The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of the United States and FamilySearch announced a major program that will digitize, index and place major segments of NARA’s vast records collection online in the coming years.
The majority of the records will include court, military, land and other government documents that date as early as 1754 to as late as the 1990s. A collection of 3,150 Civil War widow pension application files (approximately 500,000 pages) are already being digitized by FamilySearch and will be indexed and posted online by Footnote.com. FamilySearch intends to do all 1,280,000 files during the coming years and will make the indexes available for free on the FamilySearch Web site or at the National Archives and its regional centers.
FamilySearch will operate highly-specialized digital cameras five days a week at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and will expand to additional regional facilities at a later date. This will create a continuous flow of millions of images for genealogy buffs to explore from the convenience of their home computers.
James Hastings, director of Access Programs at the National Archives, said: "For decades the National Archives has helped thousands of researchers gain access to this rich trove of records in Washington. Thanks to this agreement with FamilySearch, this valuable information will now be available to millions of users around the world in a far more accessible format."
Wayne Metcalfe, director of FamilySearch Record Services, said: “No single group can preserve, organize and make available all the information contained in the world’s important genealogical documents — like those found in the National Archives of the United States. Such immense undertakings require the cooperation of record custodians, researchers and specialized services. FamilySearch is committed to being an integral partner in this global effort.”
About the National Archives. The National Archives and Records Administration, an independent federal agency, is the nation's record keeper. Founded in 1934, its mission is unique — to serve American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our government, ensuring that the people can discover, use and learn from this documentary heritage. The National Archives ensures continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. It supports democracy, promotes civic education and facilitates historical understanding of our national experience. The National Archives meets a wide range of information needs, among them helping people to trace their families' history, making it possible for veterans to prove their entitlement to medical and other benefits, and preserving original White House records. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers and presidential libraries — and on the Internet at www.archives.gov.
About FamilySearch. The Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU) — doing business as FamilySearch — is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch maintains the world's largest repository of genealogical resources; these resources may be accessed through FamilySearch.org, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries. FamilySearch is a trademark licensed to GSU and is registered in the United States of America and other countries.