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.

Crista Cowan

Crista has been doing genealogy since she was a child. She has been employed at since 2004. Around here she's known as The Barefoot Genealogist. Twitter


  1. Susan Meehan

    Just this week, I found a relative who had been in the Kindertrain. I was the first relative he has had contact with, having lost the entirety of his family. It was most exciting to talk to him. So the idea of the World Archives Project appeals to me. I wish I could take part in it. But I cannot because you are not Apple-friendly. I have never used anything but a Mac and at age 73, I shouldn’t have to.

    I do not understand why has been so Apple-hostile You are the biggest and best family history source there is, so it could not be a matter of it being too expensive for you to broaden your program access.. I have been a member for years. But because I use a Mac, I know I can’t to access all the services you offer PC users. I wish you would adapt your programs so that I might be able to give back to help someone else make a find like the one I did this week. Until then, I cannot offer any help.

  2. Alyse

    I do not understand why there is still no way for Mac users to contribute – other than buying expensive and potentially harmful software emulators, dual booting, etc. Mac users make up an extremely large segment of the computing world.

    By the way, Susan – that was a truly beautiful story. I, like you, want to help but don’t feel I should change my computing habits for the whim of one company.

  3. BCarol

    I also used only Mac’s only at one time and I loved using them. So I can understand why you don’t wish to buy another computer.

    Here is a suggestion if you would really like to be a contributor to this project. Every day more and more survivors and families pass away. So, helping on this project is important.

    My suggestion is this: take advantage of the computers at public libraries to key the records. You might even be able to raise awareness about this project and work something out with the library to have regular access to one of the computers for this purpose.

  4. Anna

    I, too, would love to help. But I am a Mac only user, so… Using library computers is a good idea but not a great one. Why should Mac users have to spend more time outside their homes to be able to contribute. This makes no sense!

  5. Kelley Baughman

    I just want to add my voice to the chorus of complaints about no viable Mac option. The suggestion to use library computers is ridiculous!! As a mother of three small children hiring a babysit so that I can drive to a library to ‘volunteer’ my effort is impractical. Also, in our community, libraries have had to cut back hours so much that it is difficult to find an agreeable time. I know of none that are open after my children go to bed!

    If you really want to attract volunteers to this very worthy project it would be advisable to recognize a huge chunk of your target audience!

  6. At the very least, they should change the text of this announcement and all the other announcements about the World Archive Project from dishonestly proclaiming that “anyone with a keyboard” can help. You shouldn’t need to dig down into the second or third screen of the sign up process to discover that the keying software is Windows-only. They should just say right up front “anyone with access to Microsoft Windows”. “Windows access” would cover inconvenient modes like libraries and emulators, as well as the more direct methods. “Keyboard”, however, is not equivalent. Lots of people have access to “keyboards” that won’t work for this project.

    (I have a Boot Camp volume on my desktop Mac at work, but I am not going to be keying transcriptions from work. When I do genealogy is generally between 9 pm and midnight, and there aren’t any public libraries open that late anymore, what with all the cutbacks. I’m not willing to set up a Boot Camp volume on my personal Mac laptop because it takes up WAY too much hard drive space, and also requires rebooting to switch volumes. I hate rebooting because of all the context lost. The only time I ever do it is when I need to install updates.)

  7. It is incredibly disappointing that Mac users can’t access this program. It doesn’t make sense and really puts a large negative black mark across what looks like a very positive project.

  8. The ideal solution would seem to be to implement a web-based input system, so that anybody with a browser can contribute. Ancestry obviously already has a lot of programmers of web apps.

  9. BCarol

    “The suggestion to use library computers is ridiculous.”

    Good lord; I don’t work for ancestry and I am not connected to them in any way except as a long time subscriber.

    Please, if this wouldn’t be an option for you, that’s fine. But please rein in your insults. I actually prefaced my comments in saying that I too am a Mac fan so as not to add insult to injury.

    Think of it this way – the technology is geared toward PCs. That’s a fact whether you are happy about it or not. It is the reason that I switched to using a PC for my genealogy research and record keeping. The same reason I learned to knit right handed even though I am left handed. When you are researching it doesn’t help to add an additional frustration to your methods. It’s obvious from all the comments above that I made a wise choice to switch. I get the feeling that this is just another venue for you to air your Mac complaints.

    It’s like complaining that your CD won’t play in your 8 track player. Sometimes you have to give in and go to Plan B for best results. And unfortunately for Mac users, as I found out, using a PC is the preferred platform.

    So, as for ridiculous and other perjoratives, my suggestion for library computers was just that. A suggestion. In good faith I thought that some might want to do this and would like an idea on how to do it. Obviously it’s just a cluster complaint fest that I stepped into. Mea culpa.

  10. Aaron

    you all will pay if i get charged 299 dollars for a 14 day free trial i swear you better not charge me or else

  11. KelleyB

    To “BCarol”, I apologize for offending you with the “ridiculous” comment. When I originally read your comment I thought that it was an official reply from Ancestry. I thought that “use a library” was all that they were offering for a solution and it really got all over me.
    I have never been happier with my computing life than the day I said goodbye to my last PC. I am so glad and grateful to have my Mac and don’t ever want to deal with the hassles of a PC again. But in this day of platform-independent applications it really makes no sense that Ancestry hasn’t caught up. At the very least, I completely agree with Teri Pettit in that they should be honest in their advertising.

  12. Amanda

    I have no familial connection with the Holocaust, but feel the need to ‘pay it forward’ for all those other volunteers that had no family connections to me, but helped me anyway.
    I’m happy to do what I can.

  13. melanie

    After reading all the negative comments, may I suggest that this may not be right spot for them. This is supposed to be a blog about keying information the Nazi tried to hide from the world. I do not know if any relatives from the Jewish sides of my family were hurt by these Monsters, since my direct line family came here centuries ago. But I am proud and humbled to be a “Keyer” on this project. I can understand why Mac users would be frustrated. Inundate with your concerns, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”, someone said. Good luck to you!

  14. I love a good Mac vs PC debate.
    I’m a PC guy, always have been and probably always will be, mainly because I can’t afford a Mac.
    But the operating system has always been superior to Windows (although 7 is closing the gap).
    To say “Mac users make up an extremely large segment of the computing world” is not quite accurate, depending on how you define your terms. Mac users make up approximately 15% of the computing world. But that still amounts to millions.
    I believe the number of volunteer keyers is somewhere around 75,000. Add 15% and that’s over 11,000 additional keyers Ancestry could utilize.
    But they’re more concerned with iPhone apps and tweetbook or whatever you call all that juvenile crap and TV shows.
    I live just down the road from a major university. I could run over to Starbucks right now and pick up a handful of freshman computer students who could have this whole system re-written by Monday morning. With all the cash Ancestry is sitting on from their ridiculous subscription fees, there is absolutely no reason they can’t do this.

    End of rant.
    Have a nice day!

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