Discover the Access Codes for Archival Records at Library and Archives Canada – Part III

Earlier blogs (Part I and Part II) on restricted records explained the various codes that govern access to Canadian federal government records at Library and Archives Canada. In Part I, we learned that access code “32” beside a reference to a particular archival container means that the material is restricted under the provisions of Canada’s Access to Information Act and Privacy Act. However, that doesn’t mean that all of the container’s contents are restricted.

Each year, many files in archival containers are requested by researchers, and in many cases those files are open. But in order for an entire archival container to have access code “90,” meaning that it is open for research, all the files in that particular container must be open. Even if one file or just part of one file is restricted, the code against the container remains 32 – closed. However, researchers wishing to access a container marked code “32” have the right to submit a request for the material they need.

It is quite possible that the file or files to be consulted have already been reviewed and are accessible. The only way to know is to order the ones you wish to see. Library and Archives Canada’s Access to Information and Privacy staff will examine the request, and if the particular file or files requested have been previously reviewed and opened, you will receive them in an “interim” archival container.

For more assistance, you may ask Library and Archives Canada’s consultation staff or Access to Information and Privacy team.

140 Years Strong: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police

The year 2013 marks the 140th anniversary of the establishment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The Act allowing for the provision of a police force for the Canadian North-West was given Royal Assent by Queen Victoria on May 23, 1873 (to view, select page 110 on the drop down menu from the link). The North West Mounted Police (NWMP) was formally established by a Dominion Order in Council on August 30th of the same year (RG 2, Privy Council Office, Series A-1-a, volume 314, Order in Council 1873–1134). The Canadian Parliament voted to merge the NWMP and the Dominion Police, a federal police force with jurisdiction in eastern Canada in 1919. On February 1, 1920, when the legislation came into effect, this combined police force became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Black-and-white image of an officer in uniform sporting a western-style Stetson, seated on a horse, with the Canadian Rockies in the background.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (silhouette) Source

Colour photograph of an officer posing with a dog in a field.

RCMP officer posing with dog Source

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds many records that document the numerous challenges the RCMP faced in maintaining law and order in the vast regions of Canada.

Available online at LAC:

For consultation on site:

For more photos, visit our Flickr album.

Yesterday Once More: Canada’s Music Industry in Portraits

Do you have a favourite popular musician or rock group from the last three or four decades of the 20th century? There’s a good chance you’ll be able to find their photographs documented in the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) Portrait Portal.

The Portal contains photographs taken between 1963 and 2000, selected from LAC’s RPM fonds, an archive that includes thousands of Canada’s and the world’s most popular artists and bands. It also features actors, music and entertainment executives, broadcasters, politicians and sports figures rubbing shoulders with music industry greats. These portraits have been digitized and added to the Portrait Portal as part of LAC’s ongoing digitization initiatives.

What is the significance of the RPM archive to the Canadian music industry?

Founded in Toronto in 1964, RPM was a Canadian weekly trade publication that focused on the Canadian music recording and radio industries. In 1964 it established the RPM Gold Leaf Awards (also referred to as the Maple Leaf Awards), which would soon evolve into the JUNO Awards. RPM was among the parties that lobbied for Canadian content regulations in the broadcast media, and it inaugurated the RPM MAPL logo (with MAPL standing for music, artists, production, lyrics) that has been widely used to identify the Canadian content of commercial sound recordings. The periodical ceased publication in 2000.

According to Cheryl Gillard, a Library and Archives Canada music specialist, the collection of RPM photographs, now available online through the Portrait Portal, “allows anyone, anywhere to take a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the music industry. Also, for the first time, the Portal’s collection of RPM photos allows less high-profile but historically important Canadian music professionals to be documented and honoured.” This collection showcases Canadian popular culture and reflects the interconnection between the music industries in Canada and the United States.

You can search for photographs of popular musicians in the LAC Portrait Portal simply by entering the name of your favourite band or musician into the keyword search field.

For more information about Canada’s music industry, check out LAC’s RPM database, which contains the digitized versions of the music charts in RPM Weekly from 1964 to 2000. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) website is also a great place to search for a list of past JUNO award recipients—and more!

Spotlight on theatre posters

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has an extraordinary collection of posters promoting theatre in Canada from the 19th century to the present day. These posters are found in a wide variety of private and public archives and collections, including those of Vittorio, Theo Dimson, Guy Lalumière et Associés Inc., Normand Hudon and Robert Stacey.

Theatre posters also feature in the archives of such Canadian personalities as Marshall MacLuhan and Sydney Newman, and even in collections of old documents—for example, the theatre playbills printed on board the ships in the expedition in search of Sir John Franklin (around 1850-1853).

In addition, we must mention the archives of various theatre and stage artists and professionals (Gratien Gélinas, Jean Roberts and Marigold Charlesworth, John Hirsch and others), and of artistic and cultural institutions such as the National Arts Centre, Theatre Canada, the Magnetic North Theatre Festival, the Globe Theatre and the Stratford Festival.

But the real treasure trove of theatre posters can be found in the “Posters” series of the performing arts collection, which comprises about 750 posters and programs, and in the miscellaneous poster collection, which includes about 3,170 posters.

You might say that theatre posters play a starring role at LAC!

For sample posters, please see our Flickr album.

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

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

Our previous article “How to find photographs that are not yet available online—part one” explained the best-case scenario for finding photographs that are not yet available online. But what happens when things don’t go that smoothly?

What if I find items that are close but not what I want?

If there are items in your search results that aren’t quite what you’re looking for, don’t despair. It’s quite possible that we have what you want, but that it hasn’t been described yet. The items that have already been described offer you a useful clue as to where those non-described items might be.

First, note the fonds, collection, or accession where each item is from and look at the field labelled “extent.” How many other photographs make up that collection? Perhaps there are more images relating to your topic.

Does the item have:

- an item number?
- a particular photographer?
- certain keywords?

Use variations of those keywords, item number and photographer’s name to do other online searches in Archives Search. If those don’t yield any results, try the finding aid related to each item, either online or on paper. See “How to find photographs that are not yet available online—part one” for tips on using the finding aid.

What if the finding aid is not online or the finding aid is only available in paper?

If you find a fonds, collection, or accession that seems relevant to your research but that doesn’t have an electronic finding aid, look to see if it has a paper one. If it does, you can visit us at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa, to have a closer look at it. If there is no reference to a paper finding aid, then you have to search through the boxes from that collection. If you cannot come to Ottawa, you can contact our reference staff for guidance, or you may wish to hire a freelance researcher.

With more than 25 million images, chances are we have your “perfect shot.” You just have to find it!

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

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!

Join the dance! – Dance Archives at LAC

Did you know that Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has fonds and collections related to dance in Canada? These include fascinating documents in a variety of formats on many aspects of this major component of the performing arts.

These fonds illustrate the careers of the founder of the National Ballet of Canada, Celia Franca, and a few of its principal dancers, including Veronica Tennant and Karen Kain.

Other fonds focus on the achievements of companies and artists in the field of modern dance, including the Groupe de la Place Royale, co-founded in 1966 by choreographers and dancers Jeanne Renaud and Peter Boneham. LAC also holds the fonds for the Toronto Dance Theatre and the Margie Gillis Dance Foundation, which are among the leading institutions in modern dance.

The collection also includes archives from schools of dance and of dance pioneers in Canada, including the Lacasse-Morenoff, the Gina Vaubois and the Ottawa Ballet Company, founded by Nesta Toumine in 1947, and Alex Pereima, ballet dancer and arts administrator.

At the same time, there are a certain number of fonds related to institutions that support dance companies and artists in Canada, including the Canada Council for the Arts, the 
National Arts Centre Corporation
, the Canadian Conference of the Arts and the Dance in Canada Association.

Many dance-related posters and photographs can be found through our Archives Image Search tool, using the keywords “dance” or “ballet.” You are also invited to consult our Flickr album.

Keep in mind that not all of our documents are available online. However, you can order archived documents through our online Request for Retrieval of Documents form. Please consult our article on How to consult material that is not yet available online for more information.

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

Queen Victoria’s Journals now available at 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa

At the age of 13, Queen Victoria became an avid journal writer when her mother gave her a diary to document an upcoming trip to Wales. Her last entry was written more than six decades later, on January 13, 1901, only nine days before her death.

This year, in honour of Queen Victoria’s birth (May 24, 1819) and the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, all 141 journal volumes (comprised of 43,765 pages) have been digitized and are now available through a courtesy subscription obtained by Library and Archives  Canada (LAC), through The Royal Household, and with the assistance of ProQuest.

The project’s website says that “ As well as detailing household and family matters, the journals reflect affairs of state, describe meetings with statesmen and other eminent figures, and comment on the literature of the day. They represent a valuable primary source for scholars of nineteenth century British political and social history and for those working on gender and autobiographical writing.”

Not only have the diaries been digitized, they have been (and will continue to be) transcribed to allow for a keyword search. In fact, The Queen, as Head of State for Canada, did not leave us unmentioned. A keyword search for “canad*” (without the quotation marks) currently retrieves more than 150 results up to 1839!

As the project continues and more years are transcribed and become searchable, this resource will become more valuable.

To access the journals, use any of the public workstations located at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa or our Wi-Fi connection and visit the website Queen Victoria’s Journals [http://www.queenvictoriasjournals.org/]. You may browse the journals by date or search for keywords.

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

Discover the Access Codes for Archival Records at Library and Archives Canada – Part II

In our post “Discover the Access Codes for Archival Records“, we reviewed four of the most common access codes 90, 32, 10, and 18. However, there are other access codes that you may encounter while undertaking your research. They include access codes 96 and 99.

  • Restrictions vary (Code 96)

Access code 96 indicates that within a group of records there exists more than one type of access condition. For example, since the Department of Transportation fonds (RG12) contains records that are open (code 90) and others that are restricted (code 32), the fonds-level access condition are indicated by “restrictions vary” (code 96).

A sample record description in the Archives Search database displaying access code 96: RESTRICTIONS VARY.

Access code 96 can be applied to more than just fonds-level descriptions. It can also be linked to series, sub-series and accessions. However, it does not apply to individual volumes and files.

Remember:

Access code 96 usually means that there are more specific descriptions available for the records you are researching. In some cases, these records can be accessed by simply clicking on the “lower level descriptions” link in the “Fonds consists of” section of a record description.

A sample record description in the Archives Search database displaying the FONDS CONSISTS OF ROW.

In other cases it will be necessary to consult a printed finding aid. To learn more, read our post Discover Finding Aids.

  • To be determined / closed pending processing (Code 99)

Access code 99 means that the access conditions for a group of records have yet to be determined. Usually this is because the records are being processed. In the following example, while the photographic material is open, the access conditions for the textual records have yet to be determined:

A sample record description in the Archives Search database displaying access code 99.

  • Open, no copying (Code 95)

Access code 95 indicates that the records are open and can be consulted, however, at the request of the donor, the records cannot be copied or reproduced.

A sample record description in the Archives Search database displaying access code 95.

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

The School Files Series, 1879 -1953

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds records created by the federal government about the administration of residential schools.

The School Files Series (archival reference RG10-B-3-d) within the Indian and Inuit Affairs sous fonds contains records created from 1879 to 1953 about residential schools and day schools.

This series contains some records of the admission and discharge of students at residential schools, as well as files on the establishment of individual schools.

The School Files Series has been digitized and is available through the Microform Digitization section of the LAC website.

Our reference specialists recommend a list of which schools are mentioned in which volumes and reels of the series. This list can be found in the Search Help section of the digital version of the series. It will prove to be quite useful when navigating the School Files Series.

Additional Resources:

  • For more information on how to search the Microform Digitization section, use the Search Help section.
  • View the description of this series in Archives Search for additional information.

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