Out of This World

Out of This World

World Vital Records launches a subscription collection.

Online genealogy newcomer World Vital Records (WVR) <worldvitalrecords.com>, headed up by MyFamily.com founder Paul Allen (he departed that company in 2002), launched a subscription collection in October 2006. The site, a project of Allen’s Utah-based Internet-business incubator Provo Labs, offers both free and paid content.

Allen’s familiarity with MyFamily.com could be an asset. “It’s interesting to know their strengths and weaknesses and see how I can disrupt them a little,” he says. He’s hired Ancestry.com’s lead designer as well as the architect of the site’s original search engine. But he plans to broaden WVR’s focus beyond his former employer’s: “The United States has one-twentieth the population of the world. We’re excited about starting to do databases in lots of countries.”

Content that will remain free includes the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), Bureau of Land Management records <www.glorecords.blm.gov>, a few state death indexes and a host of miscellaneous Colorado records.

A $49.95 subscription gets you records such as Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members (1830 to 1848), Scottish deaths and UK marriage witnesses. Through partnership agreements, WVR subscriptions include content from Small Town Papers <www.smalltownpapers.com>, Everton’s Genealogical Library and other organizations.

 
Some of WVR’s paid content is free elsewhere, such as the 1880 US census (at FamilySearch <www.familysearch.org>), a Kentucky Death records index <ukcc.uky.edu/~vitaIrec>, Irish prisoners <pcug.org.au/~ppmay/convicts.htm> and UK marriage witnesses <www.genuki.org.uk/mwi>. Allen says more records are in the works, and he points to features that differentiate WVR from the pack. “We’ll be offering subscribers online classes so we can hold their hands. We’ll show them both what we have to offer and what they can find on other sites.” Geocoding for many WVR listings lets you search based on location — a relative’s SSDI record, for example, shows a Microsoft Virtual Earth map of her county of residence at death, with nearby cemeteries marked (shown above). You can click See Neighbors for people in the SSDI who shared your relative’s ZIP code.
 
From the February 2007 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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