Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday Mailbox: History,, and HeritageQuest

The Ancestry Insider's Monday Mailbox

Dear Ancestry Insider,

What a disappointment. again is taking over a well built website, HeritageQuest.  HeritageQuest was the best website to verify census records in a straight forward format.

I’ve been doing research since 1978. It was difficult because it was a lot of letter writing and then waiting for an answer. Then we could order them from Everton Publishing. Then we had RootsWeb and Fold3, which Ancestry took over and swore nothing was going to change. Hum. They have not been true to their word.

The different websites they have purchased and destroyed is many. They want us to only use their website to do research and it’s way too expensive and hard to navigate. They have too many incorrect family trees.

They don't care how many sites they destroy as long as they get our money and continuously have to stumble through their bad website.

Leanne Elliott

Dear Leanne,

Wow, Leanne. You’ve brought back a lot of memories.

I’ve often thought that someone needs to write the genealogy of genealogy products and companies. Remember GenForums? Remember That’s another website that bought. I disagree with your assessment about not keeping their word. I think their intentions were good when they acquired RootsWeb and, but they soon came to regard these websites as distractions. In the end, they kept their word too literally, leaving these websites unchanged.

You also made me remember film rental. I was never one to have a microfilm reader and rent microfilms. I remember websites that rented the U.S. census on microfilm back when I was just getting serious about using original records. Purchasing the census on CD-ROMs was displacing film rental and I had moved close enough to the Family History Library that the idea of buying a microfilm reader seemed a bit, well, overkill.

I have wispy memories of HeritageQuest and microfilm rentals, but I can’t pull them into focus. The Encyclopedia of Genealogy website says that HeritageQuest acquired the American Genealogical Lending Library back in 1998. I can’t remember how HeritageQuest made its way into ProQuest.

Your email was the first I had heard of taking over HeritageQuest. If had purchased HeritageQuest, surely I would have heard. I posed a set of questions about it to I’ll share their answers tomorrow.

The Ancestry Insider


  1. ProQuest made a business decision to outsource hosting the census images to Ancestry so this isn't a buyout. If you don't like it then ProQuest should be the target of your ire Leanne.

  2. I don't understand why Rootsweb would have to be a distraction. I *could* be a continued great asset. What I don't understand is why you think it stays true to the intention to not change Rootsweb when they refuse to repair software errors that occur and when they install their own volunteer administrators whose "job" it is to restrain traffic on the sites. I also don't understand why there is no one at Ancestry who cares a hoot about rootsweb - after all, ancestry claims the clicks from rootsweb as their own. So why don't they want Rootsweb to work *with* and not as a stepchild. All of the blogger that I read, including you, are basically interested in new technology and that alone is not bad. But I don't understand why you want to just throw away all the wonderful materials and posts that still exist on Rootsweb. It could be viewed as gateway to Ancestry, instead of a distraction.

  3. Here is a link to Proquest's press release about the "new interface powered by Ancestry:"

    The new interface eliminates some of the useful searching you used to be able to do on Heritage Quest, such as searching for everyone in a particular age range without entering any names. This change has been the subject of some discussion on the Librarians Serving Genealogists listserv:

  4. My entire comment just got deleted when I clicked "preview". Too long to write again.

  5. My comment got deleted when I chose Comment as ....

  6. The whole look chaged when I went to search it on the Seattle public library site yesterday

  7. Heritage Quest is/was great for clean tracking of surnames across all US Fed Censuses at once. I'm glad I printed out my work when I had the chance.


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