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Peter Le Duc

Ancestry vs National Archives

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Peter Le Duc

Can anyone advise the availability of the Nation Archive War diaries on Ancestry?

i seems to be spending a fair bit downloading individual unit diaries from the archives and wonder if they are all available on Ancestry where a subscription could well be cheaper.

thanks

peter

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rolt968

I suppose this does depend on how many war diaries you intend to download. Only the France and Flanders and Gallipoli war diaries are available on ancestry. If you intend to research units which were anywhere else you can only get them through TNA.

 

However some other Western Front units have not been made available through ancestry for example labour battalions. I am sure other people will tell you what else is missing.

 

In some cases ancestry's indexing of the war diaries is a bit bizarre and it is sometimes useful to the reference from the TNA catalogue and then search ancestry using that.

 

RM

 

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ss002d6252
1 hour ago, Peter Le Duc said:

Can anyone advise the availability of the Nation Archive War diaries on Ancestry?

i seems to be spending a fair bit downloading individual unit diaries from the archives and wonder if they are all available on Ancestry where a subscription could well be cheaper.

thanks

peter

Ancestry doesn't allow the entire file to be downloaded in one go - it would need to be done page by page if you wanted a copy to use when you're subscription isn't live.

Craig

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Buffnut453

I've downloaded a couple of war diaries from Ancestry and it can be a laborious process going through page-by-page, particularly when they include annexes of orders etc.  That said, the image quality is far better than I received from UKNA.  If nothing else, having the image in colour really helps with interpretation, particularly when the occasional map sneaks into the record. 

 

The above works for me because I'm primarily focused on periods when my relatives were serving with the particular unit, and so I'm (mostly) going after relatively short segments of diaries.  Clearly, it would be a much bigger task if one was seeking to document a particular unit's entire wartime record.

 

You pays your money and takes your choice...as always, mileage may vary and stock prices can go down as well as up. 

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rolt968
6 minutes ago, ss002d6252 said:

Ancestry doesn't allow the entire file to be downloaded in one go - it would need to be done page by page if you wanted a copy to use when you're subscription isn't live.

Craig

True,

 

In the past I think once downloaded the diaries for all the infantry of at least a brigade as a huge pdf file. Are TNA still making that kind of thing available or have they broken them down into smaller (and therefore in total more expensive) blocks?

 

RM

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Peter Le Duc

Many thanks to all.

I have taken a discounted Ancestry Premium subscription (3 months for £15).

Have already downloaded the Gallipoli diary of 59th Brigade RFA and can almost get a day by day account of the actions my grandfather’s Battery was involved in.

As mentioned above, I had to download page by page which was a bit laborious. Fortunately his other units were in France and Flanders, so, hopefully Ancestry will have the diaries.

thanks again.

Peter

 

 

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Interested

Hi RM

The War Diaries I downloaded last week were in the 40-50MB range, one of them came in two sections in the one price if I remember correctly.

Of course, I've slept since then so not sure really.

Philip

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Phil Evans
2 hours ago, rolt968 said:

True,

 

In the past I think once downloaded the diaries for all the infantry of at least a brigade as a huge pdf file. Are TNA still making that kind of thing available or have they broken them down into smaller (and therefore in total more expensive) blocks?

 

RM

 

Originally, you got a complete Piece for your £3-50, even if it took two or three large downloads to make it. Then they split them up and all rationale went out the window. Some Pieces are now prohibitively expensive if you want, for instance, a battalion diary it in its entirety. Others though, are unchanged. There was a thread on here, somewhere, where TNA's logic was explained. I just tried a sample and they varied from 2MB to 143MB.

Luckily I manage to get to Kew occassionally and especially as I very often want the more obscure diaries, that aren't on Ancestry, I will fill my day up downloading them there, for free. It can be slow and laborious with their steam driven servers, but at least I feel that I have justified my travel costs.

 

Ancestry's indexing of the diaries defeats me before I even get started.

 

Phil

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Guest

As a general rule the TNA diaries are sliced and diced when the Battalion in question changes formation. If a Battalion stayed in the same Brigade in the same Division for the entire War its diary can usually be downloaded in one file. If it was transferred two or three times to other Brigades or Divisions TNA's filing requires that you download two or three separate files each for £3.50 (prices occasionally varied in the past).

 

With more bulky files such as Brigade HQ and Div HQ diaries, the sheer volume of material means most diaries are sliced (think of a diary like a loaf of bread) in thinner time slices as little as a month each. The most sliced diary I have seen requires 27 separate downloads -  something in the order of £94.50 needs to be laid down to read the whole diary.  If the aim of the Govt is to make our history accessible (that we have paid to maintain through our taxes) they have singularly failed in my opinion. It is a disgrace that one has to take out a subscription with an overseas company to access Gallipoli war diaries (for example). An utter disgrace. 

 

If we look at the Foot Guards as a random example,  the 3rd Bn Coldstream Guards requires 4 separate downloads (£14.00) while the 4th Bn Coldstream Guards requires a single download (£3.50). The former has just 209 pages and the latter has 739 pages.... so the price per page is 6.7p and 0.47p respectively. The 3rd Bn diary (per page) is 14 times more expensive. Madness. This demonstrates the total lack of logic in pricing the files and the total lack of commercial sense at TNA.  The taxpayer is subsidising this nonsense. 

 

The correlation between pages, file size and pricing is extremely low.

Edited by Guest

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Ulsterdiv

My advice is if it’s of interest and you will use time and time again download from National Archives. I find ancestry too time consuming 

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Phil Wood
1 hour ago, QGE said:

As a general rule the TNA diaries are sliced and diced when the Battalion in question changes formation. If a Battalion stayed in the same Brigade in the same Division for the entire War its diary can usually be downloaded in one file. If it was transferred two or three times to other Brigades or Divisions TNA's filing requires that you download two or three separate files each for £3.50 (prices occasionally varied in the past).

 

Not so these days, some diaries, same battalion, same brigade, same division are split into several £3.50 downloads.

 

I am another who visits TNA reasonably often - while I am reading and photographing paper files my laptop is usually busy downloading a few digitised diaries (which certainly justifies the cost of the trip to Kew).

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Phil Wood

Here's an example - http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/browse/r/h/C4556216

 

WO 95/3065  61st Division, 184th Brigade, 2/4th Battalion R Berks.  5 downloads (around 35-40 MB each) - £17.50. 

 

alternatively

 

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7351895

 

WO 95/1265 1st Division, 1st Brigade, 8th Battalion R Berks. Entire service in 1st Division, 1915-1918 - still in one mega download (115MB or so).

 

then moved to 18 Div, 58 Bde and hence to a different file WO 95/2037

 

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/browse/r/h/C4555188

 

Only a year of service 1918-1919 - but a 250Mb download!  

 

The other file in 2037 is the 6th R Berks 1915-1918 (complete service at front, disbanded in 1918, replaced in Bde by 8th Bn). This single file download is over 490Mb.

 

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Buffnut453
55 minutes ago, Phil Wood said:

I am another who visits TNA reasonably often - while I am reading and photographing paper files my laptop is usually busy downloading a few digitised diaries (which certainly justifies the cost of the trip to Kew).

 

And that's fine for folk in the UK who are able to get to Kew...but for the rest of us who still want access to the data, I'd rather spend a while downloading colour images one page at a time from Ancestry than paying UKNA's extensive fees for a B&W PDF.  Again, that's just my personal preference because it meets my needs. 

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stiletto_33853

Oh it gets better than that. Sometime ago I got in contact with the TNA asking why the TNA downloads and Ancestry Diaries do not match, in that Ancestry diaries have large parts missing in comparison to the TNA Diaries. I questioned them as to was the same material the TNA use for their downloads supplied to a foreign for profit Company.

 The reply I received was Ancestry have exactly the same material, so I highlighted a few examples where there is a considerable difference. The reply i received was that Ancestry have not loaded all the material supplied, Hmmm!!!. There is nothing more frustrating than spending hours downloading a diary from Ancestry only to find say 7 months missing where  the download from the TNA was complete.

 

Moral of the story, be very careful with the Ancestry diaries.

 

Similar to Phil, I can get to visit the TNA reasonably frequently and do exactly the same. When I am reading or photographing a file my laptop is busy downloading files. Recently I have been looking at some of the higher echelon diaries (Corps/Army) for further details on specific areas. I have found considerable detail regarding areas that interest me in these diaries, however if I had downloaded them from home I would need to take a mortgage on with some of the months containing 7 to 11 downloads all at £3.50 for one month, just for the HQ Diary.

 

so much for our history being readily accessible, which as stated, our taxes go to maintain. The Government or more precisely the TNA have spectacularly failed to accommodate the Public, showing very little forethought or business sense. Utter madness.

 

Andy

 

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/browse/r/h/C4553588,

 

One I downloaded on my last visit.

 

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MrSwan

I faced a similar dilemma recently, in particular with the awful Ancestry search engine. So I asked for help on the forum and Sepoy, ss002d6252 and  gave some brilliant suggestions about how to dig out specific war diaries. See posts 2, 3 and 7.

 

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/topic/256132-ancestry-war-diaries/ 

 

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Guest

What slightly baffles me is that one can find the file(s) for the Countyshire Regt on TNA as separate files (downloads) yet often the same unit files are bundled together with other units in a Brigade file within Ancestry. Despite the digitisation the two organisations appear to have different files. 

 

I find the most annoying aspect is that the Gallipoli files are no longer available on TNA's system via the Internet. One either has to go to Kew or pay a subscription via Ancestry to get access. This seems to put disadvantaged people at ..err.. a disadvantage. If you are poor, disabled or immobile or answer D all of the above, the brilliant minds at TNA have effectively put our history out of reach. Someone living in Glasgow wanting to access the Lowland Div diaries for Gallipoli would have to take a train to London then Kew and back again. The cost would be £145 and the trip would take a whole day. The alternative would be to take out a subscription with Ancestry,  a US domiciled company. Having to pay a US company to access Files that belong to the UK seems rather wrong. Creating or allowing a single commercial outlet (Ancestry) for some of our history seems rather unfair, particularly since UK taxpayers' money has maintained the files for a hundred years. It is a disgrace. 

Edited by Guest

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ss002d6252
8 hours ago, Phil Wood said:

 

Not so these days, some diaries, same battalion, same brigade, same division are split into several £3.50 downloads.

 

I am another who visits TNA reasonably often - while I am reading and photographing paper files my laptop is usually busy downloading a few digitised diaries (which certainly justifies the cost of the trip to Kew).

Are the digitized  online files that cost for remote access free to download at Kew ?

Craig

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keithmroberts

Yes, just take a laptop, and if needed a power cable. Most of the tables have power sockets that are handy for laptops or recharging camera batteries.

 

Keith

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ss002d6252
Just now, keithmroberts said:

Yes, just take a laptop, and if needed a power cable. Most of the tables have power sockets that are handy for laptops or recharging camera batteries.

 

Keith

Thanks Keith.

 

Craig

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Phil Wood
6 hours ago, stiletto_33853 said:

Similar to Phil, I can get to visit the TNA reasonably frequently and do exactly the same. When I am reading or photographing a file my laptop is busy downloading files. Recently I have been looking at some of the higher echelon diaries (Corps/Army) for further details on specific areas. I have found considerable detail regarding areas that interest me in these diaries, however if I had downloaded them from home I would need to take a mortgage on with some of the months containing 7 to 11 downloads all at £3.50 for one month, just for the HQ Diary.

 

Ancestry only have a subset of what is available from TNA - they don't have the Palestine diaries and they don't have the F&F  Corps/Army level diaries which are available from TNA.

 

8 hours ago, Buffnut453 said:

 

And that's fine for folk in the UK who are able to get to Kew...but for the rest of us who still want access to the data, I'd rather spend a while downloading colour images one page at a time from Ancestry than paying UKNA's extensive fees for a B&W PDF.  Again, that's just my personal preference because it meets my needs. 

 

The files from TNA are in colour these days - they use the same images as Ancestry.

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Guest

Headquarters 11th Infantry Brigade war diary is split into 35 different files which would cost £122.50 to download. Click

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ss002d6252
6 minutes ago, QGE said:

Headquarters 11th Infantry Brigade war diary is split into 35 different files which would cost £122.50 to download. Click

Almost worthwhile going to the N/A for...

It annoys me that the the documents, at a publicly funded institution, can be downloaded free if you can get to the N/A but can be prohibitive if you can't get there*.  Getting to the N/A from Newcastle isn't cheap. No fee for those who download on site surely then goes against the ethos of cost recovery by loading the costs fully on to those who don't use the premises (which themselves must costs a fortune to run each year).

*I know someone could use a researcher but that's not the point.

Craig

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Phil Wood
44 minutes ago, ss002d6252 said:

Almost worthwhile going to the N/A for...

It annoys me that the the documents, at a publicly funded institution, can be downloaded free if you can get to the N/A but can be prohibitive if you can't get there*.  Getting to the N/A from Newcastle isn't cheap. No fee for those who download on site surely then goes against the ethos of cost recovery by loading the costs fully on to those who don't use the premises (which themselves must costs a fortune to run each year).

*I know someone could use a researcher but that's not the point.

Craig

 

Whilst I suspect that your argument would be that access should be free via the internet I fear that modern funding pressures are more likely to end free downloads at Kew. Naturally I'm not so keen on that idea!  

 

I believe that the PRO's charter means that they must give access for free to any document cleared for public viewing - which has been interpreted as free to all who turn up at their premises asking to view a document. And that they are funded to provide this access - sales via their website and royalties from Ancesstry et al can be no more than a tiny part of their funding.

 

So the rationale behind the free access at Kew is (I think) an attempt to preserve the original documents, to which many would demand free access were the digitised version not available. Of course they could limit such access to their own PCs and not visitors devices - as used to be the case. Perhaps this caused a greater demand for PCs and they felt that opening it up to visitors devices would be cheaper than the cost of more PCs and the space to house them. 

 

That said, given the speed of their servers, it sometimes seems almost as quick to photograph a diary as download it. I have wondered if the snail's pace is a deliberate ploy to prevent over use of the facility.

 

 

 

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ss002d6252
2 minutes ago, Phil Wood said:

 

Whilst I suspect that your argument would be that access should be free via the internet I fear that modern funding pressures are more likely to end free downloads at Kew. Naturally I'm not so keen on that idea! 

I'm for charging a fee, I just think perhaps a lower, more evenly balance one for all documents downloaded would lower the burden and increase the accessibility, whether it be at the archives or online. It would certainly be better placed with the overall ethos of access to all.
 

Quote

I believe that the PRO's charter means that they must give access for free to any document cleared for public viewing - which has been interpreted as free to all who turn up at their premises asking to view a document.

I'd imagine you're right on the viewing - I don't know if it's ever been re-evaluated to take on the modern forms of access but perhaps it's time that access was looked at again in view of the modern technology and funding to open it up more. It pains me to see how well other countries have managed things compared to us.
 

Quote

That said, given the speed of their servers, it sometimes seems almost as quick to photograph a diary as download it. I have wondered if the snail's pace is a deliberate ploy to prevent over use of the facility.

That fast eh ?

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Phil Wood
10 minutes ago, ss002d6252 said:

It pains me to see how well other countries have managed things compared to us.

 

Other countries have chosen to fund WW1 archives - which is great, but would I can imagine the outcry from those with other interests if public funding was seen to favour one group of archive users over others. Perhaps it is worth noting that visitors to Kew get free access to all of the material TNA licences to data providers (census, etc, etc) not just war diaries.

 

You could also contrast Scotland to England - they have been far more aggressive in monetarising their census. parish registers, wills, etc.

24 minutes ago, ss002d6252 said:

I'm for charging a fee, I just think perhaps a lower, more evenly balance one for all documents downloaded would lower the burden and increase the accessibility, whether it be at the archives or online. It would certainly be better placed with the overall ethos of access to all.

 

I'm not convinced that charging at Kew would make so much difference in terms of income that online charges would fall. It certainly wouldn't change Ancestry's rates.  I also suspect that the archivists at Kew would be very pleased to make everything free to all - but the beans do have to be counted and a token income from sales and licensing looks good to their ministerial and Treasury masters.

 

17 minutes ago, ss002d6252 said:

That fast eh ?

 

It does seem to speed up a little in the last half hour of opening as demand falls.

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