All UIndy students, faculty and staff have been granted access to Ancestry.com content from computers and mobile devices anywhere on campus. That content – 11 billion searchable documents and images – includes census records, prison logs, ship manifests, historic newspapers and yearbook photos in addition to 40 million online family trees.
The company is providing on-campus workshops and seminars to help the UIndy community make the most of the online product. UIndy faculty members, particularly in disciplines such as history, are enthusiastic about the classroom potential of giving students easy access to the vast database of historical documents.
Although Ancestry.com has worked previously with libraries and other institutions, this is its first such relationship in the field of higher education.
At UIndy, the Ancestry.com access is a key component in the annual University Series of programs and events. This year’s series features guest speakers, discussions and workshops built around the theme “Who Do You Think You Are?”
As a starting point for the students’ exploration of heritage, the university adopted a common reader for the campus community, the 2009 book The Ties That Bind: A Memoir of Race, Memory, and Redemption by Bertice Berry. Berry, an African-American sociologist and writer, explored her family history and found a story far more complex than the black-and-white tale of slavery and tragedy that she expected. Three-fourths of the university’s incoming freshmen voluntarily bought the book, and hundreds attended a campus lecture by Berry in September.