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Red and Black Series
Online Help

List itemThe Database
List itemThe Search Screen
List itemThe Search Results Screens

The Database

The records of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs' Red and Black Series are an incredible historical resource. They contain information pertaining to all aspects of human history, culture and language, exploration and land settlement, and resource development. They also provide documentation of the vast changes that took place in the Canadian federal government between 1872 and 1923.

More Information about the Red and Black Series

The original central registry system for Indian Affairs headquarters records was established in 1872. At that time, a straight numeric file list (Red Series), typical of 19th-century registry systems, was set up. In 1882 a separate series (Black Series) was set up for Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, British Columbia and the Maritime provinces. In 1907, records relating to the Maritime provinces were transferred to the Red Series. This registry system was largely abandoned in 1923 but occasional new files were opened in it until 1947. For further information about the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development fonds, visit the "Archives Search" page.

Most files in RG 10 are arranged by band, agency or district. This hierarchy of information, together with the time period of interest, is critical to locating relevant files. Knowing the band of an ancestor is the single most important piece of information the genealogical researcher can have. Knowledge of whether a band signed a treaty, and when, might also help narrow the search. Visit the "Keyword Search" page for tips and for more information on searching by keywords in the Government Records collections.

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The Search Screen

The Search Screen is a multi-fielded search screen that offers a larger number of variables with which you can search the database, any of which can be used in combination. When using the fields in combination, you should note that the default search operator is "AND." Consult the Search Syntax page for more information.


  • Keywords: Enables you to search all fields alone or in combination.
  • File Number: Enables you to find a specific file or, if wild card characters are used, several files belonging to a series.
  • Volume: Enables you to locate an item based on the volume/box number cited in publications or elsewhere.
  • Outside Dates: To access records with a range of dates, for example 1884-1890, it is necessary to include either the beginning year (1884) or end year (1890) that appears in the file description (they cannot be accessed by indicating any years that fall between the Outside dates).
  • Microfilm Reel Number: Enables you to retrieve all the records on the same microfilm reel (numbers were assigned by Library and Archives Canada).
  • Descriptions with Digitized Images: Enables you to retrieve only the records with digitized images.

Enter one or more search terms.
Use the wildcard character $ if you are not sure of the spelling.
(e.g. Br$nt for Brant and Brantford)

When you have entered your search terms, click on "Submit". The number of hits found will be shown at the top of the results screen.

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The Search Results Screens

Your search results will be posted as a summary list. The results list contains the following fields:

  • Reference
  • File Title
  • Keywords
  • Outside Dates
  • Finding Aid number
  • Associated images:
    Click on the drop-down menu to access the images associated with the record.