So I logged in to my various news readers and social networks today getting ready to write about something I noticed in the 1865 New York state census (which I still plan to post, just not today), and I saw a news release announcing a “new” site called Fold3. Actually, it’s not a new site, but a rebranding of a site that many genealogists have come to know well, Footnote.
Since Ancestry bought Footnote a while ago, I had been wondering how they would work to keep a distinct user experience for Footnote, especially with what appeared to be a large overlap in the records that were available at the two sites (remember the free access week to the 1930 U.S. census last year?). Today’s announcement more readily defines the purpose and research goal for the rebranded site.
Footnote Fold3 will put its emphasis on military records. This quote from the site’s blog post announcing the new name sums up the change:
One change that won’t impact how things work, but is significant and will probably get a lot of attention, is the site’s new name. … We wanted a name that would show respect for the records we are working on and for the people who have served in the armed forces. The name Fold3 comes from a traditional flag-folding ceremony in which the third fold is made in honor and remembrance of veterans for their sacrifice in defending their country and promoting peace in the world.
As someone who is not a part of either site’s inner sanctum (heck, I’m not even a paid subscriber to either site right now), the change does seem to make sense. My own view is that Ancestry has records that relate to ancestral heritage through censuses, immigration records, birth/marriage/death records, directories and other record sources, while Footnote has highlighted military records more often (like the free access to U.S. Revolutionary War records over the July 4 weekend last month). It may take a bit to get used to the new name. The footnote.com domain name now redirects to fold3.com, so current bookmarks will likely work for a little while. The announcement says that the site will still work the same but just have a new name.
I don’t see a compelling need to go back through my database to update the links because my source citation is a record of where I found the information when I found it. It’s the same as any other site that I have accessed in the past; when a site disappears, my record of accessing that site remains in my source citation. I may look for additional records that are available at the new site name, but I will not delete a source citation simply because the source is not accessible at its old address. As to whether I will add a note in the source citation that the information has moved and what the new location is, well… I don’t foresee a need to proactively find and update all my references in one swell foop.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about resources on the internet through my 25 years of working in computer science, it’s that everything changes eventually.