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Article posted: August 12, 1999

Archives of Ontario
Interlibrary Loan Program

By: Ryan Taylor, Biography and Archived Articles

Have you looked at the Archives of Ontario website lately? Every time I see it, I seem to find something new. It's at

The Archives has a 'getting to know us' section, which includes some interesting statistics. For example, last year they circulated a little under 8000 interlibrary loans of microfilm.

Do I hear you say, "That's a lot"? I don't think so. The AO's interlibrary loan program is several years old, and offers materials which are of particular interest to genealogists. Yet, they only circulate less than 8000 reels a year. That indicates to me that people are unaware of the program.

A great many genealogists do not understand the interlibrary loan system, where books and microfilm can be borrowed from far away to your local library. If you don't use it, you are missing out on genealogical information.

The AO's materials available for loan are fully listed in their Interlibrary Loan Catalogue, which they state is available in "most public and academic libraries in Ontario," as well as many other libraries and archives throughout Canada and the United States. If your library doesn't have one, it can get one simply by writing to AO (the details are on the website).

These materials include church records, the vital records from the Registrar General's office, wills and estate records, court of general sessions materials, land and tax records.

If you go to the website, there are detailed discussions of the materials which are available on interloan, and instructions about how to go about seeing them. In addition, there are interesting sidelights on other record groups which are not available on film for loan, but are still at the AO.

For example, their largest collection are the court records of Ontario, 45,000 linear feet of documents which doubtless contain something about all our families at one time or another. Even better, many of these government document groups have finding aids (some of them fairly new) in the reading room at AO which help us discover what we might find interesting. The fact is, we simply might never know what we'll find, unless we look.

In my work I often recommend materials at the Archives of Ontario for the solution of some genealogical problem, particularly pre-1850 assessment records. All too often, the person I am talking to says, "I don't know when I'll get to Toronto, though." Genealogical trips are one thing, but interlibrary loans are simple, inexpensive and handy. They are especially good for winter research, when we might want to stick closer to home.

So please do look at the AO website, consider interloaning some of their materials, or some other book or film which you find elsewhere. Talk to your local librarian about the services at your library which will help you find faraway resources you can bring in. Librarians love to help you use their services.

Ryan's Heritage Notebook...

Christina K. Schaefer. A genealogist's no-frills guide to the British Isles: information on the internet! Genealogical Publishing, c1999. 117pp. Index. This little book is similar to others which list websites, except that it specialises in Britain, including Ireland. Perhaps the best thing is the 'County Archives Research Network' chapter. Be warned: if you get it, your family won't see you for days while you surf the net!

Michael Whitfield Foster. A comedy of errors, or the marriage records of England and Wales, 1837-1899. Published in Wellington New Zealand by the author, but available through Global Genealogy & History Shoppe. This is NOT a listing of names, but it tells how the civil registration in England got started and how it worked through the 19th century. It also points out anomalies which might be affecting your research, and how to solve some of those problems. Reading this is probably for more advanced researchers, but I suspect they will enjoy it as much as I did.

Books By Ryan Taylor

Across The Waters, Ontario Immigrants Experiences 1820 - 1850 - by Frances Hoffman & Ryan Taylor, 1999. Riveting first-hand accounts of the immigration and settlement experience, taken from the diaries and letters of 150 immigrants.

Routes To Roots, The Best of Ryan Taylor's columns from the Kitchener Waterloo Record, by Ryan Taylor 1997

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