Tuesday, August 13, 2013

1921 Canada Census - only at Ancestry, you say? And only in Canada?

Well, I've tried very hard to say little about this whole 1921 Canadian census disaster lately. (I'm sure my doctor is happy.) Instead I got myself pretty well prepared to search the unindexed pages for my families ahead of time, and I've been pretty successful so far. The bigger cities like Toronto and Montreal are challenging, but I had directory details handy so that's been a help.

Tomorrow night I'm doing a talk with Judith Ueland for the BC Genealogical Society's Canada/USA group about homesteading in Western Canada and I'll be using some 1921 census info for my Swedish relatives.  Nothing as exciting as that from the 1911 census, or even the 1916, but the more evidence the better, eh?

I have noticed that some in Central Canada and perhaps further afield are now concerned about Library and Archives Canada's exclusive deals with commercial (and other?) companies and institutions.  Goodness, I may no longer need to waste my breath as Canada's Cassandra genie - the one 'no one' listens to (or sometimes rails at). (I did see recently on LAC's website that a nice sum had been paid for, it sounded like, for advice on which bloggers could be helpful in promoting LAC's agendas. Wonder which lists we are all on.)

The Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) asked Library and Archives Canada (LAC) some questions about the release and published the responses. You will notice, of course, that some questions aren't answered and other answers don't seem correct. At least the answers sound polite, unlike one or two of the LAC announcements. (And no, they didn't sound better in French.)

Ancestry province-wide licenses?  I'm sure these are available, but that doesn't mean every province has one, or was this an unmentioned feature of the exclusive deal? I must ask my local library which does not offer Proquest's Ancestry Library Edition.

And some of LAC's justification for this deal is apparently that it frees up time for other deals. Really?? (Oh, dear, I must breathe deeply. Aaah! )

Now this isn't Ancestry's fault - this is a commercial company and does what it needs to do. But today I asked Ancestry a few questions about access to the images. I've been following the release closely on social media but perhaps Ancestry's people haven't. (Likely they are all busy indexing.)

Here is the response which I do have Ancestry permission to share as it may help some.

Sent: Tuesday, 13 August, 2013 7:31:05 AM

Subject: RE: 1921 Canada census

Hello, Diane.

The 1921 Canada Census is still being indexed on Ancestry.com. Here is our official blog statement about it:

Breaking news! 1921 Census of Canada is finally here. Indexing all 8.8 million records is keeping us busy here at Ancestry.ca, but you won’t have to wait long to get a first look at the collection. You can browse approximately 200,000 images of the entire collection for FREE now via the link below! Be sure to return often for updates – the entire collection will be indexed and ready to search later this year. Get started here: www.ancestry.ca/1921

Note that the link at the end won’t work in a library environment but you can use this link instead:

We even have a landing page for it:

Currently this is an image-only collection since the indexing isn’t quite complete. This means that you can browse the images by using the drop-downs on the right of the page; however there will not be a search box that will let you search by name. We expect the indexing will be finished in the coming months but don’t have a firm date to give out just yet. Also, please note that since this database is not quite complete there may be issues with it including times where the images themselves are not available if we need to take them offline to update the collection.

Not sure what they think happens in a "library environment" but I suspect that just means it's not an Ancestry Library Edition link. If you have Internet access, surely it will work.

But I also asked about non-Canadian access: I see that someone has just posted these 1921 images are free for Canadians only? Is this so? And if so, why hasn't this been mentioned. (Do I need to carry my passport, I wonder?)  Diane Rogers

The answer: 

Yes, this is the case. You can only access the images for free if you’re using either Ancestry.com or the Ancestry Library Edition/Ancestry Institution. This was mentioned on our Ancestry.ca Facebook page where we first mentioned the collection. We have done virtually no marketing for the database outside of Canada. It’s also not listed on any of our standard census lists since the index is not finished. Due to those two items, it is highly unlikely that anyone who doesn’t use Ancestry.ca would even know the database exists in the first place.

OK - the images are only 'free' if someone is paying for your access? Confusing at best.  And I did just go to Facebook and don't see this explained.  

But Ancestry clearly is underestimating the power of social media here. And other things - although I live in Canada (and usually do carry my passport) I don't use Ancestry.ca.  But was this part of the deal? Yes, I still do want to see all the details of all of these LAC 'deals'.


Loretta said...

Diane, thanks so much for the update. As a newbie I'm pretty much confused. LOL

Kevin McGinn said...

Diane, I live in the US, and all you need to do is log into Ancestry.ca instead of Ancestry.com, and even without a paid subscription the images are free. I spent all last night browsing... It doesn't seem to depend on your location at all, just which version of Ancestry you log into. The same login can be used for any of the Ancestry sites.

M. Diane Rogers said...

Thanks, Kevin, for confirming that. Hope you are finding your people. It was Ancestry that said that only Canadians could view these. They do seem a bit behind learning about the international reach of the Internet.