Introducing…The World Memory Project


Our Ancestry World Archives Project community is about to get a whole lot bigger!

Almost three years ago we started the Ancestry World Archives Project with a vision of involving the genealogy community to make more records accessible and free. Since that time over 76,000 of you have helped to index over 71 million records. As collections of records are completed we’ve been putting them online for free for anyone to search. You have helped thousands of people discover their family history by preserving historical documents that might otherwise be lost.

Today, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com, 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 this information 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.

Starting today, hundreds of new people will be joining our community every day. They are coming to help bring these significant records to light. Most of them will not be genealogists. Many of them will be new to indexing. All of them will have a desire to see these important record preserved and made more accessible than ever. Please welcome them with open arms.

All collections you see in the keying tool and on the AWAP Dashboard beginning with the acronym “USHMM” (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) are part of this new World Memory Project. (You may recognize four of those projects. You have already keyed and arbitrated about 40,000 records from these four collections over the past couple of months as we piloted some of the Museum content.) We are relying on our existing World Archives community to continue to help arbitrate these records and assist new keyers in the World Archives Wiki on the project pages.

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to work with such a respected institution to provide people around the world the access to these truly important collections,” said Tim Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer of Ancestry.com. “It is our hope that by making these collections easier to search, victims and their families will finally be able to answer difficult but significant questions about the fate of their loved ones, and in doing so, complete and preserve such significant family stories.”

For those of you who are just joining our newly established joint community – Welcome! 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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Reader Comments

Thank you Ancestry.com and USHMM for giving everyday folks like me a chance to play a role in such a huge and vital project. It is an honor to re-build the history the Nazis faild to erase.
Sarah

What a wonderfully worthwhile endeavor! Many lives cannot help but be blessed by this effort! Bless you!!

I think this is a wonderful project and should be extremely interesting. I look forward to keying and reviewing it.

Wow! I can’t think of any project being more important than this one.

A member of ancestry.com for many years, I have never been prouder of you than for your decision to do this. Bringing these documents to the world will help assure that those who perished will not be forgotten but live on forever. I am grateful for the opportunity to help key their stories.

Recently I published my mother’s memoir of growing up under the Third Reich. At great danger to herself, she and her family hid Jews from the Nazis as did my father and his family. I am honored to come from such righteous stock! I hope to find information in your site to help me discover what became of those they helped.The victims of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.

I look forward to being a part of this worth while endeavor. I am sure many will benefit from it in the days, months, and years to come.

Honored and excited to be a new “Keyer” at the party…one question though, how do I get the document part of the screen to not revert back to the top while I am typing info into the fields below? I could be faster and more efficient if the screen didn’t move!

@mawmoo

Turn off the hilighter.

Today is my first day keying for the Ancestry World Archives Project. What brought me here was the World Memory Project. My mother’s brother died during the holocaust, not because he was a Jew (he wasn’t), but because he was a German who was more than vocal about the injustices he saw Hitler doing. I dedicate every keystroke that I make in this project to you, mein lieber Onkel, and all the people you were standing up for.

This is the first that I have heard of this project. I was even afraid to respond to your email, so much badness going on.
I think this is a WONDERFUL project and I will do what I can to help as much as possible.

This is SO great!!!

Help! I have been registered all of ten minutes and am already frustrated! I got everything downloaded, then got to the part about downloading image set and pick a project for Me. I saw the tutorial about keying and thought I better read that first so I did. Then I used the back arrow to get back to the download image set, pick a project for me, and it did not go there, it went to something else and now I can’t find that page. How do I get back to it and get my project to work on?

I am so eager to help and have my typing fingers at the ready but I have tried to ‘key’ 2 documents and they are obviously in french and polish. are there any documents in english, i don’t entirely understand what to do but really, really want to help.

@Frances

These are all people who were persecuted in Europe and the documents are mainly in Polish, French or German.

It can be a bit daunting if you aren’t familiar with those languages but the French ones arent’t too difficult and the Project Instructions do give you the words to look out for in the documents.

I have some Photos from my late father showing what seems to be Jewish prisoners.
This was after his D Day landings and trek in a field ambulance across northern europe. How should I present these photos to the project ?
David Scott, Wiltshire. UK

@Frances

Palestine, Illegal immigration is a primarily English set.

Ulm is too. but itty bitty. I think everything was checked out last night.

But mostly… the records are in European languages.

[...] you missed our big announcement yesterday be sure to read it here. And, to all of the new keyers who have joined us in the last 24 hours – Welcome! We’re so [...]

I know the feeling of not knowing as I am sure many of us do. I consider it a honor to help make these records available. I hope by doing so questions can be answered. Thank You so much, Naomi

I just started, and have tried to key one document in French that was hand-written, and did not match any sample documents. Then I tried documents from the Romanian Collection. Handwriting is in Romanian/Hungarian, old European style and most of the documents do not match any samples.
This is such an important project, but I feel inadequate! Suggestions?

@aagram…. i think most of the documents you cant identify in Romania are subsequent pages of one of the packets. those would be cover pages.

Practice is the most reliable way to cure handwriting difficulties. Don’t be afraid to guess, there is a second keyer, and an arbitrator for these projects.

Biała and Lublin are probably the most consistently formatted projects in the collection. The handwriting for Biała is good, but takes some getting used to. Lublin takes more getting used to.

Palestine is in badly misspelled English.

The major thing is to not to give up too soon. We’ll be there to help.

I am looking forward to working on this project. Like most Americans, my ancestors traveled from Europe for various reasons between in the 17th, 18th, and 19 century. I had hoped to transcribe material for the Holocaust, but the language barrier was greater than I expected. I will settle for working on Naturalization records and African-American newspapers for now, but hope the little I do is the one piece of someone’s genealogy puzzle that they need.

What a wonderful opportunity to be able to work on the World Archives project. I’ve worked on my own genealogy for over 40 yrs. and have over 13,000 relatives on my family tree. I look forward to help adding to the archives. It’s so nice that it’ll be free for anyone looking for information!

Working on the czech republic one day and had to go to doctor’s. He is going to Czech republic for vacation. I shared what I was doing an it opened a huge dialogue. He is so excited to hear what is happening

[...] our announcement on Tuesday of the partnership between the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Ancestry.com to create [...]

My mother and her sisters were taken prisoners by the Nazis and I feel honored to be able to help in any way I can to make these documents available for everyone! Thank you!

I would like to be unsigned from my two projects as it is so advanced and Iam just starting out

We are excited to have all of you join us in this worthwhile project. If you feel the image sets you have downloaded are too difficult highlight the image set and then click on the cancel image set button.

Don’t get discouraged; try working on another collection that is less difficult until you get familiar with the keying tool and handwriting. Be sure to check out the project pages on the wiki for helps and it won’t take long before you find that some projects don’t seem as hard.

Enjoy this wonderful Journey!

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