top of page

The Genealogist's Corner - May 2019

The Genealogists Corner

By: A. A. Walchuk

May 2019

Archive Etiquette

For the purpose of this discussion, I will confine myself to the usual rules of “Research Libraries” or “Archives”.

  • First and foremost when entering any library or archive, remember they dictate the rules of behavior and have the right to remove you if you do not comply.

  • Typically, anything you bring into an ‘archive’ is to be locked in a locker which they provide (no coats, bags, food or drinks).

  • NO GUM

  • Work quietly (even if you find the document you were looking for)


  • A front desk person will instruct you on the rules; often the only items allowed are computers, pencil or paper

  • Sometimes, a front desk person will take information from you and may ask for photo ID such as a driver’s licence and hold it. You will check in when you enter and when you leave the room your photo ID is returned

  • Know the copyright laws of where you are working. They have the right to question you on the amount you are photocopying or photographing.

  • Remember that copyright laws mean you cannot publish (reprint) pictures or articles copied from books, not can you use official documents such as Census Returns, Birth Registrations, Death Registrations or other images retrieved from an official source. When in doubt, be sure to ASK.

  • Understand that not all resource materials are necessarily housed on site (climate controlled rooms are need for their fragile material) It could take a day or up to a week to retrieve material so send a query in advance whenever possible.

  • You may need to fill in a slip for the item that you require. You give the slip to a clerk who will intake and relay the information to have the material retrieved. Then the material will be viewed in a ‘reading’ room where they have a person watching what you are dong with their material. Relax - this process takes time –others are trying to do the same

  • Microfilms, books or maps are not to be re-shelved - they will have an area where you place the item so staff can ensure it is put back in the proper place.

  • The cost of books and maintaining archival material is expensive. Our collection of District and County marriage books cost $1,200.00 and are not easy to replace and several are out of print.

  • Call ahead and make arrangements –sometimes it may take a month or so just to track down what you need

  • Make sure the repository is actually open and not closed for renovations or some other reason.

  • Has the collection moved from one library to another?

  • Know what you are looking for - librarians are not genealogists - nor historians.

  • Remember to say Thanks to the people who are trying to help you achieve your goal.

44 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page