World Archives Project: Three Years and One Hundred Thousand Keyers

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Three years ago this month we celebrated the beta launch of the Ancestry World Archives Project at the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) annual conference. We presented the idea of crowd-sourced records indexing to a room full of genealogical society leaders and members. From there we reached out to members, the RootsWeb community, and genealogical societies around the world. We were excited about the possibility of creating a community of people as passionate about genealogy and record preservation and access as we are. We were eager to see if the promise of free genealogical records was enough of an incentive to motivate you to contribute time and energy to this cause.

We built it and you came.

Three years later, I am happy to report that you have exceeded our expectations. Since 2008, you have keyed and reviewed over 98 million records. Together we have completed a total of 84 genealogy record collections in seven different languages. Those completed collections are all live and free for anyone to search.

You remain active in this community by keying and arbitrating and reviewing records. But, you also help each other. You solicit advice and provide assistance on the message boards. You review and enhance the project pages on the wiki. You create additional language and handwriting helps. You provide clear and kind guidance for new keyers as they become familiar with the keying standards and project instructions. And, you are always so concerned about the quality of the indexes you are helping to create.

Since May of this year our community has been joined by a growing number of people who have been drawn in specifically by the need to help make records of the Holocaust and Nazi-era persecution more accessible for the families of victims and survivors of those atrocities. The partnership between and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has made dozens of record collections available for keying in a variety of languages. Many of these collections are difficult to read, difficult to key. Again, this community has amazed us as you have supported the inclusion of the World Memory Project effort and the flood of new, inexperienced keyers into our World Archives community. You have embraced them and these collections.

Within the next few weeks we will cross another major milestone. Almost 100,000 of you have registered to participate in the Ancestry World Archives Project. You range in age from 18 to 93. Some of you are employed full-time. Some of you are retired. You are students and teachers, mothers and grandparents. You key a few image sets on weekends or just in the evenings. Many of you key all day, every day. Some of you are very comfortable with technology and many of you struggle but stick with it because you understand the importance of what we are doing together.

Seventy percent of you live in the United States. Sixteen percent of you live in the U.K. Four percent of you are in Australia and another four percent in Canada. The rest of you come from 137 other countries around the world. We truly are the Ancestry WORLD Archives Project.

I wonder who will be our 100,000th keyer - and where they will be from. And, I wonder what the next three years holds for this truly amazing community!