Friday, September 5, 2008

Details revealed about Indexing Initiative announced today additional details regarding the World Archives Project, their volunteer indexing initiative, including incentives for project participants.

I never know whether to cringe or be amused when people let irrational dislike for lead them to irrational conclusions. One of my most thoughtful readers and active commenters once left this doozy.

[ indexers] pay to be subscribers and then work for them for free. Congrats to Ancestry for finding so many suckers.

Note my comment mainly has to do with indexing for Ancestry instead of for Family Search. At least FS will have a class of indexers who get access to images in return for their work. What do Ancestry indexers get? That's right. A pat on the back and next year's subscription bill with no discount. clarified today that

  • "All indexes will remain free to the public on
  • will donate copies of record indexes and images from the project to partnering government archives and genealogy societies.
  • Images and indexes from the project will be available for free to patrons at thousands of subscribing libraries across the U.S.
  • will provide free advertising to partnering genealogy societies. "

Further, active program contributors will receive the following benefits:

  • Vote on which records to index in the future.
  • Have free access to original images in the project's databases.
  • Receive a 10% discount off an annual U.S. Deluxe subscription renewal or
  • Receive a 15% discount off an annual World Deluxe subscription renewal.

To be classified as an active contributor one must index a minimum of 900 records per quarter. As the term record is somewhat ambiguous, I'm not certain if this means 900 record batches, 900 names or something else.

[Also see the follow up to this article.]

The full text of the press release follows:

ANNOUNCES FIRST COLLABORATION WITH THE FEDERATION OF GENEALOGICAL SOCIETIES Introduces the World Archives Project to Preserve and Provide Online Access to Historical Records

Philadelphia – Sept. 4, 2008 –, the world's largest online family history resource, today launched the World Archives Project, a global public indexing initiative designed to give individuals everywhere the opportunity to help preserve historical records. The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) is the first organization to partner with during this beta phase of this new venture, enlisting genealogists and family history enthusiasts to help test the software and prepare it for a more public release.

Now in public beta, the World Archives Project allows individuals to transcribe information from images of original historical records and to create indexes that will remain accessible for free on and on Ancestry's localized sites in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Sweden, and Italy. Active contributors* will soon be able to access all original images that are part of the World Archives Project. Organizations can also partner with the World Archives Project and sponsor indexing projects. will donate a digital copy of the sponsored index and images back to partnering organizations.

"As a global society, we are falling further and further behind when it comes to digitizing historical records," said Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of The Generations Network, parent company of "The World Archives Project allows us to work collectively as a community to preserve and to digitize records that will otherwise surely be lost to the wear and tear of time. By providing free access to these indexes on the world's most popular family history website, we will provide millions of people with access to records that might help them unlock new clues about their ancestors."

Already, several thousand individuals have joined the World Archives Project private beta, indexing Wisconsin Mortality Schedules and Nebraska State Censuses. Participants provided feedback and recommendations for this public beta release.

"We are thrilled to be a part of this cause and to help spread the world about this new initiative," said Wendy Elliott-Scheinberg, president of FGS. "The World Archives Project is a great way for enthusiasts and genealogical societies to directly impact and further family history research."

"FGS has been enormously helpful in the development of our vision for the World Archives Project," said Sullivan. "The 500+ genealogy societies that FGS represents are absolutely critical to the continued health and growth of genealogical research. We've been searching for years for the right way to partner with genealogy societies, and we think this project will allow us to help them attract new members by leveraging the popularity of We appreciate the encouragement and support FGS provides and look forward to continuing our relationship as this project marches forward."

For more information about the World Archives Project or to get involved, visit

*Specific guidelines must be met to be considered an active contributor. For more information, visit


With 26,000 searchable databases and titles and nearly 3 million active users, is the No. 1 online source for family history information. Since its launch in 1997, has been the premier resource for family history, simplifying genealogical research for millions of people by providing them with many easy-to-use tools and resources to build their own unique family trees. is part of The Generations Network, Inc., a leading network of family-focused interactive properties, including,, and Family Tree Maker. In total, The Generations Network properties receive nearly 7.5 million unique visitors worldwide (© comScore Media Metrix, July 2008). To easily begin researching your family history, visit

About FGS

The Federation of Genealogical Societies links the genealogical community by serving the needs of its member societies, providing products and services needed by member societies, and marshaling the resources of its member organizations. FGS was founded in 1976 and represents the members of more than 500 genealogical societies. FGS links the genealogical community by helping genealogical societies strengthen and grow. To do this, FGS publishes FORUM magazine, filled with articles pertaining to society management and genealogical news. FGS also publishes an extensive series of Society Strategy Papers, covering topics about effectively operating a genealogical society.



  1. Insider,

    The question remains why one would choose to index for Ancestry instead of Family Search. Do you have a good answer to that question?

    I guess if saving fifteen bucks per year is important that could be one, but not really likely one that appeals to most indexers. And as far as free access without a subscription goes, that would be only to the images being indexed currently and so again does not seem much of an incentive.

    What say you to this question mighty insider?


  2. Maybe this needs more clarification. So the indexes will be free, but still the indexer can't access the actual documents for free. The indexer still has to pay to see an image of the actual document. So what is the incentive? They get to vote on what projects to work on next?? Perhaps 'feel good' that they are helping make the images available to libraries that pay for subscriptions? Doesn't sound like a good deal to me!

  3. Dear Janie,

    Sorry about that. A typo gave rise to your need for clarification. Active participants have free access to images, not fee access.

    For more information, see Correction to Previous Article.

    -- The Insider

  4. Dear Mike,

    I'm glad to see I didn't drive you away. Thanks for your continued, thoughtful commentary. I've attempted to answer your question in Correction to Previous Article.

    I hope you see the irony in my doozy of a typo coming just prior to you bestowing on me the title of "mighty insider." Hee Hee.

    -- The Insider

  5. AI said: "To be classified as an active contributor one must index a minimum of 900 records per quarter. As the term record is somewhat ambiguous, I'm not certain if this means 900 record batches, 900 names or something else."

    That's 3,600 names a year. If it takes one minute each (very optimistic), that represents 60 hours of work. 10% off a $155 subscription is $15.50. That works out to 25 cents an hour. Less than they pay in India.


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