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'Remembering': Victims, Survivors and Commemoration
The Digital Archive and Bibliography
by Martin Melaugh



Prior to the beginning of the AHRC-funded project, the CAIN Web site contained some material related to the issues of victims, survivors and commemoration. The funded project provided an opportunity to greatly expand these materials within a new dedicated Archive.

Locating the material

As part of the work of the project a search was made for relevant publications. Although the main focus of the project was on the period from 1997, items from before this date were added as well. In addition to 'standard' library searches, most of those organisations working in the field were approached and asked about their publications. Some organisations had comprehensive information on their Web sites and publication details were taken from this on-line information.

Citations and key words

Citations for all these publications were entered into the existing CAIN bibliography. However, in additional to the usual citation fields it was decided to include key words and key phrases which described the content of particular item. So as each item was uncovered the compiler viewed the contents (time did not allow for all of them to be completely read) and attached selected key words or key phrases alongside the citation in the CAIN bibliography.

Monitoring media and political output

In addition to the usual items one would expect to find (books, journal articles, reports, etc.) the bibliography also includes citations to more ephemeral material (political statements, newspaper articles, etc.) that were published during the lifetime of the CAIN / AHRC-funded project (1 October 2006 to 31 March 2009).

It was decided to include such material so as to give an indication of the extent of the public coverage and debate of victims' issues in Northern Ireland between 2006 and 2009. So a part of the routine work of the project involved a member of the Project Team (Dr Brendan Lynn) monitoring the Web sites of a wide range of media and political organisations. In addition to the print media, the on-line news sites of the main broadcast media were also regularly checked. All news items and political material that related to the topic area were cited in the bibliography.

Obviously the contents of the Archive are weighted towards organisations and publishers which are based in Northern Ireland. This is where much of the debate, reporting and commentary on the issues takes place. However organisations and media outlets in the Republic of Ireland, Britain and America were also included. While the Archive gives a good reflection of the extent and nature of the debate at this time, it does not claim to be comprehensive.

Copyright permissions

Once items were identified as being relative and worth cataloging, then a digital version (in the form of a PDF file) was produced at that time. These digital files were stored off-line on a PC. In the case of organisations working in the field, permissions were sought early in the lifetime of the project for digital copies of their publications to be added to the Archive. In almost all cases permission was given. In the case of media organisations it was decided to wait until nearer the end of the project when an assessment could be made of how many items had been collected from each organisation. All media organisations were then approached for copyright permission for the digital copies to be stored in the Archive. At the time of the launch (June 2009) most media organisations had given their permission. In the case of press releases and political statements it is normally assumed that copyright had been explicitly waived in these cases and so no formal application was made.

Links to digital files

After copyright permission had been obtained to include a copy of a particular item in the Archive then the location field in the citation in the bibliography was changed. This meant that the citation that appears as the result of a search, provides a link to (usually) a PDF version of the original item. In the cases where permission was not obtained the citation provides a link to the original item at an external Web site. It is inevitable that some of these links will become broken over time as items are moved within, or removed from, the external Web site. An effort to avoid information disappearing is part of the rationale for having a central archive of these materials. Where broken links are noticed then the Project Team will endeavour to find a new link for the item. If this is not possible then the original publisher will be approached again to obtain permission for the item to appear in the Archive. If permission is not given and users are still unable to locate the item then it may be possible to offer to send an individual user a single digital copy for research or private study.

Search Facilities

The associated search facilities within this section represent the main way in which to locate items contained in the Archive. There are two separate search options. The first option allows users to do a text search of the whole of the CAIN Bibliography. The second search option allows users to do a search of only the victims-related items using a drop-down menu. The menu lists a series of sub-topics that the Project Team have used to categorise all the items.


Sutton Database

The database of deaths supplied by Malcolm Sutton has been a feature of the CAIN site since October 1999. As part of the new section on victims the project team compiled new materials, for example the database and photographs of physical memorials in Northern Ireland. With Sutton's permission it was decided to integrate his information into some of the new material. Users should however refer to the Sutton Index of Deaths for detailed information on the structure and contents of the database.


McKeown Database

Despite the presence of Sutton's database on CAIN, the project team were happy to accept another database, compiled by Michael McKeown, for deposit in the digital Archive. The McKeown database represents the first occasion when a database such as this will be freely available for researchers to download.


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