World War I Records Get an Upgrade: Explore LAC’s New Database

The old Personnel Records of the First World War database is widely acknowledged as a gem in LAC’s online collection. With it, we could search the archive of roughly 622,000 individual First World War service files by first and last names, regimental numbers, city or province of birth and/or enlistment, and box number.

After more than a decade, with the supporting technology nearing its end of life, LAC decided to integrate that collection into the larger Collection Search tool and simplify access through a specific interface for World War I personnel records.

With the new First World War Personnel Records database we can reduce the number of results using limiter options such as military rank, date range for year of birth, birth country or different enlistment geographic options.

I was interested to see how well the new interface would surface just those born in the UK.

At first glance, it suggests not. The dropdown against Birth province/state has no UK or other country option. Wait, there’s a dropdown option under Specific terms for Birth city and Birth country. England found 46,141 filtered results, Scotland 16,766, Ireland 6,363, and three for the United Kingdom. That total is much less than almost half of the CEF born in the UK.

While that search found none for Wales, searching Birth city found 236 for Cardiff!  The glass is half empty and half full; there’s a lot already available and an ongoing project to index extra details about the place of birth and enlistment. That’s a crowdsourcing opportunity that would be a better use of volunteer resource than the present Co-Lab challenges.

For a more detailed explanation, see the blog post

If you’re concerned about saved links, old URLs will redirect users to the exact new location.

2 Replies to “World War I Records Get an Upgrade: Explore LAC’s New Database”

  1. John
    A core group of 9-10 volunteers has been adding the place of birth, date and place of enlistment information for several years now. It is a huge project and we are always looking for more volunteers.

  2. As a genealogist I still found it a bit clumsy…as a librarian, I found it frustrating. I already know my great-great-uncle Arthur’s record is there. I got 0 results using Arthur Barlow – I had to put in Arthur James in the First Name field. Being a pedant here, but his first name was Arthur only – James was his middle name. It should still have returned Arthur James Barlow as well as Arthur Barlow. Search engines should be somewhat fuzzy, especially given many, many users will come from using either Google or Ancestry, both of which are quite fuzzy, though sometimes the opposite happens, and they give too many results.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *