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November 8, 2011

Fold3 – Genealogy for Profit Website & SUBSCRPTIONS

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon


This is Stanczyk’s first opinion piece. I hope it inspires comments and opinions in you my fine Internet Technorati. It would be nice if FOLD3 or ANCESTRY reads this article and comments/responds. If you do not want to read opinion then you are done for the day, loyal reader.

Fold3 used to be  Stanczyk had used Footnote while it was Footnote. We appreciated the Historical documents and especially liked:

  • Naturalizations
  • City Directories
  • Newspapers

These were valuable resources on top of all the historical/genealogical material they had accumulated from the National Archives (NARA). I liked how they integrated users and their material and how users could ‘Annotate’ Historical documents and link them to their own documents which could be uploaded to Footnote. This was helpful for Genealogy and for History too.

So when bought Footnote, we had a cautious optimism and hope that this research material would be folded into’s own valuable databases.

Here’s what happened … renamed to Fold3. Ok that was lame and really not useful for newbies. What is Fold3? It lacks broad meaning and is a poor branding.

They decided to focus on the military research material??? OK most of the NARA databases were military in nature (Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, etc.). Perhaps this heroic focus would be a good thing. But what about the other things? then proceeded to announce that they jettison City Directories and Historical Newspapers. Ok but that was a MAJOR reason to pay for Footnote/Fold3.

You now have to look under ‘Other‘ when browsing their collections. There you will still find Naturalizations and Passport Applications. Are these remaining … permanently? What else will be lost? now is a front-end search engine for some of Fold3’s databases. I do not like this. You pay for Ancestry. You buy their ‘DELUXE’ package to get access to everything and here are data that you cannot access without paying for??? Ancestry we already paid for EVERYTHING. Either give us access to the Fold3 (you own it) data in your search engines or remove this data!

Stanczyk used to index for, but not any more. Ancestry has muddied the waters about what is Ancestry and what is included in DELUXE. It used to be everything. Now there seems to be a new class of data that is NOT a part of EVERYTHING. Why buy Footnote and NOT include it in Ancestry? Is it to “milk” two subscriptions from your customers? OK, then keep them separate: two companies, two websites and two well defined subscriptions with well defined databases.

I do not like this ‘hybrid” where EVERYTHING is NOT EVERYTHING. I do not like the shell game of what data is where and the implicit attempt to shuffle data and force customers to have two paid subscriptions this does NOT pass the smell test. OPTIMISM is now gone and replaced with DISTRUST for needs to restore that DELUXE means EVERYTHING. If that means removing FOLD3 data, then remove FOLD3 data and do not mingle the two enterprises. This is causing ill will and losing Goodwill for

Buy FOOTNOTE if you must. Rename Footnote to FOLD3 if you must. Keep them as two subscription companies separate and distinct if you must. But this disintegration of FOLD3 (nee FOOTNOTE) and the subsequent pollution of with this bait-and-switch mingling of Ancestry with Fold3 leaves your CUSTOMERS with a bad taste in their mouths. You have made GENEALOGY and HISTORY worse by buying FOOTNOTE, not better. The TOTAL VALUE is now less for FOLD3 than it was for FOOTNOTE and even ANCESTRY is diminished by these decisions.

Ancestry, what were you thinking?

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