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January 29, 2014

LAC to Digitize WW 1 Military Records But Is it All Good?

LAC to Digitize WW 1 Military Records But Is it All Good?
From personal collection of Lorine McGinnis Schulze
This year, 2014, is the commemorative 100 year anniversary of the start of World War 1. Library and Archives Canada recently announced it plans to digitize 640,000 First World War Service Files. These are the stored files for soldiers and nurses in the First World War’s Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)

This all sounds wonderful! And it is. It will be a tremendous boon to genealogists to have access to these military files. However there are a few drawbacks. LAC will temporarily close portions of the service files while they are being digitized. The first quarter, beginning with the letter A through D, will be closed as of March 2014 and will be available on-line as of Summer 2014.

Quoting from the Library and Archives Canada Blog 

"The files to be digitized will complement the approximately 13,500 service files and the more than 620,000 attestation papers already available on LAC’s website. At the end of the project, expected in 2015, Canadians will be able to research high-quality digital copies of the 640,000 newly digitized service files from the comfort of their own home and will no longer have to pay reprography fees."
LAC to Digitize WW 1 Military Records But Is it All Good?
From personal collection
Lorine McGinnis Schulze
Do you spot anything in this quote that doesn't seem quite right? It is the fact that the project is due for completion in 2015. This means that for much of 2014, the commemorative year, the service files of soldiers will not be accessible! Since 2014 is the 100 year commemorative year, it instantly leaps to mind to question as to why LAC did not start this project much sooner so it would be completed in time for the 100 year anniversary. 

It seems to me that 2014 is the year that many new genealogists, authors and historians will be wanting to access the records of their military ancestors and heroes. I am quite sure there will be a lot of publicity over this 100 year anniversary and can only imagine the disappointment that will arise with the record access restricted or curtailed. 

Read the full story at Library and Archives Canada to Digitize 640,000 First World War Service Files


Yvonne Demoskoff said...

Until you mentioned it, Lorine, I hadn't thought of the documents being out of circulation for months at a time and only being completely ready in 2015. Poor planning, I suppose.

Rosemary said...

I feel for you. The National Archives of Australia completed the digitization of WWI military a couple of years ago. You can search the indices for WWII and later and the record may have been digitized. If not, you can apply to have it done (not too much $$) and it will be subject to review for sensitive material.