Dear Ancestry Insider,
One of our patrons noticed that the Drouin Collection is no longer on AncestryLibraryEdition. Do you have any information as to what has happened to this useful Canadian database?
Annewhite T. Fuller
Manager, Heritage Room
Huntsville-Madison County Public Library
What a pretty name! (You probably get that a lot.)
Ancestry.com has removed the Drouin collection because of a legal dispute with the collection’s owner. The Drouin Collection page can be found at www.ancestry.com/drouin , but clicking on any collection button goes to a page stating the collection is not currently available.
Dick Eastman broke the story last Sunday, reporting that on 12 August 2009 a judge found Ancestry.com in breach of contract with the L'Institut généalogique Drouin. The Drouin Genealogy Institute asserted that under the contract between them, Ancestry.com had no right to post images of the Drouin Collection without an index. Ancestry.com posted just the images in March 2007. Over a year later, in April 2008, Ancestry.com added a partial index.
The Institute further asserted that Ancestry.com’s indexing methodology was flawed. I’m not completely certain what their complaint was, and I’m trying to remember what the records looked like. I’m guessing from the Google translation of the Institute’s statement that Ancestry.com made the task of indexing cheaper by relying on information in the margins, rather than trying to extract the information from the unstructured text of the record.
I’m guessing from Susan Malone’s interpretation of the original French, that the contract specified that for each event—baptism, marriage, or death—the index was supposed to include the event date; type; parish; names of the subject, parents, and spouse; and subject’s age, occupation, ethnic group and place of origin.
An old Ancestry.ca announcement gives a good summation of the history of the collection.
In 1899 a lawyer named Joseph Drouin founded The Drouin Genealogical Institute, using Quebec’s vital records to research and sell family genealogies. His son Gabriel assumed stewardship in 1938, dedicating himself to microfilming and indexing Quebec’s vital records; this important work formed what became the Institute’s principal reference collection.
The collection remained the property of the Institute until Gabriel’s death in 1980, after which it was sold to the genealogist Jean-Pierre Pepin who created The Drouin Institute, which was dedicated to preserving the collection intact and in Quebec.
Recognising its historical significance, Ancestry.ca secured the right to host the collection online. It launched the original images – more than 12 million in total – in [March] 2007, and in partnership with The University of Montreal has now indexed the collection to make it searchable online for the first time.
At launch the [incomplete] indexes will contain 29 million searchable names. The remaining eight million names will be live on Ancestry.ca by mid-2008.
In the Institute’s statement, Jean Pierre Pépin asked that Ancestry.com remove the Drouin Collection from its websites until a compliant index is prepared and posted.
Ancestry.com has 60 days from 12 August 2009 to come into compliance with the contract or the contract will be cancelled and Ancestry.com will be forced to permanently remove the collection.
-- The Ancestry Insider