Introducing…The World Memory Project

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Our Ancestry World Archives Project community just got a whole lot bigger!

Almost three years ago we started the Ancestry World Archives Project with a vision of involving the genealogy community to make more records accessible and free. Since that time more than 76,000 of you have helped to index over 71 million records. As collections of records are completed we’ve been putting them online for free for anyone to search. You have helped thousands of people discover their family history by preserving historical documents that might otherwise be lost.

This month, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Ancestry.com announced the launch of the World Memory Project. The goal is to build the largest free online resource for information about victims and survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution during World War II.

The Museum’s archives contain information on well over 17 million people targeted by Nazi racial and political policies, including Jews, Poles, Roma, Ukrainians, political prisoners, and many others. The Museum assists thousands of people worldwide every year who are searching for information about individuals in its collections. The World Memory Project will greatly expand the accessibility of the Museum’s archival collection and enable millions of people to search for their own answers online.

“The Nazis’ genocidal policies quickly turned millions of individual lives, filled with hopes and dreams, into massive statistics that are hard to comprehend. Through our partnership with Ancestry.com, we hope to remind the public that the Holocaust is not about numbers but about individuals just like us and to help families uncover histories they thought were lost,” says Sara J. Bloomfield, Director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “The Museum’s vast archives contain documentation that may be the only remaining link to an individual life. Preserving these personal histories is one of the most powerful ways we can learn from history and honor the victims.”

Despite the Nazis’ efforts to erase human history, millions of their victims’ experiences were recorded in documents that still exist today. The World Memory Project enables anyone to help bring this information online - one record and a few minutes at a time - to help families discover the fate of lost loved ones and forge new connections that transcend war and time. While the documents will remain in the Museum's collections, copies can be obtained upon request to the Museum. The indexes, including names, dates, and other information from the documents, will be made searchable online for free.

That is where you come in.

If you have been keying for a while, we hope you will take a look at the new World Memory Project collections and contribute some time and effort to keying information from these records. If you haven't keyed in a while, we hope you will take this opportunity to rediscover the Ancestry World Archives Project and to contribute to this very worthwhile effort. All the collections you see in the keying tool and on the AWAP Dashboard beginning with the acronym “USHMM” (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) are part of this new World Memory Project.

We are here to help bring information from these significant records to light. Many of us are not genealogists. Many of us are new to indexing. All of us have a desire to see the information from these important records preserved and made more accessible than ever. Together we create a unique and powerful community.

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to work with such a respected institution to provide people around the world the access to these truly important collections,” said Tim Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer of Ancestry.com. “It is our hope that by making these collections easier to search, victims and their families will finally be able to answer difficult but significant questions about the fate of their loved ones, and in doing so, complete and preserve such significant family stories.”

For those of you who have joined us this past month - Welcome! To all of you who are part of the Ancestry World Archives Project contributors’ community - Thank you! Even a few minutes of your time could help families discover what happened to their loved ones and restore the identities of people the Nazis tried to erase from history. The power of truth is in your hands.