a peer review committee (like American Idol judges) gave critiques of the grant proposals. Finally, two winners were announced and we explained why we selected their proposals. will assist FamilySearch in the digitization of Summit County, OH Vital Records. also announced that we would be awarding $1.5 million in digitization services grants through State Archives in the first quarter of 2009. We handed out Grant Packets to nearly 70 interested parties and there was palpable excitement over the announcement.

Many of the sessions emphasized how and FamilySearch are working on a cooperative basis on joint digitization projects. The conference was the platform for announcing the Enhanced U.S. Census Project:

Preserving the American Historical RecordAnother prominent topic at the conference was the “Preserving the American Historical Record” (PAHR) bill, which was sponsored by CoSA and introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on May 14, 2008, as H.R. 6056. You can follow the progress of this bill at The State Archivists have tried for many years to get funding from the federal level to preserve and create access to historic records. This is the farthest they’ve ever gotten. has been very supportive of this effort and participated in the PAHR presentation. The above link has a place where you can go to contact your representative to help get this important genealogical legislation past.

Our attendance at the NAGARA/CoSA conference emphasizes’s strategy to work closely with state and local governments to digitize significant amounts of their content and to do so collaboratively. I would be glad to hear from any of the Blog’s readers about how you would like us to work with the archivist community.

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