World Memory Project Update

We want to clarify an important point regarding all documents keyed for the World Memory Project. These records contain details about the experiences of victims and survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution during World War II. Due to contractual restrictions, original images of these documents will not be made available online, even by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, other than temporarily for the purpose of keying. By not placing copies of the original documents online, we are able to index far more collections–and potentially help more people–than would otherwise be possible. For this reason, we respectfully ask that you not share images of documents you’re keying for the World Memory Project online in any way. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you and we’re here to help if you have questions about particular documents or image sets. You can reach us at . Also, please keep in mind that individuals may contact the Museum directly to request a free printed copy of a specific document at The Museum has a team of researchers dedicated to providing free reference services to the public.

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This being the case the following sentence from Ancestry on Facebook [today] is at least a tad misleading: “Register to become a contributor and help make more of these records available free online.”
As a contributor who has keyed hundreds of records in the last week, that’s what I thought I was doing.

Just to clarify.Our work from these records will be available on Ancestry?
The information will be on a plain page.
Then a copy of the original record can be obtained from the USHMM?

If I understand,the USHMM has not digitized these records,and has to have people search them by hand so to speak.

I’ve followed the blogs and message boards on this topic with interest. I can’t understand why you just didn’t come clean about the whole parameters of the project in the beginning. There must have been a thought in the minds of WAP that keyers might have objected to putting a great deal of time and effort with no end result. Perhaps next time a little more thought could be given to other peoples’ feelings especially as this would be a very valuable project to be on-line.

I presume the contractual conditions are imposed by the repository of the original records and this is not USHMM but for example national records offices. Presumably the project will link inquiries to document location details. Is that correct?

USHMM and would have little option but to comply with conditions imposed by the document repositories but the circumstances of these restrictions should be made clear, and the long-term aim should be to persuade the repositories to make the original documents freely and easily accessible on-line to inuqirers using the keyed-in records.


The next level down is The International Tracing service, which is doing the digitization. And Sending the images to the Museum.

After that, it gets complicated by the laws of various European countries.

Which yes SHOULD have been made clear form the get go. I can’t imagine any reason for wap not to have mentioned this from the get-go.

While the digitized images might not be available, my understanding is that the actual information of people’s names, lineage will be available to their families. Being able to get copies of the actual digitized information would be a matter of each individual family. This is at least the way I understand it. I still don’t see this as a waste of time as it provides a lot of information that was previously not available. There are many instances that I have found when doing family research where digitized copies of original documents are not available but the basic information is, which is still a huge step towards getting additional information from which we can launch research.

I’d hate to see less people working on these types of projects simply because the original documents will not be available for public use.


Not JUST because there will be no images. But because of what representations were made at the beginning that turned out not to be true. If it has been played more openly, concerning the fate of the pilot projects, released some two months previously, it would have likely not been an issue now.

That wap has since come clean, and is making genuine efforts now is a point in their favor.

The images matter for research, seeing a sterilized index, where the names can appear in any order doesn’t mean as much as seeing a group of individuals on the same document. Sometimes relationships aren’t explicitly stated.

Sometimes (often!) the images have names that didn’t make it into the index for one reason or another.

Thanks for the explanation, Paul. I agree with you about the value of access to the images. Incidentally the click-through e-mail address given in the post – – is defective. It looks miskeyed.


(original missing an L)

I am new to the research process, but find the actual document to be invaluable in family searches. Just finding a name and location for me has not been helpful because of common names and mis-spellings.

Additionally, I thought part of having a PAID membership was having access to more than just the WAP keyed data. Now, I am not so sure, and question the value of a paid membership.

And finally, as someone who has only been keying records for a few months, I am left wondering if this ‘no supporting documentation’ is a –Very Disappointing –one off, or does this happen often?

My research interest stems from my fathers side of the family being all but wiped out during the war.

I certainly understand privacy issues for survivors, but we are missing an opportunity to get the stories out before it is too late.

Wow. As a historian, these types of records would be invaluable to not only the survivors/families, but also to those of us who research and write the history of the Holocaust…Due to the agreement I would never share any of this, but it is too bad it can’t be made available for those who want to keep the memory alive.

Why are we not keying the information from the card and only the names

@Mary Ann

What we are keying very much depends on the project. Be sure to read the instructions for each project. There are differences amongst them.

MOST projects want more than just the name. Be sure to fill out all information available, for which there is a field defined, not just the “required” fields.

As a new keyer on USHMM projects I am really disturbed by what I am reading on the Blog and the Message Boards about this project. Can you please clarify;
a) digital copies of the actual documents displayed for keying purposes will not be available on-line at or any other public/membership site and can only be obtained by contacting the USHMM directly.

b) what requirements must be meet in order to obtain a copy of a document from the USHMM ( relative, professional researcher ??)

c) the data being keyed by volunteers is generating a “database”. Who owns the database, or USHMM

d) will the database be “searchable” on-line at, USHMM or both

e) if the answer to D is YES, when will it be available. If the answer is no, how is the database to be accessed.

As a, newer, keyer-I am glad to give my time to the Romanian USHM records. I have family and friends who were affected by this atrocity and if I can give them anything, a name, a birthday, a town-well, it’s more than they’ve had for over 60 years. Yes, I will be glad to see more records become available. But, this is the very best I can give them.

It may never be enough, but perhaps it will help them find some closure, or a place where they can begin their search.

I will hope and pray that one day it will be easier for all to access, and in the meantime I will work with the Ancestry projects that become available. This is not the time for snipping at them or each other. Give what you can. Don’t complain. Thank you.

Thank you for all the comments made, I just started today and now I wonder if I should have chosen the longest form to fill in. Is it possible to squeeze as much information into the forms? Is it possible to put in everything that is on the document into the forms. I worked on the NY citizenship today. I don’t want to key in any more unless the most information can be entered and everyone can have this information. My family survived the Holocaust and we are not Jewish so I have very little information given to my family. I am so sad to think I may not be able to get information. I was doing this for others, who are in the same position as I am. Hoping for information.

Thank you Jeannie, you said what I was “trying” to say in a much better way. Yes, it is disappointing, yes it would be better to be able to see the documents in context. However, this is what we have for now, every little bit we can add to shed a light on those who suffered is priceless.

It has been baby steps all the way, but with every step we get closer to the truth and to giving answers to many who are still searching.

I just keep keying databases in, in hopes that every little bit I add will provide some answers.

Thank you, Jeannie

@ declan

I can answer most of this. Though I was kinda hoping an employee would have before now.

A) That is correct
B) I have been told that anyone in the general public can obtain documents.
C) I’m not sure what ownership agreement exists between the various parties.
D) Yes
E) I think the indexes will begin coming online in the fall. From what I understand, there are close to 170 million documents in the whole project. Years worth of indexing.

I have only been keying for about a month. I have been staying with the easy records until I become more comfortable, however, I have tried the records from France during the Holocaust. I am not finding records that is talked about in the instructions. What I am seeing are camp instructions and supplies. The names I see are the people running the camps. I have yet to see any of the prisoners. Am I missing something? I also want to say that my fathers family came from Germany in the 1800’s. We do not know if we had any other family during the war. I for one would like as much opportunity to find out. So I will continue to key. Thanks

I wish there was an easier way to read these message boards. I posted a question and it took me 15 minutes searching your site to find my original post because the boards are all over the place. Can they be consolidated?

Also, it would be very beneficial if there were list of the towns within each country. I know I could be more accurate if this list existed.

What about a wildcard for typing in the fields. Very often I can read 75% of the field, then I don’t enter the field because a small piece is illegible.

Often I find the same word spelled differently on separate documents. Do I key as seen or correctly spelled – one example is Beruit, Beyruit, Beruth, etc?


We do not use wildcards… but do take your best guess. One thing I’ve noticed when arbitrating when I see wildcards uses is that the keyers just as often guess wrongly on the non-wildcard letters. So you may as well guess without the wildcards, you’ll probably be close.

You will want to key as seen.

Carlene, you’ve just been unlucky with the images you have downloaded so far. There are lots of records about the prisoners but every so often you will get a load of pages that are just about the camp. Just persevere and you will get some more interesting ones!

When keying Palestine Illegal Immigration, on Particulars of Illegal Immigration form – if a woman has a surname AND a maiden name do you key both for surname? This form does not have a spot for maiden name

I wanted to work on the Romanian project as it is more relevant to me as a large number of my family perished in the Holocaust. I was doing a lot of research on my family on the Yad Vashem site. I keyed in documents like the militia or immigration on your World records but would prefer to key documents that are relevant for me. How do I get to do that as it does not seem to download?

[…] few weeks ago I posted an update regarding the USHMM (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) projects where we asked […]

Ironically, I just received a mass e-mail yesterday from Anna. The wanting to know why most were not arbitrating these records.

Now that I am reading that the records will NOT be available, I understand the reluctance to spend time arbitrating. I know that some of my French relatives were murdered. Why did agree to these restrictions? The more people who are aware of these lists, the better!

@margareta I’ve not had any particular problem downloading images from that project, you may wish to contact Support.

Consistency – sometimes words are spelled differently on documents, especially Romania/Roumania and Athlit/Atlith/Atilth. Is there a preferred way to enter these?

Also, I have been keying a something as Jaffa, I just found a typed document and found that it should read Yaffe. I have keyed many documents with the incorrect Jaffa – is there a way for me to correct the previous documents?

Debbie, you should key whichever spelling appears on the document. No, there is no way for you to get the documents back that you have already submitted and change the spelling but the arbitrator should pick it up.

I’ve written this before, and I’ll say it again.

As long as there is a chance that someone may be alive, that somehow survived the ordeal of Nazi Germany, we can’t expect to have pictures and other information available, now. However, I remember my first ‘leaf’ and the chance to find a family I didn’t know. I was adopted. I knew their names-but nothing about them. A brief name card might be the difference between searching for that family-and they are told how to go about that, and giving up because you don’t even have a name. It would be sad to lose that opportunity.

I, for one, intend to continue doing the work. It is so very valuable. Do not give in to the nay-sayers. They’ve got a bad attitude. Key on!

I do it for my friends whose families were forever changed by the Holocaust, and I do it for folks who just want to know if there is someone out their hoping to be found.

I found two sisters and a brother. We’re very much alive-and it only took 61 years to find each other. Thank you Ancestry, thank you so much!

I for one will continue to do this very important work. I don’t know anyone who is-was affected in that horrible time but it should never be forgotton. The world must remember 6 million people who never had a chance to live their lives as God ordained. We have a golden oportunity and privilege to keep their memories alive no matter where the records go and who owns them.

i fell this is a honor to help with this project, but i can not fine the images to down lode . i know the importance of this project is i will keep it to my self. please show me where to fine the images.


My accuracy needs improvement …but on what …need some help for that.
I am keying the Romanian documents.