Thursday, November 09, 2006

Big Announcement from Ancestry.com

While I usually don't like to repeat announcements about "what's new in the genealogical world" on this blog since so many other great genealogy bloggers out there pass along the information, I thought that this announcement from Ancestry.com was worth posting. Here is the announcement I received via e-mail today:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------ANCESTRY.COM RELEASES THE WORLD’S LARGEST ONLINE COLLECTION OF U.S. HISTORICAL IMMIGRATION RECORDS

More than 100 Million Names on All Readily Available U.S. Passenger Lists from 1820 –1960; Includes the Complete Ellis Island Collection, as well as Records from Over 100 Other U.S. Ports of Arrival.

PROVO, UTAH – November 9, 2006 – Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource, today announced that it has added to its online service all readily available U.S. passenger lists from 1820 to 1960. An estimated 85 percent of Americans have an immigrant ancestor included in the passenger list collection which covers the height of American immigration, making Ancestry.com the only source for the largest compilation of passenger list records available and fully searchable online. To commemorate the launch of the collection, Ancestry.com is offering completely free access to its entire Immigration Collection through the end of November. The passenger list collection, which took more than three years to digitize and transcribe, celebrates the courage, hopes, fears and memories of more than 100 million passengers.

“We are a nation of immigrants, and the vast majority of Americans have at least one ancestor that is included in this extraordinary list of men, women, and children that came to this country to start new lives,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO, MyFamily.com, Inc., parent company of Ancestry.com. “My own ancestors passed through these ports from Ireland and Germany, and it is a thrilling experience to see their names transcribed on paper the day they entered this country. The Ellis Island records are the centerpiece of this collection, but the Ancestry.com Immigration Collection is so amazing because it is so complete. Browsing and searching these passenger lists is a perfect way for someone to start researching their family history”

Until the completion of this project, U.S. passenger list records could only be found on microfilm or in limited selections online at various dispersed locations such as libraries and museums across the nation. For the first time, people can look to a single centralized source online to find all readily available passenger list records. More than 100 American ports of arrival are represented in the compilation including the entire collection of passenger list records (1892-1957) from Ellis Island, a historic landmark and icon of immigration. The collection also accounts for popular ports in Boston, Baltimore, New Orleans and the Angel Island receiving station in San Francisco.

Fast Facts from the Passenger List Collection

The passenger list collection retells the remarkable stories of sacrifice, survival and success of America’s immigrant ancestors and also accounts for other travelers such as crew members, vacationers, business people and more. In total, Ancestry.com’s passenger list records capture the legacy and unique stories of more than 100 million passengers.

- More than 41 million immigrants arrived in America during this great immigration era

- Passenger lists provide invaluable details in the original handwriting such as names, occupation, accompanying travelers, origin/port of departure, date and place of arrival, intended destination, place of birth and assets.

- The compilation features printable images of 7 million original passenger list documents and roughly 1,000 images of the actual ships.

- Ancestry.com experts, including more than 1,500 paleographers (handwriting specialists), spent more than 1.8 million hours and typed 4.5 billion keystrokes to create the fully searchable passenger list index.

“Scarcely any phase of family history is as fascinating as tracking an immigrant’s voyage to this country, and perhaps no other collection of records better illustrates the lure of America,” said Loretto Dennis Szucs, Executive Editor, Ancestry Magazine and author of They Became Americans and Ellis Island: Tracing Your Family History Through America’s Gateway. “Each one of us has been touched in some way by the experiences, choices, attitudes and the genetic makeup of our immigrant ancestors. Now, Ancestry.com has made it possible for us to sit behind a computer screen, reach back in time and get to know these people who contributed so much of the lifestyle that we enjoy today.

Celebrity Sightings

Celebrity sightings found in the passenger list collection include historical figures such as Bob Hope, Charlie Chaplin, Sigmund Freud, Cary Grant, the Von Trapp Family and Annie Moore, Ellis Island’s first immigrant. The collection also records the arrival of immigrant ancestors of Angelina Jolie, Madonna and Donald Trump. Other notable names include –

- Magician Harry Houdini and former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt sailed on the same ship from Southampton, England, to New York in 1914 and are both listed on the same passenger list page.

- Martha Stewart perhaps inherited her home decor skills from her immigrant grandfather Frank Kostyra who, according to the S. S. Iceland manifest, was a “basket maker.”

- Albert Einstein makes an appearance in a 1921 passenger list where his hair is subtly described as “grayish.”

Ancestry.com has invested more than $100 million to acquire, digitize, and make searchable online invaluable historical records such as the exclusive U.S. census collection (1790-1930), birth, marriage and death records, photographs, military records and more. The passenger list collection is the latest addition to Ancestry.com’s 23,000 databases of more than 5 billion names, complementing and combining with other Ancestry.com historical documents to enrich the family history experience.

Ancestry.com recently revamped its website, introducing enhanced features and functionalities that enable users to experience more efficient searching, better results and a more collaborative, social-networking environment. These advanced search, save and share tools have also encouraged an explosion of user-uploaded content, making exclusive family documents such as shoebox memories, photos, and personal histories available to the Ancestry.com community.

About Ancestry.com

With more than 5 billion names and 23,000 searchable databases, Ancestry.com is the No. 1 online source for family history information. Since its launch almost a decade ago, 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. The MyFamily network of family history sites, of which Ancestry is the largest, receive more than 9 million unique visitors worldwide and 450 million page views each month. (© comScore Media Metrix, September 2006.)

Media Contact
Julia Burgon
Coltrin & Associates for Ancestry.com
212-221-1616 ext. 124
julia_burgon@coltrin.com

Tola St. Matthew-Daniel
Coltrin & Associates for Ancestry.com
212-221-1616 ext. 101
tola_stmatthew-daniel@coltrin.com

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