The following announcement was written by WeRelate, USF Africana Heritage Project and Ideas4:
WeRelate, the USF Africana Heritage Project and Ideas4 have announced plans to build a free, central Internet database for digital images and records of African American genealogy, history and culture. The database, which will be called the Afriquest data crossroads (http://www.afriquest.com), will be built using collaborative software. Anyone will be able to add images and records to the database or draw images and records from the database for research purposes. Access to the images and records on Afriquest will always be free.
The central, collaborative database will make it easy for researchers to access a wealth of records which were previously unavailable online, or widely-scattered on the Internet and difficult to find. Every record readers add to the database will not only be preserved, but will be available to anyone for free, now and in years to come.
"We are excited to participate in making African American records freely available online," said Dallan Quass, President of the Foundation for On-Line Genealogy. "This treasure trove of records will soon help African Americans throughout the country learn more about their family history."
The Afriquest data crossroads will also place new tools and resources in the hands of webmasters, scholars and educators. Webmasters will be able to interface with Afriquest by using it as their primary document database, or adding an Afriquest search box to their websites; eliminating the need to develop and maintain expensive database software. Scholars and educators will also find a variety of primary historical documents on Afriquest to enrich their research and teaching.
"It's an idea that's time has come," said Toni Carrier, Founding Director of the USF Africana Heritage Project. "The new generation of free, collaborative software for the Internet not only helps us digitize and preserve important historical documents, but makes it easier than ever for researchers to collaborate and synergize. When everyone brings a stone to the pile, researchers everywhere benefit. All of us are smarter than one of us."
"We are honored to be part of this ambitious undertaking," said Art Fyvolent, president of IDEAS4. "To open the world to these previously hidden records will be a landmark event in the history of genealogy in general, and African American history in particular."
Development efforts for the Afriquest database are well underway. The project team expects to release a beta version of Afriquest in the early spring of 2008 and is now seeking volunteers to add or index records and help manage database content. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Toni Carrier at email@example.com or Dallan Quass at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the collaborators: WeRelate is a free public-service wiki for genealogy sponsored by the Foundation for On-Line Genealogy, Inc. in partnership with the Allen County Public Library. It is the world's largest genealogy wiki with pages for over 1,000,000 people and families and growing. Their goal is to be the number one community website for genealogy.
The USF Africana Heritage Project is an all-volunteer research project sponsored by the Africana Studies department at the University of South Florida. Their research mission is to rediscover records that document the names and lives of slaves, freedpersons and their descendants, and share those records on the free Internet site www.africanaheritage.com. Their searchable online database contains more than 4,000 primary historical documents of interest to anyone researching African American genealogy, history and culture. For more information, please visit the USF Africana Heritage Project press kit at http://www.africanaheritage.com/Press_Kit.asp.
IDEAS4, (http://www.ideas4.com) is a branding, marketing and internet consulting firm that builds business marketing solutions across a wide range of industries. IDEAS4 has been involved in a number of African American historical websites over the past 10 years including AfricanaHeritage.com, LookingForAngola.com, DiscoverBlackFlorida.com among others.