Dismiss Notice
A reminder that, as is traditional around here, the forum will close for 20 minutes (11/11/19) around 1100, for Armistice Day.

WWI War Diaries digitalised

Discussion in 'Prewar' started by PsyWar.Org, Nov 8, 2013.

  1. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Just a heads up for those also interested in First World War war diaries.
    Over the last couple of years the National Archives have been digitising all WWI war diaries.

    There was a brief mention in their newsletter today that diaries will be available from next January.

    It doesn't say if all war diaries will be available from them in January or if they will be staggered over the followings months/years.

    Also it will be interesting to see how they will charge for them. I suspect it will be either £3.36 per diary or £3.36 per month (like RAF ORBs).

    (Once the First World War diaries are digitised and on the National Archives website then that's effectively the only way to obtain copies of them. I won't be able to access the original diaries and photograph them any longer.)

  2. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks Lee,

    It will be useful to have them available in this way, but as you point out, eventually it may be only way to view.

  3. ramacal

    ramacal 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    I accessed one of their digitised war diaries at Kew earlier this year and it cost me £10-00 (20p per A3 size page) to print off the 50 pages I needed. Excellent quality though. £3-36 a diary is therefore a bit optimistic I think.

    I was also able to photograph an RA Brigade diary for the whole of WW1 without cost, so they don't appear to have done them all yet.
  4. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    A number of years ago they offered up some WW1 Diaries for nothing, I picked up some Middlesex and RWF if I remember correctly, it was something like the WO373's they gave away a while ago. They seem a bit 'hit and miss' with these initiatives.
  5. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

  6. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    On timing the newsletter says "From January 2014 we will be launching even more digitised record series, including the unit war diaries (WO 95)." which I take to be progressive - though no clue, of course, as to time-scale.

    And as for likely cost, unless they've mastered the difficulty of obtaining universally-legible contrast between shiny graphite handwriting and yellowing paper in their scanning process, I'd fully expect them to be dearer than their WW2 counterparts. I know they can't afford the fancy scanner Ancestry use to cope with 3D material, such as open books, so I'd imagine a fair bit of trial & error needed to optimise the lighting for each differently-pencil-indented (thus slightly embossed/3D) page.

    Just my :twocents:,

    PS (for t'other Steve): FTR Lee's newsletter heads up was actually broadcast by e-mail (my copy @ 11:59 today to be precise) but also viewable here
  7. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Rob, the diaries are still available to order at Kew and will be until the digital version goes online. At least that's the way it usually works.

    There are some WWI diaries previously digitalised which can be purchased as a download through the TNA website for 3 quid for the whole diary. I suspect that won't be the case with the new ones and they will go for separate downloads for each month.
  8. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Steve (Red Goblin), that's the other unanswered question whether the digitised diaries will be provided as colour images or black & white or high contrast B&W. Their downloads have varied between all three varieties in the past with the latter mostly reserved for digitial microfilm. That is when they scan previously microfilmed documents, for example the RAF Operations Record Books.

    Funny you should mention the difficulty of converting pencil to high contrast B&W images, as I've spent most of today programming various functions to attempt to do just that. I'm nearing a good compormise but it's not perfect.

    When I mentioned the 'newsletter' above, I was referring to both the emailed version and web-based version of it.
  9. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    I was actually referring to my own inexpert colour photography attempts with WO 95/2626 - where I had great difficulty in reading some writing, especially one signature, once I got home. Firstly, not being allowed to unbind the volumes to photograph the pages flat, was the problem of light incidence varying across the page (see 2nd, unedited whole page, sample photo attached) so that I sometimes had to resort to different combinations of contrast, brightness & greyscale tweaks in transcribing each. And even then some, like the signature, proved uncrackable without returning to specially rephotograph those bits - see rest of sample attachments illustrating this interpretive phase.

    Actually, to meet the Genealogical Proof Standard, digitised images of original documents must be full colour - thereby rubbishing all those old microfilm preservation attempts !


    PS: Forgot to include sharpness (edge detection) in my list of Paint Shop Pro 5 tricks

    Attached Files:

  10. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Steve, shadows like that are a real pain in backside, especially on difficult to read documents like WW1 diaries.

    The Archives are giving a short talk on WW1 diaries at 2pm on 14 November, don't think I can make it myself but would be interesting to know if they give any more details about the roll out of the digitalised diaries.
  11. ramacal

    ramacal 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    I agree that it's a real pain to get an image that's even all over. The lights over the camera stand do make it difficult, but I've come up with a simple solution. I hold a piece of paper over the camera on the stand, so that the article to be photographed is in an even shadow. It's may add a fraction of time to the job, but it works.

    I found that photographing the POW forms of those coming back from the Far East were really difficult (Purple in colour). Once I'd used the paper, I got a clear photo every time even when pencil was being used.

    Example of one taken before I started used the sheet of paper. Could not read the names of the POW camps.


    Another using the sheet of paper. Writing is feint, but still readable.

    dbf likes this.
  12. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Thanks for the extra heads up Lee - TNA's RSS feed should flag it up when their podcast is ready for me to download though, if they get down to illustrating this particular problem, I shall just have to use my 'radio imagination'.

    And as for that irritation in the nether regions I've simply coined the acronym 'PITA' (pronounced like the bread) ;)
  13. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Ah yes, of course, the answer is flat/diffuse light as usually found best in photographing headstones on dull/overcast days. And what's a little extra time if it saves later remedial faff like, in the case of your first sample, dropping the brighness by 50% and sharpening it up a tad to bring out the section 1 text?

    There's bags of advice out there (e.g.) but folk really seeking to maximise their productivity might prefer to invest in a light tent - a DIY version of which, if not available commercially, might be tailored to document copying by being made pyramidal, like a sort of super lens hood or camera stand, with a hole on top to which the lens of a dSLR may be affixed to look down through for speedier work whilst maximising light levels. Perhaps something like this in a gauze/muslin 'skirt' ...
  14. ramacal

    ramacal 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA Patron

    In my mind, I can just see the security staff, :cop: (led by Andy's favourite lady) heading straight for your table, as you hitch up your gauze/muslin skirt. :lol:

    I'll stick to my sheet of A4 held over my head.
    4jonboy likes this.

Share This Page