Subscription data service Ancestry.com launched a similar program, the World Archives Project, this year. A recently announced partnership with the Federation of Genealogical Societies has societies providing volunteer indexers.
FamilySearch released a statement last week about the two programs. Though it started by welcoming all efforts that provide more economical access to more genealogical and historically significant records, subsequent claims that FamilySearch produces More quality indexes, faster and offers Greater free public access to images (among other assertions) struck a defensive note.
A little competition would make sense: If FamilySearch makes genealogical records free, wouldnt Ancestry.com lose customers? Will FamilySearch lose indexing volunteers to the World Archives Project?
No, both organizations insist. When I questioned FamilySearch, spokesperson Paul Nauta replied FamilySearch believes the introduction of records access initiatives will only serve to improve progress toward making the worlds genealogical and historical records more available economicallyan underlying goal of FamilySearch Indexing.
World Archives Project manager Christopher Tracy also downplayed any competition and emphasized the shared goal of increasing records access. Theres plenty of work. Billions and billions of records out there havent been indexed, he says.
They have a great community and theyre bringing more and more people into the [genealogy] space, he adds of FamilySearch. Ancestry.com reiterated his points in its own written statement.
The organizations collaborate on indexing the US census, and theyre avoiding indexing the same records. Each company has strategic relations representatives that speak or meet regularly to help accomplish these goals, Nauta says.
So, now that the air is clear, how do the two programs compare? Well break it down:
Records access for the public
- FamilySearch Indexing: All record indexes and many record images will be free to anyone through the FamilySearch Web site. If FamilySearch isn’t able to secure permission to put certain images on FamilySearch’s public site, you can access them at a local Family History Center.
- World Archives Project: All record indexes will be searchable free on Ancestry.com. Images of those records will be available to Ancestry.coms paid subscribers, and they’ll be free at public libraries that offer their patrons Ancestry Library Edition.
Benefits to volunteers (aside from the warm fuzzies of helping genealogists)
- FamilySearch Indexing: Qualified volunteers (those whove keyed 900 names within a 90-day period) will receive free access to all record images, even those not on FamilySearch’s public site.
- World Archives Project: Active indexers (who’ve keyed at least 900 records a quarter) will get free access to all record images, and can vote on which records the project should index. Active indexers who subscribe to Ancestry.com will receive a 10 to 15 percent discount on renewals.
Benefits to partnering organizations
- FamilySearch Indexing: Organizations that provide records for digitizing and indexing receive free copies of the record images and indexes.
- Ancestry.com: Genealogical societies that index a record set receive a copy of the images and indexes, as well as free advertising from Ancestry.com (I’m not sure what form the advertising will take).
Both programs have each record indexed twice, with an arbitrator to resolve differences. Having been around longer, FamilySearch Indexing has more record sets you can choose to index. Its indexing utility is Mac-compatible; Ancestry.coms is PC-only.
The two programs indexing utilities work differently, and you might try both and decide you prefer one over the other. Wed love to hear about your experiences using the utilitiesclick Comments to post.