Saturday, September 05, 2009

The truth about Ancestry.com & NEHGS

From: Walt
DearMYRTLE,
From your blog, I hear that you are at the same conference in Little Rock where Ancestry and the New England Historic Genealogical Society announced a partnership. Eastman reported (though I think the blog has been removed) that HisGen was giving its collection to Ancestry for online distribution. What will this do to my HisGen membership? Does this mean HisGen members will have access to all of Ancestry.com?



DearWALT,
Eight emails such as yours were received from readers wishing for clarification on the joint announcement. Don't panic, there is a simple explanation. Though neither organization's website lists the details of the agreement at this point, your ever faithful Ol' Myrt here has got the scoop.

In speaking with Thomas J. Champoux of NEHGS, who broke the news at the Ancestry.com meeting Wednesday night, the agreement concerns a partnership specifically with the World Archives Project, the volunteer indexing initiative at Ancestry.com. As I walked away from the discussion with Thomas, these key points struck home:

  • NEHGS is not giving its collection to Ancestry.com
  • Some of the 22,000+ Ancestry.com volunteer indexers may elect to process two or three NEHGS collections.
  • All World Archives Project indexes are freely available to all with Internet access.
  • Links from any World Archives Project index to the scanned images are available to all.
  • Non-members will be unable to view the scanned images, but will face a screen encouraging sign up to then view the image.
  • Future joint projects may be entertained after NEHGS and Ancestry review the progress of the current agreement.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR RESEARCHERS?
Indexes are never the final step in research, but do provide access to records that hopefuly provide clues about family relationships. With the vast collection at NEHGS, any additional indexing assistance is greatly appreciated.

In Myrt's humble opinion, this sort of collaborative effort greatly improves access to locating original documents. I couldn't care less where the final digital images reside, as long as each index entry accurately points to the associated document. Eventually, researchers have got to pay the piper. When doing research for a friend, I joined Genline.com for instance, long enough to extend that friend's Swedish ancestry three earlier generations.


WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PARTICIPATING SOCIETIES?
While attending the FGS Delegate luncheon here at the annual conference in Little Rock, Myrt learned how an association with Ancestry.com's World Archives Project can also benefit smaller genealogy societies. A delegate mentioned how her society made an agreement with Ancestry to participate in the World Archives Project. Part of the agreement includes the posting of the partner society's logo with hyperlink to the society's website. Increased activity at the society website has been noted coming through that society's logo/link at Ancestry's World Archives Project. Bravo!

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

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