19 August 2008

Chicago 2008: JewishGen-Ancestry press release

Tonight's evening program at the conference was the announcement of the agreement between Ancestry.com and JewishGen.org.

There will be another post with more information following this post. For more information, click www.ancestry.com/JewishHeritage

Here is the joint press release:


Partnership Enables Broader Research of Jewish Ancestry Through Powerful Search Tools in One Centralized Location

CHICAGO – Aug. 19, 2008 – The Generations Network, Inc., parent company of Ancestry.com, and JewishGen, a non-profit organization dedicated to researching and promoting Jewish genealogy and an affiliate of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, today announced a partnership designed to provide easier online access to millions of important Jewish historical documents.
JewishGen's collection of databases will be integrated and be made available for free on Ancestry.com, making these historical Jewish records and information ore accessible than ever before. As part of the agreement, the JewishGen site will also be hosted in Ancestry.com's data center.

For the first time ever, those interested in researching Jewish ancestry will be able to search JewishGen's databases on Ancestry.com, taking advantage of Ancestry.com's powerful search technologies, including tree hinting and the ability to search all JewishGen databases through one simple interface.
The agreement will also give researchers the ability to make connections within family trees and to perform broader searches – searching JewishGen's databases in combination with the other 7 billion names and 26,000 databases available on Ancestry.com. In addition, visitors will be able to network with millions of Ancestry.com members to connect with others interested in Jewish genealogy and discover distant relatives.

"We are thrilled to be collaborating with JewishGen, an elite and well-respected resource in the Jewish genealogy community," said Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of The Generations Network. "Both organizations are committed to the preservation of important historical records. We look forward to working with JewishGen and to making these wonderful collections even more accessible for free on Ancestry."

Under the new agreement, some of the important JewishGen content that will be available on Ancestry.com includes databases from many different countries, the Holocaust Database, Yizkor Books (memorial books from Holocaust survivors), The Given Names Database and JewishGen ShtetlSeeker, among others. The JewishGen collections will be available on Ancestry.com by the end of the year.

"This important partnership between JewishGen and Ancestry.com demonstrates a commitment both to preserving Jewish heritage and providing the public with unprecedented access to these records," said Warren Blatt, Managing Director of JewishGen. "The impact on the genealogy community will be significant; not only will genealogists now have the use of powerful search tools to make research easier, they will be able to find everything for their Jewish heritage research needs at one location."

David G. Marwell, Director, Museum of Jewish Heritage, said, "The continuity of Jewish heritage is central to the Museum's mission. We are pleased that this partnership will make it easier for users to discover their Jewish roots and connect or re-connect to their family's history."

To learn more about this important agreement, or if you would like a sneak peek of the Jewish collections that will be available on Ancestry.com, visit

About JewishGen

www.jewishgen.org, became an affiliate of the Museum on January 1, 2003. An Internet pioneer, JewishGen was founded in 1987 and has grown from a bulletin board with only 150 users to a major grass roots effort bringing together hundreds of thousands of individuals worldwide in a virtual community centered on discovering Jewish ancestral roots and history.

Researchers use JewishGen to share genealogical information, techniques, and case studies. With a growing database of more than 11 million records, the website is a forum for the exchange of information about Jewish life and family history, and has enabled thousands of families to connect and re-connect in a way never before possible.

About Ancestry.com

With 26,000 searchable databases and titles and nearly 3 million active users, Ancestry.com is the No. 1 online source for family history information. Since its launch in 1997, Ancestry.com has been the premier resource for family history, simplifying genealogical research for millions of people by providing them with many easy-to-use tools and resources to build their own unique family trees. Ancestry.com is part of The Generations Network, Inc., a leading network of family-focused interactive properties, including
www.myfamily.com, www.rootsweb.com, www.genealogy.com and Family Tree Maker. In total, The Generations Network properties receive nearly 8.5 million unique visitors worldwide (© comScore Media Metrix, March 2008). To easily begin researching your family history, visit www.ancestry.com.

Here is the JewishGen and Ancestry Fact Sheet:

We are pleased to announce that JewishGen.org, the premier resource for Jewish genealogy, and Ancestry.com, the largest online resource for family history information, have entered into a cooperative agreement.

Basics of the agreement:

  • JewishGen will make some of its databases available on the Ancestry website.
  • Ancestry will provide hardware and network support for the JewishGen website.

Benefits of the agreement:

  • JewishGen will be able to provide more robust and functional resources to genealogists throughout the world.
  • Specific and immediate improvements will be seen in the speed of the website, along with greater accessibility when searching databases.
  • More people will be exposed to Jewish genealogy and have access to a greater range of resources to assist in researching family history.
  • JewishGen's comprehensive records and information, contributed by volunteers from around the world, will continue to remain freely available on JewishGen.org.

Details of the agreement:

  • JewishGen remains an independent non-profit organization, affiliated with the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.
  • There will be no change to the JewishGen management team, structure or affiliation with the museum.
  • This new agreement, combined with generosity of our donors throughout the world, will allow us to continue offering all of JewishGen's extensive resources for no charge.
  • Privacy of personal information for JewishGen users is of key importance to us. Information about JewishGen registrants will not be shared.
  • Personal informtion stored on JewishGen, such as data entered into the JGFF and Family Tree of the Jewish People, will not be shared.
  • JewishGen will continue to independently administer the JewishGen website, mailing lists and affiliates.


  1. Anonymous9:13 AM

    The recent introduction of Ancestry's new search interface has been, to say the least, painful. One wonders what sorts of functionalities will be introduced, or retained, or lost, as JG databases transit to Ancestry servers.

    What will happen to Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex searching, one particular functionality that is vital to Jewish genealogical research? Ancestry's Soundex searching does not come anywhere close to matching D-M's utility.

    When all JG data is resident on Ancestry servers, can we be assured that the data within (e.g.) JGFF and FTJP is not used in any way by Ancestry for its commercial or other purposes? JewishGen has been a stalwart protector of our family data. Will Ancestry act in like fashion? Seeing the fine print of the agreement in this regard would be useful.

    Can we be assured that the JG databases not now in the plan will continue to be available freely through JewishGen.org; or will JewishGen gradually be absorbed by/into Ancestry à la Rootsweb? Rootsweb.com now resolves into http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/ View the new JG blog logo, with its stylized Star of David leaf design http://jewishgen.blogspot.com/2008/08/new-jewishgen-logo.html, and then view Ancestry's leafy corporate logo or Rootsweb's leafy logo.

    I don't want to be negative about what seems to be on the surface a productive alliance. It would be a colossal waste, however, to degrade or lose the value that so many talented (and mostly volunteer) JewishGenners have contributed to the creation and maintenance of the JG databases and their contents. Specific information from either party on these points would be helpful.

  2. Anonymous3:43 PM

    This sounds like wonderful news - looking forward to seeing how it develops.

  3. Anonymous2:34 PM

    Let's not be naive! Ancestry gets JP data = Ancestry gets more commercial power. [even free access to JP data from Ancestry website is commercial power.]

    Nobody gives databases for free, especially not when it comes to collaboration with the 100% commercial Ancestry.

    Therefore it seems only obvious that JG receives some sort of revenue out of this arrangement.

    As a volunteer who dedicated a lot of time and effort into building a few databases that are now "given" to Ancestry, I feel DECEIVED.

    This arrangement couldn't have happened without us, and JP management should never forget it.

    It is basic consideration that Warren Blatt sends email to all JP volunteers in which he explains the type of reward that he plans to give us for our contribution to the availability of this collaboration.

    No less important, under this new situation JP should convince us to keep volunteering. Tell me really - why bother?