12 June 2012

Do Canadian genealogists care?

Ontario genealogist and blogger Christine Woodcock expresses her frustration with the situation at LAC in a post The Death of Library and Archives Canada and the Complacency of Canadian Genealogists

According to the post the OGS, the largest provincial genealogy society, is "sort of concerned and are letting you know that there is an issue. They aren’t terribly concerned, but they understand that YOU might be, so they have offered to let you sign an online petition. The petition belongs to another organization – not OGS."

I couldn't find a copy on the BIFHSGO website but at the recent AGM president Glenn Wright informed members of the concerns and that he has written to Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore on behalf of the Society emphasizing the important of archives, not only LAC, and the need to collect and preserve our documentary heritage for all Canadians.


Elizabeth Kipp said...

I have written twice now to our Member of Parliament with respect to the changes at LAC and how they affect access at LAC for genealogists in particular and for researchers in a more general way. If there is to be shredding/selling of documents that pertain to our history then I would rather see these documents offered first to the provincial archives that best represents the material.

Looking at Kew (and I visit their website very very often) the material available there is of a national perspective although their catalogue includes the material that can be found at county archives (where those county archives have a searchable database).

Living in Ottawa, one doesn't really want to have to go to Toronto to view all the archival material but it is a better choice than destruction or sale of our heritage. There may even be a better chance that such material would go on line sooner if held by the provincial archives.

The Status Quo is always most preferred I find but the decreasing use of LAC by patrons does perhaps point out that downsizing LAC and moving our heritage to a provincial mandate might work (providing that that is what is done). Selling our heritage to interested people around the world should not be permitted. The UK no longer permits documents that are deemed to be of historical antiquity to be sold to buyers outside of the UK. A good move on their part and one that we should seriously consider. A recent acquisition of images for my Pincombe one name study was obtained from the original documents (1605) held by the John Ryland Library at the University of Lancashire and this is a Devon family. Over time the documents became attached to a family whose heritage material eventually was purchased by this library.

Ideally archives should ultimately have an online catalogue of all their holdings thus enabling one to purchase images of any document desired.

Since LAC appears to be unwilling to provide a nation wide service then they should consider breaking up their holdings and giving them to the provincial archives.

I must admit to being somewhat distracted these days by the imminent arrival of our grandchild (will be the first). Gardening also takes most of my efforts these days but will return to genealogy when our long cold winters arrive!

Douglas Hill said...

I have sent my own personal letter of concern to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, with a copy to my local MP.
I wrote about my family history interests, but also about the bigger issues of concern to all Canadians.

Would you now please consider sending your own letter?
Douglas Hill

Mike More said...

John, good genealogists, and I thought good journalists, check their sources. Christine seems to have missed the fact that the OGS has urged all their members to write to the PM, the Minister, their local MP and their newspaper. Christine has forgotten the e-mail sent to all OGS members with that same message. She did not hear the former President of OGS talk at the AGM earlier this month of the letters sent by the Society the government expressing the Society's support for LAC. OGS has had a representative at meetings with CAUT. If there is something else that Christine or you would like to see OGS do, perhaps you can let us know. We would really like to know what will make Mr Harper change his mind and reverse his decision.

BDM said...

I am glad to hear that BIFHSGO has responded but I wish they would make it public on their website. Canadian genealogical societies have been strangely slow to make a public protest: Shame! Strange, considering the mounted protests regarding census issues. Is our wider heritage less important? I have written my letters and blogged about it.