"The combination of family and social networking with the most comprehensive collection of digitized and indexed family history documents has been a powerful catalyst behind this user-generated surge," said Tim Sullivan, CEO of The Generations Network, parent company of Ancestry.com. "In the past year we've seen a remarkable networking effect as people use Ancestry.com to make great discoveries and share their findings with family members."
This tremendous user-contributed growth has been fueled by two major content releases -- the biggest online collection of African American historical documents and the Web's leading compilation of U.S. military records. Site traffic reached and remained at unprecedented levels in a prolific year that also included the announcement of a groundbreaking venture with Sorenson Genomics into the DNA genealogy field. The success was preceded by the 2006 launch of the only complete online U.S. Federal Census Collection and the largest Internet set of U.S. passenger lists.
When Pamela Hicks Smith, who lives near St. Louis, began building her Ancestry.com tree in 2006 she noticed another user researching her family. After a few emails they discovered they were, in fact, cousins and soon began planning a summer 2007 family reunion. Today her family tree boasts more than 1,500 profiles. "To me it's nothing short of a miracle," said Smith. "I didn't even know these people a year ago and now thanks to Ancestry.com our family is closer than ever."
Ancestry.com users create profiles for each individual in their family tree, share memories, upload photos, record conversations and interviews -- and invite family members to do the same. Users then search Ancestry.com's extensive collection of more than 5 billion searchable names to find historical documents that capture their family story. Users can also connect on the site's message boards, some of the most active boards on the Web.
Since July 2006, more than 2.5 million people have built family trees on Ancestry.com, some growing their trees to amazing heights. The largest tree includes almost 260,000 profiles. Another tree has almost 3,500 photos. And one user has shared his tree with more than 180 people.
Anita Gay of Massachusetts, a site member since May 2006, will never forget finding her grandfather's census record on Ancestry.com. "I felt him sitting next to me," said Gay, "and I could hear him say in his French accent, 'That's me!' Of course I answered him with, 'I know, Gramps.'"
Louise Roskell, from North Yorkshire, Great Britain, a member since September 2006, invited 15 family members to view her Ancestry.com tree. "[They] recalled stories about different members of the family and even began researching more themselves," said Roskell. "Before I knew it, I had a wealth of photographs and was in touch with several relatives I had never met before, through Ancestry.com."
In the first half of 2007, the company launched three new localized sites, increasing the number of Ancestry sites from four to seven. Today, sites in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Italy, Germany and, most recently, France extend Ancestry's networking and tree-building tools to a worldwide audience.