Thursday, May 29, 2008

Records from Central and South America on Ancestry

Gary Gibb posted "Why Such Little Interest in Central and South American Records?" on the blog on 23 May. Please read all of his post, and the comments too. In his post, Gary asked:

"Is it that we have had so few records from Central and South America that people that come from those places do not visit Ancestry?

"Is it that they just have lower interest in Genealogy?"

I saw the post on the first day, and recognized the importance of it to researchers with Latin American heritage. My local society in Southern California has noticed an increased interest in Central (including Mexico) and South American family history and genealogy, and we have found very few resources to help researchers with their research - mainly the Church records on microfilm at the LDS Family History Library and in their IGI and Vital Records databases.

My comments to Gary's post included:

"An interesting question, but I can think of several responses.

"1) How many databases do you have for Central and South America?

"2) It’s a pretty big place - with a total population exceeding North America. Only Belize and Guyana speak English as a first language, right? Brazil speaks Portuguese, Surinam [speaks] Dutch, and the rest speak Spanish. Does Ancestry have a Spanish or Portuguese language capability?

"3) The population of much of Latin America is poor, and does not have universal Internet access. If poor, buying basic necessities would trump paying for an Ancestry subscription - but a subscription to what?

"4) If you offer services in their language that meet their needs, they will come. The horse has to come before the cart."

There are now many more comments to Gary's post, which is good because only through feedback can determine the importance of records to researchers. The commenters make good points.

Why did Gary write the post in the first place? Was it a post to determine if there was any interest at all? Or to determine what specific interest that there might be?

Is there an opportunity here for to expand into church records that the Catholic Church now won't allow the LDS FHL to digitize or index? Is there an opportunity to digitize government records that may be available in many Central and South American countries - like census, vital, land, probate, military, immigration, etc. if they exist.

What do you think about this issue? Those with Latin American heritage are a significant percentage of the USA population. It must be remembered that it includes some of the Caribbean countries (e.g., Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, etc.). How can they be better served with genealogy databases and web sites?

I urge my readers with an interest in Central and South American genealogy research to respond to Gary's post with specific recommendations for databases and an expression of interest in having Ancestry expand to a Spain/Latin America specialty web site and subscription.

No comments: