NARA Invites Comments on Ancestry, Fold3 Agreement

The National Archives & Records Administration wants comments on its relationship with Fold3 and “NARA has enjoyed a successful partnership with Ancestry since 2008. NARA has also partnered with Fold3, Ancestry‚Äôs sister site, since 2007. In the month of June alone, NARA records received 8.8 million views on, and 2.5 million views on We are renewing our partnership agreement with and, and welcome public feedback.” Judging from my e-mail many of you have… ahem.. strong feelings about Ancestry…

2 thoughts on “NARA Invites Comments on Ancestry, Fold3 Agreement

    • Author gravatarAuthor gravatar

      I’m puzzled by these two items in the proposed agreement, which appear to me at least somewhat contradictory:
      1) “NARA will have the latitude to recover almost any cost associated with supporting Partners.” and 2) “The updated agreement provides NARA the right to not recover costs from Partners. NARA will spell out all cost recovery in the project plan.” What do those items mean? Will NARA be seeking to recover costs or not? Why wouldn’t NARA insist on recovering costs? Why isn’t this clearer in the proposed contract?

      One omission, it seems to me, is any discussion of quality control (unless I completely missed it). Shouldn’t NARA require contractual commitments for such control to ensure high indexing and other standards? And shouldn’t NARA recover the costs incurred to provide such control?

    • Author gravatarAuthor gravatar

      My clients and I have greatly benefited by the partnerships with Ancestry and Fold3. I am concerned about two issues.

      First, Is there proper supervision of scanning personnel from Ancestry? I have learned that the new “HUB” leaves the scanning to researchers and, of course, they are more than happy to do it. However, is there any supervision? Since these files are placed on the public website, how do we know that every page was scanned and in the order they were originally placed in files.(Regardless of whether that is the correct order.) In the larger scenario, are Ancestry personnel trained to ensure that the entire file (or other entity) is included?

      Second, there is the question of exactly what NARA is absorbing in costs. While I want/need the documents on an accessible website, Ancestry is the one making a profit here. I find the language muddled when it comes to recovery costs.

      The contract seems to be slightly biased in Ancestry’s favor. Not heavily, but there is enough ambiguity that I believe that NARA would do well to have a GOOD contract lawyer look at this contract before signing.

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