The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and Ancestry.com announced today a press event to kick off their new agreement and to celebrate Memorial Day. For more than a decade the two have collaborated to expand the availability of NARA records. Ancestry provides the largest online collection of digitized and indexed NARA content, including all available U.S. census population schedules, all NARA microfilmed passenger lists from 1820-1960, and WWI and WWII draft registration cards.
Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States, and Tim Sullivan, CEO of Ancestry will be available at the event next Tuesday, 20-May-2008 at the National Archives Building. They will do one-on-one interviews to explain how the agreement helps preserve America's heritage and provide Internet access of important historical documents. The new agreement between the two will facilitate faster and more flexible digitization of NARA records by allowing Ancestry.com personnel to place and use digitization equipment in NARA's facilities.
This event comes just days after NARA posted a new report "Strategy for Digitizing Archival Materials for Public Access, 2007-2016," that among other things discusses its philosophy and approach to partnerships with vendors such as Ancestry.
In conjunction with the 20-May event, Ancestry and NARA are celebrating Memorial Day and honoring those who have served our country. Access to Ancestry's U.S. military records will be free from that time until the end of the month. This would be a good time for you to add military memorials to the veterans in your family tree. On their person page in your Ancestry Tree click on Create Military Page in the Tools section on the right side of the page.
Ancestry's NARA Content
Ancestry's NARA content includes more than 750 million names and 70 million images. If stacked, the records would be four times taller than the Sears Tower, the Empire State Building, the Washington Monument, the Statue of Liberty, the Space Needle, St. Louis’ Gateway Arch and the Hoover Dam piled on top of each other. A line of 750 million people would extend from Los Angeles to New York City 59.5 times.
In recent years Ancestry.com has added better source references to material obtained from NARA, allowing researchers to site information properly and to consult original NARA holdings. Now Ancestry.com has introduced a new search page that searches all its NARA content. Perhaps even more useful, the page lists all its NARA holdings in one place, giving microfilm series numbers, the NARA series title and the corresponding Ancestry title. Ancestry users have long needed an easy way to take a NARA citation, check to see if the source was available on Ancestry and then view the original document.
An interesting aspect of this list is the inclusion of the number of microfilm rolls (or fiche) included. I did a little counting and found Ancestry's collection includes over 61,000 rolls of microfilm/fiche from nearly 286 NARA series. Searching for series numbers (like "A1154") in the Card Catalog still doesn't work, but given the enormous value of this new page, I should hardly complain.
To perform a search or see the list of Ancestry's NARA content, visit www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/nara.aspx .
Journalists can obtain more information by contacting the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300 or Ancestry's Sara Black at 213-996-3812.