In her February 2014 “What’s New at Ancestry.com,” Crista Cowan, Ancestry.com spokesperson, introduced viewers to 900 million new international records published by Ancestry.com in January. The records are from around the world and include 27 countries new to Ancestry.com. A special International page introduces the new collections. Searching from this landing page searches all the new collections, but Cowan recommends using the Card Catalog to locate particular countries and collections of interest.
The 27 new countries are:
Coming soon are 17 more: Armenia, Estonia, Ghana, Haiti, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Japan, Korea, Micronesia, Moldova, Nicaragua, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.
An announcement on the Ancestry.com blog provided further clarification.
“We are pleased to announce an extension of our collaborative efforts with FamilySearch International that will make more than one billion additional records from 67 countries available on Ancestry.com,” said the announcement. “These additional records will start being added in January and fully published over the next few months.”
FamilySearch is also making the records available to FindMyPast.com and MyHeritage.com. (See “FamilySearch Gives Further Details on Partnerships.”) Tim Sullivan, Ancestry.com CEO, has said that Ancestry.com is not very concerned with FindMyPast and MyHeritage also getting copies of the data. Because of the amount of data Ancestry.com holds exclusively, FindMyPast and MyHeritage are not affecting Ancestry.com’s growth, according to Sullivan. (See “RootsTech Ancestry.com Blogger Breakfast.”)
Some of the new collections are apparently from historical record collections that FamilySearch extracted from the International Genealogical Index (IGI). These collections are problematic from a coverage point of view. The IGI extraction program was not comprehensive across geography or time. As I’ve mentioned before, even individual parish registers or record volumes were not comprehensively extracted; some extracted names were simply thrown away. (See “Why Was the IGI?”)
The “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975” collection on FamilySearch.org corresponds to the “England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975” collection on Ancestry.com. I like that Ancestry.com includes the word select in the title. It immediately communicates the Swiss cheese nature of the records. However, the Ancestry.com description makes no warnings to users. It states, in totality, “This collection includes birth and christening records from England. You can learn more about this collection at the FamilySearch website.” The hotlink takes users to a FamilySearch wiki article where users are warned:
This index is an electronic index for the years 1538 to 1975. It is not necessarily intended to index any specific set of records. This index is not complete for any particular place or region. This collection may include information previously published in the International Genealogical Index or Vital Records Index collections.
The wiki article fails to repeat some of the warnings from the FamilySearch collection description:
Index to selected England births and christenings. Only a few localities are included and the time period varies by locality. Due to privacy laws, recent records may not be displayed. The year range represents most of the records. A few records may be earlier or later.
FamilySearch used to publish a list of the parishes included in this collection. The incomprehensive nature of the collection makes it incomprehensible without one. Unfortunately, FamilySearch has failed to republish it.
Bottom line: nothing can be assumed about a negative search in one of these collections.