Inside The Library: Anyone can research at the County Archives

The idea of an archive being a dark and foreboding place is a thing of the past. Contrary to common misconception you do not need to be an academic or an experienced researcher to use the Prince Edward County Archives. In fact, it is the exact opposite. At the County of Prince Edward Archives we pride ourselves on providing assistance however necessary to make your research a fun and informative process.

We understand that looking for the unknown can be an overwhelming experience and we will take you through the different steps and help you to decipher records. Often, researching a specific topic or lengthy period of history can seem a little daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. There are a few things that you, the researcher, can do to make things easier for both of us!

When researching always come prepared. If you are researching genealogy bring a list of names and dates that you already know. I would suggest no more than eight as it is so easy to get overwhelmed and confused. Yes….I did say a list! Databases are fine to use when tracking your information after the fact, but it is easy to lose your place, get overwhelmed, or have an unexpected technical malfunction. Simple and straight forward is always best. A list will be easy to access and readily available for review. Together we will put the names into the database and see what comes up. You can also do some research at home by accessing our online database. But you should also know that archivists are trained professionals who deal with the collations on a daily basis and can see connections that a database cannot. Lastly, come with an open mind. The human memory is not always infallible and we sometimes discover surprising tidbits.

When researching a home or property bring your lot and concession number. An address is not always fool proof. Maps can be misleading so having a ‘good idea’ of where the property is does not always work. A lot and concession is the easiest and most accurate way of obtaining the correct property location. This can be found on a land survey, property tax bill or deed. Together we will look through land abstracts and local history material to see what we can ascertain about the property.

If you are a resident of Prince Edward County and have a library card, access to our services is free for up to three hours. After that, a donation is always appreciated. If not you are not able to come to the Archives we also provide a long distance research request service for a nominal hourly fee. We pride ourselves in making history available for everyone.

The Archives are open five days a week including Saturdays. As your Archivist, I make every attempt to answer e-mail and phone requests as promptly as possible. I will still always try to help. If I cannot help you I will always try to point you in the direction of someone who can.

It is recommend that researchers make an appointment. Making an appointment guarantees you of at least 15 minutes of in house consultation where you and I will sit down together and gather information. The next step is completing the research; you will sit in the reading room where you can decide if you require copies of the records I have retrieved. The amount of time required depends on your research project. Typically, house or property research can take up to 1.5 hours and local history or genealogy can take anywhere from 1.5-5 hours. When you are on site researching you will pay for only your photocopies 20 cents a page, reproductions $3 plus, or scans 50 cents each (when applicable).

All of the fees charges are used to support the work of the Archives.

On Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 2 p.m. we are planning a Genealogy Meet-up for beginning and experienced genealogists to get together to share tricks and tips. We would like to make this a monthly meeting. Please join us at the Wellington branch.

– Krista Richardson