and – An Exciting Opportunity (II)

Of course, the underlying reasons for the agreement were the subject of much concern. In an effort to alleviate any fears, Dr. Marwell made the following important points:
  1. JewishGen will remain faithful to the idea that all JewishGen records will remain free, and freely accessible.
  2. This agreement was necessary to ensure that JewishGen is technologically stable, and able to provide a stable and robust user experience.
  3. The improved functionality of JewishGen (as a result of this agreement) will allow JewishGen to not only acquire more data, but to make it available more quickly to the Jewish public.
  4. Our driving force is to serve the public (which will never change).
Perhaps most importantly, Dr. Marwell explained that this deal offered JewishGen a way to survive as a unique organization serving the Jewish genealogical community.

While this deal will not “pay the bills” it will allow us to focus our attention on JewishGen projects (instead of investing a significant amount of time to technical infrastructure), which will (hopefully) encourage more people to donate to our worthy cause.

In the end, Dr. Marwell explained his belief that this deal represents a Win/Win/Win situation for all. It is a win for JewishGen, a win for Ancestry, and most importantly, it is a win for the incredibly dedicated volunteers and people who comprise the Jewish genealogical community. Specifically:

  1. JewishGen remains an independent 501 (c) 3 organization that remain reliant on the generosity of its donors
  2. JewishGen will retain its management structure and continue to rely on volunteer for their effort and contributions, in both time and funds.
  3. JewishGen will continue to provide the Jewish genealogical community with unique tools that will not be found on any other website, and will continue to host other organizations such as JRI-Poland, Litvak SIG and others.
  4. All data will remain free and freely accessible on JewishGen and Ancestry
  5. Ancestry will provide us with a much needed service.


  1. The deal with ancestry sounds very interesting. As I understand it Ancestry will now host Jewishgen's data on its servers providing more powerful tools, etc. and saving JewishGen from the expense of doing this with its own funds. But there is something that does not make sense here: normally in such an arrangement Jewishgen would be paying Ancestry (a for profit commercial enterprise) for all these services Ancestry is providing for JewishGen. Yet here, it is Ancestry that is paying JewishGen for the privilege of providing it the use of its powerful servers and internet! Commercial, for profit companies do not normally pay the client for the privilege of hosting them. So there is something else going on here that is not being clearly stated.

    Could you explain why Ancestry paid JewishGen money for the privilege of hosting on its servers data that donors gave for free to Jewishgen? Mutual advantage and increased exposure just does not cut it as a logical explanation.

  2. I hope that this means that people who have shared their personal family trees with JewishGen over the years believing them to be ONLY accessible to registered JewishGen members will not find their family trees now posted on, or available through, the website. Is that correct? And, if so, just which of JewishGen's databases is being made available to I would like to know what information I may have shared with JewishGen over the years will now be available to's millions of members.
    Thank you.

  3. Sorry I missed the conference. In general, I'm excited to hear of this new partnership. I'm a fan of both Ancestry and JewishGen. But I do have two thoughts/concerns.

    1. If people are able to access JewishGen databases through Ancestry, perhaps there will be less entries to the JGFF and other "collaborative" areas on the JewishGen site. I imagine that new users surf to JewishGen for the databases and THEN register, sign up for lists, etc. I hope new involvement doesn't descrease. Perhaps links from the Ancestry versions of the database encouraging users to go to JewishGen would help.

    2. I hope that this relationship leads to even more JewishGen databases, or Ancestry databases of interest to JewishGen researchers. For example, I'd love to see the New York City censuses scanned indexed.


  4. Brooke Schreier GanzAugust 23, 2008 at 12:55 PM

    This is great news! But it leaves out one crucial piece of information: *WHEN* will the JewishGen databases be made available on

  5. I sincerely hope none of my personal information or my family information appears on My credit card company (mastercard)wouldn't approve my membership payment to them as they said the site was insecure.

  6. As a professional reporter I've learned to be wary of glowing public statements and instead follow the "money trail".
    Has money changed hands in this transaction and in which direction? (I've heard that Ancestry paid some JewishGen administrators)
    Why did this money exchange hands?
    Will we get real answers to those important questions?

  7. Ruth Sinberg BakerAugust 24, 2008 at 2:23 PM

    I find it hard to believe that a commercial entity (Ancestry) has an altruistic interest in Jewishgen. The years of dedicated, voluntary efforts by Jewishgen. researchers and donors shouldn't be squandered on a bottom-line oriented business.Instead of appreciating the goose that has been laying Golden Eggs, I do believe that someone has taken said goose into the backyard and wrung its neck.

  8. Ruth Sinberg BakerAugust 24, 2008 at 2:43 PM

    Has someone not accepted my comment because it doesn't follow "the party line"?

  9. Isn't this exactly what we are normally complaining against? Ancestry (read as the Mormon FHL) getting their hands on our deceased data for post-mortem baptism which they keep saying they "don't do anymore". And all they wish to gain from this is access to our databases.
    And for what, a promise that they won't misuse or release our data in return for their expertise and hardware accessibility.
    Is there no limit to what we will do to save a few bucks?
    It's rather far-fetched but wouldn't this be like the US gov't giving our data to Putin because he can give us hardware and networking support (read as hacking, breaking, and entering)?
    Is this the final agreement and does the Jewishgen board or membership get to discuss and vote on this?
    Abe Simon
    Las Vegas, NV

  10. Anon 4:44PM - Thank you. This agreement is beneficial to Ancestry for it allows their subscribers to search Jewish data without leaving Ancestry.

    Euphman -
    1) Data entered into the JGFF and Family Tree of the Jewish People, will not be shared. JewishGen will continue to independently administer the JewishGen website, mailing lists and affiliates.
    2) That is our goal. Would you like to volunteer:)

    Brooke Schreier Ganz - Thank you. We expect by the end of the year.

    Anon 2:44PM - please email us using the contact us form on the right side of the page.

    Anon 10:01AM - Thank you for your comment. It has been publicly announced that there were financial benefits for JewishGen. Please see the fact sheet as well as the Q/A's that will soon be posted for further information.

    Ruth Sinberg Baker -
    1) The agreement is mutually beneficial. Ancestry would like to make more Jewish content available on its search results, and they will now be able to display certain JewishGen data on their site. JewishGen continues to remain a non-profit organization that relies on donations and volunteers.
    2) We are open to all feedback, both positive and negative. We appreciate the volunteers who help us provide this important service to the Jewish genealogical community and we will do everything possible to be as transparent and open as possible.

    Abe Simon - Thank you for your comments and concerns. Ancestry has absolutely nothing to do with the LDS church. Please view the fact sheet and the soon to be posted Q/A's for further information.


Comments are welcome. Please post responsibly.