Are LAC employees now being “muzzled?”

The Calgary Herald newspaper has an article entitled “Canada’s federal librarians fear being ‘muzzled.

The lack of access to our historic documents has been appalling. Now they are preventing their employees from saying anything about what is happening at LAC.

The new rules are called the “Values and Ethics Code.”

If an employee of Library and Archives Canada is invited to speak at a genealogy conference that is now considered ‘high risk’ by the federal government.

What’s next?

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Where Did The Scotsman Digital Archive Go?

Today I went to do a search on The Scotsman Digital Archive website. I clicked on my bookmark link and got a message that a password and user name was required.

A little research online provided the answer. ProQuest has obtained The Scotsman Digital Archive and this means the only way to access it is through their site. The problem with that is the only way to access their site is through an institution or library that has a subscription to their service.

This means that I won’t have access to this site anymore. My local library can’t afford this service. To my knowledge the nearest institution that has a subscription is the University of Toronto Library system. The problem is being able to access the information at the University of Toronto Library if you are not a student.

My last experience trying to access newspapers from ProQuest was that a student ID card and password were required. Since I don’t have one the staff told me I could sign in using a guest name and password but it expired after thirty minutes and the process had to be repeated. Access to computers for the general public is limited.

I am very disappointed that The Scotsman decided to do this with their digital archive. It has made it unavailable to many people. It may be time for ProQuest to open up their subscription service to the general public. They may be pleasantly surprised at the response if they provided a subscription at a reasonable rate.

Genealogists are fighting to have records released to the public, digitized and put online. It is a sad state of affairs when records important to genealogical research were accessible and are now being made inaccessible.

The Scotsman used to have a free search and then you would pay to access a digital image. The subscription price was very reasonable. Now researchers will be lucky if they can access this information at all.

This is a sad day for people researching their Scottish ancestry.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Genea-Musings Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – My Genea-Bucket List

Randy Seaver issued a challenge on his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun this weekend. He challenged you to write your genea-bucket list. I have never responded to one of Randy’s challenges before. This one is a little late because of our Canada Day long weekend but here is my Genea-Bucket List. Once I started I couldn’t stop!

“What is on your Genealogy Bucket List? What research locations do you want to visit? Are there genea-people that you want to meet and share with? What do you want to accomplish with your genealogy research? List a minimum of three items – more if you want.”

1. Attend genealogy conferences in Canada, England, Ireland and the United States every year.
2. Go to Ireland to do research every year.
3. Go to Salt Lake every year to research in the Family History Library.
4. Write the family history for all 25 surnames that I am researching.
5. Go to Scotland to do research and visit the places connected to my family.
6. Write articles for genealogy magazines.
7. Visit the places connected to my family in Ireland. This would be a very long trip.
8. Visit Australia and New Zealand to do research and see where my family lived.
9. Break through some of the stubborn brick walls.
10. Meet my cousins in the southern United States, Australia and New Zealand.
11. Find some items connected to my ancestors that I have found referenced in museums.
12. Research and complete some local history projects.
13. Speak at a major US genealogy conference.
14. Scan my family photos.
15. Conduct more interviews with well-known genealogists/bloggers.
16. Take a genealogy cruise.
17. Conduct research trips to Ireland. There is a trip set up for February 2013. You can read more here.
18. Inspire someone in the next generation of my family to be interested in family history.
19. Read a new genealogy book every month. This one is harder than it seems.
20. Create genealogy podcasts.
21. Write more books relating to genealogy/family history.

I am passionate about all things genealogy so this is a long list. There are many places, people and research repositories that I want to visit. My excitement was building thinking about doing all these as I was writing the list. They say when you write things down and put them out into the atmosphere that they have a good chance of happening. Fingers crossed.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Library and Archives Canada in Crisis

Library and Archives Canada is in crisis. There have been many reports about the massive cutbacks and the decimation of our National Heritage.

Our National Family Record Keeper is a bureaucrat and not a librarian or archivist. A bureaucrat is the member of the family who tosses all the paper and photographs from a family member’s estate into the garbage because they don’t understand what they have in their possession.

The Harper government has no concern about public opinion. They have been given their mandate with the majority government and now they are going to do what they want. It is fairly typical of any majority government.

There have been cut backs before for Library and Archives Canada but this time there seems to be a blatant disregard for the preservation of our Nation’s history.

In five years we will be celebrating Canada’s sesquicentennial and there is a project called “Canada 150” to help preserve the stories of families, communities, associations, churches and any number of other entities in this country.

Where are people going to do their research for these projects if they do not have access to Library and Archives Canada? The records are not all held locally.

Local archives, museums and libraries are in difficulty because of the cutbacks. Some will probably end up closing their doors. If they do where do their collections end up? Will the collections be able to go to Library and Archives Canada? Will they have the personnel and expertise to deal with the influx of material?

While attending a lecture this weekend the presenter said something rather prophetic. He said that not even our children’s children will see everything digitized and online in their lifetime. We still have a need for libraries, archives, museums and historical societies to preserve and protect our historical data.

If Library and Archives Canada is only to preserve the information relating to the Government of Canada and not for the people of Canada then it needs to be renamed Library and Archives for the Government of Canada.

Please let your voice be heard.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Save Library & Archives Canada

Send a Letter to Help Save Library & Archives Canada

Daniel Caron letter in Canada’s History Magazine

Saving Library and Archives Canada

The Wrecking of Canada’s Library and Archives

Cutbacks At Library And Archives Canada

Saskatchewan Archives cuts

Nanaimo archives in crisis after feds cut grants

Harper’s Assault on the Past

Cuts to Canadian archives suit the Harper Tories in more ways than one

Why Did Harper Cut Canada’s Library and Archives

Sharing Information in the Digital Age a Story of Frustration

The first few months of this year have proved challenging for me with regards to family history information that I have shared with others. There was the tree on Ancestry that has my information linked to a family that is not related to mine in any way. I can prove this with documentation but there is nothing to be done.

Photographs that were shared with another researcher showed up on Ancestry without my knowledge. The photographs were shared with someone who was directly connected to the people in the photographs. They did not ask my permission to put my photographs online. One was attached to the wrong person. I respectfully requested that they be removed. They were and it was appreciated.

Then the photos showed up on other trees in Ancestry. They were probably copied to other researcher’s files before they were taken down. Now the problem of the photograph being attached to the wrong person is rampant throughout Ancestry’s family tree database and probably will continue throughout the internet.

Another family line was connected to a family tree where the link was minute. The two families married into the same family generations apart and were not direct lines. Still they had the family tree four generations down connected to their family tree.

When I requested the pictures to be taken down from the family trees some of the people could not understand why I would not share my information. One person said it should be online for all to find. Some got rather hostile.

If someone is found who shares a direct line I share my research. Now I only share information from the shared generation back and not forward. Sometimes I wish I knew back in the 1990s what I know now but as Maya Angelou says “You did what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better.”

While all this was going on Marian Pierre-Louis of Marian’s Roots and Rambles had a blog posting called “The Digital Age Discourages Sharing.” Marian discusses the fact that the internet encourages too much sharing and that if it is found on the internet then people feel that copyright does not apply. The sub topics were photos, writing, genealogy and the future. Go and read Marian’s blog posting as it is very informative and provides food for thought on the subject.

Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers has come out with a chart to help people decide whether or not to post an image. The blog post is called “Infographic – Should I Post This Image?”

The frustration for me is that it feels like people are collecting names to add to their tree to make it as big as possible. People are finding information on the internet and not examining it closely enough to make sure there really is a connection. They are not researching the records for themselves in order to prove the connection that was found on the internet really exists.

I understand the elation of finding information on the internet that seems to relate to your family. The excitement of finding distant cousins and family connections not previously known can be exhilarating. Gathering names from family trees posted on the internet is not doing family history research. In my opinion you are missing out on the best part of the research process by only focusing on the internet.

New information is being put on the internet everyday but at the same time less than 2% of all genealogical information is found online. At some point you will have to go to libraries and archives as well as purchase birth, marriage and death certificates to further your research.

The internet is a great tool, I use it everyday, but it is just a tool. To further my research I need to go to the brick and mortar repositories to find more information. Most of my brick walls are broken down with research in libraries and archives.

When I started my research in the 1970s you had to mail a letter of request and wait for a response. If payment was required you mailed that in a return letter. Then you had to wait for a response and hope that the search was successful. Finding distant relatives was not part of the process as they were difficult to locate.

In the 1980s there was the Genealogical Research Directory. You would pay to put in your names, dates and places of interest and a large book would come out each year. If you found a connection in the book you would write the person a letter and hopefully share some information.

I could not wait for the book to come out each year and went through it several times with a highlighter to make sure nothing was missed. Writing paper, envelopes and lots of stamps were purchased, not to mention International Reply Coupons. It was exciting to find a variety of envelopes in the mail box. I got quite a collection of stamps from around the world. A distant cousin in South Africa was found through this book. The family had not been in contact since both our Great Great Grandmother’s wrote to each other in the late 1800s.

In the 1990s when I started online you could use mailing lists to find people and share information but you still had to mail the information to them. It was at this time that it took one year from the time a family tree was sent to a distant cousin and another distant cousin was found who sent my own tree back to me. They did not know it had come from me in the first place. A little research showed it had been through four different people.

Now in the 2010s you can contact someone online and it is feasible that within 10 minutes or less you can have confirmation and information shared. You do not even have to contact anyone you can just download their tree from their website or the online database they are using. People are still sharing information with me that originated with me and they do not know it.

Now this will not stop me from sharing my information but it will curtail what and how much I share in the future. People need to understand the power the internet has and the effect it can have on your privacy. Maybe the pendulum will start to swing the other way and privacy will be in vogue again.

There also has to be a certain respect for the work and effort of the person who did the research on the family in the first place. There are notes in my family tree that tell me where the information came from originally. It includes a person’s name and contact information.

Two questions keep coming to mind – How can you be sure that the family tree you find online is really yours? How valid is the research that was done on the family tree that you have found?

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

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