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March 27, 2015

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Laurier researcher Mark Humphries is working to understand the daily lives of past veterans.

Humphries, who is the Dunkley Chair in War and the Canadian Experience and the Director of the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS), received $100,000 for his project, titled "Through Veterans' Eyes: Digital Approaches to the Hidden Histories of Veterans, Families, and the State 1918 – 2000," as part of the prestigious Early Researcher Awards program from Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation.

“If researchers could systematically access historical standardized demographic, economic and social data detailing the lives of ordinary Canadians, from every walk of life and background, what might we learn about the societal challenges and opportunities that we face today?” said Humphries.

During the Great War, 620,000 Canadians joined the war effort and began a lifelong relationship with the Canadian state that was documented in files, kept from birth to death, containing regular home visit reports, yearly household balance sheets, detailed household inventories, and medical records. Humphries' project will digitally save these records that are currently slated for destruction. The digitization of several hundred thousand standardized records will provide an opportunity to develop new digital information technologies that will assist in the storage, development, and analysis of big-data sets, and create an accessible substantial body of historical information on the lives of Ontario residents and their families.

“We are extremely pleased that LCMSDS and Mark’s research is being recognized by the Ministry of Research and Innovation," said Deborah MacLatchy, Laurier's vice-president: academic and provost, and acting vice-president: research. “Digitizing data to be able to find patterns and learn more about veterans will benefit evidence-based policy makers for years to come.”

For more information about Humphries and LCMSDS, follow @LCMSDS on Twitter or visit


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