RootsTech 2014

Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, March 10, 2014

Overview of Digitization Projects -- Where are we going?

Note: I wrote the following earlier today and by mid-morning the website had refreshed the list and had updated the new collections. Interesting how the website works.

I noticed that FamilySearch.org Historical Record Collections had stopped adding records on 18 February 2014. The date of this post in 10 March 2014. After a couple of years of pouring records online at a furious rate, they have just stopped for almost a month. I decided that it was time to review where we are, genealogically speaking, with some of the major digitization projects. The reason for the hiatus in uploading new files by FamilySearch.org could be almost anything from updating programs and equipment to some technical issues, but the question was looking at the bigger picture and seeing if there is something going on.

Of course, my first look was at Ancestry.com's Card Catalog. When I viewed the list by "Date Added" I found the same list of "New" records I had seen last month, most all of which had come from FamilySearch. Is there a connection between the new records being added to Ancestry.com from FamilySearch and the lack of new records being added to FamilySearch? Hmm. That is an interesting question.

The most recent collection added to Ancestry.com is Ohio, Tax Records, 1800 - 1850. The link from this record to the FamilySearch.org Research Wiki indicates that FamilySearch had that record for some time. The Research Wiki page was last modified on 26 December 2013. So it is obvious that the records coming over from FamilySearch.org to Ancestry.com are not newly digitized records, but ones that have been available on FamilySearch for some time. There doesn't seem to be any way to determine exactly when any particular collection was added by Ancestry.com.

Looking at MyHeritage.com, the latest news I could find talked about the agreement between MyHeritage.com and BillionGraves.com. That agreement has the potential to dramatically increase the number of records on BillionGraves.com, so I checked out their website but could not find anything indicating an increase in the number of records online. While I was checking the gravemarker sites, I checked FindAGrave.com and noticed that the number of grave records had climbed to 113 million. At least this website seems to be growing rapidly.

Back to MyHeritage.com, in February 2014, they added 815 million US Public Records. This seems to be the largest increase of any of the companies so far and easily the most significant to genealogists overall.

I realize that the claims made by these larger companies about the number of records they have online is somewhat meaningless because of the way the records are counted, but the overall impression I am getting is that there has been a slowdown in acquisition of new records. Perhaps this is just the calm before the storm and huge new acquisitions will be announced before I can even hit publish, but I decided it was time to keep looking.

findmypast.com was my next website to review. The last big release of new records was back in January when the 2.5 new British India records were added. Before that they added 19 million British rate book records in December of 2013.

This investigation was starting to get very interesting. It looks like we are either poised for another round of announcements or there is something else going on. I will keep looking and see what turns up.

13 comments:

  1. There were a bunch of updated databases added to FamilySearch today, but back dated to Februarty 21. Nothing new though. I had been wondering the same thing.

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    1. There were a large number dated into December 2013.

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  2. I just emailed FamilySearch support two days ago about the fact that no records had been updated or new since Feb 18th. I have not received a response as of this time. Anxious to hear from them for an explanation - wishful thinking? I keep my Genealogy Society updated on the records changes on FamilySearch and Ancestry by posting the changed records on my blog. They had been wondering what was going on. Interesting!!!

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    1. Very interesting. I note that the update was added this morning.

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  3. I've found LDS Membership records on Ancestry now that are not found on FamilySearch. I find that puzzling!

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    1. Those records come from the following book:
      Black, Susan Easton, compiler. Membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1848. 50 vols. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center, 1989. Private Donor.
      They are also on MyHeritage.com

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  4. I check for new records every day on all the sites. Family Search tends to dump the bulk of their newly digitized or indexed records right before they do their monthly press release. However, they usually have some they add during the month, but you are correct. They've not added any. Strange.

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    1. Well, now from what has been added and the dates it is all pretty confused. It looks like everything is now dated into December of 2013 and one of the new collections is updated tomorrow (one day ahead of the date of this comment).

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  5. If you arrange the FamilySearch databases by the Last Updated field, you will see that ALL of them now have a Last Updated date no older than Oct 2013. Since it was not that way last week, a huge number of databases appear to have received back-dated updates.

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    1. Yep, that is very interesting. They must of done some kind of global update.

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  6. I understand that US Public records are available to the public but I am concerned about digitizing all these records in one place (MyHeritiage) where an identify thief could access living people with name, maiden name, address, phone# - all the info except SS# which make it easy to break into credit. I realize this is the future but I was shocked to find all my info in one place, easily accessible to anyone.

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    1. Oh, please don't tell me I have to write yet another tirade about identity theft. If you do a search for my past blogs you will see that I write about this topic regularly.

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  7. James, it looks like this was a popular post. Nice. I just wanted to share this link. I've noticed lulls before, and even contacted support once about strange looking updates. They don't explain specifics unfortunately.


    The Future Looks Exciting for FamilySearch’s Record Digitization Program
    BLOG | FAMILYSEARCH — INSIGHTS INTO OUR FUTURE AND OUR PAST | MARCH 13, 2014
    http://pulse.me/s/VhxCU

    For over 100 years, FamilySearch has been collecting records throughout the world. During that time we have collected 3.2 ...

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