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Banner: Canadian Genealogy CentreBanner: Canadian Genealogy Centre
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Let's Go to Work!

Many databases and other information sources are available on the Internet. However, it is best for genealogists to go first to libraries and genealogical societies.

You can find manuals and guides in your Local Library or genealogical society that will provide you with information about research methods, as well as published indexes for some records. You will also find local histories and reference genealogical tools. There are also many biographical works on historical personages to which you can refer. Whatever you consult, you should always remember that the information could be outdated or may contain errors.

The collection of Library and Archives Canada is very rich in genealogical reference tools including:

  • handbooks on how to do genealogical research;
  • directories of genealogical societies;
  • bibliographies of family and local histories;
  • biographical dictionaries; and
  • historical atlases.

For more information on reference sources for researching Canadian ancestors, please consult our bibliography, Reference Sources for Canadian Genealogy.

The collection also includes:

  • family and local histories;
  • genealogical dictionaries;
  • transcriptions and indexes of parish registers;
  • cemetery records;
  • newspapers;
  • directories;
  • journals of genealogical and historical societies; and
  • government publications and much more.

It also includes a selection of material of interest to genealogists researching ancestors in other countries.

Genealogical material can be consulted at Library and Archives Canada. If you are unable to visit in person, many publications can be borrowed on inter-institutional loan (both within and outside of Canada).

You can search for published sources in our catalogue, AMICUS, using authors, titles or subject terms such as:

  • New Brunswick census 1851;
  • Ontario genealogy bibliography;
  • Germany genealogy handbooks;
  • registers of births United States bibliography; and
  • Wales history bibliography.

Many provincial and local genealogical societies publish a monthly periodical or magazine. Some genealogical societies also have progress reports on the research being done by their members. Most include a wealth of information on genealogical records and research, families of the area, new publications, upcoming conferences and meetings, queries from members, etc. The newsletters, journals and other publications of these societies often provide up-to-date information about research methods and the documents available in their region.

Library and Archives Canada is fortunate to have copies of many of these periodicals in its collection. They can be consulted on the premises or borrowed on inter-institutional loan. If you have a specific article that you need, you will generally receive a photocopy of the article instead of a loan of the entire issue.

Search for the periodicals of a particular society in our catalogue, AMICUS, by using the title of the periodical, or the name of the society, for example:

  • Timberline; or
  • Upper Ottawa Valley Genealogical Group.

The Periodical Source Index (PERSI) (Fort Wayne, Indiana: Allen County Public Library Foundation, 1987- ) is an excellent index which can help you to find articles on many topics in numerous genealogical periodicals, including over 100 Canadian titles. Library and Archives Canada holds copies of PERSI in both book and CD-ROM formats in its Reference Collection.

Once you have completed your research in published sources, you will want to go further by consulting archival records or other types of sources. The major records you will consult consists of birth, marriage and death records, census and land records. These records can be found in Library and Archives Canada and in provincial and private archives. Consult our section Sources by Topic for more information.

Most archives in Canada provide guides to help you in using their collections. These guides are especially helpful in familiarizing you with the sources available in each repository. The Canadian Council of Archives [www.cdncouncilarchives.ca/] provides information about archives in Canada.


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