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To get the most out of your archives experience there are a couple of things you can do before your visit to the City of Edmonton Archives.

Please note: the Archives has a Scent-Free policy for staff and visitors.

Search Our Online Catalogue

Our online catalogue features digitized images and finding aids for our civic and private fonds and collections. It’s a good idea to search our catalogue ahead of your visit. When you find something you’d like to have a closer look at you can contact us and we’ll put the material on hold for you.

We’ve prepared a guide to searching our catalogue. Unfortunately, although we’re adding content to our online catalogue as quickly as we can, it still is only a fraction of our holdings.

Contact Us

Even though we encourage you to search our online catalogue, we still recommend talking to an archivist too. Not only because we’re still working on making our full catalogue available but also because key words and subjects change.

Did you know that until relatively recently an Edmonton councillor was called an alderman? Try searching our online catalogue for councillor and then for alderman and see the difference. We can’t retroactively change the catalogue every time a term changes but it’s our job to know this sort of thing and our familiarity with our material is often more powerful than a search engine.

When you contact us with your research questions we do a preliminary search for you and when we have material of interest we can retrieve it and have it on hold ready for your visit. Another good reason to contact us prior to your visit: there are times of limited service where we don’t do retrievals.

In addition, we might not have the records you are looking for and then we can let you know who does. For example, we don’t have homestead records as they are at the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

We may also be able to answer simple research questions for you directly. This is also a possibility for researchers who are unable to come to the Archives. Although for complex questions, requiring more than a half hour of searching, a research fee may apply.

What to Expect When You Get Here

Archives are a little different than other cultural institutions like museums and libraries. On the one hand, you are able to use original records directly (unlike a museum). On the other, our stacks are closed (unlike a library) which means you can’t browse the shelves or take anything out on loan.

There are also rules to using the records and some of them may seem strict. But everything we do is based on commonsense and is grounded on care for the records. Basically, the care of the records trump everything because they are unique and irreplaceable (some are even valuable), and we don’t get second chances with them.

Sign In

Bags and all items are checked at the frontWhen you arrive at the Archives the first thing we do is ask you sign in, fill out a
research request form and then put your coat, bag, pens, water bottles and so on into a secure locker. This applies to everyone and there are no exceptions, not even the mayor.

We have two reasons to limit what goes into the reference room.

First, no one means to spill an entire cup of coffee all over their desk but I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t. Archivists at the City of Edmonton Archives don’t even have food or drink in their offices. There are areas in the Prince of Wales Armouries for researchers to take breaks and food and drink is allowed there.

Second, there are just enough dishonest people in the world to spoil some things for the rest of us and we need to make sure documents aren’t being stolen in bags or folders. So, instead of hovering over researchers, or searching their bags when they leave, we have a blanket ban on personal items in the reference room.

Reference Interview

Next, after depositing everything except pencils and paper in a locker, you take your research form to the reference archivist who will sit down with you for a reference interview. Which sounds worse than it is. Basically, we just want to find out what you’re interested in so we can help you figure out where you need to look for answers. Different types of records help answer different types of questions (family history versus history of neighbourhoods and zoning for example). If you’ve already contacted us, most of this step has already been done.

Once we know what you’re looking for we’ll set you up with finding aids to our fonds and collections. From these you can select the material you would like to have a look at and we’ll retrieve them for you.

Finally, you get to the records! Archival research is definitely a process but don’t worry, we’re here to help you and it will get easier every time.

Amenities & Self Service

There is no admission charge to the Prince of Wales Armouries and the City of Edmonton Archives provides researchers with parking, a lunch area with a vending machine, and wireless internet. There is also a small exhibit area.

There are several self-serve research options available in our reference room including:

  • Finding aids
  • Access to our online catalogue
  • Card catalogues – for our photographs, library & some archives collections
  • Aerial photographs of the City of Edmonton (1924-1997)
  • Fire insurance maps
  • Copies of historic maps of Edmonton and area (originals are available on request)
  • Henderson’s Directories
  • Newspapers on microfilm
  • Phone books and yellow pages

Hours

Mon - Tue 8:30am-4:30pm
Wed 8:30am-8pm
Thu - Fri 8:30am-4:30pm
Weekends & Holidays Closed
Note: There are certain periods of limited service.

For More Information

City of Edmonton Archives

10440 108 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
T5H 3Z9

Telephone

780-496-8711

Email cms.archives@edmonton.ca
Website http://archivesphotos.edmonton.ca

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