Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Earth Shifts on Its Axis; New Planets Discovered

These things didn't happen in the physical world, but they seem to have happened in the genealogical universe over the past few days. These things have all been reported elsewhere, but let me summarize:

The Earth Shifts on Its Axis

FamilySearch announced its "Records Access Program":
to increase public access to massive genealogy collections worldwide. For the first time ever, FamilySearch will provide free services to archives and other records custodians who wish to digitize, index, publish, and preserve their collections. The program expands FamiliySearch's previously announced decision to digitize and provide online access to over 2 million rolls of copyrighted microfilm preserved in the Granite Mountain Records Vault. A key component of the program allows FamilySearch and archives to team with genealogy websites to provide unprecedented access to microfilm in the vault. The combined results ensure a flood of new record indexes and images online at and affiliated websites.
New Planets Discovered

Within days of my post damning World Vital Records with faint praise, they:
  1. Announced an agreement with FamilySearch (formerly the Genealogical Society of Utah) to provide its content free to more than 4,500 Family History Centers worldwide. The agreement also includes access in the FHCs to, a "social genealogical Web site that enables individuals to connect with genealogists from more than 1,600 cities."
  2. Announced a partnership with the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., whereby the historic collection of Ellis Island passenger arrival records will now also be freely available to visitors of both and (Full disclosure: I was a board member of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., from 2002 to 2005).
  3. Announced a partnership with Quintin Publications for access to thousands of genealogical and historical databases.
Then, teamed up with FamilySearch "utilize their combined resources to digitize and make available many large historical collections. The first project will be the three million U.S. Revolutionary War Pension files, which will be published for the first time online in their entirety." (I subscribe to, but haven't had a chance to write a product review yet.)

All of these things change the genealogical research universe as we've known it. And as far as I can tell right now, it's a positive change.

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