RootsTech 2015

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Shift in the genealogical landscape

Which company will be next? Today's announcement that Ancestry.com is acquiring Archives.com is not much of a surprise. Considering MyHeritage.com's recent purchase of WorldVitalRecords.com, a response by Ancestry.com was almost inevitable. Ancestry.com could not book having an upstart Israeli company get a major foothold in the quickly compressing genealogical community. My series about who owns the genealogy companies is becoming obsolete and in need of a total rewrite.

I have not said a whole lot about Archives.com in the past because I haven't ever been able to find anything of value on the site. I actually have an account and have yet to find even one useful record. Sometimes their search engine fails to find records even when I know the record is there. There is a major contrast between this site and Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org or other sites with content. It looks like Ancestry.com is buying up content and eliminating potential competitors.

As an example of a search in Archives.com, I looked for my Grandfather, Harold Morgan (b. 1892 - d. 1963). He should appear in any number of records, including every U.S. Census since 1900 which in fact, he does. So I search for him in Archives.com. My first search turns up 12,964 responses but none of the ones at the top are even close to the right person. So I add more information. He lived in a lot of different locations, but primarily in Salt Lake City, Utah. Even with an exact location and exact date of birth, he doesn't show up in a search. I did get some newspaper articles, but the pages come up with nothing showing where the information might be found on the page, so I have to read the entire page looking for an article. The newspaper images are images and even though they come down as PDF files, they are not searchable. I feel like I am playing "Where's Waldo?" I never did find any mention of Harold Morgan on the page! The source of the images is Heritage Archives, Ltd. and is described as NewspapereARCHIVE.com.

I could go on and on, but I guess my comment is Good Luck to Ancestry.com. I hope they can do something with the content they have purchased. Your experience may be different with Archives.com, but I have tried again and again to find relevant information without success.




8 comments:

  1. I am so glad you shared this as I had considered subscribing to Archives.com at one time but I was afraid it would be just as you said.

    I have been given a Plus subscription to Mocavo and I feel the same way about it as you do about Archives.com. I just cannot seem to come up with anything useful using it. Others seem to like it rather well, but I would not be comfortable recommending anyone pay that steep price for a year's subscription.

    Thanks for the post, it was very helpful.

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  2. I've always held back from subscribing to Archives.com because, like you, I always get a lot of hits on their free searches, but I never had any confidence that they would be useful (like X number of death records for myself!). Also like you, I hope Ancestry can use their search technology to make their content more useable.

    I find it odd that the newspaper PDFs from Archives are not searchable; I have a subscription to WorldVitalRecords, who also receive their content from NewspaperArchive.com, and the files are searchable. Same goes for PDFs directly from NewspaperArchive.com.

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  3. I've won a free subscription to the site a few months ago, but it will only become useful once the newly acquired church records go online. Unfortunately, by that time my subscription will probably have ended.

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  4. @James Tanner, unlike you, I had no problem searching the PDF pages from newspaperarchive.com through Archives.com. All searched text shows up highlighted on the page.

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  5. My experience with Archives.com pretty much matches up with yours with both historical records like census reports and newspaper scans. I was so disappointed and could not believe that such a big company with such a big name was producing less than mediocre quality. I'm sure they have a lot of good material, but their presentation of it is not workable at all. I hope ancestry can make sense of it too.

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  6. If you crawl down enough branches in your family tree you can find out you are related to just about anyone, it is kind of like Six degrees of separation on your family tree. I use all these sites but still find Ancestry and FamilySearch to be the best. With that I used skip trace programs also to locate information on parents and g-parents who are alive but off the grid for my clients. I help people start their family trees and would love to help you start yours, here is my gig http://fiverr.com/tn5rr2012/trace-your-family-tree-for-you-and-go-back-4-generations, come check it out, send me a message if you have any questions

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