There’s been a great deal of talk about potential changes at Ancestry.com. Quite a bit of digital ink has been spilled. Unless you have an investment interest in Ancestry.com or are involved in their management, there’s little (translation: nothing) you can actually do. That’s how it is with most companies. And unless you are employed by Ancestry.com any impact on you will be minimal–after all the records they have are available elsewhere. They may be not available in digital format, but they do exist. Some of what you can do are things you should already be doing:
- downloading the data and images you find to your own digital media;
- backing up that data and those images to secure your access to them;
- realizing that no company or organization lasts forever (A&P, Woolworth’s, GAR, etc.) and that a “tree” on Ancestry.com is not a permanent storage solution;
- double-checking data from those compiled “trees” you incorporated into your own (which you’ve hopefully stopped doing or never even did);
Actually what researchers need to do is to be actively involved in record preservation initiatives that do not involve Ancestry.com in ways that and strive to preserve those records in ways that allow open access, are fiscally responsible, and work to preserve the integrity of the records and maximize their lifespan.
We can pontificate on why there may be changes at Ancestry.com:
- how many DNA kits can you actually sell?
- is their business model sustainable?
- how many people are actually interested in their genealogy enough to continually shell out subscription fees?
- how many DNA kits were sold as gifts to people who didn’t give one fig about where their family was from?
And there may not be changes. Or there may be.
Gnashing of teeth in frustration, contemplating what may happen, worrying about what will happen…that all takes time away from actual research.
Ancestry.com wasn’t around when I started my research in the early 1980s. Everton’s Genealogical Helper was the “big deal” at the time. Who has even heard of that magazine and publisher today?
And I’ll still be doing research whether Ancestry.com is around or not. My genealogy isn’t about Ancestry.com. It’s about me.