Skip to main content

Genealogy and Family History

Explore your roots at VPL and beyond: resources and services for genealogists

2019 - January - June



Tasmania, Australia has made it optional to list gender on birth certificates.

Posted May 18, 2019

Genealogy: Trace Your Ancestors with FamilySearch

Posted February 26, 2019

Learn about FamilySearch, an exciting online resource for genealogy research available on the Internet.

Thursday, March 14, 2019 (6:30 pm – 8:00 pm)
Central Branch

Genealogy: Trace Your Ancestors with Ancestry Library Edition

Posted February 26, 2019

Learn about the exciting online resources available through the library's Ancestry Library Edition database.

Thursday, March 7, 2019 (6:30 pm – 8:00 pm)
Central Branch

Good news for future researchers of EU residents

Posted February 9, 2019

The U.K. is registering all European Union citizens residing in the U.K. who “hold a valid passport and any non-EU citizen family members who hold a valid biometric residence card” to give them legal status after the U.K. leaves the European Union, the Guardian reported. An estimated 3.5 million EU citizens will need to be registered. Source: International Council of Archives Human Rights Working Group Newsletter, January 2019 Issue no.110

Have you heard of Archivists without Borders?

Posted February 9, 2019

The Arxivers sense Fronteres (English: Archivists without Borders) (est. 1998) is an organization of archivists headquartered in Spain. It facilitates volunteer efforts to preserve documentary heritage, especially in developing countries  There are chapters and related organizations in the USA and France.



Explore Your Roots: Researching Indigenous Genealogy at LAC

Posted November 7, 2018

Learn about resources related to indigenous genealogy held in Library and Archives Canada's (LAC) vast collection! This workshop will provide you with a greater understanding of LAC's holdings, how to use the LAC website and genealogy resources, as well as tips and tricks to help you delve into your indigenous genealogy. Beginners welcome.

This event is developed under a collective arrangement between the Vancouver Public Library and Library and Archives Canada.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018 (2:00 pm – 4:30 pm)
Mount Pleasant Branch

In the Trenches: Digitized First World War Records - A Library and Archives Canada Introductory Workshop

Posted October 21, 2018

This introductory genealogy workshop teaches participants how to access Canadian Expeditionary Force service files, identify an individual's military unit and consult various digitized resources such as war diaries to learn about the context of an individual's service.

In partnership with Library and Archives Canada

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 (2:00 pm – 3:30 pm)
Central Library

Quebec opens adoption files 1920-1970

Posted August 1, 2018

The government of Quebec opened 300,000 adoption files for children adopted between the years 1920 and 1970.

Records problems for families separated at U.S. Border

Posted August 1, 2018

United States immigration officials who separated children from their families in 2018 did not keep sufficient records of who came across the border with whom, nor did they keep adequate records of where each child was subsequently housed. Some border officials took photos of the children with the parents to create a record, but now both children and parents are having DNA tests done to see if they are related.  This will likely impact future genealogical research on the afffected families.

Syrian lawyers work to save current civil and land papers for citizens

Posted August 1, 2018

A group called "Free Syrian Lawyers"  “working to preserve property deeds and other civil paperwork in Syria’s opposition areas.  They have copied about 1.7 million “court records, wills, birth, marriage and death certificates” and 450,000 “land-related documents from northern and central Syria—title deeds, contracts, and other papers that displaced Syrians could use to prove property ownership.”

Open source genealogy database gives access to law enforcement agencies

Posted August 1, 2018

Open source genealogy database GEDMatch – with a million voluntarily contributed genetic profiles—has changed its terms of service to explicitly open its data to law enforcement agencies.

Residential school research centre still waiting on some church records

Posted August 1, 2018

Some “Catholic orders have still not turned over promised records to the research centre created as a repository for the documented history of residential schools.”



Genealogy Program at VPL: Trace Your Ancestors with FamilySearch

Posted June 26, 2018

Learn about this exciting online resource for family research available on the Internet at this genealogy workshop.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Central Branch

British Columbia Civil Registration Records Released

Posted June 19, 2018

Death records for 1997 and marriage records for 1942 are now available from the British Columbia Archives.

General Data Protection Regulation for EU individuals impacts DNA related geneology services

Posted June 18, 2018

World Families Network, Ysearch and Mitosearch, three businesses that supported “genetic genealogy” (DNA searches for relatives)  are closing due to the cost of [European Union] GDPR compliance.

Data breach from MyHeritage genealogy site.

Posted June 6, 2018

Records for 92 million users of MyHeritage have been stolen from the service.  Information stolen includes email addresses and hashed password.

Descendants of Gulag victims can now discover the fate of their family members

Posted May 9, 2018

The Gulag History State Museum opened an archival center in Moscow to “help descendants discover the fate of their family members” who were sent to the forced labor camps. The center “houses a library, an interactive map of the Gulag camps accessible on computer screens and a growing archive of interviews with victims and descendants, and potentially even former prison guards,” The Art Newspaper reported. The information in the center “draws from Memorial’s database,” and the center “will work with government archives to add information.” The latter will be difficult because many of the relevant “records are held by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Federal Security Service, successor agencies of Stalin’s secret police, which perpetrated the repressions.” A further complication is that since 2014 Memorial has been under the government’s “foreign agent” restrictions.

Trace Your Ancestors with Ancestry Library Edition

Posted April 23, 2018

Tuesday, June 19 (6:30 pm – 8:00 pm)
Central Branch

Learn about the exciting online resources available through the library's ancestry database.

Imperial War Museum Launches War Memorials Register

Posted March 28, 2018

The Imperial War Museum has created a database of war memorials in the United Kingdom. It includes memorials to members of the armed forces, civilians and animals from all wars.  You can search  records of over 74,000 memorials.  The database can be searched by name.  It currently includes over one million names and continues to expand.

Restricted FamilySearch Images Now Available At VPL's Central Library

Posted March 13, 2018

Sometimes when you are looking at records at you'll see an image labeled, , .

This used to  mean that you needed  to visit a Family History Centre to view the image.  Now you can come down to the Central Library at 350 West Georgia and use any of our public computers to view the image.  You will be able to save the image on a USB stick or email it to yourself.

Records available include church records from Great Britain, probate records from Ontario, the full text of family history books and much more. To date, over 1.5 million microfilms (approximately 1.5 billion images) have been digitized by FamilySearch, including all microfilms which were borrowed in the last five years.

Please note that some digital images may still have privacy, copyright, contractual, or other restrictions which limit access even at the Central Library

Researching Your Irish Family History

Posted February 27, 2018

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day 2018 by exploring your Irish roots. This workshop will introduce key records and how to find them using Vancouver Public Library resources and the Internet.

Saturday, March 17, 2018 (10:30 am – 12:00 pm)
Dunbar Branch Library

Everyone who ever sailed on the SS Great Britain

Posted February 13, 2018

The SS Great Britain was a passenger steamship that sailed from 1845 to 1886 mostly between England and Australia.  The database includes information on all of the crew and passengers as well as background on what it was like to sail aboard.

New York Slavery Records Index

Posted February 9, 2018

This database from the City University of New York contains records of slaves and slave owners in New York State from 1525 to the American Civil War.  It can be searched by name, locality, birth year and more.


Learn about Indigenous Genealogy with Library and Archives Canada

Posted December 19, 2017

Learn about resources, related to indigenous genealogy, held in Library and Archives Canada's (LAC) vast collection! This workshop will provide you with a greater understanding of LAC's holdings, how to use LAC's website and genealogy resources, as well as tips and tricks to help you delve into your indigenous genealogy. Beginners welcome.

 Wednesday, February 28, 2018 (2:30 pm – 4:00 pm)
Central Branch

Register at:

Nearly 12,000 Genealogy Facebook Pages

Posted November 10, 2017

Facebook is an excellent to network with other family historians and get information and advice for your project.  Genealogist Katherine R. Wilson has compiled a list of 11,700+ Genealogy/History Links on Facebook.  The list spans the globe and is organized by location.

Colonial North American Project at Harvard University

Posted November 8, 2017

Harvard University has begun the process of digitizing images of the archival and manuscript materials in the Harvard Library that relate to 17th and 18th century North America. The online project so far includes 150,000 images of diaries, journals, notebooks and other rare documents.

New Jersey Marriage Index, 1901-2016

Posted October 12, 2017

Reclaim the Records has posted images of a paper index covering 115 years of New Jersey marriages on the Internet Archive.  An index by bride's name and groom's name are available for most years.

Irish Historical Photographs

Posted September 29, 2017

The National Folklore Collection at University College Dublin has added 10,000 historic photos from across Ireland to its digitized collection of 250,000 folk stories.  Stories and photos can be searched by place, person or topic.  A great source for adding local colour to Irish family histories.

Great Resource for Australian Genealogy

Posted September 23, 2017

The Digital Panopticon: Tracing London Convicts in Britain & Australia, 1780-1925 provides access to millions of records for more than 90,000 people sentenced to transportation from the Old Bailey in London.  Links court records in Britain to settlement records in Australia.

1921 Canadian Census

Posted September 18, 2017

The 1921 Canadian Census is now available on the Library and Archives Canada website.  Previously access had only been through

New Zealand Online Cenotaph

Posted September 13, 2017

The Auckland War Memorial  Museum has posted a searchable database of  records for over 100,000 New Zealand soldiers serving in World War II.  Families and researchers are able to contribute additional information about each soldier to the database.



FamilySearch to Discontinue Microfilm Loans

Posted June 26, 2017

FamilySearch’s progress in digitizing microfilm and the decreased use of microfilm technology  has led to this decision.  The last day for ordering microfilm will be August 31, 2017.

Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos

Posted June 12, 2017

The Holocaust Museum in Washington has released the first 2 of 7 online volumes with detailed information of Nazi-established persecution sites throughout Europe.  Volume 2 lists all of the ghettos in Eastern Europe and describes geography, conditions, history, population and the fates of  people forced to live in the ghettos.

Irish Burial Records

Posted May 25, 2017

Over 60, 000 burial records from the north part of County Dublin have been posted online into a free database.  Maps, plans, history and photographs are also available  Records cover the period between 1905 and 2005

Large Collection of Early Victorian Photographs

Posted February 15, 2017

The Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford have created a website with the complete works of William Henry Fox Talbot, one of the early inventors in photography.  The site will  contain more than 25,000 images from England, produced between 1834 and 1846.


Freedman's Bureau Records Online

Posted December 29, 2016

The Freedman's Bureau was  a U.S. government agency established in 1865 to aid freed slaves in the South after the Civil War. Extensive records were kept of people helped. Sometimes this was the first time the names of those individuals were recorded. 

You can volunteer to help index the records:

To view the records:

Irish regiments in the British Army

Posted November 29, 2016

The National Army Museum in London has uploaded the records of soldiers serving in the Irish regiments from 1920-1922. Enlistment books for the Connaught Rangers, the Leinster Regiment, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, the Royal Irish Regiment and the Royal Munster Fusiliers can be searched on the Museum's web site.  The nearly 12,000 records include age, birthplace, spouse, children, campaigns and medals and more

21st Annual Finding Your Roots Tri-stake Seminar Oct. 15

Posted September 24, 2016

This free all-day conference at the Surrey Family History Centre (6270-126 Street) includes 35 classes and tables from many local organizations including Vancouver Public Library.

Fall Classes At Vancouver Public Library

Posted August 12, 2016

We're holding 3 classes this fall in the Level 7 Computer Lab at the Central Library:

Trace Your Ancestors with Ancestry Library Edition

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 (2:00 pm – 4:00 pm)

Trace Your Ancestors with FamilySearch

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 (2:00 pm – 3:00 pm)

Trace Your Ancestors with Library and Archives Canada

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 (2:00 pm – 3:00 pm)

Did Your Ancestor Know Captain Ahab?

Posted July 28, 2016

The New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts has transcribed crew lists for the home port of the ship in Herman Melville's Moby Dick.  The searchable database contains records for over 127, 000 whalers who left the port from 1840 to 1927.  The records include name, age, ship, rank, and physical description.

More than 150 Years of Peterborough Ontario Directories Now Online.

Posted July 19, 2016

Peterborough Public Library has helped the Internet Archive scan over 100 city and county directories.  The annual directories go back as far as 1858 and are as current as 2010.  They include listings for Peterborough residents and businesses.  City directorie often include occupational information as well as contact details.   They are an excellent way to learn more about  an ancestors and track their locations year by year.

Chinese Canadian Artifacts Project

Posted July 12, 2016
Brings together and makes accessible in a single, searchable database over 6000 Chinese Canadian artefacts held by 16 local and regional museums throughout British Columbia. Anyone with Internet access can virtually enter these participating museums and discover much about the everyday lives of early Chinese Canadians – their resilience in the face of over a century of racist exclusions, their work and family life from decades past, and their ongoing community contributions. Whether searching family genealogies, investigating Chinese Canadian history, or looking for Qing-era pottery, CCAP opens new pathways into the past and presen

New Welsh Almanac Collection

Posted July 4, 2016

The National Library of Wales has digitized a large collection of Welsh almanacs.  Each almanac contains astronomical and astrological guides, lists of fairs and markets, a guide to reading Welsh and keeping accounts, a list of the law terms, the names of Welsh bishops, and miscellaneous advertisements.  The collection runs from 1648 to 1819 and is a fascinating source of information on Welsh history and culture. Much of the text is in Welsh.


National Library of Scotland Digitizes Family Histories

Posted June 4, 2016

The collection includes 400 digitized printed items relating to the histories of Scottish families.  They are available free in the Library's digital gallery.

Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) Prisoners Books 

Posted May 17, 2016

University College Dublin has posted digitized records from 1905-1908 and 1911-1918 online.  Details of over 30,000 people who were arrested during this period are included in the books.  Information includes date of and grounds for arrest and the name of  the arresting officer.

Case Files for Early Chinese Immigrants to San Francisco and Hawaii.

Posted May 5, 2016

Searchable index to many of the nearly 200,000 files about  Chinese people who immigrated to the United States between 1882 and 1943. To see the actual case file, you will need to come to the National Archives and Records Administration, Pacific Region, in San Bruno, California.

British Red Cross First World War Volunteer Records

Posted April 29, 2016

Information the more than 90,000 people who volunteered for the British Red Cross at home and overseas during the war is now online.  The searchable records include time served, duties performed and awards received.  Scans of the original index cards have been posted

The Canadian National Digital Heritage Index (CNDHI) is Now Live

Posted April 14, 2016

This current and regularly updated index of the digitized collections in Canada provides links to over 600 digital collections. Collections include newspapers, images, maps, government records and much more.

York's Archbishops Register Now Online

Posted March 7, 2016

Free access to over 20,000 images of Registers produced by the Archbishops of York, in northern England, from 1225 to 1650.  The Registers record the formal acts of the Archbishop of York and are a great source  for local and family history.  An index of names is available.

Thousands of letters from Ireland in 1916 Digitized

Posted March 4, 2016

Maynooth Universtiy has a crowd-sourced digital collection of letters written around the time of the Easter Rising (1 November 1915 – 31 October 1916). You can search the letter for names of individuals or browse through them to find out more about life in Ireland during this important period.  You can also join the project as a volunteer transcriber.

World War One British Army Chaplain Records

Posted January 28, 2016

The Museum of Army Chaplaincy has digitized more than 9000 Chaplain Interview Record Cards from World War One.  The cards are a record  Anglican clergy who applied to become Temporary Chaplains between October 1914 and November 1918 .

National Archives (USA)Launches History Hub 

Posted January 27, 2016

History Hub is a pilot crowdsourcing platform sponsored by the National Archives. It is a place to share information, work together, and find people based on their experience and interests. It includes a section where genealogists can ask questions and share information.


Ukrainian Immigrants, 1891-1930

Posted November 19, 2015

This new database from Library and Archives Canada includes 14,793 references to names of Ukrainians who arrived in Canada taken from passenger lists and Notes about early Ukrainian settlers and pioneer families in Canada gathered by Dr. Vladimir Julian Kaye.


Immigrants to Canada, Porters and Domestics, 1899-1949

Posted November 12, 2015

This new database from Library and Archives Canada provides access to 8,653 references to names of domestics and some Black porters who arrived in Canada between 1899 and 1949.

Vancouver Genealogy Show

Posted September 2, 2015

October 3, 2015 (2:00 PM – 5:00 PM)

VPL - Central Branch

Registration Required: 604.331.3603

Members of the British Columbia Genealogy Society will offer advice to individuals and family members researching their family history. Participants are encouraged to bring details on their research to date. Beginners receive advice on where to begin their research, based on their knowledge and family documents.

New Digitized Library and Archives Canada Microfilms on the Héritage Portal

Posted August 13, 2015

Material includes land records,  Chinese immigrant registers, Japanese Canadian Citizens Association records, voters lists and war diaries.

Search British Merchant Navy Crew Lists Online

Posted July 13, 2015

Volunteers have transcribed close to a million names of men who served in the British Merchant Navy in 1915.  Records include name, rank, age, hometown and the name of the ship.

Images for Ontario Births, Marriages and Deaths now on FamilySearch

Posted July 13, 2015

Images for Ontario birth records from 1869-1910, marriage records from 1869-1927, and death records from 1869-1937 have been added to the Ontario Historical Records Collection.  Find out more about Finding Ontario Civil Registration Records in the Special Topics section of this guide.


Sessions from Gobal Family Reunion Conference are Now Online

Posted June 18, 2015

The conference was held on June 6 in New York City.  Speakers included Henry Louis Gates, Dr. Oz, CeCe Moore and Joshua Taylor.

Tomorrow At VPL!

Family Research : Coming to Canada - A Look at Immigration and Shipping Records

Posted June 15, 2015

The British Columbia Genealogy Society presents a panel discussion on immigration and shipping records which allow individuals to trace the journey of their ancestors to Canada. The majority of records relate to passengers arriving between 1880 and 1920, however, other sources of information are also available. Rob Whitlock, president of the Society, will moderate.

June 16, 2015 (1:30 PM – 3:30 PM)
Central Branch - Alma VanDusen and Peter Kaye Rooms

Archives of Ontario Releases New Vital Events Records

Posted May 21, 2015

This set of microfilm records covers registrations for 1917 Ontario births, 1932 marriages and 1942 deaths, as well as all indexes. They are avaialble through our Interlibrary Loans service.


Top 100 Genealogy Sites Mega-Search

Posted May 19, 2015

This new search engine allows you to search the 2015 Genealogy in Time‘s Top 100 Web Sites.  The search is a simple keyword Google search and you can limit your search to 46 free web sites.  Can be a good way to find new resources on the Internet.

Genealogical DNA Database Used to Link an Innocent Man to a 20-year-old Murder Case

Posted May 4, 2015

Police in Idaho gained access to the Sorenson database, one of the largest collections of genetic genealogy data in the world.  A close match led them to investigate an innocent man.  The article raises serious concerns about the use of DNA gathered for genealogical purposes for law enforcement.

Paston Letters Now Online

Posted May 1, 2015

The British Library has made a collection of more than 1000 letters and other documents from a 15h century Norfolk family available.

Discover photographs of Mennonite life in Canada and around the world.

Posted March 23, 2015

Over 80, 000 historic photos are now available at the Mennonite Archival Image Database 

England’s Immigrants 1330 – 1550: Resident Aliens in the Late Middle Ages

Posted February 19, 2015

The Universities of York and Sheffield, together with the National Archives, have teamed up to provide a searchable database of over 64,000 people who arrived in England in the 14th through 16th centuries.  Records were collected from a variety of sources and information can include origin, place of residence and occupation.

New Database at VPL: Points to the Past

Posted February 12, 2015

Points to the Past contains 200 million pages of historical content. This Gale product has been generously funded by: Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria, and UBC. It is free to all BC residents.


It  includes searchable primary source material dating from 1450 to 2010 mostly from the United Sates and Great Britain, with access to over half a million books, digitised newspapers as far back as the 1600s and 6.5 million manuscript pages.

The London Times is available back to 1785 and allows you to search for obituaries, birth and marriage announcements.

New City Directories from Library and Archives Canada

Posted January 31, 2015

Over 150 new directories for the Ontario cities of Hamilton, Kingston and London and for the counties of Southwestern Ontario from the 1850s to the early 1900s are avaialble.  Directories include names, addresses, professions and businesses.




Online index to wills from England and Wales

Posted December 29, 2014

The UK government has launched an index of over 40 million wills going back to 1858.   The index includes names, date of death, address, and next of kin.  It is currently in beta testing, but is available to the public.

Changes to the Procedures for Microfilm Orders from the Family History Library

Posted December 11, 2014

We've  made some changes to our procedures for microfilm orders from the Family History Library.  See Borrowing Microfilms from the Family History Library for more details.

Genealogy Help from Guangzhou Library Genealogy Reference Centre

Posted November 4, 2014

For those seeking genealogical records or information about families within the city of Guangzhou and Guangdong Province you can send your questions via email to Guangzhou Library Genealogy Reference Centre at: or Telephone #: (020) 83839820.  For more infomrati see the Chinese-Canadian Genealogy page in this guide.

British Red Cross Launches Database of First World War Volunteers

Posted October 26, 2014

Personnel records can be searched  by name and include infomation on dates served, locations and tasks performed.  Currently 30 000 records availble.  Database to be complete in a year.

Library and Archives Canada Announces Major Update to the 1861 Census of Canada Database

Posted August 21, 2014

More than 133, 000 records were corrected.

Records for the cities of Hamilton, Kingston, London, Ottawa and Toronto previously mislabeled now appear as districts.  Other records  have been recovered and image linking errors corrected.

Find out more at Library and Archives Canada Blog

New Civil Registration Records Available from BC Archives

Posted July 30, 2014

More recent data has been received from Vital Statistics and is now available.

New legislation restricts the future release of birth information from 100 years to 120, so no new data will be added for births. Marriages will be added for the year 1938, as well as deaths for the year 1993.

Learn more about Finding B.C. Civil Registration Records


Library and Archives Canada to Digitize 640,000 First World War
Service Files

Posted January 30, 2014

Ottawa (January 27, 2014)
As part of the centennial commemoration of the First World War, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) will digitize 640,000 personnel service files of the First World War’s Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) members.

As part of the First World War commemorations, Canadians will be able to research high-quality digital copies of all service files, anytime and anywhere, by 2015. The newly digitized files will complement the approximately 13,500 service files and the more than 620,000 attestation papers already available on LAC’s website.

Canadians will be able to consult the newly digitized service files in the existing database, Soldiers of the First World War – CEF, on LAC’s website as they become available. The first series of files is expected to be added as of Summer 2014. After digitization, the originals will be permanently stored thus ensuring their preservation.

To learn more, please see the Library and Archives Canada News.


Remembering The Great War - 1914-1918

Posted November 19, 2013

With the 100th anniversary of World War I in 2014, here are two websites which focus on the Great War and Canada’s participation in it.

The University of Victoria presents a new site A City Goes to War featuring the roles various Canadian cities played during the Great War 1914-1918. The City of Victoria is used as a model, with other interested communities invited to participate. Features include a diverse document archive, with images of war diaries, maps, correspondence, and artifacts as well as documents pertaining to topics such as gender and race during the war. Under "Records of Service" users can search for Canadian soldiers through various filters, including region and country of birth, religion, and occupation. For interested teachers and educators, there is also a section connecting the Great War to the high school curriculum, which includes a fun sample assignment for students.

The second is the Canadian Great War Project, a work-in-progress site whose goals are to identify every Canadian man and woman that served during the war and to promote interest in Canada’s participation in the Great War. Along with military records, such as attestation papers, the site features war diaries, statistics on the war, books and media, memorials, rolls and awards, images, letters and news clippings. Launches Only-Known Collection of Early 19th Century Passenger Lists

Posted October 1, 2013

TORONTO (Sept. 25, 2013)–, Canada’s largest family history website, announced today the launch of almost 200,000 passenger records dating from 1819 to 1836, documenting passengers travelling between Quebec City and Montreal on the ships of the St. Lawrence Steamboat Company.

The history of the St. Lawrence Steamboat Company is an important part of Canada’s history. Following the successful launch of his brewing company in the 1780s, John Molson and his sons expanded into the shipping industry by creating the St. Lawrence Steamboat Company. The vessels transported passengers and freight along the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Quebec City.

To learn more, please see the press release. Search Ancestry Library Edition for free at any VPL branch location.

US National Archives Virtual Genealogy Fair

Posted August 26, 2013

Researchers looking for their US ancestors (or Canadian ancestors who passed through the United States) may want to check out the US National Archives Virtual Genealogy Fair September 3 - 4, 2013. This inaugural virtual fair will include live lectures and chat and a call-in genealogy help line. Visit the US National Archives website for more information.

1921 Census of Canada Images Now Available Online

Posted August 8, 2013

The 1921 Census of Canada is finally here! You can now browse approximately 200,000 images of the collection for FREE via, who is also busy indexing all 
8.8 million records. Be sure to return often for updates – the entire collection will be indexed and ready to search later this year (subscription required).

Ancestry is a popular collection of databases for international genealogical research. Highlights include images and indexes to Canadian, UK and US census records, Ontario birth, marriage and death records, and much more. It's a subscription website, but there's also a library version known as Ancestry Library Edition. Visit any VPL branch location and access the Ancestry collections for FREE. (Tip: bring your USB flash drive or mobile device)

Eastman's Online Genealogy Calendar of Events

Posted July 16, 2013

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter has a new feature: the Genealogy Calendar of Events.

The calendar provides information about future genealogy conferences, seminars, conventions, cruises, trips and even online "webinars." All of the information is provided by event organizers, organizations and readers of the newsletter. Currently there are events listed for Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, the United States, Australia, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

For programs at the Vancouver Public Library, please visit the Library's Events Calendar.


International Day of Families

Posted May 15, 2013

In 1992, the General Assembly of the United Nations established May 15th as the International Day of Families.

"Families hold societies together, and intergenerational relationships extend this legacy over time. This year’s International Day of Families is an occasion to celebrate connections among all members of the constellation that makes up a family. It is also an opportunity to reflect on how they are affected by social and economic trends - and what we can do to strengthen families in response." - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's message for 2013

Explore the history, business and exciting developments in family history research with this article and video:

Family Tree Magazine's Top 40 Genealogy Blogs

Posted May 2, 2013

Family Tree Magazine has posted a Top 40 Genealogy Blogs list to their website. If you're not familiar with blogs, check some of these out. Blogs can be a great way to stay up-to-date on a topic. For genealogists, they're a great way to discover helpful research and technology tips, find how-to information, discover products and resources, and more.

The Top 40 list is organized into six categories. You can find blogs that provide (1) Good Advice, offer good (2) Tech Support, will help you with (3) Gravestone Matters, provide (4) Heritage Help, give good (5) Shop Talk, and offer (6) Story Time. Maybe one or two of your favourite blogs is on the list, but hopefully you'll also discover one or two that will become a favourite daily read and will help you with your research.

To find other lists on the Family Tree Magazine website, use the search box in the top right of the screen and enter keywords like "best" or "top".

Updated 1881 Census Database

Posted April 30, 2013

Library and Archives Canada has released an updated 1881 Census of Canada. This new version includes suggestions for corrections that were received from users in recent months, as well as revised district and sub-district information.

This second general census covered the seven provinces and one territory that were then part of Confederation: British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories.


Posted April 25, 2013

DNA Day commemorates the day in 1953 when James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin and colleagues published papers in the journal Nature on the structure of DNA. On April 25, 2003, the Human Genome Project announced it was very close to completing their scientific project to sequence, identify and map the approximately 20,000-25,000 genes of the human genome.

Interested to find out what your DNA can tell you about your ancestors? Curious to know how it can help with your genealogical research? Here are some resources to help get you started:

New Enhancements to FamilySearch

Posted April 19, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — FamilySearch International, a nonprofit, volunteer-driven genealogy organization, announced the release of significant new enhancements to its web services that allow visitors to collaboratively build their family tree online, preserve and share precious family photos and stories, and receive personal research assistance—all for free. Find out more at:

BC Land Grant Records

Posted March 4, 2013

FamilySearch has digitized British Columbia land grant records from 1851-1874. These records describe the sale or transfer of specific parcels of Crown land from the provincial government to private persons and organizations, including Hudson's Bay Company grants. This is a browsable database; there is no search function.

Browse these records here: British Columbia, Crown Land Grant Records, 1851-1874

For more information on these and other land title records, see our Land Records page.

1911 Nominal Census Index for Canada Now Online

Posted February 26, 2013

The 1911 Canadian census has been indexed and can now be search by name online. See Library and Archives Canada's Census of Canada, 1911 web page to start your search.

For more information on this and other historical Census records for Canada, see our Census Records guide.

Reproduction Services

Posted February 22, 2013

What do you do if you identify a document but a copy is not available through your local library or through interlibrary loan and you are unable to visit the repository? Did you know that some institutions provide reproduction services, and that some of these institutions now provide digitized reproduction services? How great is that?!

The main thing to note about this type of service is that it is a "reproduction" service and not a "research" service. Institution staff will not conduct research for you. You must provide details about a specific document. Read carefully through any information and/or forms available to make sure you understand what is available, what information you must provide, and how the service works before you place your request.

Library and Archives Canada
Library and Archives Canada's Reproduction Requests are submitted electronically using an online form. Include reference numbers or as many details as possible concerning the document(s) for which you are requesting a reproduction. You are required to complete a form for each document or your order will be returned to you. For details on prices be sure to visit the Price List and Service Standards web page.

The Family History Library (FHL) now provides digital copies of items in the catalog. This service is for patrons that do not have local access to a Family History Center, and for those records that may not be available to a local Family History Center. These and other criteria will be used by Family History Library staff prior to fulfilling cases, so check through the Photoduplication Services wiki entry before you send in your request.

Did you know? VPL is an affiliate FHL library. This means that you can borrow microfilms for a fee from the Family History Library and have them sent to VPL's Central Library for viewing. Find out more about this service on our Borrowing Microfilms from the FHL page.

1906 and 1916 Nominal Indexes Now Available Online

Posted January 29, 2013

The 1906 and 1916 Canadian census records have been indexed and can now be searched by name online. See Library and Archives Canada's Census of the Northwest Provinces, 1906 and Census of the Prairie Provinces, 1916 web pages to start your search.

For more information on these and other historical Census records for Canada, see our Census Records guide.

Ontario Overseas Death Records, 1939-1947

Posted January 4, 2013

The Vancouver Public Library now owns the complete set (11 reels) of Ontario Overseas Death Records, 1939-1947. The reels are in the genealogy collection on Level 6 of the Central Library. Note that these are complete records, unlike all the other Ontario birth, marriage, and death reels at VPL which contain index entries only. For more information on Ontario civil registration records at VPL, visit our Finding Ontario Civil Registration Records guide.


Celebrate the Season!

Posted December 20, 2012

Celebrate this holiday season by cooking some historical recipes and experience food as 19th-century Canadians new it. Visit Library and Archives Canada's Bon appétit! A Celebration of Canadian Cookbooks website to learn more and search for that little something that will help make this holiday one to remember.

Explore the history of winter festivals and discover what the season was like for your ancestors by visiting Wikipedia's List of winter festivals page.

An interesting historical look at the origins of Christmas can be explored in The Project Gutenberg eBook, Christmas: Its Origin and Associations, by William Francis Dawson (1902). Chapter XII provides insight into how people celebrated Christmas abroad and during different time periods, primarily the 19th century.

Project Gutenberg also has a number of Christmas-themed eBooks, including A Christmas Carol, Twas the Night Before Christmas, and The Children's Book of Christmas Stories.

~ Wishing you the best of the season ~

BC Land Records Collections Now Online

Posted December 4, 2012

FamilySearch has added two new browsable image collections for British Columbian land records to its ever-growing Historical Record Collections:

Canada, British Columbia, Crown Land Grants, 1869-1930
"These records describe the sale or transfer of specific parcels of Crown land from the provincial government to private persons and organizations. The grants are arranged in registration number order. There are separate index volumes which cover one or more annual volumes of land grant registers."

Canada, British Columbia, Dominion Land Branch Records, 1885-1949
"Images of various land records for British Columbia including Land Files (1885-1949); Index Maps (1910-1927); Township General Registers (1885-1930); and Homestead Grant Registers (1886-1930). The Land Files contain applications for homestead entry, applications for patents, and correspondence and registers relating to land settlement in the Railway Belt and the Peace River Block. Several indexes are included in the images."

For more information on historical land records for British Columbia and other areas of Canada, see our Land Records page.

My History Museum

Posted November 27, 2012

The Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Canadian War Museum are asking: What would you put in your national history museum? What stories would you tell? How would you reach Canadians across the country?

The interactive My History Museum website wants you to share your thoughts on the following:

  • What do you think are the most important historical events, periods, movements and changes that have shaped our country?
  • What objects and stories that represent our history would you put in your Museum for others to see, hear and touch?
  • Which personalities do you think have had an impact on our country?
  • Where and how would you make your museum available to Canadians?
  • How would your Museum support others in their work, hobby or personal research?
  • From whose perspective would you tell the story of Canada?

New content and images will be added as the website continues to grow through input and feedback provided by the public.

The Generosity of Genealogists

Posted October 30, 2012

Are you stuck with something in your research? Unable to locate someone? Need a record from far away and can't travel there to get it? GenerousGenealogists just might be able to help.

GenerousGenealogists is a community of volunteers who agree to provide free genealogy research and assistance, as an act of kindness, to “those in need.” Volunteers agree to donate their time for free; recipients of volunteer assistance agree to pay/ reimburse volunteers for any/all expenses incurred in the fulfillment of the request (including: copies, printing fees, postage, film or video tape, parking fees, mileage, etc.).

For more information, visit the GenerousGenealogists website.

October is Women's History Month in Canada

Posted October 5, 2012

Collecting genealogical records for your female Canadian ancestors only tells part of their story. What was life like for them? What was it like to be a pioneer woman in a new land? What can we learn from Canada's housewives and war brides? What was it like to be among the first women to work in film and radio, in politics and in sports?

Explore the remarkable lives of Canadian women with our Women's History Month booklist. Take a quiz and test your knowledge of women in Canadian history. Attend an event sponsored by the Herstory Cafe in Vancouver. Celebrate Canadian women during Women's History Month. Visit for more information.

Best Canadian Genealogy Websites

Posted October 1, 2012

Family Tree Magazine has posted their 13th annual collection of the best Canadian genealogy websites. There are so many great sites to help you explore your family history. Some may be familiar to you, and some of those may have new content you might want to consider, while others you may not have heard of before. Have a look at the list. There are over a hundred of them!

101 Best Websites for Genealogy: Canadian Genealogy Sites

Finding Your Roots: Tri-Stake Seminar

Posted September 14, 2012

The annual Tri-Stake Family History seminar, sponsored by the Church of Latter-Day Saints, brings together genealogists, historians and other experts who share their knowledge to help unlock the mysteries of your own family history.

Saturday, October 13, 2012
Surrey Family History Center
6270 - 126th Street, Surrey, British Columbia

More information:

British Columbia Vital Events Now Available Online!

Posted September 7, 2012

Vital Events Search

Free access, effective 4 September, to a new online genealogy database linked to digitized images of many of the province’s historical birth (1854-1903), marriage (1872-1936) and death (1872-1991) registrations. The database may also be used to search for baptisms (1836-1888) and colonial marriages (1859-1872).

The release of the index and attached images is a collaborative project between the B.C. Archives, the Vital Statistics Agency and FamilySearch. There are currently 700,000 images; new digitized images will be loaded on a regular basis.

To navigate to the database:

These digitized images are also available on the FamilySearch website - list of databases for British Columbia.

Was Your Ancestor an Olympian?

Posted August 9, 2012

It's been very exciting watching our Canadian athletes compete at the London 2012 Olympic Games. There have been some interesting generational stories and legacies. These made me want to learn more about our current and past Olympic athletes which led me to these:

  • Canadian Olympic Team
    The official website of Team Canada. Explore the history of Canadian athletes at the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. Website includes athlete profiles, results and photographs. Browse by a particular Olympic Games or find athletes using the athlete search.
  • Canadian Olympians (Library and Archives Canada)
    Searchable images database of Canadian athletes at the Olympics, from the early 1900s through 2004. Use the search form or browse by athlete, sport, Olympic Games, or medal.

If your athletic ancestor was from the UK, check out The Olympic Record from the National Archives. The site provides access to a range of records on the modern Olympic and Paralympic Games and Cultural Olympiad, from 1896 to the present.

Congratulations to Mark Oldershaw, third-generation Olympian from Burlington, Ontario who won a bronze medal on Wednesday, August 8 in the Men's Canoe Single (C1) 1000m, and congratulations to all the athletes!

What's New at FamilySearch?

Posted August 1, 2012

As one of the largest genealogy organizations in the world, FamilySearch provides access to a vast collection of records, numerous resources, and invaluable services designed to help people learn more about their family history. The FamilySearch website contains free access to indexes and digitized images to records from around the world, and content is being added all the time. There are two ways you can stay up to date with what's happening at FamilySearch:

  1. What's New at FamilySearch? - The FamilySearch blog provides information on the wide range of activities of the genealogy organization, including new resources available at their library, webinar announcements, new records available online, and more. As a blog, users also have the ability to post comments.

  2. Indexing Update - View information on recent updates and new resources through this web page. Receive email notices by selecting FamilySearch Indexing Newsletter from the Subscription Center list and never miss an update!

British Columbia, Wills, 1861-1981 - Now Online

Posted July 17, 2012

Over 100,000 digitized images of will indexes (1861-1981) and wills (1861-1939) probated in the province of British Columbia can now be browsed online using FamilySearch's new British Columbia, Wills, 1861-1971 database.

Historical Images of Canada on Flickr

Posted July 4, 2012

Historical images of Canada from The National Archives (United Kingdom) collections have been added to Flickr so that people can comment, tag and share them easily. The CO 1069 series is a diverse collection of images with a rich variety of content, but little is known about the people or contents of the photographs. In an attempt to fill in some gaps, the National Archives would like people to comment and share their knowledge through their Flickr photostream.

Also on Flickr, you may want to explore the Library and Archives photostream, the City of Vancouver photostream, and the Vancouver Public Library photostream, among many others.