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Stuart T

Canadian War Diaries

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Stuart T

Couldn't find this discussed (although it probably has been!)

 

Apparently, the Canadian War Diaries have not been digitised by TNA, even though they have completed their "WO 95" project.  So, are the Canadian ones available on "Ancestry" or do they only have the ones TNA have covered?  Thanks.

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Stuart T

Thanks.  I do know of that and have used it but really find Ancestry simpler (once you get a hit).  On Ancestry, the images are good quality.  On Collections Canada, I seem to recall just B&W photocopy quality.  Mustn't be greedy but are they simply not on Ancestry?

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Maureene

As far as I am aware the two Ancestry databases for War Diaries are

 UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920 consisting of WO 95/1096–3948 records and UK, WWI War Diaries (Gallipoli and Dardanelles), 1914-1916 consisting of WO 95/4263-4359 records

Click on the coloured text for the link

 

There is a list of Regiments and Brigades covered. Assuming you have TNA references, you should be able to see whether they are included in the Ancestry databases.

 

Cheers

Maureen

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Stuart T

That's helpful, thanks.  On the face of it, going up to piece 3948, they should have the Canadian ones covered.  However, I have learned the trick of putting the TNA piece number in as a keyword and can't get any hits.  I have tried putting "4th Canadian Division" in as a unit and again as a sub-unit, again without hits.  Lastly, I have tried a keyword search for "Canadian" and got 24 hits but very miscellaneous.

 

I can understand no hits without knowing the exact syntax but I thought the piece number search would have worked if they are there.  In the past, it has provided an approximate place in the catalogue to start with.

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adk46canada

I have checked in the past on the National Archives website and the Canadian war diaries are not digitised, other than the Canadian Corps' headquarters formations. That is units that served directly under the corps other than the infantry divisions. These files are not on Ancestry. The NA does have the Canadian war diaries and in some cases there are differences between the Canadian holdings and the British ones.

 

The Canadian Archives war diary files are online and free but are copies of microfilms and in some cases are difficult to read. There are a few cases where there are gaps in the files and in one surprising case those of the Canadian Corps main war diary are missing for August and September 1918, which is a disappointment.

 

Regards

Bill Stewart

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David_Underdown

As the Canadian diaries were already available free on the LAC website it would not have been a sensible use of public money to digitise them again (and expect people to pay to download them).  Similarly Australian diaries have not been done as they were already available free through National Archives of Australia.

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Stuart T

Thanks Alf & Bill.  What I have found with Ancestry is they are in colour, some eg maps are available really hi-res and if you are just browsing, rather than downloading, you can go from one page to the next very easily at the same magnification.

 

Yes, I have noticed differences.  I am about to download a battalion war diary for a certain month which has got to be different as there are more pages to it than the TNA one!

 

David,  what I don't understand is how Ancestry has got them in the first place.  TNA now admit on the search/intro page that the Australian and Canadian ones are available on their sites for free but nowhere have I seen mention that the main body of WO 95 is available on Ancestry (free at the library/sub at home).  Did the LDS church actually do the scanning for TNA?  I doubt it looking at the quality of their JPGs as against what you can get for £3.45 as a PDF (from JPGs).  Instead of "use of public money", surely there has been some input from Salt Lake City!

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David_Underdown

The Gallipoli diaries were scanned by Ancestry themselves so are available through them (as a non-exclusive licence agreement).  All the Western Front (and other theatres) material has been scanned as in-house project by TNA, albeit with the scanning carried out by a scanning company rather than TNA employees (all scanning was done onsite at Kew).  Of this material, the scanning was carried out in a few phases, Ancestry only acquired copies of the first batch of scanning which covers only divisional level diaries and below, they do not have the corps/army/GHQ and lines of communication diaries fofr, or those for other theatres (East Africa, Mespot etc).  They simply bought copies of the master images (I believe it was combined with Naval and Military Press who also have the War Diaries available in various forms) and then put them on their system.  Due to the "Re-use of public sector information regulations" TNA essentially have to make record sets available to interested parties, see http://nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/commercial-opportunities/licensing-our-records/ for the various types of licensing opportunities.

 

There can be complications, where problems with a particular digitised diary were found after publication, these will have been corrected on Discovery but not by Ancestry, which may well explain some of the differences you've seen, as unfortunately rather too many things did slip through in that first batch which Ancestry purchased.

 

If you look at an individual catalogue entry, below where it says "Add to basket" (having selected to download a record) you should see something that says "More ways to view this record", when records appear on subscription sites in addition to Discovery, they should be listed under that dropdown.

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Stuart T

Thanks for the explanation.  I have not looked online at Gallipoli nor above Division so those do not concern me.  I understand there will be differences when Ancestry does not get updates but the differences I mentioned are actually with the Canadian ones containing appendices which the TNA ones do not.  This must purely be because of different sources - not different holdings of the same sources.

 

I have just tried an entry in Discovery and clicked "More ways".  All it did was to flip the arrow and tell me it was available free on-site at the TNA.  That would be an obscure place to put it anyway.  The intro/search page now mentions Australia and Canada but not Ancestry.  I could imagine a few reasons to keep it quiet except of course they ARE mentioned for Gallipoli!

 

Lastly, have a look at these three images.  You will understand why I would prefer to view on Ancestry rather than LAC or TNA!  (at least after actually finding the piece in the obscure catalogue/index).

 

The first I downloaded from "Discovery".

PDF1.jpg

The whole piece was back to front and there were "other issues" so it was rescanned:

PDF2.jpg

Even muddier and now lacking the copyright and source data!  At least it starts at the beginning, not the end.  My comment that it was badly under-exposed was passed "to the correct department" but I have had no response.

Thirdly, I discovered "Ancestry" and you can see why I thought it was a different scan:

ANC.jpg

 

I can see now that it is from the same master but what a difference!  And the piece was in the right order.  So what happened?

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David_Underdown

OK, I didn't realise you were comparing a LAC diary to a TNA one.  This is probably down to what I understand were actions taken by the team preparing the British Official Histories (long before the diaries were transferred to TNA) who tended to slim the diaries down by retaining only a single copy of op orders within the diaries for a brigade, and also separated the Part II orders from the diaries (these would have recorded the day-to-day administration of the unit, such as details of all ranks posted in and out and so on).  Unfortunately the Part II orders were then put in the same army record store as all the First World War service records, and suffered the same fate as the result of the infamous Luftwaffe bombing raid on Arnside Street. I believe the Canadian copies of Part II orders survive, and there may well have been less other weeding of appendices too.

 

I can't really comment on how individual diaries have ended up a particular way without doing a great deal of digging.  But different defaults will be applied in producing a final JPEG presentation copy from a JPEG2000 master, so there's bound to be a some differences.  I wouldn't be surprised if the middle image isn't actually a better representation of the colour of the original than the others, to my eye it seems more legible.  As to why source info has gone, for historic reasons there are still several different routes by which images are fed into Discovery, no two produce their presentation copies in the same way.

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Stuart T

I have no idea why such a muddy "default from a JPEG2000" would be applied by one provider and a clear "default" would be applied by another but this is what happens when you use "auto equalisation" in my graphics program to the first one:

PDF1a.jpg

and the second:

PDF2a.jpg

Aren't they a lot more comparable with the "Ancestry" offering?  In fact, 2A is probably the best so the potential is obviously there in the master file but someone hasn't realised it!

Remember, this is not only my personal preference - this is an automatic correction applied by a program trying to put white back to where white should be.

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Guest

I find the black and white version of the CEF diaries perfectly acceptable. For ease of viewing you can use the Firefox (or Chrome) Add On 'DownThemAll'

 

For example the 102nd Battalion you can select them all and download them automatically.

 

Mike

 

Edited by Skipman

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David_Underdown

So the originals are 300 ppi, 24-bit colour, scans, as uncompressed images for a foolscap (or A4) page that gives you a 27 mb TIFF file, give or take.  For long term storage we convert the TIFF to JPEG2000 (this uses a different compression algorithm than the more familiar JPEG), using the lossless compression option, that pretty much halves the original filesize, so 13 mb say.  Lossless compression means that when you read the file you get a pixel identical file back again.  Alternatively, lossy compression in JPEG2000 means you can reduce the filesize to about a sixth of its original size without the differences being obvious to the naked eye, so say 4.5 mb TIFF.  Even that is not very practical to deliver as the presentation copy for download - still not everyone has fast broadband.  Discovery is designed to deliver all the images associated with a record in one package, typically a pdf.  Those are usually split automatically to give a 50 mb download as the maximum filesize, even so, that probably means more aggressive downsampling (to a lower image resolution), and greater JPEG compression is probably applied to images in Discovery than Ancestry apply, where they're delivering images one-by-one.  The speckled background that's evident in the images is the sort of thing which is particularly likely to produce compression artefacts under heavy JPEG compression, a likely explanation of the differences between the images.  Archives also tend to avoid applying other image processing techniques to images, whether that's equalisation or edge sharpening, and processing pipelines have to be able handle 1000s of images.

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Stuart T

Skipman, thanks for the link.

 

David, thanks for the info on storage and compression.  I understand about the "speckled" background now that you mention it but, although that may be a problem with accurate reproduction, I was concerned with legibility.  I have never known compression to make images dark like that.  It is the darkness overall and therefore lack of contrast to the text that is the problem for me.

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David_Underdown

The middle one has probably been done as a fresh scan.  My suspicion is it's actually a more accurate rendering of the original paper and ink - the colours just seem more natural, the first master may actually have been overexposed.  But yes, the colour difference is very unlikely to be anything to do with compression.

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