Ancestry Blog » World Archives Project The official blog of Ancestry Sat, 25 Oct 2014 13:00:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 This Week and Always, We Remember Mon, 28 Apr 2014 21:39:12 +0000 Juliana Szucs Read more]]> docsIn the U.S., yesterday marked the start of Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust. It began with a House resolution in 1979 that set aside April 28th and 29th, the anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp at Dachau, as days to remember those whose lives were cut short by the Nazis. The Days of Remembrance has since evolved into an annual eight-day commemoration led by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

This week also marks the anniversary of the partnership between and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in the World Memory Project. The World Memory Project is a crowd-sourcing project that allows the public to help make the records from the Museum searchable by name online for free—so more families of survivors and victims can discover what happened to their loved ones during one of the darkest chapters in human history.

More than 3,100 contributors have indexed 2.44+ million records in the past three years. 15 new databases are now searchable free on

This project is the perfect way to pay tribute to the millions who were victimized and died in the Holocaust. Getting started is as simple as downloading a free software program and then typing details from a record image into a database that will then become searchable online. There are currently three projects to choose from in the indexing stages.

USHMM – Kraków, Poland, ID Card Applications for Jews During WWII, 1940-1941

USHMM – Poland, Lodz Ghetto Worker ID Cards, 1939-1944

USHMM – Poland, Lodz Ghetto Register Books, 1939-1944

Prior to the German invasion of Poland, Lodz had a large Jewish population, which was estimated at around 223,000 of the 665,000 residents of the city. The Lodz ghetto was established in February of 1940, and by May it was sealed, with residents not allowed out and outsiders not allowed in. When the Russians liberated the Lodz ghetto in 1945, there were 877 survivors left in the ghetto. The vast majority of those who passed through the camp either died of the conditions, or were sent to the killing center at Chelmno, or in its final days, to the extermination camp at Auschwitz.

While the victims of the Holocaust may be gone, their story lives on in the records of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Each name that is indexed is a fitting tribute to those who the Nazis thought would someday be forgotten.

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Commemorate 20 Years of Honoring Memory and Inspiring Action Sat, 09 Feb 2013 17:01:01 +0000 afechter Read more]]> Two years ago and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum created the World Memory Project.  This project is part of the World Archives Project and allows anyone, anywhere to help create the largest free online resource for information about victims and survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution during WWII.

Wall of Remembrance at the USHMM, Washington, D.C.

Although our partnership started only two years ago the USHMM has been bringing their message to patrons visiting the Museum for almost twenty years. Throughout the next few months there are events in 4 different cities where you can join us to help celebrate their anniversary of 20 years honoring memory and inspiring action.  At these events you will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn more about the World Memory Project and how you can participate
  • Participate in a memorable tribute to Holocaust survivors and WWII veterans for the role they have played in reminding us that What You Do Matters
  • Conduct family research with Ancestry and USHMM staff
  • Discuss intriguing questions – Who was responsible for the Holocaust? What if Hitler had access to the internet?  Can we make “never again” more than a promise?
  • Watch the one-man theatrical performance Time Capsule in a Milk Can (all ages) and create “building blocks of hope” (age 6 and older)

To join us at one of the following upcoming events, and to see the schedule of sessions for each event, visit or click on the link below.

Los Angeles, California – Sunday, February 17 at the Skirball Cultural Center

New York, New York – Sunday, March 3 at the Hilton New York

Washington, D.C. – Sunday, April 28 and Monday, April 29

Chicago, Illinois – Sunday, June 9


Click here to visit our YouTube channel.

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International Holocaust Remembrance Day Sat, 28 Jan 2012 00:34:29 +0000 Crista Cowan Read more]]> Today, January 27th, is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. As such, the United Nations has designated this day, each year, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This year, in particular, the theme is Children and the Holocaust.

Over 1.5 million Jewish children, and tens of thousands of other children were murdered during the Holocaust. “We will never know what these children might have contributed to the world,” said the UN Secretary-General. But, we can make sure that they are not forgotten.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has collected over 170 million documents relating to victims and survivors of Nazi-era persecution. The World Memory Project community has, in just eight short months, indexed over a million of those records. But, there is still so much more we can do.

Please visit to learn more about how you can help. Together we can make records pertaining to this dark time more readily accessible to those who are looking to restore the identities of people the Nazis tried to erase from history. has committed to making all records keyed by this community available online for free to anyone who wishes to access them.

Please take 15 minutes to watch today’s Ancestry LIVE broadcast. Take a few moments today to remember those victims and survivors of Nazi-era persecution. Then, resolve to do what you can to help educate yourself and others so that we, as a worldwide society, can prevent future genocides.

Until next time…

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My Genealogy Gratitude List. What’s Yours? Wed, 23 Nov 2011 19:36:35 +0000 Crista Cowan Read more]]> Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. By this time next week I expect I will be overstuffed on turkey, overloaded on football and overjoyed at spending a long weekend with my extended family.  I will also have spent the entire month posting (almost) daily status updates on my personal Facebook profile about the things I am grateful for.  I hope to be overwhelmed with gratitude.

At the beginning of November, in preparation for a month of gratitude, I spent some quiet time really thinking about the things in my life for which I am deeply thankful.  You made the list!  Yes, you.  As did my ancestors, some of my other relatives, different technologies, and family – old and new, in all shapes and sizes, warts and all.

Today I offer a part of that list to you. In return, I’d love to hear what you are thankful for this Thanksgiving week.

  • I am thankful for the wonderfully generous genealogy community, online and offline.
  • I am thankful for the 30,365 databases on that allow me to research large parts of my family tree from the comfort of my own home at any hour of the day or night. Wait…30,366 databases…30,367…I can’t keep up.  And, that makes me VERY thankful.
  • I am thankful for new genealogists who aren’t afraid to ask questions and I am thankful for seasoned genealogists who generously share their experience.
  • I am thankful for distant cousins who post their family trees online, with attached records and sources.
  • I am thankful for the 90,000 Ancestry World Archives Project contributors who have indexed over 100 million records, including over 700,000 records pertaining to the Holocaust and victims of Nazi persecution.
  • I am thankful to my mom and dad and my Uncle Karl who nurtured my interest in family history from a very young age.
  • I’m thankful that I can send a quick email or write a post on a message board and get, virtually, instantaneous responses to my genealogy queries instead of having to wait by the mailbox for weeks on end.
  • I am thankful for my parents and their parents and their parents and…you get the idea. The more I learn about my ancestry, the more grateful I am for the lives they lived and the choices they made that brought me to be who I am and where I am today!

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!  What are you thankful for?

Until next time – Have fun climbing your family tree…

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The First World Memory Project Collection Now Available In Search Thu, 11 Aug 2011 17:21:43 +0000 Crista Cowan Read more]]> Three months ago, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum launched the World Memory Project. Since that time almost 2000 community contributors have indexed over 395,000 records across 15 different record collections.  These records contain information about victims and survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi-era persecution.

We are proud to announce that this generous community completed indexing of the first of these collections in just 20 days.

USHMM: Munich, Germany, Displaced Jewish Children at the Ulm Children’s Home, 1945-1948

Following the surrender of the Nazis during World War II the Central Historical Commission of the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the U.S. Zone, Munich (CHC) collected information about some of the child Holocaust survivors in the Displaced Persons camps.  This particular database is an extracted index of CHC questionnaires created when Jewish children were brought to the Children’s Home in Ulm, Germany.  The children range in age from four to nineteen and were asked about their lives during the Nazi rule, the fate of their families, their journey to Ulm postwar, and their desired immigration location.

There were only about 325 questionnaires indexed as part of this collection.  But, as you can see, we captured each person listed, creating an index with information about more than 2700 individual family members.

This week that index was published on making these records freely available for anyone to search.  Images of the original questionnaires, some with photos, can be obtained directly from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum using these ordering instructions.

We invite you to join us and participate in the World Memory Project where you can help make these victims’ records freely searchable online and restore the identities of people the Nazis tried to erase from history.  Even a few minutes of your time can create a chance for family connections that transcend war and time.

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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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World Archives Project Update Tue, 31 Aug 2010 18:35:11 +0000 afechter Read more]]> Over the past few months we have released 3 new projects keyed through the World Archives Project, England, Newspaper Index Cards, Sydney and New South Wales, Sands Street Index, 1861-1930 and Perth, Scotland, Survey of Inhabitants, 1766, 1773.  The indexes for these projects, containing more than 1.27 million records, can be searched for free due to the efforts of 5500+ contributors!

The Andrews Collection, aka England, Newspaper Index Cards, is a collection of newspaper clippings, and transcriptions, pasted onto index cards detailing births, marriages, etc.  (I still recall keying the announcements for the death of a serviceman and less than a month later the birth of his son; my heart ached for the young wife.)  Although these records were not the easiest to key it was definitely worth the time it took to bring these events to life.

The Sydney and New South Wales, Sands Street Index, 1861-1930, was our first directory project keyed by the community.  In Australia directories are important to family history research due to the lack of census records -researchers can track their ancestors location through time and hopefully find the names of other relatives.

And Perth, Scotland, Survey of Inhabitants, 1766, 1773 records landlords and tenants – sometimes appearing as letters and more often as easy to follow forms.  The landlords were requested to provide an account of their tenants, sub-tenants and familes including their occupations and what parish they came from so this collection is a treasure trove of information.

Congratulations to our World Archive Project contributors!

The World Archives Project allows anyone, anywhere to help preserve history by typing facts from historical records into searchable online collections that are free to the public. Click here to learn more about joining our community of contributors.

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Ancestry World Archives Project: It’s Not Too Late To Get In On The Action Mon, 30 Aug 2010 16:35:22 +0000 Crista Cowan Read more]]> If you are a member of our Ancestry World Archives community then you know all about the World Record Challenge.  If you are not yet a member of our community, we thought we would let you in on what we have been doing and give you a chance to participate.

Our passionate and engaged community has keyed and arbitrated over 7.4 million records since June 1st.  We’ve had fun with weekly and monthly challenges and we gave some great prizes out along the way.  Collectively, our community has earned over 68,000 votes which they have cast for record sets they want to key next.  Additionally, thousands of contributors have learned about new types of genealogical records and received lots of practice reading old handwriting.  All of these things can only make our personal family history research even better.

We only have two days left in the challenge (today and tomorrow) so we thought we’d give you one last chance to get in on the action.  We have two, one-year, World Deluxe subscriptions for up for grabs – one today and one tomorrow.  The individual who keys and/or arbitrates the most records each day wins.  It’s as simple as that.

So, head on over to the Ancestry World Archives Project, sign up using your login and password, download the keying tool, and start keying!

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World Archives Project Releases New Projects: Slave Narratives and London School Admissions Thu, 11 Feb 2010 13:28:31 +0000 afechter Read more]]> In the past week we have released two exciting collections to be indexed through the World Archives Project.

Yesterday we released the Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves, 1936-1938.  Within these records are interviews with former slaves, photos, and folklore – or in other words a captivating way to spend a few hours.  The interviews detail the lives of former slaves, from when they were slaves to after they were free.  Although this collection is typed it is made a little more difficult to capture information as great care was taken to preserve the dialect of the former slave.  For additional information about this project you can refer to the Project page, help article, or  message board.

The London, England, School Admissions and Discharges, 1841-1911 were released last week – there are currently 350 contributors working on the project and they have already keyed 65,000 records!  This collection is comprised of records for millions of students (names and birth dates) who attended school in London for a time period spanning over 150 years.  Many times the records also include the names of the students parents so there is a wealth of knowledge available in this collection.  These records are handwritten but are recorded in easy to follow forms.  For additional information about this project you can refer to the Project page, the help article, or message  board.

If you would like to participate in keying these records you can learn more about the Ancestry World Archives Project here.   To download the Ancestry World Archives Project Getting Started Guide click here.

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Ancestry World Archives Project: January Highlights Mon, 25 Jan 2010 20:54:54 +0000 Crista Cowan Read more]]> If you read the World Archives blog you may have caught Anna’s post last week announcing the two new projects we released for keying – Canada, Nominal Rolls and Paylists for the Volunteer Militia, 1872-1914 and the Lübeck 1862 Census.  And, if you read the Ancestry Monthly Update you might have noticed that one of the collections of records indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors went live for searching on recently as well.  The project?  New England Naturalization Indexes.

What you may not know is this:

  1. Because this collection was keyed by contributors to the Ancestry World Archives Project the index is now available for FREE to anyone who wishes to use it.
  2. If you maintain active status as a contributor to the Ancestry World Archives Project you can also view the images in this database (and any World Archives indexed collection) for free – whether you are an subscriber or not.  Active status=a minimum of 900 records keyed every 90 days.
  3. Anyone can sign up to contribute to the Ancestry World Archives Project.  Want to help?  Click here.  Register using your user name and password.  Download the keying tool and start contributing to the ever-growing list of projects now available on for free because of this fantastic community!

Finally, from someone with a few roots in New England, thanks to each of the 2,108 other people who contributed to this particular project.  I’m excited to start searching.

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