Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ancestry.com future content

I assume the economic downturn is putting its chill on the genealogy industry. Genealogists will find it more important than ever to spend their money carefully. Perhaps that is why Ancestry.com is taking big steps to woo subscribers.

In an e-mail to registered users, Ancestry.com CEO, Tim Sullivan, offered 25% discounts on annual subscriptions and directed users to a web page with a "detailed look at" upcoming content additions. (Non-U.S. content requires a World Deluxe subscription.)

The page says, "we asked members like you what kind of historical content you thought would add the most value." The page goes on to state that they will be adding more content than ever before to "the world’s largest online collection of historical records."

Some of the plans listed are,

  • U.S. State Census RecordU.S. State Census Records, 1800s–1900s — Ancestry.com claims to have the most complete online collection of state census records. They say they will be adding more than 10 million records and 50,000 images.

  • England & Wales Birth and Marriage Indexes, 1916–1983 — Images are already available on Ancestry.com with a peculiar range-index, either Ancestry.com is doing a real index to this collection, or they are doing a deal with FreeBMD. Ironically, the collection itself is an index, so the images become superfluous, having no additional information, once you have an electronic index.

  • U.S. Naturalization RecordU.S. Naturalization Records, 1792–1989 will have 5 million names and 10 million images from more than 20 states. A new immigration collection will contain 2 million records of immigrants crossing from the U.S. into Canada.

  • The Complete Canada Census, 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1916, will be indexed and online. One or more of these are joint projects with FamilySearch. The 1930 Mexico Census is the only Mexican federal census available to the public and has 16 million individuals. I've seen this census on FamilySearch Indexing, so I assume it is a joint project also. U.S. Deaf Marriages, 1889–1894 is an Ancestry.com World Archives Project.

  • U.S. Military RecordAncestry.com will add millions of military records, land records, court records, newspapers and Jewish records. They will make continued updates to their contemporary obituaries collections and will update the PERSI index. Godfrey Memorial Library refused to renew Ancestry.com's license to the AGBI index (formerly at www.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=3599) since a competitor acquired both AGBI and former director of the Godfrey Memorial Library, Richard Black. In the complex three-way agreement, Ancestry.com is rumored to have received a first-round draft pick. (Just kidding.)

  • Ancestry.com will add 8 million names to the Australian Electoral Rolls, 1901–1936. The Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850–1934 will get 700,000+ new names. Other international additions include Italian vital records from Toscana, Lombardia, Liguria and Piedmonte regions; and millions of Scandinavian vital records. Ancestry.com will add more U.K. City and County Directories as well as German Phone Books.

  • Headstone PhotoAncestry.com is also planning on adding a headstone photograph collection.

  • U.S. Deaths Abroad, 1910–1974 — I assume this information is from NARA. The first thing Ancestry.com is likely to publish is the finding aid, 1870-1906 Registers of Consular Dispatches in 14 volumes (Inventory 15, Entry 82) which is rolls 19-32 of M17 although I seem to recall reading lately about the 1857-1922 Notices of Deaths of U.S. Citizens Abroad (Inventory 15, Entry 849).

To see the Ancestry.com web page and the complete list of upcoming content, click here.


  1. insider,

    Did you miss the part of that webpage you excerpt that said "in the coming years"????? What they mean is that they will dribble a little new US content occasionally without making firm commitments to do same, while still spending 4 to 1 on marketing vs. data acquisition.

    Also btw, did you read Randy Seaver's interesting blog post entitled "Are imaging services missing NARA records?", which seems to indicate that Ancestry (and Footnote) is intentionally using poor quality control to minimize costs with the results we never will really know since NARA would not then even let us see the originals to see what may be missing? I wonder if there was any quality control language in the NARA agreement that would allow NARA to void their agreements with such commercial providers to their cost is such cases.


  2. Insider,

    Also the list of someday-added does not include U. S. local Church, vital, Court, estate, land and tax *records,* or any 17th- and 18th-century *records* except where a specific database ostensibly begins ca. 1795.

    Mike, the contract between NARA and Ancestry did not include a quality control provision; it was posted for comment.

    Best wishes,

  3. I wish that the New York State Censuses would be in the que. We all could use more vital records as well, not States that would be duplicated elsewhere.

  4. I must have missed this e-mail. Was the discount for existing subscribers or just for new subscribers?


  5. I never received such an e-mail...I get everthing else from Ancestry...census correction thank you notices & monthly e-mail.
    I must be a mushroom???

  6. I did not receive an email about a 25% discount - more info please! I did receive the survey and a reminder that my subscription is up later this month as well as several emails for their extra products - books, webinars, etc. Does anyone know how we find out about the discount.

  7. I've since received a snail mail offer for the same. However, the mailer specifies the offer is for new subscribers only. I have several accounts on Ancestry.com and apparently one of them looks like I am not a subscriber.

    -- The A.I.

    P.S. Thanks to everyone else for your comments. I'm not ignoring them... at least in the sense that I read them... and may or may not respond in the future in a posting rather than a comment. :-)


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