We at Family Tree Magazine enjoy honoring the people who make a difference in genealogy — so much so that we launched a series to celebrate unsung family history heroes.
In addition to those accolade-worthy individuals, we’d like to commend a collective effort by many unsung heroes: the genealogists who recently turned the tide simply by making their voices heard. In the July 2007 issue, we told you about the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) proposal to raise the fee for a photocopied Civil War pension file to a whopping $125. NARA ultimately approved a less-severe (though still hefty) price hike, to $75 — and it acknowledged genealogists’ opposition played a role in its decision to scale back the increase.
Now NARA, FamilySearch and Footnote have announced a joint endeavor that will make a big difference for researchers seeking those pension records. They’re going to digitize, index and post online 1.28 million Union widows’ pension files. Though these files represent a fraction of the overall pension pool, it’s a step toward easing access to a set of popular, unmicrofilmed records. Kudos to all three organizations for beginning a collaboration that promises to benefit so many family historians.
Speaking of digitization, the Family Tree Magazine staff has been hard at work on several projects of our own. Visit <www.familytreemagazine.com/cds> for a peek at our new CDs, including compilations of our 2006 and 2007 back issues — complete with full-text searching, hotlinked Web addresses and other enhancements (think of them as souped-up versions of the magazine). If you’re a fan of our State Research Guides series, look for a disc with all 50 states this spring. Whether you’re reading them in print or in PDF format on your laptop, we hope our articles make a difference in your quest to discover your ancestry.