Friday, April 19, 2013

Waiting, hoping...for the 1921 Canadian Census

We've had a long wait so far for any real information about the open access release of the 1921 Canadian census to researchers - which should be scheduled for the first few days of June 2013 - this year. Statistics Canada is by law supposed to release the 1921 census to Library and Archives Canada June 1, 2013.

In March 2012, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) initiated a discussion about the release of this census in an LAC blog post with an enthusiastic title "1921 Census countdown!" .  A number of us have been (fruitlessly) asking for details ever since.

I haven't posted much about this here as - to tell you the unhappy truth - what's happened and may be happening to Library and Archives Canada and apparently to some of our national treasures, documentary and otherwise, has made me heartsick - and very often angry.

The 1921 census release is now the most immediate concern however.  LAC said originally that there was only a microfilm copy of the census extant and that "Library and Archives Canada (LAC) will digitize the microfilms for the 1921 census and make them available online as JPEG and PDF images."  Library and Archives Canada Blog,. That sounded good in itself, and we could accept a delay in on-line release for digitizing, but a little birdie may have let one cat out of the LAC bag since however; John D. Reid at Anglo-Celtic Connections reported yesterday that the census may already have been digitized. LAC has not commented on this, as far as I know.

Then, in response to one of my LAC Blog comments, yesterday Library and Archives Canada posted a note that the indexing of this census "will be done through a similar process such as partnerships" as has been done before. ( )

I believe my own opinion on the question of partnerships with Library and Archives Canada is well known.

As I commented on the LAC Blog, and similarly elsewhere:

" I certainly hope to see the 1921 Canadian Census available free on-line as soon as practical after its release this year – and with a free (and useful) nominal index. Volunteer indexing and access at would be my first choice, but perhaps Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has lost that relationship. Canadian genealogical societies and groups could step in too. While I am not against LAC *in addition* allowing or facilitating indexing, etc. by other organizations or companies, even if commercial or non-Canadian, I maintain that these relationships and agreements must be open to view and transparent and must *not* preclude free access, in this case, on-line, to our own Canadian historical resources as soon as practical after acquisition." (Library and Archives Canada Blog response, mdianerogers, )

And I should add for clarity, that online access should be at Library and Archives Canada's website as with other censuses.

In the past, as in the case of the 1916 Canadian prairie census, LAC 'partnered', and a free index of the census and even access to the census images on-line was delayed a long time, in favour of an apparently exclusive commercial agreement (or agreements). This kind of agreement has no place at all in the case of our Canadian documentary treasures - and any past agreements made by Library and Archives Canada still need to be opened to public scrutiny, as any proposed new LAC agreements or arrangements need to be opened up for public discussion ahead of time.

My ROGERS-SAGGERS grandparents, with their sons, George (standing) 
and David (the baby). All should appear in the 1921 Canadian census, listed likely 
       in South Vancouver. David, born in 1919, died in 1927 so this will be his only census entry.

If you'd like to know more about the 1921 Canadian census, or indeed any or all of the national Canadian censuses, I recommend you read Dr. Dave Obee's latest book, Counting Canada: A Genealogical Guide to the Canadian Census (2012). In fact, I think this should be mandatory reading at Library and Archives Canada too. Since LAC handles Canada's Legal Deposit of publications, pretty sure they must have one copy there at least!


M.C. Moran said...

I'm also waiting for the 1921 census, but I'm not holding my breath. "Will be done through a similar process such as partnerships" sounds disappointingly vague and inconclusive. The lack of specific and concrete information from LAC is very frustrating.

Loretta said...

Oh my goodness! I was so hoping I'd be able to see this new census in June of this year. Ack!
I love your photo but so sorry to read that the darling baby died at age 8.

M. Diane Rogers said...

Well, I'm still hoping for the best regarding the 1921 census - whatever that might be.
From what I heard, I don't think my grandma ever really got over my Uncle David's death.