Friday, May 13, 2011

What is's Web Search? announced the launch of Web Search today - see for more details about the service. says that the guiding principles of Web Search are:
  • Free access to Web Records – Users do not have to subscribe or even register with to view these records
  • Proper attribution of Web Records to content publishers
  • Easy access to Web Records – Prominent links in search results and the record page make it easy to get to the source website
My first impressions of Web Search are:

1)  Collections on will carry a "Web:" designation on the Card Catalog list and in any search results.

2)  The indexes to the "Web" collections are FREE on  To see the data, you will have to click on a link to go to the hosting web page with the specific information. 

3)  There are only three databases (as of 2 p.m. on 13 May 2011) with the "Web:" designation.  They are:

** Web: Marion County, Indiana Marriages since 1925
** Web: Allen County, Indiana Deaths 1870-1920
**  Web: Rootsweb Obituary Index

4)    At present, there is no "special" page with all of the "Web:" collections listed - they will appear in the general search results.  I would love to see a special page on Ancestry listing all of the freely available index and image collections, whether "Web:" or not. 

Readers should note that the actual record collections are not stored on servers - they are on the web pages controlled by the owners of the database.  They have not been "stolen" and hidden behind the Ancestry subscription firewall - they are freely available to anyone searching through Ancestry, Google, or other search engines.  They have been indexed by and the indexes provide links to the original databases found by anyone who searches on, whether a subscriber, a registered user, or a non-registered user.  What has done is very similar to what Google and other search engines (Yahoo, Bing, Mocavo, etc.) have done to index key words to make online searches easier.  You can read the discussion about these issues on the Ancestry Content Publishers Feedback message board here.  Brian Edwards and Andy Hatchett did a good job of debating these issues on that board.

I greatly appreciate's efforts to provide free access to databases and web pages.  It's part of their effort to provide as much information as possible to their customers.  My opinion is that this enhances the value of an subscription while adding value to the content providers  through links to the source providers.  I hope that they add many more freely available online databases and indexes. 

What other freely available record collections would you like to see indexed by and provided free of charge to Ancestry searchers?  The USGenWeb Archives come to mind, as do free databases and web pages at, and  I would love to have my blog included in the search because I post quite a bit about my research results. 

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