Finding Archival Material

There are several ways of finding archival material at Western Archives. There is some duplication between tools but not all material is listed in any one place. It is recommended that you try more than one tool to find information.

Consult the Archival Finding Aid How-tos research guide to learn more about navigating finding aids and to place a retrieval request.

Content notice: This website and the archival records it describes reflect the language and attitudes of the historical period in which they were created. This can include content, images, or language that is racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, discriminatory, or offensive. We encourage feedback so that we can learn and adjust our practices. To provide feedback, email or fill out our Harmful, Outdated, or Inaccurate Language form.

If you encounter problematic content, images, or language in our findings aids, archival database, library catalogue records, online exhibitions, web archives, research guides, or digital collections, please email us at

Archives Holdings Database

The Archives holdings database provides descriptions of fonds/collections, and their component parts that have been arranged and described in detail since 2010. Unlike the Shared Libraries Catalogue, it includes only archival material. The database also contains separate, but linked, histories of the organizations and individuals that created or accumulated the records. Not all material in the database can be found in the "Browse Archives Finding Aids" section of the webpage. For example, the database provides access to detailed item level descriptions (and some digitized images) of the Archives’ large photograph collections, which do not have finding aids. It is generally recommended to use the Archives holdings database for discovering content from multiple fonds/collections.

Search the Archives Holdings Database

Archives Finding Aids

Finding aids describe the content and context of archival fonds and collections held by Western Archives that have been arranged and described to current standards. Most are complete descriptive inventories, which provide details about the history or biography of a creator, and also about the elements that make up the whole fonds (series, files, and/or items). Some archival finding aids are found only on this page but others are also available through the Archives holdings database.

*Preliminary finding aids and listings have been included to provide greater access to our holdings. They are not prepared to current standards and may have errors or be incomplete.

Browse the Archives Finding Aids

Library Catalogue

The library catalogue includes archival material received before 2000. The descriptions vary in detail and are usually short.

Search the Catalogue

Virtual Exhibits

Virtual Exhibits contains links to online exhibits with materials from the holdings. The exhibits are frequently created alongside physical exhibits presented in The John A. Schweitzer Gallery, located at the entrance to the public reading room.

Browse the Virtual Exhibits

ARCHEION and Archives Canada

Fonds level descriptions of material held by Western Archives are also available at ARCHEION: Ontario’s Archival Information Network and Archives Canada.

Access to university and government records is subject to the Ontario Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Private records may be subject to restrictions imposed by the donor or, where necessary, to address specific issues such as preservation concerns, by Western Archives. Further information about potential access restrictions will be noted in each finding aid or discription.