Picturing the Census
The race to create easy-access US census data continues

The race to create easy-access US census data continues: Heritage Quest <www.heritagequest.com> and My-Family.com <www.ancestry.com > both say they'll offer digitized records from the 1790-1920 censuses by year's end.

Heritage Quest and its software side, SierraHome's Generations <www.sierrahome.com>, are launching a new site <www.genealogydatabase.com> for what they say will be the largest collection of primary source documents on the Web. GenealogyDatabase.com is the result of 10 years of restoration and transcription to create digital images with searchable indexes. At launch, the site will boast 3.5 terabytes of images and data (a terabyte being 1 trillion bytes) toward a goal of 10 terabytes. (By comparison, Microsoft's much-publicized TerraServer <terraserver.microsoft.com> of spy satellite images totals a mere 1.5 terabytes.) The census data — the equivalent of 12,555 rolls of microfilm — will encompass 10 million page images, representing more than 500 million Americans. And Heritage Quest promises to index new names at the rate of 500,000 per week. The new site will incorporate "sticky note" technology to help users working on the same page research in clusters by leaving each other messages.