Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery
But before you call or visit, it’s a good practice to research your topic as well as you can.
Books and other secondary sources in libraries can give
important background on an event or time period, helping
you to identify the key players, delineating dates and geography,
and pointing to important primary sources.
The records at the Archives will be far more useful to you if you have an understanding of their context. Your knowledge of the subject matter will also help you think of additional ways to search for information you need. A lot of archival research involves thinking of creative ways to track down information in all kinds of different records.
If you are looking for records of births and deaths, you will want to consult the vital statistics records that document those events. But for other questions you may be looking for letters written by people in that time, or pictures or film of a place, or maps to show where places used to be, or court records for a case. The reference staff direct you to certain collections.
Are you looking for a particular ancestor who settled in the Niagara Peninsula, or are you interested in early settlement programs for that area? Are you looking to get a sense of how things were in a certain place at a certain time; or are you writing the history of a town, where you would need to be more thorough?
You may be given gloves to wear when handling fragile materials. You’ll also be asked to leave your ink pens at the door and use only pencils for note taking. Naturally no food or drink is allowed. The more carefully you handle the items, the longer they will be available for future researchers.
Every staff member of the Archives of Ontario works very hard to offer you an excellent level of customer service. For further information about services offered by the Archives of Ontario, consult the Customer Services Charter displayed in each one of our Reading Rooms and in our Reception area. This document describes our commitment to helping you access and understand our collections and services. It also explains some of the things we cannot do for you and outlines what you can do to help us help you.
For more information you may wish to visit our Services to the Public page.