How to find photographs that are not yet available online – part one

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has more than 25 million photographs, one of the largest archival photographic collections in the world. To make these collections more accessible, LAC has undertaken an ongoing project to digitize them, including photographic material. Currently, some images are already digitized and described at the item-level in our Archives Search database.

Given the cost and complexity of describing and digitizing fragile archival images, photographs are described and digitized only when they are requested by users. So, if you are looking for that unique, one-of-a-kind archival photo that no one else has requested (e.g., UFO, Big Foot or Ogopogo), you better start digging!

Begin by checking what has already been described. Follow the steps outlined in our past article: “How to find photographs online” to get a sense of the type of photographs that already exist on your topic, individual, or location.

If those searches do not yield what you’re looking for, it’s time to dig deeper. This is where archival research meets detective work! Remember, from now on we’re talking about photographs that have not been digitized, so you will not be able to view the image before ordering it or visiting LAC.

Keyword Search

In Archives Search, after selecting “Photographic Material” under “TYPE OF MATERIAL” you can enter key words in the search box. Get creative with the key words; archival documents are often titled using the creator’s own language. Narrow your search by using the “ADVANCED SEARCH” features.

You may end up with image search results that aren’t exactly what you’re looking for. Don’t panic. This list is just the beginning of your journey into deeper archival research. It’s fun, trust us!

Fonds/Collections/Accessions

Have you found archival records, including photographs and textual records, all jumbled together? These groupings are called fonds or accessions or sometimes collections. This is a high-level description of an entire grouping of material, usually based on the source of the original donation.

Check out the extent field and see how many photographs are listed there. Read the descriptions carefully and see if the material described relates to the photographs you’re looking for.

They do? Great!

Now, read the description again and see if there is a finding aid.

There is? Good!

Now see if it’s electronic and attached to the description in Archives Search.

It is? Fantastic!

Open it up and see if it provides a listing of the contents of the fonds, collection, or accession.

It does? Wonderful!

Locate the box that you think contains the image you’re looking for, based on the contents of the finding aid, and order the box by following the steps outlined in our article “How to consult material that is not yet available online.”

But what happens if things don’t go this smoothly? Our next article on this topic will provide more tips from our experts on what to do. Stay tuned!

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

Release of a new version of the Census of Prairie Provinces, 1916 database

Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce the release of a new version of the Census of the Prairie Provinces, 1916 database. In 1916, the Canadian government enumerated, for the second time, the Prairie Provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta) in order to track the high rates of population growth in western Canada.

Previously, users could search only by geographical information such as province, district and sub-district. It is now possible to also search by nominal information such as name, given name(s) and age for an individual.

Did your ancestors come from Scotland?

Do you ever wonder who your first Scottish ancestor was and when he or she left Scotland and arrived in Canada? Are you curious about your family’s Scottish heritage?

If so, our website is a great place to begin your research. For instance, you will find a page specific to genealogical research about Scots.

It provides you with historical background information, archival and published material from our collection, as well as links to other websites and institutions.

If your ancestor came to Canada between 1865 and 1935, you might find his or her name on passenger lists.

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

Library and Archives Canada acquires the first Bible printed in Canada

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is now home to the first complete and authorized version of the Bible to be printed in Canada. This Bible consists of two volumes and was published around 1832 or 1833 by John Henry White in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

This acquisition was made possible by a generous gift from the Friends of Library and Archives Canada, a non-profit organization that supports LAC and its
work.

To learn more, consult our website and our Facebook page.

Discover Finding Aids—Part Three: Searching within a Finding Aid

As we mentioned in our previous article “Discover Finding Aids – Part Two,” finding aids may be accessed through the hyperlinked number found in the “consists of” field in Archives Search. This link takes you to the next level down in the hierarchy, the lower-level descriptions.

Browsing through finding aids in this manner can be done quickly when there are a small number of lower-level descriptions. You can use the filters on the right-hand side of the search result list to sort by title or name, for example, or to limit the list to a particular decade.

However, for other finding aids, there may be thousands of lower-level descriptions and you won’t necessarily want to browse through them all.

Fortunately, help is at hand!

There is a way to keyword search only within these lower-level descriptions. This can be a very useful strategy when there are thousands of them.

First, go to the “finding aid” field description in Archives Search and jot down the finding aid number.

Screen capture of the finding aid section of a record description in Archives Search, identifying the electronic finding aid number.

Next, go to the Advanced Search page.

■ Select “finding aid number” from the drop-down menu and enter the finding aid number you wrote down in the first search box.
■ Enter your keyword search terms in the second search box.

Finally, click the “Submit” button.

Screen capture of the Archives Advanced Search box, indicating a finding aid number (24-60) and the keyword (Saskatoon).

Remember, this strategy is for searching finding aids that have been entered into Archives Search as lower-level descriptions in the “consists of” field. This strategy will not work for all finding aids.

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

Release of a new version of the Census of the Northwest Provinces, 1906 database

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is pleased to announce the release of a new version of the Census of the Northwest Provinces, 1906 database. In 1906, the Canadian government called for a special census of the Prairie Provinces (Manitoba, and the two newly created provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta) in order to track the high rates of population growth in Western Canada.

Previously, users could search only by geographical information such as province, district and sub-district. It is now possible to also search by nominal information such as name, given name (s) and age for an individual.

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!