Ancestry and the National Archives are digitizing tens of millions of documents

The National Archives has partnered with the genealogy company Ancestry to digitize and index tens of millions of U.S. documents related to the military, immigration history and indigenous communities. And while the public-private project is estimated to take about five years to complete, that's roughly ten times faster than it could have done without the Archive's latest technical tools.

Announced ThursdayOrganizers plan to initially make 65.5 million documents available online within two years, including military records from World War II and the Korean War, as well as immigration and naturalization reports. Much of this information will initially remain on Ancestry's various websites, although it will eventually make its way to the publicly accessible websites. National Archives Database.

“The National Archives is the national archives keeper and we have billions of stories in our collection. Our mission is to preserve, protect and share these stories with all Americans,” U.S. Archivist Colleen Shogan said during a speech. official announcement.

Speak with The Washington Post Today, Pamela Wright, Chief Innovation Officer at the National Archives, explained that these ongoing digitization efforts are making previously inaccessible information easier to find for researchers and families. “It's a geographic barrier for a lot of people,” Wright said, “and making it digital… democratizes access to the documents.”

To accomplish this undertaking, employees will rely on the newly renovated, Digitalization center of 18,000 square meters in College Park, Maryland, where the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony was held last month. The massive facility houses new high-speed scanners and overhead camera systems that can process multiple capture formats up to ten times faster than previous equipment. Without them, the National Archives would almost certainly not be able to meet its current goal of digitizing and making 500 million pages of documents available to the public by September 2026.

[Related: A ‘bionic eye’ scan of an ancient, scorched scroll points to Plato’s long-lost gravesite.]

This month, archivists will reportedly begin processing naturalization applications from American immigrants who served in the military between 1918 and 1947. According to CIO Pamela Wright, these treasure chests can contain everything from an individual's rank and unit to their serial number and point of entry into the military. the army.

All that resulting information will also help fill the significant, decades-old gaps left in the aftermath of a major fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis in 1973. More than 15 million military records – including 80 percent of the information about soldiers discharged between 1912 and 1960 – was lost during the fire.

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