Monday, July 21, 2008

The Party's Over - Almost

If you don’t read blogs religiously like I do, then you may have missed the hoopla earlier today when Ancestry.com and FamilySearch announced their collaboration on US, English and Welsh Census records. You can read the full press release with all the juicy details at, FamilySearch and Ancestry.com Team to Publish New Images and Enhanced Indexes to the U.S. Censuses.

Let me quote in part from the release:

The first census exchanged is the 1900 U.S. Census. FamilySearch completed a 1900 index in addition to Ancestry.com’s original. In the new index, FamilySearch added several new fields of searchable data, such as birth month and birth year, so individuals can search for ancestors more easily. The two indexes will be merged into an enhanced index, available on both sites. The new 1900 census images are now available on Ancestry.com. The enhanced 1900 index will be available for free for a limited time at Ancestry.com and ongoing at FamilySearch.org.

Did you see – the INDEX will be available for free “ongoing” at FamilySearch.org, NOT the images.

This was an index worked on by Family Search volunteers – you know, volunteers, as in I’m doing this for free out of the goodness of my heart volunteers.

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings has concerns about issues as well as some interesting observations in his blog post, Ancestry and FamilySearch to work together on Census Records. Randy asks several good questions about the fate of other census indexes and images that FamilySearch has been working on.

Randy also links to a post by Diane Haddad at the Genealogy Insider who says,

The census indexes on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch will link to record images on Ancestry.com. If someone without an Ancestry.com subscription clicks the image link, he’ll be prompted to join. Subscriptions cost $155.40 per year or $19.95 for a month.

Well, the other shoe finally fell. My question is what will happen to the other images currently available for view at the Family Search website. Images like the Ohio Death Certificates, Texas Death Records, West Virginia Marriages – well you get the idea.


Maybe I’m just a confirmed cynic, but I’ve always suspected having these free images available online was a temporary aberration. Of course, I could be wrong. We'll just have to wait and see how this plays out.


I think, however, if FamilySearch is planning on turning over all or part of their image and index collection to Ancestry, they should inform their volunteers, so they can decide if they want to continue with the indexing project.


Hey, wonder what happened to Ancestry’s own volunteer indexing program?

Until Next Time!

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