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2:00 pm Think like a genealogist.
Think like a genealogist.
Apr 22 @ 2:00 pm
Think like a genealogist: Creative research techniques to help you follow the right ancestral trail MONTHLY MEETING OF HALTON-PEEL BRANCH, OGS Family history research is all about following clues and creativity—imagining what records might exist[...]
7:00 pm The Search for Alban Leaf
The Search for Alban Leaf
May 17 @ 7:00 pm
The Search for Alban Leaf @ Uxbridge Public Library | Uxbridge | Ontario | Canada
MEETING OF UXBRIDGE GENEALOGY GROUP This presentation demonstrates the use of many English record types—in a period well before census and civil registration. The search for the subject of this case history, Londoner Alban Leaf[...]
8:00 pm I’m not related to D. W. Smith—W...
I’m not related to D. W. Smith—W...
May 23 @ 8:00 pm
I’m not related to D. W. Smith—Why should I look at his records? @ UELAC Toronto Branch office | Toronto | Ontario | Canada
MONTHLY MEETING OF THE TORONTO BRANCH OF THE UNITED EMPIRE LOYALISTS’ ASSOCIATION David William Smith was Deputy Surveyor General and then Surveyor General for Upper Canada from 1792 to 1804, and before that clerk to[...]
10:30 am Archives of Ontario: What’s in i...
Archives of Ontario: What’s in i...
Jun 3 @ 10:30 am
Archives of Ontario: What's in it for me? @ Rozanski Hall, University of Guelph | Guelph | Ontario | Canada
A LECTURE AT ONTARIO GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY CONFERENCE 2018 Archives of Ontario: What’s in it for me? The Archives of Ontario is a rich source for family history. You can find records of birth, marriage, death,[...]
2:30 pm Bristol to Toronto: A Teenage Life
Bristol to Toronto: A Teenage Life
Jun 3 @ 2:30 pm
A LECTURE AT ONTARIO GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY CONFERENCE 2018 From Bristol to Toronto: Documenting a Teenage Life This case history explores the sources available for tracking an intrepid young immigrant to Toronto through his adolescence and[...]
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A Library at the Archives of Ontario?

I’ve never seen it. But I know it is there.

In fact, I’ve spent many hours over the last few months looking at treasures from the J.J. Talman Library at the Archives of Ontario. The name is new, but the library collection dates from the beginnings of the AO over a hundred years ago.

Gathered to compliment the archival holdings of the Archives, the library provides context. This works both for the archivists who have to figure out the manuscript records acquired by the AO and describe them in inventories and finding aids, and of course for researchers like me.

As a researcher, I want to see what was written about an event or a process as it was happening—or even before it happened. I want to know what the people I’m studying were thinking—or at least what society wanted them to think.

I also want the analysis of other historians over the years, the story 20 years after the event, 50 years later, and the perspective of today.

The Library has about 75,000 items—books, Ontario government publications, periodicals, microfiche and film, and pamphlets.

There ought to be a better word for pamphlets. There are about 12,000—rare, unique, often quirky. Advertising catalogues, tourist brochures, little local histories, sermons, political speeches, programs—all remarkable signs of their times.

You might well ask, “If the Library is invisible, how do I get this wonderful stuff?”

Well, start with BIBLiON: The Archives of Ontario Library Online Catalogue. It is about as simple and straightforward as it could be. I’d recommend the “keyword anywhere” option for most searches of the 24,000 titles included.

If you’re at the Archives, ask staff for a Library retrieval request form, fill it out, and the items will magically appear in the Reading Room. If you’re looking at BIBLiON at home, you can check off the items that interest you, then “show selected records”. Copy and paste them into an email. Clean the formatting up a bit, add a nice note to tell them when you’re coming, and send it off to You’ll get an email or a phone call when it is ready for you.

I mentioned 24,000 titles in BIBLiON. About a third of the collection. Much of the rest is listed in a series of 22 finding aids, some on paper and some online, but all shown here.  Finding aid L 23 for newspaper collections can be found online here.

There is, indeed, a Library at the Archives of Ontario. I’m sure of it.

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