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Does it feel like Ancestry.com’s been on a shopping spree, with this year’s acquisitions of Swedish
records site Genline, research
firm ProGenealogists, and
now iArchives, parent company of historical records subscription service Footnote?
iArchives started in 1994 and provides document
digitization services to libraries, universities, archives and newspapers across the
country. Footnote launched in January 2007 as a way to bring that content to home
We suspect that even more than the Footnote website, Ancestry.com values the relationships
and contracts that iArchives has already established with record-holding institutions.
That would make it easier for Ancestry.com to negotiate content digitization agreements.
We love that when it launched, Footnote provided something different for genealogists
at a time when online genealogical innovation seemed to have stalled. Footnote’s search
interface, records viewer, social networking options and emphasis on history in addition
to genealogy still distinguish it from other genealogy database sites.
We just hope Footnote doesn’t turn into another Genealogy.com,
a site Ancestry.com purchased in 2003 and still maintains, but has allowed to languish
while it pours resources into the stronger Ancestry.com site. We’re also curious how
this acquisition will affect another Ancestry.com competitor, Archives.com,
which offers Footnote’s census indexes to its subscribers.
The genealogy of the genealogy industry does seem to always lead to Ancestry.com.
Rather than a long explanation, here’s a quick sketch of the acquisitions and major
content partnerships I could think of (Ancestry.com has formed content partnerships
with many organizations; I listed only two).