The launch is happening…some headline Infographics in USA today show major shifts and comparisons between 1940 and the 2010, great for social as well as family historians. There are some interesting aspects to the collaboration on this huge project which are encouraging. The scale of the task compared to the UK is simply daunting, it’s a factor of 500%+ compared to digitising a UK census. The US National Archives are taking a quite open approach to making American archives accessible and able to be curated indexed and shared using community collaboation tools and crowdsouring to get these huge and complex tasks done.

The full article is linked below, but as an example of one of the largest data sets in the world in terms of social statistics, how, what and by whom is this huge undertaking being done. It has to be outside of possibly CERN and large Scientific datasets, one of the Biggest databases in the world…Intriguing.

  • Movers and Shakers: 
    • National Archives of the USA are running the project, here is their headline video, it goes online, all being well 9:00am Eastern time 2nd April 2012, the countdown has begun. The approach is far more about leveraging the sum of all to be more powerful than the efforts of the one… See the US National archives Citizen-Archivist Resources, leaps ahead of what the TNA have managed to organise and making sure records remain in the hands of those who pay for them the tax payer. Yep it’s that History Soapbox again…they even encourage uploading and sharing your own archives. It is a very impressive approach we could all learn from.
    • well known family history data provider (owned by the Innovation US organisation Inflection a Data Commerce organisation and business) less well known in Europe and the UK than Ancestry Family Search and Find My Past (Brightsolid) it is a very innovative company with one eye on the future of public records as well as history and the past. Expect to see more activity internationally from Inflection in the medium term, it would be surprising if they did not capitalise on this huge win. The comapny has a very innovative culture as well as products and services. For this huge project they have been entrusted by the US National Archives with hosting the free to access digitised site for the 1940 Census. To get a sense of their dexterity in the Big Data and Open Data markets take a look at their other major dimension
    • USGenWeb project is a volunteer project driven by state and counties to provide free genealogical projects and resources online. The volunteers already work with FamilySearch (LDS) and will help drive the focus being on getting the data free and open indexed and transcribed into the hands of those who want to use it. It has struck a chord with us about the power for all historians to crowdsource indexing and transcription with the best technology available. See also articles about British Library old maps and georeferncing recently crowd sourced pilot project. It is something we all do in our own small ways on our family history and related projects, just better tools and hubs can now help.
    • Cloud computing is a big enabler here as well as helping online collaboration it means large scale and global projects can be undertaken. Interesting the archives have avoid the commercial might of Ancestry which is a profit driven organisation. Given the closeness of Familysearch and Ancestry it maybe an academic difference but at least it avoids a full monopoly on these important new resources. Lets hope the next release in the UK could be as innovative…

  • 3.9 Million Images, 120,000 census takers, showing the USA in recession, here are some more great and interactive resources on the 1940 analysis including Data Visualisations from the US Census Bureau, it’s all very engaging, easy to drill and learn from and explore, great stuff…
  • This one has been digitised from the outset and made available for free access from Day 1 for anyone with a PC and internet access. Users will need a target enumeration district for their relatives for searching.
You can campaign within your own genealogy and local history societies of course for a more open approach to data in the UK, breaking down the ivory towers of academia that still seem to be huge brick walls here. Take a look at and make your voice and those of your community heard. Consider helping with a simple and small crowdsourced/group project . Its as simple as sharing a spreadsheet over the internet, the principles are that easy. Watch out for posts about IT for historians we will be developing a set of posts tools and resources so you can do your own collaborative projects using free tools over the internet and much more…


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