Footnote to History

By Diane Haddad Premium

Buoyed by a contract with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) <>, a new service called Footnote <> has joined the spate of Web sites posting (or announcing intentions to post) masses of digitized genealogical records.

Footnote is digitizing and offering paid access to NARA’s records including Civil War pension index cards, Southerners’ property claims against the US Army, and naturalization records for New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Subscriptions cost $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month-or purchase a single image for $1.99. Visitors to NARA facilities get free on-site access there, and if you can stand to wait five years, the records will be gratis to all on NARA’s Web site.

Searching Footnote is simple-almost too simple: Type a name or keyword in to a single field. Spokesperson Justin Schroepfer suggests focusing your search with quotation marks or Boolean terms. At press time, Soundex capabilities and search hints were in the works. You also can browse by record type, year and category (such as place or military rank). Once you find a record, you’ll see a small image and some transcribed information. Click the image and you’ll be prompted to subscribe or purchase the image. Like < >, Footnote lets subscribers and registered users build Web pages with their own document images or those downloaded from Footnote.

NARA, facing an acute budget shortfall, stands to benefit from the nonexclusive partnership through licensing fees — an arrangement not unusual for national archives. Both Britain’s <> and Scotland’s <> archives have similar agreements with private firms.
From the May 2007 issue of Family Tree Magazine