A major announcement has been made today: FamilySearch (the genealogy arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and Ancestry.com (a division of The Generations Network) have announced a new partnership arrangement: The two organizations will work together on genealogy projects of mutual interest. Here is the official announcement written by the two organizations:
New 1900 Census Images Now Available on Ancestry.com; Volunteer Indexers Sought to Improve the 1920 U.S. Census Index
SALT LAKE CITY—Ancestry.com and FamilySearch, the two largest online family history resources, announced today they will exchange records and resources to make more historical records available online. The first project is a joint initiative to significantly enhance the online U.S. Federal Census Collection (1790 to 1930). The original census records are among the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
FamilySearch is digitally converting master microfilm copies of the original U.S. Federal Censuses from 1790 through 1930 and, under this agreement, will give these improved images to Ancestry.com. All census images and indexes will be available on Ancestry.com for subscribers. As projects are completed, images will be available for free in NARA reading rooms and FamilySearch’s 4,500 Family History Centers.
Ancestry.com, which currently offers indexes and images to the entire publicly available U.S. Federal Census Collection, will give FamilySearch copies of its existing census indexes. Through its online indexing system and community of volunteer indexers, FamilySearch is already indexing select censuses. FamilySearch will merge the Ancestry.com indexes with the new FamilySearch indexes to create enhanced census indexes, which will be added to both sites. Indexes to the enhanced censuses will be free on Ancestry.com for a limited time as they are completed. Indexes will also be available for free on FamilySearch.org.
Allen Weinstein, the Archivist of the United States, welcomed this agreement as a significant benefit for researchers. He remarked that, “Census records are among the most important documents the American people have to trace their genealogy and know their family history. Having two of our partners working together to enhance the indexes and images of these essential documents will enable an unprecedented level of access and understanding.”
The first census exchanged is the 1900 U.S. Census. FamilySearch completed a 1900 index in addition to Ancestry.com’s original. In the new index, FamilySearch added several new fields of searchable data, such as birth month and birth year, so individuals can search for ancestors more easily. The two indexes will be merged into an enhanced index, available on both sites. The new 1900 census images are now available on Ancestry.com. The enhanced 1900 index will be available for free for a limited time at Ancestry.com and ongoing at FamilySearch.org.
Ancestry.com will also provide FamilySearch its original 1920 U.S. Census index. Using the Ancestry.com index as a first transcription, FamilySearch will create a new second index with added fields and arbitrate any discrepancies between the two indexes. The 1920 project is currently in progress. Individuals interested in helping create the improved index can volunteer at FamilySearch.org. Once completed, the enhanced 1920 index will be available on both sites and will link back to images on Ancestry.com.
The 1850 through 1870 (partial) and 1880 and 1900 U.S. Censuses can be searched currently at FamilySearch.org; all publicly available U.S. Censuses are already available on Ancestry.com.
Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of The Generations Network, Inc., parent company of Ancestry.com, said, “This collaboration represents a significant step forward in making family history research more accessible. The enhanced U.S. Federal Census Collection that will become available through this agreement is a gold mine for family history researchers, and we look forward to collaborating with FamilySearch in identifying other opportunities to help people discover their roots.”
“The U.S. Censuses are arguably the most important collection of U.S. genealogical records. FamilySearch is excited to see the complete, improved indexes of these collections freely available online over the next two years. And we look forward to working with Ancestry.com to enhance access to additional, significant collections in the future,” said Jay Verkler, Managing Director for FamilySearch.