Wednesday, 10 September 2008

More on Second World War Killed in Action Database at LAC

Where there's a will there's a way. I learnt today of a way around the problem of searching in the WW2 Killed in Action database for items that are not indexed. Academic researchers or school teachers doing a local history project looking, for example, for all soldiers in the database where Ottawa is mentioned, can contact LAC and ask them to perform a search and send the results. This is done using the genealogy enquiry form at www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/genealogy/022-300.001-e.html. At present the turnaround time for genealogy queries is running around two weeks.

This is clearly a work-around. You don't get results as quickly as if you could search yourself, but you should get results.

When I asked why they wouldn't open the database for our own online searching I was told it would make it too easy for unscrupulous data miners to steal the database. No comment! There's also a concern that as the free form field's have not been quality controlled spelling and other inconsistencies may give misleading results.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, if I understand your posting, the LAC says that the database has greater functionality than what it is prepared to provide to the public. And this state of affairs is due to the possibility that it would make it too easy for unscrupulous data miners to steal the database. What a load of crap. What hard evidence does the LAC have for such activity? And, even if it is true, so what? Is the LAC saying that though it is a public research institution funded by the Canadian taxpayer, it will act contrary to the interest of researchers? If an unscrupulous data miner wanted to “steal” the database all they would have to do is make a formal request under the Access to Information Act for the entire database. In the meantime, “legitimate” data miners [or put another way “scrupulous researchers”?] are denied research opportunities. Hope you bring this up at the next meeting of LAC’s Services Advisory Board.

M. Diane Rogers said...

For myself, I don't see that this index was particularly necessary, except perhaps to expedite LAC's handling of file requests. Isn't most of the personal information given here for those killed in service in WW II already available on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site. (It does give age, where LAC gives a birth date.) Is this another case of an outside index being re-worked as with the 1881 Canadian census index from FamilySearch?
Sadly it seems again too that it pays to live in Ottawa or near to it - thanks very much for the info on the possibility of a place search - I'll likely be requesting all for BC! and asking when the Korean war dead records will be added.
As for the 'data mining' - whose data is this anyway? Or was there an agreement with the CWGC that would preclude broader indexing, perhaps? I also hope you will bring this question to the LAC Services Advisory Board.
I'd like to see a link added on the information page for our Canadian War Museum - great Research Centre there - well worth the trip, if one can get to Ottawa, of course:
http://www.warmuseum.ca

Thanks again, John!