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Home > The Public > ArchiviaNet > Private Archives and Colonial Records
ArchiviaNet: On-line Research Tool
Private Archives and Colonial Records - Online Help

Search Screen

The search screen includes four fields where the researcher can indicate the terms sought: keywords, call number, date, PIAF record number.

The check box under the heading To Limit the Search will produce only digitized images that are available online.

A search by Keyword can be used to locate any term or a series of terms separated by the appropriate logical connectors (see Search syntax for more information). Since the system searches all texts, once a search is launched it is conducted in all fields of the database.

For example:

Type Laurier and you will get a list of all descriptions including this name, whether as the author or recipient of a document or simply mentioned in the description.

For example:

Type Laurier Macdonald and you will get a list of all descriptions including these two names.

A search by Call number is used to locate all descriptions from a specific collection:

For example:

Type MG18-M and you will get a list of descriptions from this collection (in this case, the Northcliffe collection).

A search by Date is used to locate descriptions whose date matches the date you indicated: year only; month, year; day, month, year (in order or not).

For example:

If you type in 1715, you will get a list of all descriptions relating to that year.

If you type in March 1715, you will get a list of descriptions relating to that month.

If you type in 1715 March 03, you will get a list of descriptions bearing this specific date, if there are any.

The Number of references per page option can be used to change the number of references appearing on the results page. The default number is twenty.

Search Tips

In the appropriate search field, indicate the terms or expressions that best describe the document you are looking for. This might be a person's name, a place name, a subject or any relevant combination. If necessary, perform new searches using synonyms.

Unless you are looking for a specific description, conduct your initial search using a limited number of terms. You can use wildcard characters to avoid potential typographical errors or spelling variants: a question mark (?) is used to replace a single character; the dollar sign ($) is used to replace a series of characters.

For example:

If you type Den?s, you will get Denys and Denis

If you type colon$, you will get colon, colons, colonie, colonies, colonial, colony, coloniaux, colonel, colonels, colonisation, colonisateur, etc.

If the search produces too many references, you can narrow the search using quotation marks or the appropriate Logical connectors. See the Search syntax link for more information.

For example:

If you type Montréal OR Ville-Marie, you will get a list of all descriptions in which this city is mentioned, by either name.

If you type Den?s de la Ronde, you will get a list of descriptions combining these words, regardless of their relationship to each other.

If you type Den?s ADJ de ADJ la ADJ Ronde you will get all occurrences where these words are adjacent in the descriptions, in the order indicated.

To get information about a person, institution or place, try various forms of the name to ensure that you find all relevant information. For example, a person might have been known by different names, as is the case with family names and titles of nobility.

For example: Guy Carleton. Lord Dorchester

Due to technical considerations, some commonly used words and characters are generally not included in the search. These are the period (.) and some adverbs, adjectives, prepositions or conjunctions in English, such as the, by, it, at, near, or, with, not, etc. A search for these words can however be conducted by putting them in quotation marks. We advise users to stick to expressions not including such terms.

A search for initials or abbreviations is subject to special conditions. Initials must appear in quotation marks, without any punctuation.

For example:

If you type "L.P.", you will not get any results.

But if you type in "L P", you will get all occurrences of L.P., L.-P., L. P.

If possible, search equivalent terms in French and English. In most cases, the descriptions are written in the language of the document. Documents written in other languages are described either in English or in French.

Your search will locate characters with accents even if your keyboard cannot produce them.

For example:

If you type Québec or Quebec, you will get the same results.

Since the Database describes historical documents, attention must be paid to changes in the meaning of some words, changes in place names and the many variants of Aboriginal names, and to the translations used by those who created the documents.

For example:

Bytown = Ottawa
New York = Nouvelle York
Oswego = Chouaguen
Indian = Savage = Amerindian = Autochtone
Sulpiciens = Messieurs de Saint-Sulpice

How to Interpret the Results

The list of results, regardless of the options selected, will include information that will allow you to quickly assess the relevance of the descriptions found: the collection call number, the date of the document or the first lines of the description identifying the documentís author, the addressee and the place of writing. Based on the parameters you selected on the search screen, each page of the list will provide from 1 to 200 references linked directly to the descriptions.

The list of results and detailed descriptions include, at the top and bottom of each page, a few navigation buttons:

Return to database introductory page Return to database introductory page

Return to search screen Return to search screen

Return to previous results page (inactive on the first page) Return to previous results page (inactive on the first page)

Return to list of results Return to list of results

Go to next results page (inactive on the last page) Go to next results page (inactive on the last page)

Return to first entry on current page Return to first entry on current page

Return to previous entry (inactive at first entry on page) Return to previous entry (inactive at first entry on page)

Active document (inactive) Active document (inactive)

Go to next entry (inactive at last entry on page) Go to next entry (inactive at last entry on page)

Go to last entry on current page Go to last entry on current page

Go to end of current entry Go to end of current entry

Button not used Button not used

Contextual help Contextual help


The descriptions themselves include some of the headings listed below.

Collection title: Title of the collection containing the file or document described.

Call number: Alphanumeric code used to identify and locate documents.

Physical description: Medium (original document, transcription), numbers and titles of series, file, item and microfilm, as applicable.

Date: Date on which document(s) was/were created.

It can be difficult to read the date on some documents, specifically either the day or the month. If the day is illegible, 00 is used instead, and if the month cannot be read, the presumed month is shown in brackets.

In general, the date shown is the one appearing on the original document. Julian or Gregorian calendar is not indicated. In some cases, [a.s.] (ancien style) or [n.s.] (nouveau style) appears after the date to indicate Julian or Gregorian calendar.

The Gregorian calendar was adopted by France, the Italian States, Portugal and Spain in 1582; the Catholic States of Germany adopted it in 1583; the United Kingdom in 1752; Sweden in 1753; Prussia in 1774; and the Russian Republic in 1918.

Location: The location where the document had been written.
Author: The person who wrote the document.
Addressee: The person to whom the document is addressed.
Language of document: The language in which the document had been written.
Content: The title and a resume of the content of the document.
Note: When it is necessary.
Source: The name of the Library and Archives Canada database from which the record is drawn.
ISN: The record number in the original database.

How to Consult a Document or Order Reproductions

The database includes descriptions of files and items and clearly identifies their reference number. With a complete reference number  --  title of collection, call number, series title, container number, file number, microfilm reel number, if applicable  --  the researcher will be able to consult all documents not subject to restricted access either by using the relevant microfilm or by ordering a photocopy.

Microfilms can be consulted on our premises. Researchers residing outside the National Capital Region can have access to microfilm copies of numerous documents in our collections through inter-library loans (offered to archival services and libraries). Requests for loans must be submitted by the borrowing institution and must clearly indicate the references found and the microfilm reel numbers requested.

For holdings not subject to restricted access, photocopies of documents can be obtained. Follow the links to Obtaining copies and Consulting the archives for further information on our reproduction and consultation services.