Historical records subscription site Footnote announced early this morning that it will digitize and post online the entire US census, 1790 through 1930. (Footnote already has the 1860 and 1930 censuses.)
That’ll add more than 9.5 million images and half a billion names to Footnote’s databases.
That’s big news for two reasons:
- It really ramps up competition in online genealogy. Right now, Ancestry.com is the only site that offers the entire US census digitized and indexed. I wonder if/how this will affect Ancestry.com’s IPO process—the census claim is probably a major selling point to potential investors.
- Like Footnote’s other historical records, its US census collection will be interactive. Members can add comments and insights to a census record, upload and attach photos or documents, create a Footnote Page and identify relatives found in the census by clicking an I’m Related button.
Ancestry.com’s new Member Connect features offer interactivity, but not quite to the same extent as Footnote.
Records for each state will be added as they’re completed. Footnote has created a page where you can track the progress.
Footnote CEO Russ Wilding likens the census to a path linking to additional, less-used genealogical sources: “We see the census as a highway leading back to the 18th century. This ‘Census Highway’ provides off-ramps leading to additional records on the site such as naturalization records, historical newspapers, military records and more.”
He promises Footnote.com will keep adding unique record collections, not just the same records already on other sites.
“We will continue to move aggressively to add records to the site, specifically those that are requested by our members and others that are not otherwise available on the Internet.”
You can watch a free Webinar on how to use Footnote here (just enter your first and last names and e-mail address and click Register, and the Webinar player will open).
Update: Get more details on Footnote’s forthcoming census collection in our Q&A with spokesperson Justin Schroepfer.