Footnote isn’t just another pretty face in the world of subscription genealogy sites. Combining fee-based content with an array of free member networking features, Footnote is my dark horse candidate for winning the value race.
Footnote has two membership levels: Basic (free) and All-Access (subscription; see the Vital Statistics box for prices). As you might guess, All-Access members get access to everything on the site. Basic members can’t view, share or annotate premium images, such as Revolutionary War pension files. (If an All-Access member’s Footnote Page has an image from Footnote’s premium collections, however, Basic members can view that image if they’re invited by the creator of the page via the Share function.)
Here’s how to access the main content areas of Footnote:
• Account and profile: To log in, click Sign In at the top right. Then use the Your Account link to access and edit your account information and profile, create pages about ancestors, upload images and more. (You can cancel your registration by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.) Your recently viewed records show up here; click one to return to that record. Click the arrow by Your Account to manage Watches (records and searches you’re tracking) and Footnote Pages you’ve bookmarked.
n Original documents: Click this link at the top of the home page (or look under Explore by Historical Era and click the See all Titles link) for a list of record collections; sort them alphabetically or by recently updated. Anyone can access the collections that have a Free icon. To search a database, just click on the title.
Most people want to jump right into searching. The aforementioned keyword search box on the home page is best for topic-related searches, since it looks at all fields in a record. If you’re looking for a person (who isn’t?), click the arrow or the Keywords link to expand the search box. You’ll get search fields for names and dates, and you can choose a state.
Footnote doesn’t perform Soundex searches, though it does use stemming (a search on Michael will also return Mike) and pluralization (type in war and it’ll also look for wars).
In your search results, click Quick Look (at the bottom of each document “thumbnail” image) to view a pop-up box with source information about the document. To see the whole document, click the thumbnail; if it’s a premium record and you’re not a subscriber, you’ll be prompted to subscribe or purchase a record view.
• Comments: Write a comment other members can see in a window next to the record image.
• Annotation: Draw a box around the pertinent part of the document and write a short note. Other members see the box and a pop-up note they can opt to hide. Note you can’t annotate images in the 1860 US census collection.
• Spotlight: Choose the whole document or highlight an area of interest and write a caption. The part of the image you chose and your note appear on your profile page.
Footnote members who use the site primarily to search for records might not realize its potential for sharing data with family members and other researchers. If the viewer is the cockpit of your genealogy journey, the personal pages and galleries are its cargo hold. That means Footnote can become your family’s way to share images, stories and vital statistics.
Web address: <footnote.com>
Suite 175, Lindon, UT 84042,
• Basic Membership: Free
• All-Access Membership: $69.95 annually; $11.95 monthly
Many records are available to non-subscribers for $1.95 per page. In this case, you’ll get an option to purchase when you try to view a record image.
Basic members: more than 600,000
• 49.5 million digitized documents
• 440 database titles
• 80 million Footnote person pages
• 360,000 member contributions
• Revolutionary War service records, pensions and bounty-land applications
• Pennsylvania Archives military, tax, land and marriage records from 1664 to 1780
• Civil War widows’ pensions, Southern Claims Commission files and service records
• World War II Hero Pages and photos
• Naturalization files for 11 court districts and passport applications (1795 to 1905)
• 1860 and 1930 US censuses and annual Indian reservation censuses
1997: iArchives founded in Utah
2005: Library of Congress selects iArchives to digitize its newspapers
January 2007: Footnote launches, partners with National Archives
March 2008: Footnote’s free, interactive Vietnam memorial creates buzz
September 2008: Footnote Pages unveiled at the TechCrunch50 conference