May 3, 2011

US Holocaust Museum Goes Online With Genealogy

Genealogy website Ancestry.com and the US Holocaust Museum are working together to fill gaps in some family histories with a project named The World Memory Project, AFP is reporting. The US Holocaust Museum is digitizing its records and allowing them to be accessed online. The opening of these records for online viewing is intended to increase sources of information about victims of the Holocaust, both Jewish and non-Jewish.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum said in a statement that the addition of genealogical records, "will dramatically expand the number of museum documents relating to individual victims that can be searched online."

The archives from the US Holocaust Museum, located in Washington DC, contain information on 17 million people who were targeted by the Nazis, "including Jews, Poles, Roma, Ukrainians, political prisoners, and many others."

"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," a spokesman for the museum added.

Museum director Sara Bloomfield explains, "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. The Museum's vast archives contain documentation that may be the only remaining link to an individual life."

"Preserving these personal histories and making them available online is one of the most powerful ways we can learn from history and honor the victims."

Ancestry.com will donate proprietary software and support for the project along with hosting its own online archival project to expand its transcribed records collections. Once transcribed, the records will be hosted exclusively on Ancestry.com and permanently free to search by the public.

After an initial, small-scale launch in February of this year, Ancestry.com contributors have already indexed over 30,000 museum archival documents. This figure will multiply as more people participate in the project.

The museum will provide copies of documents to survivors and their families at no cost. The original documentation will remain in the museum's archival collection.

"It is an honor to have the opportunity to work with such a respected institution to provide people around the world 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."

The archives can be searched online at www.WorldMemoryProject.org