The Rare Book Collection: recent additions

A collection of 500 pre-1800 books were recently relocated to a permanent location in Library and Archives Canada’s rare books vault. The vault is equipped with optimal environmental conditions to ensure this special collection is properly preserved for generations to come. Prior to being transferred to Library and Archives Canada, the books were owned by the Library of Parliament. Most of this collection consists of books published in England or France, and many are multi-volume sets. The subject matter ranges from geography and history to theatre and essays.


Colour photograph showing rows of books on a shelf. All the books are flagged with a slip of paper with a call number on it.

The permanent location in the rare books vault.

About the Collection

The majority of the books are 18th-century hand bindings bound in full or partial leather. The collection also comprises some books made of paper, cloth or parchment. The books are decorated with intricate gold titling and tooling and are often accented with unique and stunning marbled papers, commonly used as the endpapers.

Colour photograph of an open book showing a sumptuous marble paper used for the end paper.

Marble paper detail.

Colour photograph collage of four beaver-stamp images showing the different stamp styles on the books.

The Library of Parliament “beaver” stamp on the spine of many of the books. The style and intricate details of the beaver changes over the years, but the familiar trademark remains easily identifiable.

The condition of the books

Before being added to the Rare Book Collection, factors such as moisture, temperature, light and dust contributed to the deterioration of many of the books. Although some books are in excellent condition, with the binding structures and text blocks intact, many are damaged and show signs of damage. Some items have suffered from water and fire damage, or contain traces of a pest infestation, while others are weakened and damaged due to centuries of physical use.

Red rot and leather deterioration

A large percentage of the collection (approximately 90%) suffers from various levels of leather deterioration. In some extreme cases, the type of damage is referred to by conservators as red rot. The deterioration of leather is a common issue in leather from this period as the tannins used in the manufacturing process contain chemicals that, over time, and in the presence of oxygen, undergo a chemical change that breaks down the leather molecules. This causes the leather to weaken, flake and powder.

Colour photograph of a gloved hand holding a book with the telltale signs of red rot. The glove and sleeve are covered in a fine reddish-brown coloured dust.

An example of red rot—the term describes the red-coloured powder that appears on the surface of badly deteriorated leather.

Next steps for this collection

So much can be learned from this collection of historical and beautiful books. Check back with us for the next blog posts on the physical inventory of this collection , which includes a detailed inventory of the state of the collection, the levels of conservation treatment required, the material composition of the books, type of decorations, etc. Also have a look at the following post, detailing what steps will be taken to preserve this fine collection.

New Books in the Genealogy Services Collection at 395 Wellington – March 2015

Here is a list of our recently acquired genealogy publications. You can consult them in the Genealogy and Family History Room located on the 3rd floor at 395  Wellington Street. The link to the AMICUS record gives the call number you need to find the book on the shelves.

If you’re just starting out in genealogy, you should check out our Genealogy and Family History pages.

Happy exploring!

Family Histories

Le grand rassemblement…: familles Zéphirina Dupuis, Aquila Dupuis, André-Joseph Dupuis : généalogie et biographie by Francine Dupuis Loranger (AMICUS 43219206)

Mes ancêtres Laroche et Desrochers by Lyne Laroche, Nicole Levesque (AMICUS 43036457)

The Melanson story: Acadian family, Acadian times by Margaret C. Melanson (AMICUS 43102537)

Une famille, un village, un pays : les Gagnon, les Bergeronnes, le Québec by Rodolphe Gagnon (AMICUS 42915824)

Ethnic and Local Histories

Cartes mortuaires. Les Éboulements et Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive by Alain Anctil-Tremblay, Jean-Philippe Tremblay (AMICUS 41850791)

Cimetières La Malbaie by Alain Anctil-Tremblay, Jean-Philippe Tremblay (AMICUS 41850786)

Cimetières Les Éboulements, 1733-2010 et Saint-Joseph-de-la Rive, 1932-2010 by Alain Anctil-Tremblay, Jean-Philippe Tremblay (AMICUS 41850986)

Familles Caron d’Amérique : répertoire généalogique by the Association les familles Caron d’Amérique (AMICUS 43168696)

Généalogie des familles acadiennes de l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard (volume 5) by Jean Bernard (AMICUS 38333031)

Gravestones of Glengarry (volumes 10 to 14) by Alex W. Fraser (AMICUS 48101)

New Books in the Genealogy Services Collection at 395 Wellington—January 2015

Below is a list of our recently acquired genealogy publications. You can consult these publications in the Genealogy and Family History Room located on the 3rd floor at 395 Wellington. The link takes you to the AMICUS record which gives the call number to help you find the book on the shelves.

If you’re just starting out in genealogy, you should check out our Genealogy and Family History pages.

Happy exploring!

Family Histories

De nos ancêtres Houallet en France aux descendants Ouellet-te en Nouvelle-France, de François Houallet et Isabelle Barré, à leur fils René et son rêve américain by Jeannine Ouellet (AMICUS 43057598)

Généalogie ascendante de Maurice Fortier by Lise Lefebvre (AMICUS 42357176)

La descendance de Pierre Gilbert, capitaine de vaisseau: Petite-Rivière-Saint-François à partir de 1756 by Jules Garneau (AMICUS 42913904)

André Marsil dit Lespagnol: l’ancêtre des Marcil et Mercille d’Amérique (1642-1725) by Denis Marsil (AMICUS 42507286)

La famille Miville-Dechêne, Julie: l’arrivée en Nouvelle-France et les pérégrinations à Québec et dans les environs du 17e au 21e siècle by Michel Émond (AMICUS 42421839)

Larocque family by Charles G. Clermont (AMICUS 42544482)

L’histoire de la famille acadienne des Lejeune dit Briard: les sept premières générations et plus by André-Carl Vachon (AMICUS 43023469)

Looking back: a history of the Robert and Hannah (Swinton) Williamson family, 2013-1783 by M. Yvonne Brown (AMICUS 42487533)

The Amos B. Weber family history by Tim Campbell (AMICUS 42624120)

The legacy of Peter Martin by Tim Campbell (AMICUS 43040697)

The Noah B. Martin family history by Tim Campbell (AMICUS 42624089)

The scent of oil: a Nicklos/Perkins family saga by Gary May (AMICUS 39274484)

Ethnic and Local Histories

Atlas généalogique de la France ancestrale: pays des migrants vers la Nouvelle-France by Micheline Perreault (AMICUS 42213484)

Dictionnaire des souches allemandes et scandinaves au Québec by Claude Kaufholtz-Couture and Claude Crégheur (AMICUS 42651679)

Irish presence: the protestant religious history, volume 1: Villages et visages en Lotbinière (includes cemetery transcriptions), research and writing by Sylvie Bernard; translation by Claude Crégheur and Mélanie St-Jean (AMICUS 38820935)

La colonie nantaise de Lac-Mégantic: une implantation française au Québec au XIXe siècle by Marcel Fournier (AMICUS 41526971)

Le pays des filles du Roy… au confluent du Saint-Laurent et de la Richelieu by Louise Biron, Danielle Mailloux and Louise Pelletier (AMICUS 42139559)

Les Filles du roi au XVIIe siècle: orphelines en France, pionnières au Canada by Yves Landry (AMICUS 42011241)

Les sépultures du coteau des Cèdres, 1750-1780 by Jean-Luc Brazeau and Isabelle Aubuchon (AMICUS 43036058)

Patriotes, reformers, rebels & raiders: tracing your ancestors during the troublous times in Upper and Lower Canada, 1820-1851 by Kenneth Cox (AMICUS 42726565)

Pour que rien ne s’efface: Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, 2014 by Robert Charbonneau, Mario Cyr and Huguette Plourde (AMICUS 43043082)

Répertoire des naissances, des mariages et des décès de la paroisse de Saint-Émilien, Desbiens, 1926-1941 by Société d’histoire du Lac-Saint-Jean (AMICUS 42654710)

The Irish Catholic families of Puslinch Township, Wellington County, Ontario: a genealogy by Marjorie Clark (AMICUS 42756767)

New Books in the Genealogy Services Collection at 395 Wellington

In our previous article, we discussed what you can do at 395 Wellington before your appointment. One of the suggestions was to head to the third floor where the Genealogy and Family History Room is located. There you will find reference works, finding aids, atlases, family histories, and ethnic and local histories—sources that are only the beginning in your exciting search for ancestors.

In this article, we are pleased to share a list of our recently acquired publications. The AMICUS link gives the call number where you will find the book in the stacks.

And if you’re just starting out in genealogy, you should check out our Genealogy and Family History pages.

Happy exploring!

Family Histories

L’ancêtre des familles Kirouac en Amérique, son épouse et leurs fils : synthèse d’une recherche généalogique effectuée de 1978 à 2013, by François Kirouac (AMICUS 42037458)

Barthélemy Verreau, premier Verreau en Nouvelle-France, by Jean-Marie Verreault (AMICUS 42159688)

Les 100 ans de Taschereau, by the Comité du 100e anniversaire de Taschereau (AMICUS 41969714)

Dictionnaire généalogique des familles Audet et Lapointe, 1663-2013, by the Association des descendants de Nicolas Audet dit Lapointe (AMICUS 42155162)

Généalogie de la famille Bournival, by Gilbert Bournival for the Regroupement des Bournival d’Amérique (AMICUS 42214888)

George Goodson Knowlton: His Ancestors and Descendants, by Doreen A. Smillie (AMICUS 42001478)

Hanrick / Handrick / Hendrick Family of County Wicklow, Ireland and West Québec, Canada, by Della Hendrick Dupuis (AMICUS 42445077)

Labossière : descendant, 1878-2006, by the Labossière Family Association (AMICUS 42095787)

Les mariages Dumas du Québec et des régions avoisinantes, by Michèle Dumas (AMICUS 42178843)

Munchinsky Family History, by George Muchinsky (AMICUS 40824981)

Ethnic and Local Histories

Aneroid and District, 100 Years, 1913-2013, by the Aneroid History Book Committee (AMICUS 42001472)

Beaver Tales from Castor & District, by the Castor and District History Book Committee (AMICUS 41170264)

Les filles du Roy (1663-1673) : Champlain, Batiscan, Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, edited by Jean-Pierre Chartier (AMICUS 42039279)

Irish Palatine Pioneers in Upper Canada: Commemorating 300 Years, 1709-2009, by the Ontario Genealogical Society (AMICUS 40681965)

Municipal Records in Ontario: History and Guide, by Fraser Dunford (AMICUS 40681952)

Neubergthal: A Mennonite Street Village: A Sense of Place with Deep Roots, edited by Rose Hildebrand and Joyce Friesen (AMICUS 42247304)

Répertoire des mariages (1895-1986), baptêmes (1895-1986), sépultures (1895-2012), St-Jean-Baptiste de Cap-aux-Os : avec notes marginales, edited by Donat Fournier, Serge Ouellet, Élaine Réhel (AMICUS 42202061)

Victory and Beyond, by the Beechy History Book Committee (AMICUS 39465589)

The 40th Anniversary of ISSN Canada

2014 marks the 40th anniversary of ISSN Canada, the Canadian national centre for ISSN, (International Standard Serial Numbers). ISSN Canada, a unit within the Bibliographic Description section at Library and Archives Canada (LAC), has been assigning ISSNs and registering Canadian serial publications since January 1974.

What is an ISSN?

An ISSN, is a standardized international code that identifies a serial publication, including electronic serials, independent of its country of publication, language, alphabet, frequency, etc. Over a period of 40 years, ISSN Canada has helped Canadian publishers and libraries to quickly and efficiently identify, order, distribute and retrieve serial publications.

ISSN Canada is a member of the world-wide ISSN Network, which was established by a UNESCO treaty to which Canada is a signatory. ISSN Canada has exclusive responsibility for assigning ISSNs to serials published in Canada.

40 years of successful cooperation

As one of the first members, Canada has a long history of active participation in the ISSN community. ISSN Canada is the third most productive national centre within the ISSN Network, after France and the United States.

Forty years of successful cooperation among ISSN centres, and the sustained growth of the ISSN Network is an accomplishment worthy of pride and celebration for LAC. This significant milestone is an opportunity to highlight the longevity of the ISSN, identifier and to celebrate Canada’s participation in the ISSN Network.

ISSN Canada thanks Canadian publishers for their participation in the success of this program.

How to read AMICUS records—Part 2

Our previous article on this topic explained how to decode an AMICUS record for books, documents and reports (monographs). Today’s article provides you with tips on decoding an AMICUS record for journals, magazines, newspapers or any type of ongoing publication (serials).

To help you better understand, the numbers on the image correspond to the fields described in the article.

Screen capture of the AMICUS full record with corresponding fields (source: AN1538070)

1. AMICUS No.: Keep track of this number! You will need it to request issues of the serial, whether you place a request for retrieval before visiting Library and Archives Canada (LAC) or once you are on site.

2. NLC (National Library Collection) Copies: Provides key information on which issues of the serial record are available in our collection. It is essential to distinguish between the LAC holdings for the serial found in NLC Copies (No. 2) and the description of the publishing history of the serial found in the Description (No. 3). The complete run of a serial is sometimes unavailable at LAC or may be available in a microform version. If a microform version exists, it will be included as a link in Relationships (No. 6).

The following punctuation marks are used to describe serial holdings:
Punctuation Mark Meaning Example
Hyphen   An unbroken range of holdings v. 1-30 means the library has each issue of the serial from volumes 1 to 30 in its holdings.
Square brackets  [ ] Incomplete holdings [1950] means that holdings include some issues published in 1950.
Question mark  ? Uncertain holdings information v. 18-42? means that holdings may include volumes 18 to 42.
Slash  / A single physical item with two connected volumes v. 12/13 indicates that volumes 12 and 13 are contained in a single physical item.
Comma  , A gap in the holdings v. 1-3, 5 means the library has volumes 1 to 3 and 5 but not volume 4.
Semicolon  ; A publication break (not a gap) in the holdings v. 1-3; 5- indicates that after volume 3 the publisher jumped to 5 without publishing volume 4.

3. Description: Indicates when the serial began publication.

4. Frequency: Specifies how frequently the serial has been published over the years.

5. Notes: Offers additional information about the serial, such as where it has been indexed and its alternate titles.

6. Relationships: Provides links to related versions, for example, in other languages or in other formats, such as a journal available online or on microfilm. In this case, you will find a link to the online version of this journal held in our electronic collection.

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

How to read AMICUS records—Part 1

Have you ever used our AMICUS library catalogue to try to find a book and were unsure about how to decode the information?

Here are tips on decoding an AMICUS record for books, reports or documents (monographs). To help you better understand, the numbers on the image correspond to the fields in the article.

Screen capture of the AMICUS full record with corresponding fields (source: AN 3041155)

1. AMICUS No.: Keep track of this number! You will need the AMICUS No., the name(s) of the author(s) and the title of the work to place a request for retrieval before visiting Library and Archives Canada (LAC) or once you are on site. Immediately below the AMICUS No., the type of record is specified; this tells you if the record is for a book, a report or a document (monograph), or a journal, a magazine, a newspaper or any type of ongoing publication (serial).

2. NLC (National Library Collection) Copies: Indicates the number of copies available at LAC. If you do not find NLC copies in the record, start your search over and make sure that you are searching the LAC catalogue only, not the entire database. As we are a closed stack library, the shelf location information is for internal purposes only and is not useful to you. Please note that preservation copies are presently unavailable.

3. Description: Tells you the number of pages and if the work contains illustrations or maps.

4: Notes: Provides additional information about the work, for example, other title information, additional information on the contents, whether it contains bibliographic references.

5. Relationships: Provides links to related versions of the work, for example, in other languages or in other formats, such as online or on microfiche.

6. Numbers and Classification: Generally of interest to other libraries only. The call numbers are suggestions for other libraries and are not LAC call numbers.

7. Subjects: Provides the standardized subject headings assigned to the work. Click on any subject heading to find additional materials on that topic.

Stay tuned for an upcoming article on how to read AMICUS records for journals, magazines, newspapers or any other type of ongoing publication (serials).

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!


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!

Why Consult Newspapers on Microfilm?

We have already discussed how to find Canadian newspapers on microfilm; and you might have wondered why we have to turn to microfilm in the first place? Aren’t these newspapers available online?

The short answer is that only some of them are (*). Most newspaper editions available electronically for free are limited in their content, and the issues usually start only in the 1980s. If you are interested in full-page content and original layouts, or need to access older issues, some major dailies like the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the Winnipeg Free Press offer historical versions in PDF format for a fee. As well, your local library may subscribe to a particular daily, or you may also purchase access yourself.

Another option is to access Library and Archives Canada’s newspapers on microfilm, an extensive collection that:

  • includes major newspapers, as well as local, labour, ethnic and student papers;
  • allows you to research aspects of newspaper publishing, such as design, layout and advertising, not contained in the electronic versions; and
  • provides access to content excluded in the electronic versions, including photographs, classifieds and obituaries.

Come visit us in Ottawa to consult these newspapers on microfilm and discover our collection, or contact us for more information.

* The following are examples of free digital newspaper collections:

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