More on the Internet Biographical Collection logo1.bmpI received the following from one of my colleagues at Ancestry regarding the Internet Biographical Collection:

Hi, my name is Kendall Hulet, and I’m a product manager at  I’ve probably met a lot of you at FGS, NGS, and other conferences. If not, I look forward to meeting you in the future.
I wanted to write you a note because I’m extremely concerned about the frustrations that the recently-removed Internet Biographical Collection has caused.  We had hoped to provide a way for you to be able to search the entire web easily for genealogically-relevant pages and provide for preservation of sources for future generations. In looking back, we understand why members of the community are upset. We’ve heard you loud and clear, and we’ve removed this product with no intention of re-releasing it.  Instead, it is my hope that someday we’ll be able to provide a free web search engine that links directly back to the live web pages, and can become a useful tool to the genealogical community. If we do move forward with this type of initiative, we will seek your input and talk more with community leaders to make sure we get it right.

Kendall Hulet

20 thoughts on “More on the Internet Biographical Collection

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  2. Juliana,

    Thank you for posting Kendall Hulet’s announcement. It is indeed good news that the “collection” will not be re-released. I notice Kendall stopped just short of an apology, however one of The Generation Network’s legal representatives sent me an email apology, which I graciously accept.

    Janice Brown

  3. Thank you Mr Hulet for removing this ill conceived “collection”. If you at TGN really want to please your subscribers, listen hard and long to what they want. I just checked your “improvement” board and could not find a single mention of anyone asking for a genealogical search engine with cached images of their own pages.
    I suspect I am not alone in wanting more images of actual records such as more birth, marriage, death, probate, land, naturalization, immigration, military, etc. Your census index is next to none. You do a great job of this and it’s what keeps us renewing. On top of expanded content, one powerful tool would be the ability to sort search results by different criterea. How about starting a board where we can suggest specific records we’d like you to index? THEN LISTEN…..

  4. I concur with Judy about the need for more images of actual records instead of regurgitating what has been posted on other web sites. Why not complete the state census records-actual images-instead of a transcript. The federal census records are great but the state records especially for 1885 would got far to bridge the gap beteen 1880 and 1900 federal records. State Mortality records are necessary as well. Some are posted but many are not.

  5. What about the Obituary Collection – same tactic.

    I was in contact with my newspaper publisher and she is upset and has attorneys on this.

    Paid subscription to newspapers’ own website containing free access to obituaries?

    This Obituary Collection needs to be shut down and removed or made completely free without that cached url contraption this newspaper publisher is upset about, too.

  6. Ancestry need to concentrate more on getting raw data online including images rather than trying to create search engines to entrap other sites not theirs in first place.

  7. When will the actual content be removed? It is still accessible if you know the url. Will the data (website) collection and all backup copies be destroyed? Has the searchbot been suspended?

  8. That is good news to hear that has listened to the various communities and removed the Internet Biographical “Collection.” I have never seen such outrage by many communities including the genealogical community, historians, writers and academia against any one project and I am glad Ancestry was wise and listened.

    There is so much much more that needs to be made available in an online digital format in regards to IMAGES of rare source documents, rather than the company searching the internet, caching and displaying others’ material that is readily and freely available to anyone by simply using a search engine.

    I’m sure many in the various communities will be watching and hoping you follow through with your comments above. Please don’t let the various communities down.

  9. Mr. Hulet,

    Thank you for your comments and somewhat encouraging words comcerning this Collection.
    I think you will find that no one objects to a straight forward search engine that goes directly OFF and AWAY of your company’s website to the URL. We, and I speak collectively, object to the use of of cached or live pages. Reproduction of pages in a frame without the ability to break the frame to the home site is not the best way to do this. frames websites ,with a “close this header” ability per view, but they are a free, non seller of genealogical products and are not trying to anyting but allow people to remain on their website for more browing, or even to keep them there for that purpose.
    As a paid subscriber to ancestry and with some knowledge of frames and building websites, I was surprised,appalled,disgusted and finally angry with the lack of thought by the company with this approach.
    On the other side, I appreciate that fact that the links were removed, so it wasn’t as easily accessible,but the collection wasn’t removed and is still findable with the proper URL. Obitaries are showing up, if you know how to look for them, still on framed pages, as well as some of the non genealogical material that violated your own TOS. Ethical standards need to be posted and adhered to by the company to re-gain the trust that we, the paying public, once had.
    You all have been good for the genealogical community and this has allowed us, as researchers to sit in our chairs at home and read census, newspapers, many other aspects. I for one have appreciated this far more than anyone can know. Even if I did pay annually for the privledge, because genealogy has never been truly free. We have always paid one way or the other in time and money.

  10. I was DEEPLY disappointed to hear that has decided to not go forward with its plans to cache all genealogically valuable websites that have no robots.txt files prohibiting them. Such a cache would have GREATLY advanced the field of genealogy.

    I still, dispite reading numerous blogs and message board posts, fail to see why people who are not upset about Google, Internet Archive (the Wayback Machine), etc., caching their site, are so upset about doing it. was NOT “stealing” anyone’s work, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act clearly distinguishes between copying and caching. Come on, do you not think that would have undertaken a major project like this, involving more than a year of effort (according to blog posts from Chris Dunham AKA The Genealogue) without having first made sure it was legal to do so? And since Chris Dunham, one of the most widely read genealogical bloggers, noted LAST YEAR that Ancestry was doing this crawl, and provided a link to a page ON the site providing all of the details (including how to opt out), it is not as if was not providing fair warning.

    I appreciate the honesty of some prominent bloggers, such as Pat Ritchie (aka Dear Myrtle), who admitted that she was opposed to having her creative works cached, at least in part, because she felt that financially she could be injured. What really has raised my blood pressure are the much more numerous posts by people who do not claim that’s action financially hurt them, yet were opposed to doing something to make a profit. REMEMBER THE STORY OF THE GOOSE THAT LAID THE GOLDEN EGGS. With this kind of reaction from people who (hypocritically?) claim to be genealogy’s greatest friends, it would not surprise me at all to find that the goose will, in the future, become much less interested in laying.

    The fact that The Generations Network is a for-profit corporation means that if its Board of Directors (who are largely venture capitalists with little or no personal interest in genealogy) feels that money being put into increasing access to genealogical information would provide a bigger financial reward if invested elsewhere, then the goose will indeed stop laying. And those of you who claim that genealogy should be “free” will get exactly what you asked for — which I think is what a Chineese proverb warns us to beware of.

  11. Sounds like the I B C was another instance of Ancestry not Looking before it Leaped – this can often cause death by suicide.
    I too noticed Mr. Hulet’s words did not really amount to an apology – then again an apology usually means that one is seeking forgiveness and will not repeat past errant behavior. Legal Representatives of TGN may be trying to prevent sucicide – only time will tell.

  12. I agree with Judy and Mary Beth. I subscribe to in order to search actual documents and records of my ancestors. I do not need ancestry to be my genealogy portal.

    I hope we can all get back to our genealogy and I look forward to the Missouri State census images- soon and very soon, I hope- as well as future USA records and images.

  13. What we need are original records . The NEHGS has put online the indices and pictures of the original Massachusetts records from 1841 to 1910 . Why not put the records online of other states until 1900 or 1910 ? Connecticut has recently digitized its records .

  14. Ancestry has lagged behind in getting newspapers online.

    Original records and not transcriptions are needed for wills, bibles, land, probate, marriage and probate records to name a few.


    This alone will bring a lot of new subscribers. The records are sitting there rotting and nobody has microfilmed them. They are the old Lab records. The labs were factories, weapons repair, bricks. Many soldiers were stationed in these Labs especially in Macon Georgia.

    Your search engines are really bad. Why have a surname search feature and the search ignore it? Try searching for Mary Johns in South Carolina and look at the results. The results are staggering since the results include every listing for St. Johns county.

    Fix the search engine, get searchable newspapers online, images of original source documents with indexes.

    The internet already has a ton of search engines and we all know how to use them. Use your efforts getting NEW records and not the SAME old records that have been copied, and copied from one site to another.

    I would love to see all the Cape Cod records from the beginning online. Barnstable, Ma. has records from the time Rev. John Lothropp arrived in 1638. Why don’t you have the images of Rev.Lothropp’s diary? He was a Puritan and founder of Barnstable, Ma. a Pilgrm and part of the Plymouth records.

    There are so many records that have never been placed online that are desperately needed.

    Thanks for listening.

    M. Daniels

  15. I read the previous emails with interest, as I hadn’t been aware of the changes which apparently upset numerous people. I have just “rejoined” Ancestry after a year or so of inactivity due to family illnesses. I have noticed a great deal more ease in working through several areas than previously. However, is there a time frame for including even more current census information on line?

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