By now, youve probably heard the announcement that historical records site Footnote is adding indexes and images for the entire US census. Our Q&A with Footnote spokesperson Justin Schroepfer offers more information on the changes to come for the site:
1. Is Footnote creating new census images and indexes? How is this being done?
We are digitizing the microfilm and indexing the data ourselves the same way we have done the [1860 and 1930] censuses. The way we do the census records is different with the addition of what we call sub documents.
We create sub documents for each individual on the census. It features the indexed information, and allows users to click that they are related and add their own contributions in the form of stories, photos or other documents. Essentially, this creates what we term the Interactive Census Collection.
2. When will we start seeing the new censuses added to the site? What states will be first? When do you anticipate the collection will be complete?
We have already started on 1920, 1910 and 1900. We are starting with the most populous states from these decades. We anticipate the entire census collection to be completed by the end of next year. We created a page where users can check the status of each decade and sign up for a notification when content is added to a specific state from a specific decade.
3. Looking down the road, how will the census addition affect Footnotes subscription pricing ($79.95 per year or $11.95 per month)?
We are always trying to keep the price of our membership manageable by operating lean and efficient. The pricing for Footnote memberships will not be affected by the addition of this specific collection. It is included in the Footnote membership fees as they stand now. We believe that we can cover our costs by providing significant increase in value to the current product. This, in turn, should help with conversion and retention.
4. Will changes to the workings of the site be necessary to accommodate the added data, searches and traffic?
Adding over 9 million images to the site with the indexes and the sub documents is not a small feat. Our engineering team has been working to ensure that the site experience, including the speed, remains optimal. The team has made some creative decisions to handle this new data and help ensure the customer experience is not negatively affected.