Saturday, November 10, 2007

What records should be added to WorldVitalRecords?

Paul Allen gave a talk in Salt Lake City to the local Association of Professional Genealogists chapter and then blogged about it - his post is here. He took a survey at the start of the talk - did they want to hear about the early history of or did they want to hear about the future of genealogy? Everyone voted for the latter, but he talked a bit about Ancestry/MyFamily anyway. Then he talked about the future, especially of He covered some of his thoughts in his blog post.

The most interesting part of his post is:

"We [WorldVitalRecords] will do some digitizing and indexing but it will be small in relation to these other organizations who make this their primary business. Our fundamental approach is to partner with content providers worldwide and to enable our customers to find records in their databases, whether we host them or not. ... Our business model is built on paying substantial royalties to content owners."

He also said that there is one seat on their Board of Directors reserved for an "industry expert." He suggested that there could be a "Genealogy Idol" series on Roots Television to select that person - one candidate gets voted off every week.

He ended with this:

"Anyway, in the coming weeks it will become more clear what place World Vital Records hopes to fill in the family/genealogy community, and how we will differentiate our products and services from those that are currently offered by the leading online genealogy companies.

"If you are into genealogy, I invite you to give me a list of the top 5 things you would do if you were running World Vital Records. I’m very interested in hearing from you. (But be careful–if your suggestions are too good, you might get recruited by the genealogy community to fill an open board seat!)"

Well now, that certainly is blog fodder for some of us, isn't it? I'll jump in:

1) STATE VITAL RECORDS. As many as possible. doesn't have them all. Nobody has them all in one place online. The LDS has the best "collection" available to researchers but they're on microfilm. Births, marriages and deaths from as many states as possible over as wide a range as possible. Consider partnering with state vital records offices to digitize them, provide searchable databases and host the databases.

2) VITAL RECORDS IN OTHER COUNTRIES: Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Mexico, Caribbean, Latin America, Australia, Scandinavia, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, etc. Partner with governments, genealogy and historical societies, churches, etc.

3) BIBLE RECORDS and OTHER FAMILY PAPERS: The DAR, NGS and other genealogical/historical societies have collections of these either online, on microfilm, in publications or moldering away in society file cabinets and garages. There are some online on web sites and blogs. Many local societies have "vertical files" of papers submitted by members or their estates. Organize local genealogy societies to find, collect, digitize and publish them.

4) COLLECTIONS OF PEDIGREE CHARTS: Many local genealogy societies have books chock full of pedigree charts submitted by members. My small society (80 members) has four books of them - maybe 200 charts. It's another project that could be organized for local genealogy societies to digitize and publish them. WVR did this with the large Everton collection - a good job!

5) CLEARING HOUSE FOR VITAL RECORDS: A one-stop shop for every country, every state, every county. Provide a list of what records are available on any media - paper, microfilm, online database, etc. Provide links to available online records (even to LDS and other commercial companies). Tell what is available on microfilm. Provide links to vital records offices for those unavailable on media.

There's my fave five. I'm pretty sure that WVR is considering things like these already. I hope so - they have smart leadership.

Read Paul's entire post - it touches on a lot of interesting topics. I can hardly wait to hear what the 12 mistakes that Ancestry made after he left them. Likewise, I'm interested in his vision for WorldVitalRecords and for the future of genealogy.

Shoot - never mind - I'm embarrassed by my lack of real vision - I make that list above and find out, by reading Paul's blog over the last year, that WVR is doing most of those things. Here are Paul's goals for 2007 - revealing. Oh well, a small mind on a small blog. That's why he's rich and famous and I'm stuck on 200 readers a day.

What do you think? Tell Paul - he wants to know! But read his blog first. Post your comments on his post here.

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