Fold3 is the new name of Footnote, a database which is repositioning itself as the premier source for US military records. Formerly a less costly alternative and, according to some, the closest competitor to Ancestry, it was bought out in Sept. 2010, when Ancestry acquired its parent company iArchives. In August 2011, Footnote announced two major changes: the new focus on US military records; and the name change to Fold3.
What's in a name? Fold3 references the third fold in the traditional flag-folding ceremony, which honors veterans' service to this country. Perhaps a bit obscure.
Fold3 has a great deal of non-military content, and is not planning to remove it. But future improvements will center around military records, and probably will not duplicate material on Ancestry. The site currently has over 85 million images of original records and photographs. The browse feature allows one to search by military conflict (the Revolution through Vietnam). Popular pages include an interactive Vietnam Wall, and memorial pages celebrating individual veterans. The site also has an active blog where staff respond to members' questions and comments.
A training center on Fold3 presents helpful tips in both video and text format. Videos are short (about 5 minutes each) and cover the basics: searching, using Browse, but also Leaving a tribute. Text tutorials cover how-tos such as printing and downloading, uploading and annotating images (more appropriate for a home subscription than in the shared library context).
The indexes in Fold3, and a limited number of databases, are available free. So you could do your searching at home and then come to the CCGS library to view the images you are not able to see at home. Give it a whirl!