Thursday, July 19, 2007

Eyewitness Accounts from NARA

What was it like to be there when Nixon was resigning? What about the Apollo 8 mission? During the Revolutionary War? We can't go back and experience these events ourselves, but we can relive them through the eyewitness accounts of others. NARA has compiled an exhibit showing off some of the documents that contain these accounts.

A Footnote blog post reminded me of the NARA document of the day which led me to the Eyewitness Accounts.

NARA Document of the Day
NARA Eyewitness Accounts
Footnote Blog

Monday, July 16, 2007

Footnote on Download Squad... people love their UFOs

So the latest press release has continued to generate a lot of interest, at least in more "mainstream" places. Events like the partnership with FamilySearch generated interest among family historians/genealogists but nothing that reached a wide audience.

I mentioned last week that the press release got picked up by Forbes but later on Friday, Download Squad (a well known blog for those of you not familiar) posted about Footnote's release on Project Blue Book.

Footnote's Project Blue Book lets you read government reports, as well as questionnaires filled out by those who say they spotted a UFO. With nearly 130,000 images to wade through, good luck uncovering evidence of a massive government conspiracy in your free time.
Footnote publishes government UFO data on

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Footnote on Forbes

Well, it's mostly just a reprint of the press release, but getting picked up by Forbes is a big deal :) Exposes Government UFO Records

Image featured to the right

Friday, July 6, 2007

Spotlights - Another New Feature!

Recently a bunch of new features were added to the site, one of which is Spotlights. You can think of a spotlight as a cross between a story page and a comment. Here is one of the spotlights that I created about the Halifax Gazette.

Why would you want to add one yourself?
Well, there is a lot of content buried on the Footnote website that is just waiting to be discovered and shared. Spotlights are your opportunity to shine a light on those tidbits for others to see. Imagine that you are reading through the Halifax Gazette and you see an interesting article. You could send a link to the image to your friends in an email but then you're only sharing it with a few people. You could create a story page. But a story page seems like overkill for a quick comment, right? This is the perfect time for you to create a spotlight. This way instead of just sharing with your email contacts, you can easily share it with all your fellow Footnote members.

Check out what others have spotlighted and shine some light on your favorite Footnote content by creating some Spotlights.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Footnote is a Four Star Site

Footnote was recently reviewed by's Kimberly Powell.

Here is an excerpt: has the framework in place to be one of the most flexible and user-friendly sites on the Web for American genealogists. Once they add more records (and there are many in the works), upgrade the search feature, and do some tweaking, it has the potential to be a 5 star site. gets four stars from

Friday, June 29, 2007

"Official" Launch and Free Documents announced it's "official" launch yesterday. While the site has been live since January and over 12.5 million images/documents are now available on the site, yesterday was the "hard" launch. (January would have been referred to as the "soft" launch). As far as I understand it, the difference is more a marketing difference than anything else.

So, to me, the most significant part of the release is the following:

As part of the launch, is making a significant portion of their millions of original Revolutionary War documents available for free from today until the end of July [my emphasis]. Included in these records are secret journals, intercepted letters from the British military, and letters written by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and other founding fathers. Click here ( to see samples of these Revolutionary War documents.
This promotion doesn't include the so-called "big" titles like the Revolutionary War Pensions or War Rolls, but includes:
Like the press release mentions, this includes things like Secret Journals, Secret Foreign Journals, Reports of the Army, Letters of Commendation, and the Credentials of the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention.

Full Press Release: Announces Official Launch of the Company and Reveals First-Hand Accounts of the Birth of America

Monday, June 25, 2007

US Constitution and Amendments on

Declaration of Independence? Check. Gettysburg Address? Check. Constitution of the United States? Uhhh, no?

Until late last week, the Constitution was not available on in the American Milestones collection. I'm happy to share that the Constitution, the Bill of Rights (previously available) and all the amendments are now available on Footnote. The American Milestones are meant to be a "living" collection of documents, meaning that Footnote will continue to add relevant and important documents. Are there any milestone documents that you feel are missing?

Related Footnote content: Ratified Amendments

Thursday, June 21, 2007

CRL + Footnote = More Awesome Documents

Footnote announced a partnership with the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) which means more content will be coming to the Footnote site soon. The blurb from the press release says the following about CRL:

Founded in 1949 by 10 major U.S. research universities, CRL is a nonprofit organization that supports advanced research and teaching in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences by ensuring the availability of diverse knowledge resources vital to those activities. In the years since its inception, CRL membership has grown to 233 North American universities, colleges, and independent research libraries. It is based in Chicago and governed by a Board of Directors drawn entirely from the higher education and libraries community.
From the press release:
This new partnership will result in the digitization and indexing of historical documents including U.S. ethnic newspapers, military records, and other materials that provide a unique perspective on American history. This partnership will enable us to provide wider access to rare American materials, said Bernard Reilly, President of CRL.
I think the key phrase in there is "wider access to rare American materials". While wider access to "common" historical documents is fun (for example the American Milestones on Footnote), it is much cooler to enable wider access to those documents that have been sitting in boxes on shelves in warehouses similar to the one at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. In these rare documents are "real" history, the stuff that fills in the details left missing by Jr. High Social Studies class.

Press Release
Center for Research Libraries (CRL)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

City Directories on Footnote

I found this blog post on Creative Gene about City Directories called What's in a City Directory? At Footnote we have several early 20th and late 19th century city directories from the northeastern United States.

Bridgham Lorenzo; City Directories So what is in a city directory and why should you look into them? To the left is a thumbnail of one on the Footnote site. I've transcribed some of the gems from this page:

Bridgham Lorenzo, farmer, house near Young's corner
Briggs B. Franklin (E. F. Packard & Co.), Railroad sq., cor. Court, house Academy, opp. High School
Brooks Wallace W., shoemaker, bds. Mrs. R. Brooks', Main
Brown Orrin, card grinder Barker mill, h. 13 Second

So breaking it down we have names, occupations, company names, and addresses, all good stuff. In addition to the specific information about individuals (which is interesting to family historians), it gives a snapshot in location and time, and more importantly does so on an annual basis instead of every 10 years like a census. This is, of course, also valuable to all Family Historians, regardless of whether your ancestor is in the city directory.

On Footnote we don't have that many towns where we have multiple years yet. One example where we do is Bangor, Maine where we have 1871 and 1882. Looking at the first pages of each, we find that Peter Ackerman is still a fresco painter 11 years later but has moved. We see that the Adams Brothers are still running a hat manufacturing business and are still located at 5 Kenduskeag bridge.

What would be really interesting if somebody out there was a descendant of the Adams Brothers and had a photograph of the brothers at their factory or Peter Ackerman and one of his frescos. They could upload that image and build a story page tying their photo to the city directory of Bangor. Building those sorts of connections within original documents is what Footnote is all about. As we like to say at Footnote, there are hundreds, even thousands of stories here to be discovered and told.

Links referenced in this post:
What's in a City Directory? - Creative Gene
City Directories on
City Directories Footnote Catalog Description

Monday, June 11, 2007

Footnote Press in The Tampa Tribune was featured in an article in The Tampa Tribune over the weekend. It's a good overview of the site and includes a personal example of how the site helped the author, Sharon Tate Moody, to find information on her ancestors.

The files often are the only surviving records of a soldier's birth date. I have already been able to scratch off one of the tasks on my to-do list - something that would have required a trip to a facility that houses National Archives microfilm series M804.

Instead, sitting right here at my computer, I learned that John Blankenship of Virginia "was born in the county of Lunenburg in the state of Virginia I suppose in the year of 1760. I have no record of my age but know that I was about 20 years old when I first entered the service of the United States." Elsewhere in this affidavit, created as part of a pension claim, Blankenship reveals that his father's name also was John Blankenship. After the war, he returned to Lunenburg County, but three or four years later moved to Pittsylvania County, Va.

One of the exciting parts of press like this is that even if those that read this article don't subscribe, hopefully many will come to the site, become members and share their own stories, adding to the value for all that visit the site.

Growing Web Site Gets Better - And Cheaper

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Image of the Day: June 9th

One of the "core fields' that we try to get with every document or series of documents is a date. As a result most of our documents have a date or date range associated with them. Those that don't have that information when we push to the site can be annotated by you!

Here is the "image of the day" for June 9th...

Project Blue Book - UFO Investigations » 1964 » June » Westfield, Wisconsin

Letters like this are quite common in the Project Blue Book documents. Oft times a person who saw some sort of phenomenon in the sky would write to a news outlet, like the Chicago Tribune in this document, where they would write back and refer them to the Air Force or other government agency.

Page 5; Project Blue Book, 1947-1969

This is a "free image" so the links above take you directly to the image viewer.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Image of the Day: June 8th

One of the "core fields' that we try to get with every document or series of documents is a date. As a result most of our documents have a date or date range associated with them. Those that don't have that information when we push to the site can be annotated by you!

Given that this information on the site, I can pull an image up using today's date, June 8th, to see what happened "today in history".

So, here is the first "image of the day"...

Eisenhower Photos - 1955 - White House Press Conference

Page 1; Selected Photographs of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1943-1961

This is a "premium image" so if you are not a subscriber, you won't be able to see the image in the viewer, but the link will take you to a page with a thumbnail.

I'm probably not going to be able to do this every day, but thought it would be fun to do it occasionally. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

10 Million and Beyond

As humans, we generally have a fascination with the most significant digit on an odometer changing, whether that be special celebrations for birthdays or anniversaries that are multiples of ten or twenty-five, seeing a bank account reach a certain number of zeros or even just the clock hitting the top of the hour.

At Footnote, we've recently passed 10 Million images (across 52 titles) online, which is really just one click more on the odometer than 9,999,999, but it's still pretty cool. We are putting about 2 million digital images of original documents online each month so we're already well past 10,000,000 images and in a few months 10,000,000 will seem like chump change, just as 200,000 (the number of images we had a launch) seems like nothing now (we generally add that many images in two days).

Here are the excerpts of the blog post on the Blog: 10 million original documents and growing daily

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Free on Footnote

While you need a subscription to see a lot of the "original document" content on Footnote, there is a lot of things that you can do with a free membership on the site, or even without being a member at all. You do need to be registered to create story pages and make annotations, but there are several titles that are free on the site without registration.

For a list of what you can do on for free, go to What you can do for free on

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Footnote now in the LDS Family History Centers

FamilySearchSo this was originally announced a few weeks ago, but it's now live. If you haven't subscribed to Footnote at home, this is an opportunity to check out the content on the site through the LDS Family History Centers. Of course even if you don't subscribe, the hope is that you upload your own content and build a story page or two around your own family history which you can do with a free membership! Remember that there are several titles that are freely available and all user contributed content is always free to search!

The Footnote excerpt of the release says:

Footnote (

Footnote is a subscription-based website that features searchable, original documents that provide users a view of the events, places and people that shaped the American nation and the world. The site will have over 25 million digital images by the end of 2007. Footnote is currently working with FamilySearch to index the American Revolutionary War Pension files. Additional projects with FamilySearch are under development.

Individuals with Footnote subscriptions will be able to sign in with the same Footnote username and password they use at home in order to save, annotate, and upload content.

Here is a link to the full news item. It includes announcements about other sites that will be also available at the Family History Centers:

More Web Site Service Providers Team With FamilySearch

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Refining Search

Filtered search is a feature that has been around since launch but seems to be underused. To illustrate the power of this feature, I'll give an example.

If you're looking for information on Footnote about a specific John Smith, typing "John Smith" in the search box will give you a lot of results. There are results from all sorts of documents from different places and times. As of today there are 6338 search results. This is an unmanageable number of entries to review.

I know that the John Smith that I'm looking for served in the Revolutionary War, at least that's what I understand from the other documents that I've found. In order to limit the search I can either use the drop down on the search page or use the browse page to select a title (see screenshot to the left). In this case I want to look in the Revolutionary War Rolls.

This helps significantly to filter the results to only 2114 results. This is still a lot though so we should try to limit our search again. We're pretty sure that our John Smith grew up in Vermont and probably served from there... so using the browse page, we can further limit the search to Vermont Regiments.

With this additional refinement we now only have 26 results. These can be quickly browsed for valuable information.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Footnote/FamilySearch Blog Coverage Roundup

Well, there has been a lot of coverage of the recent Footnote/FamilySearch Announcement with regards to the Revolutionary War Pensions. Here is a roundup of some of the coverage on family history blogs. If you've mentioned the announcement in your blog, please leave a comment with a link to your site!

In no particular order...

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter - Teams With FamilySearch to Release Complete Revolutionary War Pension Files
DearMYRTLE, your friend in genealogy - releases original Rev. War docs for 1st time on 'Net
Columbus Public Library Genealogy & Local History - Revolutionary War documents available for the first time on the Internet
JacksBox4You - Footnote Teaming with FamilySearch
The Ancestry Insider - accessible for free at FamilySearch Centers
The Genealogue - While I Was On the Roof...
Roots Television - 80 BILLION family files to go online!! Wow!
The Accidental Genealogist - Missing NGS?
Genea-Musings - FamilySearch and Footnote team up
Ancestor Search Blog - Teams with Family Search to Release Revolutionary War Pension Files
Renee's Genealogy Blog - Tidal Wave Starting to Flood
Olive Tree Genealogy Blog - Revolutionary War Pension Files To be Released by Teaming with FamilySearch
Ancestors At Rest - Teams with FamilySearch to Release Revolutionary War Pension Files

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Deseret News Article... Footnote as a footnote

The Deseret News, a widely distributed newspaper, had a first page article on FamilySearch this morning where Footnote got a mention. The article is more to highlight the new program that FamilySearch is rolling out (Dick Eastman's comments on the program) than Footnote, but since we are the first partner to have a project start up under the program (Revolutionary War Pensions), we were referenced.

80 billion family files to go online: LDS Church plans to be history 'clearinghouse'

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

FamilySearch and Footnote Part 2 - Revolutionary War Pensions Online

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a press release announcing the availability of the Revolutionary War Pensions. Here are some excerpts from the release.

For example, a pension application might contain information on an individual soldier’s rank, unit, date mustered in and mustered out, basic biographical information, medical information and military service assignments.

The pension files also often contain supporting documents such as narratives of events during service, marriage certificates, birth records, death certificates, pages from family Bibles, family letters, depositions of witnesses, affidavits, discharge papers and other supporting papers.

The historic Revolutionary War Pension Records project is the first of many future projects the Church is undertaking to expedite access to historical records. The new Records Access program initiated by FamilySearch will result in a virtual tidal wave of online databases around the world, according to FamilySearch officials.

See the full press release at: Revolutionary War Records Go Online

Monday, May 14, 2007

FamilySearch and Footnote

Footnote has announced a partnership with FamilySearch (formerly the Genealogical Society of Utah) which is sponsored by the LDS Church. Here is an excerpt from the press release:

“We are excited to partner with to provide historians and genealogists alike a tremendous source of data that will assist greatly in putting puzzle pieces together to create a rich family history,” said Paul Nauta, manager of Public Affairs for FamilySearch. “This affiliation allows us to better meet one of our goals to provide as much data online as fast as possible for those working on their genealogy.”

Also, as a part of this agreement, will be accessible for free in all FamilySearch operated centers worldwide. FamilySearch has more than 4,500 Family History Centers in 70 countries.
This partnership will allow Footnote to continue to expand the content on the site and offer increased value to our members by allowing both parties to work together to digitize and index millions of documents.

The increased exposure through the Family History Centers should do two things: 1) show the value that Footnote brings and hopefully increase the number of subscribers (which is good for Footnote) and 2) increase the number of members and therefore the amount of user generated content on the site which benefits everybody.

Here is a link to the release in Footnote's Press Room:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Footnote's Annotations

One of the new features that we've added is Footnote generated annotations. On certain publications we've keyed names and other data as annotations. The first title to have this feature is the Revolutionary War Rolls. In the example image above and below ( or|10191483), the Muster Roll has each of the names annotated.

To the left is detail of the list of annotated names (note the boxes around each of the names). We believe that this data will be invaluable to Footnote users in this and many future titles.

The footnote user currently has approximately 1.5 million annotations on the site and thousands more being added each day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

New Feature... Completion Status!

The Footnote team is constantly working on new features for the site. A cool new feature that was added to the site recently is "completion status". Most (but not all) publications will have this and will show how much of a publication is currently available on the site. We think that this will be a big help to everybody out there as it allows users to see if more of a particular publication is still coming.

Here is a blurb from the Footnote site about it:

The completion status graph Indicates the progress we've made in adding images from this title to the Footnote site.

We want to give you access to as many images as we can, so when we add a new title, we begin putting up images as soon as we have them ready and keep working until all the images are posted. We've designed this graph to give you a quick view of how far along we are.

Since some grouped titles (for example: city directories or naturalizations), and even some individual titles, don't have a definite number of images in them, we can't provide a completion number in these cases.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

More Footnote in the News (a few days late)

I've been pretty bad about posting recently. Footnote issued a press release (link) last week that was picked by many news outlets. Additionally, the Salt Lake Tribune published an article soon thereafter with a more "in depth" look at Footnote (not just reprinting the press release).

This article and press release highlight some of the Revolutionary War content that is available on the site which can be accessed at

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What's Coming to Footnote

I guess this wasn't a big deal to me as I knew that this page was there, just buried sometimes, but the Genealogy Reviews Online Blog did a quick post about this page.

As somebody that deals with the content, this is sometimes out of date, but we are working to ensure that our users (and potential users) know what's coming in the next month or so.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Footnote in the News [Update]

Footnote was featured in an AP article that was picked up by the Daily Herald (in Utah County, Utah) on the front page.

The Lincoln Assassination Papers were highlighted this weekend in the Deseret News. This was due to the anniversary of the assassination last Saturday.,1249,660211985,00.html

Some of the Papers are available for free on footnote via this link.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Project Blue Book for Free on Footnote

Footnote announced on the blog today that they have put Project Blue Book on the site and have made access to it free. The complete set of images should be up soon. Here is a link to the blog post.

I announced on my blog (see link below) when we started to put the content up. Some of the later documents are more detailed and contain more photos and diagrams as Chris points out in his post. I encourage you to follow some of his links to see some of the cool content!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Jesse Warren Clement

I have just posted my first "story page" on For those unfamiliar with the term, a story page is a user generated page on footnote. Users can upload photos and write content to share with others. Here is a link to my story page on Jesse Warren Clement based on a biographical sketch that I wrote for a family history class.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Google and Ebay in the Civil War

Chris at Footnote put together this blog post on the official Footnote Blog:

It is interesting to find "modern" terms and names in the past.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Project Blue Book

The Project Blue Book publication is making it's way out onto the Footnote site. For those not familiar with it (I wasn't before I started working with it at Footnote), it is a collection of documentation about UFO sightings in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Also one of the other employees at Footnote put together a story page about some of the encounters at


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ezra Taft Benson

One of the first publications that I worked on at footnote was the Photo collections of some of the US Presidents from the mid 1900s. Before he became President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ezra Taft Benson was Secretary of Agriculture for President Eisenhower. So when I was reviewing the Eisenhower photos, I searched for Ezra Taft Benson and these are a few of the images that I've found.

There are some others of the cabinet which should include President Benson.

First Post

In the interest of full disclosure, first off, I work for footnote. I started there about a month ago, a few weeks after the site launched. Part of my responsibilities include helping with the process of getting the new content onto the website. This gives me the opportunity to review examples of the content while I'm working.

What I hope to do on this blog is to post examples of interesting content that I find during my perusal of the content on I hope this helps you out there to be interested in the footnote content and what it has to offer.