Fold3: Original military records online

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Members Of The Crew Of The Boeing B-17 "The Bad Penny" Are Interrogated After Their Return From A Mission Over Enemy Territory.

Thank you to everyone who has responded so passionately with comments and questions about the change from Footnote to Fold3. The fact that so many have responded is a positive reminder that many of you have grown to love the site and the content we offer. It would have been much more discouraging if no one had cared. Here is some additional clarification to address some of the concerns we’ve seen posted:

  1. Many have voiced concern about what will happen to the non-military content on Fold3. We have not removed any non-military content from the site and we have no plans to remove any non-military content from the site (except possibly some newspapers from content partners who may choose to have their content removed in the future, unrelated to the Fold3 launch). Everything that was on Footnote two days ago and earlier is still accessible today.
  2. There has been concern about whether or not we will add non-military content in the future. There are some ongoing commitments to produce non-military records, like Homestead Records for example, that will continue to be added to the site even though they are not military records. But the clear focus for new content will be military records. We understand that many of our users love the naturalization records, vital records, census records and city directories found on the site – and all of those we’ve produced will continue to be available on Fold3; but our parent, Ancestry.com, has a fantastic site with an enormous number of naturalization records, vital records, census records and city directories already available and many more being added constantly. We encourage everyone to visit the Ancestry.com site for records beyond what we have on Fold3. There is a very, very large number of military records yet to be digitized and made available online and we are increasing our investment in content production to accelerate the pace of content growth on the site. By focusing on military records, we know we may disappoint some users who wanted to see another copy of US Census records produced or additional city directories, and so on; but we believe we are more likely to succeed at exceeding users’ expectations if we clearly communicate our focus and stick to it rather than trying to excel in creating an optimal user experience for dozens of different types of records.
  3. Users have asked why they weren’t notified of the change in advance. Notification of members is underway already and emails will continue to be sent over the coming days (it takes a while to send as many email messages as we are sending); so if you haven’t received one yet, you should have it in your inbox soon. We appreciate your patience and are happy to answer any questions you may have.
  4. Some have wondered what might become of non-military memorial pages and user-uploaded content. All memorial pages and user-uploaded content remains as it was before, meaning that there are tens of millions of non-military memorial pages on the site and we have no plans to limit future memorial pages or user uploads to just military content.
  5. A few comments have wondered whether Ancestry.com would move all of its military content to Fold3. There are no plans to remove any military content from the Ancestry.com site. While there are some military record collections that make sense to have on both Fold3 and Ancestry.com (like the World War II Old Man’s Draft Cards that we just started adding to Fold3), the content on the Fold3 site has always been mostly distinct content that could not be found on Ancestry.com and that will continue to be true. When we selectively add content from the Ancestry.com site to Fold3, we will be making a separate copy available on Fold3 and not removing the content from Ancestry.com. Similarly, there are some cases where it may make sense for Ancestry.com to selectively copy vital records or other content from Fold3 to Ancestry. But the vast majority of content on each site will continue to be distinct rather than overlapping.
  6. Other comments have related to whether or not existing partnerships or integration points would continue to function as they do currently, with the FamilySearch integration being mentioned in a couple comments for example. All existing links and integration points are still functioning as they did previously (although it will take some time for all of the text on various sites to be changed from Footnote.com to Fold3). We have no plans to remove any of the linkages between FamilySearch and Fold3 and are very happy with that integration and similar integration points with other sites.

We understand that the change from Footnote to Fold3 is dramatic and that it is very uncomfortable for some users. We hope you will find that the same team that created what you loved under the Footnote brand will bring you content and features you love just as much under the Fold3 brand. We appreciate your support.  If you have any account specific questions please visit our Contact Page.

41 Comments

  1. i SIGNED UP TO FOLD 3 ONE HOUR AGO, THIS WAS FOR A THREE DAY TRIAL, IT WAS NOT ANY USE FOR ME FOR THE THINGS I NEED TO KNOW, I WOULD LIKE TO UNSUBSCRIBE BUT I CANNOT FIND THE PLACE TO DO IT. PLEASE TAKE MY MESSAGE TO UNSUBSCRIBE TO YOUR SERVICE.

    UNSUBSCRIBE TO MY THREE DAY TRIAL

    • Faye,

      Thank you for your post. However we are unable to find a Fold3 account with your name or email address. Please send us a message from our Contact Page if you have further questions.

      Gordon
      Fold3

  2. Hello, I just found that the footnote site is changed, It does not seem to be as easy to get information. I cannot figure out the site. Wish I would have had some warning as I can’t use it now. Please help. Roseanne Losh

  3. You Had a good site. I joined only for the Native America Information. I don’ t see it now. I logged on this morning to sign up for a year. Evidently you removed any interest I had in this site. You just lost a me and all the people I have been referring to this site.
    John Corn

  4. John Corn, the Native American collections, as well as all the other non-military documents are under ‘Other Collections’ on the Home Page. No material has been removed.

    I’m happy for this change, myself. I work primarily on the Civil War Soldiers’ Service records, and I’ve been waiting patiently for over a year for the Union states military records to be posted – especially Indiana, Ohio and Illinois. If this speeds up that process, I’m all for it.

    I knew there were changes afoot when Footnote was bought by Ancestry.com – that you’ve chosen to play to your strength is all to the good, I think.

  5. you have to be einstein plus 10 brain surgeons to figure out new web page. it’s not worth the effort. in short take it and
    stick it.

  6. Looks to me as if this change has alienated a large part of your customer base. Not a good move. Still, Ancestry must think this will make them more money, and that’s all that matters.

  7. This is not what I signed up AND paid for. I think that you should have given all paying customers a heads up on impending changes as well as the option to get our money back for the remaining months on our subscription, if the new scope of this site is not what we want. This is very manipulative in my opinion and unfair.

  8. I wish, like others, that I had known about this switch before I let my 7-day trial renew into the annual access plan. I feel cheated by such bait and switch tactics. And it is rather crass to trade on the integrity of men and women in uniform when a group uses such business practices.

  9. I look forward to the focused expansion of military service related records. I just tested all the files I normally use, including downloads, and received perfect results.

    I thought you might wish some positive feedback, as warranted.

  10. I think that it was clever to post the photo above for this post (INTERROGATED after flying over ENEMY territory). Promote him to come up with the replacement name for Fold3 please.

  11. There was no excuse for making the change and notifying your subscribers on the tail end.

    I hope you guys haven’t shot yourselves in the foot with the same gun Geni.com did…

  12. I understand your need to carve out a niche for yourselves when there are so many other all-purpose genealogy sites out there, but this is a niche that I have absolutely no interest in. How do I cancel my subscription? I have been on automatic renewal with Footnote.com practically since the beginning, but if you’re not going to be adding anything that would be of use to me, I see no need to continue.

  13. Where is the “Go Back” after you view the document? It had this on the old Footnote. Thanks!

  14. I went back to the original NARA announcement to find if I misremembered the promise made then. I did not … here it is:

    After an interval of five years, all images digitized through this agreement will be available at no charge through the National Archives web site.

    What happened to that portion of the agreement?

    • Barbara,

      Thank you for the question. Nothing has changed with our NARA agreement. It has not yet been five years since the launch of the site and NARA does receive copies of the content which may be made available on NARA’s web site on a rolling basis 5 years after each bit of content was originally posted by us.

  15. Congratulations, Ancestry.com!

    You have figured out how to make a sow’s ear out of a silk purse.

    In keeping with this sound business decision, I recommend that you take this opportunity to focus your primary site on census records and hide all your other databases under the heading “other”. While you’re at it, change the name of Ancestry.com to headcounter3. It sounds somewhat census related and it makes more sense than fold3 as a military site. At least the 3 on the end of both names would imply some kind of relationship between the two sites.

    While you are at it, someone in your organization might want to do an internet search for “fold3″. I used Google. I found no mention of anything Military (other than yours) but I did find a flickr account by that name featuring photos of male body parts. I’m not sure what they are folding either but that’s the name and that’s the content.

    This new name for your site is so “memorable” I’ve had to look up to the address bar each time I needed to type it to remind myself of what this new name is…

    So, if your primary goal was, as it seems, to send footnote.com off into obscurity, then you have largely succeeded. So pour yourselves another glass of bubbly to celebrate your success.

    I’ll go off and tip my hat with all due respect to the founders of footnote.com who worked so hard only to watch you destroy their “baby” in one fell swoop.

    Suzie Henderson

  16. There are several versions of scripts that ascribe meaning to each of the folds in a flag-folding ceremony. Each 13-fold script has its own tradition and meaning for different groups. We found the meaning ascribed to the third fold in the script sometimes used in military settings to be a sentiment that resonated with our intentions in digitizing and making historical military records available. Fold3 is just a simplified representation of that third fold sentiment honoring and remembering those who served.

  17. Sorry to see this happen. Is the ancestry site moving all its military record to 3Fold so you have to pay for 2 sites to get combined information needed in research?

  18. My institution just signed and paid for a one year subscription.
    BAIT AND SWITCH.

  19. I agree with everyone. You tried to lure me into a trial, take my credit card information for an automatic renewal, and yet did not disclose this major shift. Shame on you. My dad and other vets fought for a country based on fair ness and integrity, not bait and switch.

  20. Dear Brian…

    Why are you not answering the questions posed about the integrity of this process? If you truly have a reason then you would disclose it – you are not defending your reason therefore must feel that the bait and switch that was pulled is indeed lacking in moral integrity. I see that you have posted answers to the question about NARA and also the question about the 3rd fold of the flag… but there are no answers as to why I paid my renewal early (due to a discount that was offered) only to now have a website that is not what I paid for. I do believe there are some aspects of misrepresentation afoot here. It may be uncomfortable to answer these questions but your paying customers deserve a better answer than has been given…

    • Karen,

      I haven’t responded to the “bait and switch” comments because I thought we had already clearly addressed that in previous comments. Specifically, every single image, index record, and other piece of content that was on the site before the name change is still on the site today. In fact, we’ve added over a million additional images to the site since the name change. So if there was any “bait” when you signed up under the Footnote name, then there should be far more “bait” today than there was then. The only “switch” would be the name which does not affect the content currently on the site in any way. So as long as people are buying the content (rather than the Footnote name), I am confused about the “bait and switch” accusation. Perhaps I’m missing something and I welcome additional information or questions.

      We do appreciate the dialog and feedback.

  21. Charles Lemon & Agnes Hannah Hamilton
    daughter Helen Gourlay Lemon b 22 Sep 1884 Hamilton, ON
    need date of death and place of death!!

  22. Brian –

    Perhaps I can shed some light on the “bait and switch” comments.

    First, you are, of course correct that every piece of information that was on the site before you changed the name *and the interface* is still there today. However, “refocusing” on military records has left the non-military content of which there was a great deal–and a great deal that did not and does not appear on Ancestry–lumped together under “OTHER,” which for those of us who focus was *not* military records pretty much equates to a dusty corner somewhere.

    While I would not have used the terms b”bait and switch” I understand clearly what was meant. The BAIT that folks are talking about is the fact that under the Footnote name the site had a wide focus, which I was told by one of their people at the 2010 Family History Conference was going after and publishing smaller collections that the big player, like Ancestry, were not picking up. That was why I had a footnote membership, for example, the focus on original documents as yet unseen on the web.

    With that in mind, lets look at the “switch.” Given that there was no announcement of the change before hand, people who signed up recently, or who were extending their subscription were doing so with the expectation that they were subscribing to a service focused on original documents, often smaller collection of material that were not being provided by larger content providers such as Ancestry. Now–without warning– they find they have joined a service focused on military records and military-related material. The item they obtained is not the one they believed and were told they were purchasing–thus “bait and switch”– a deceptive advertising practice frowned on or out-right banned in many commercial contexts.

    That said I’d like to go on to express my sorrow at the death of the service I have been a member of for the last 3 years. I joined Footnote specifically because it was a resource that would “fill in the cracks,” pick up the material that the “big boys” were uninterested in, or which were perhaps viewed by them as uneconomical. It was a company that worked with the National Archives before Ancestry did, and was a possible source for material on my families that I could not find elsewhere. Clearly that focus has changed, and the type of information I am seeking is now unlikely to be found on Fold3, unless it is already there. My family has little history of military service, despite the fact that two of my lines can boast Revolutionary War veterans, and it is clear, now, that no new content will be added that is not military in nature (other than that already contracted for). There’s nothing wrong with that, given your new mission, but it will no longer meet my previous expectations.

    On a slightly different note, I realize that you are on the pointy end of the spear when it comes to explaining and defending the change in name and focus but try not to sound so dismissive of people’s concerns or preferences. You say: “By focusing on military records, we know we may disappoint some users who wanted to see another copy of US Census records produced or additional city directories, and so on;…” you are dismissing the non-military content we had expected to see on this site as just more of the same old thing, and thus not of much value. Perhaps it is, from your viewpoint, but not from mine.

    In the same vein, another posting, this one not authored by you but by Peter, says “Footnote has been a great name, but it doesn’t relate to military records and can carry a connotation of insignificance which doesn’t seem appropriate for a site focused on records related to the great sacrifices associated with military service.” Guys, that’s a backhanded slap at the fine individuals who set up this site, and not a great way to win over customer that *they* brought in.
    Moreover, as anyone associated with genealogy can tell you, footnotes are *far* from insignificant! Footnotes are where you cite your sources– where you show that your conclusions are base on sound evidence. I always saw the Footnote name as meaning that the content was *original documents* the material you would be citing in your footnotes.

    Will I drop Fold3 next June when my subscription runs out? Maybe. Frankly, though, I am an omnivorous researcher, and will eke what I can out of any type of records. Will I sigh and look around for another provider who could “fill in the cracks” for me? Certainly. For good or ill, though, Fold3 is not what I loved in Footnote, and will not be so anymore.

    Ginny Tracy

    • Virginia,

      Thank you for your thoughtful and detailed response. Your point about the interface change is a good one and I understand how having city directories and other records that are of primary interest placed into the Other Collections category must be disheartening. While the city directories, for example, are actually more easily accessed in the new interface than before (just two clicks from the homepage by clicking Other Collections and then City Directories), it doesn’t change the fact that they are — as you pointed out — clearly not the focus of the new content plan for the site in the future. There will continue to be dramatically more city directories and other non-military content available on the Ancestry.com site than we ever have had or could hope to have on Fold3. But we do hope that the city directories and other non-military content on the Fold3 site will continue to be useful to our users as well.

      You mentioned the site’s “focus on original documents as yet unseen on the web” which I appreciate as that continues to be our focus and one of the primary reasons for the enhanced focus on military records. Additional military records are by far our most frequently requested new content by members. There are hundreds of millions of pages of military records on our target list of content we would like to digitize and make available in the coming years and certainly many more that will be added to our target list in the future.

      You mentioned a comment by Peter about the Footnote name as “a backhanded slap at the fine individuals who set up this site” and others have made similar comments. The fact is that the team in place at Fold3 is the same team of individuals who set up the site with the exception of a few who are no longer at the company. For example, Peter has been the product manager of the site since before the January 2007 launch. I was here when we launched the site in 2007 as were all of our current developers, our user experience director, our director of marketing and customer support, and most of the rest of the current Fold3 team. While we are now part of the Ancestry.com family, we continue to have our own team, our own separate office location, and are operating in coordinated fashion with the Ancestry.com team to continue to bring valuable records to our users.

      I appreciate that change, especially to the interface of a frequently used website, can be frustrating. We appreciate everyone’s patience during this transition period and hope most of our users will continue to find value in the records we make available on the site.

      And thanks again for clarifying some of the additional points of frustration with the recent changes. I appreciate your taking the time to help voice what many users are probably feeling.

    • Tracy, Thank- you!!! I could not have said it better. As an African American, there are almost no records of African American military service before the civil war and few up until WWII. I’m trying to get back as far as I can before the 1850′s and the new focus of the site will not help me. I am more than disappointed!! Thank- you for giving voice to my concerns.

  23. When you changed over to Fold3.com are you going to take information off of “Our Gallery”? What happens if the newspapers/directories, etc pull their information and it is in the “Gallery”? Will this take it out of the Gallery? I am having problems downloading the articles I want to keep regarding my family. Suggestions?

    Thank you for your time.

    • Pamela,

      Thank you for the question. Here are a few thoughts and full disclosure about the current status and plans:

      1) For some reason, some browsers seem to save images without the “.jpg” added to the end of the file name and that causes issues when trying to view the saved file. If this is the case, then renaming the file that was saved by adding “.jpg” at the end typically solves the problem. If it’s some other kind of problem with saving images, please let us know so we can look into it further in case it’s something we can fix on our side.

      2) There are no current plans or discussions regarding removal of any city directories, so every city directory should behave the same way on the site for the foreseeable future.

      3) There are no current plans to remove any content from any user’s gallery, even if we do remove some newspaper titles from browse and search results. There are two newspaper partners we are currently working with who will likely have their content removed in the very near future. One of those partners (SmallTownPapers) has already agreed to let us pay a fee to keep all images saved to galleries or spotlighted or annotated available to users through their gallery or their list of annotations or the spotlight stream even after the content is removed from search and browse. But we are still working with the other newspaper partner to try to get the same kind of agreement in place and haven’t yet finalized that; so I cannot yet make the same promise regarding the other newspaper partner. But we are trying very hard to make that happen.

  24. I can’t afford to rejoin Ancestry.com and the data set that Footnote had was more than enough for me. My ancestors only had 2 soldiers in it and then it was the city directories here that intrigued me.

    And no, I do not believe the refocusing should have gone the way it was done. If people who have subscribed to your service had to find out by twitter messages – oops! That’s not how it should be communicated. Period

    I too would like a refund unless it can be applied to a agreement for a full year of Ancestry.com for the same price. (Ancestry is almost $300.00 a year folks for me) I don’t make that kind of money

    Zenheart
    (Who had to get membership via the anniversary specials only)

    • Zenheart,

      The city directories and all other content that intrigued you initially are all still available on Fold3. Our new name and focus will continue to allow you to access the same content that motivated your purchase. If you have account related questions please Contact our support department.

      Gordon

  25. Just an additional note here – I also do CW research on the side and find that the name Fold3 does not give me anything more than found elsewhere.

    I find more information elsewhere than here.

  26. To Gordon
    The collection was growing and in time that collection will dwindle when contracts are up. Please don’t toy with us about that stuff being a permanent part of the Fold3 collections. Its also called a game of join Ancestry.com or flounder.

    My focus is on a professional angle and need access to a “growing” collection of these city directories. Fold3 has refocused which means the collection has stopped growing except for in process contractual agreements.

    Before I leave Fold3 the pages I’ve done and information added will be deleted. Please will someone gag a maggot on that name? While its the 3rd fold of a flag for remembrance. To genealogists it means nothing.

    Zenheart
    Who wouldn’t use twitter or bloggers to get the word out about name changes.

  27. What is this now, an origami site?
    I, too, am extremely disappointed in the new content focus. One can always get military records from the Nat’l Archives, but the smalltown papers are much more difficult to access and search. VERY DISAPPOINTED, and I agree about the ‘bait and switch’ and about the lack of notice. Why would you use this ‘twitter’ thing to notify users? Children and teens use twitter; older adults who do genealogy dont use it. Where were we supposedly notified about having to use it to get notifications? I never saw anything about that.
    I want a refund!!!!! I feel cheated. Also want to know why, if ancestry.com has taken this over, why it is not included in their subscription. Makes no sense whatsoever to maintain two separate websites with often overlapping content, except to take in more money. Is ancestry trying to control the entire online genealogy community? These takeovers are not beneficial to your users, just beneficial to the bottom-liners in upper management. Sneaky, last-minute changes dont do your loyal customers any service, especially those of us who have already completed our military research.’:
    Very, very, disappointed in you people.
    One thing will make me stay a customer of your ‘new military site’:
    WILL YOU BE ADDING MIILITARY CONTENT ON COLONIAL WARS, QUEEN ANNE’S WAR, FRENCH-INDIAN WARS, KING PHILIP’S WAR, BLACKHAWK WAR AND OTHERS LIKE THAT? OR ARE YOU JUST PLAYING TO RECENT IMMIGRANTS AND ADDING CONTENT THAT HAS ALWAYS BEEN EASILY AVAILABLE FROM THE NAT’L ARCHIVES?

  28. I, too, am very upset about the loss of the Gannett papers, especially the Poughkeepsie Journal. I have three questions:

    1) I have over 600 images in my gallery. Is there any way that I can download them in one fell swoop, or do I have to download each and every one individually?

    2) When, exactly, will the Poughkeepsie Journal content no longer be available? Will I be able to download until 11:59pm MST on Thursday 15 Sept 2011?

    3) Would you please tell us who we need to contact at Gannett to find out if/where we will be able to access the digital content that will be removed from fold3? (Would it be the same individuals with whom you were negotiating?) Please provide contact info (email/phone/snailmail) if at all possible.

    Thank you very much for your help in this most distressing matter.

  29. 5 weeks ago, Footnote was undergoing site maintainence. This evening, I see Fold3 & cookies are not enabled. Under Footnote, it was not necessary to sign-on.

    The acquisition last year, is the one we all forgot. Ancestry.com (corporate america) monopoly strikes again. Trying to remove your free membership (possibly paid) is out of the question…it will not happen.

    Note. To my understanding, Footnote.com had a 5 year agreement with NARA. Afterward, users would have free access. Hmmmmm.

  30. Most if not all of my data has been removed.

    Your focus does not intrigue me as a professional organization your business tactics suck. Gannet should make this data they are pulling out available outside the realm of Ancestry.com.

    I know a lot of people would like to sue Ancestry.com for its general way they operate as a monopoly. Alot of people used Footnote.com (not Fold3.com) for genealogical research that did not include the Ancestry.com ties.

    When I heard of the sale to Ancestry.com – I knew something evil was coming our way. If you want my opinion – Fold3 will fold in a years time into the parent company due to lack of members.

    Zenheart

    • This was my humble opinion only and not meant to create a possible lawsuit situation. I hope your business flourishes under the historians viewpoints as the genealogists will pull out.

  31. i writing to cancel my free trial subscription. This is my third attempt please contact me and let me know that it has been cancelled. i was suppose to receive an email and that has not happened. Thank you in advance ! it’s been three days i’ve been trying.