File History Cards, 1872-1984

Table of Contents

About the File History Cards

The file history cards were created by the former Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (now Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada) and its predecessors between 1872 and 1984. They were produced to keep track of file numbers and to monitor those files that were later moved, transferred to Library and Archives Canada (LAC) or destroyed.

Most of the cards are typewritten, and many have handwritten notes and other annotations indicating which files were destroyed or moved to another file number. For this reason, the cards are helpful for tracking a particular file number, or confirming what files the Department created, or did not create.

If you wish to cite the file history cards, include the following reference information:

Title: Indexes to Headquarters records [textual record (microform)] [ca. 1872–1950].

Reference: RG10-B-3-f (R216-254-9-E), Volumes 10884 to 10887

Digital versions of the cards are available through Microform Digitization. For assistance in researching these documents, please refer to LAC's Search Help.

How the Cards Are Arranged

The cards are part of the Indian and Inuit Affairs Program sous-fonds, Headquarters Central Registry, Index History Cards in RG10-B-3-e (R216-254-9-E) and are organized into four volumes:

  • 10884
  • 10885
  • 10886
  • 10887

Within each volume, the cards are grouped by subject. Library and Archives Canada holds only a microfiche version of these cards. Some documents contain personal information, for example, Volume 10884, and portions of Volumes 10885 and 10886 (these are part of the Modified Duplex Numeric System). These cards are not included in the first release of this research tool.

The microfiches have been digitized and the images appear in the same order as in the volumes. You can browse through the images as you would through the original volume. You can move through the images one by one, or skip ahead by entering a new page (image) number in the page navigation box. The records are not searchable by name.

Examples of File History Cards

example of a file history card with both typed and hand-written notes taken from a microfiche in our holdings

example of a file history card featuring typed and hand-written notes taken from a microfiche in our holdings 

example of a file history card featuring many handwritten notes from a microfiche in our holdings 

List of Content of Volumes

  • To facilitate your search, limit yourself to one type of cards.

  • This list describes the contents of each volume of file cards, and will help you determine which set of cards you should access for the information you need. You can search by keywords, for example, a band or place name, by pressing 'Control,' then 'F' on your keyboard (Ctrl + F), then entering the search term(s) in the new pop-up window. Consult the list below by clicking on the relevant series name.

Volume 10885

Bands — Alphabetical (RG 10, Volume 10885)

Cards are arranged alphabetically by band name.

These cards provide the name, the more recent band number, and the agency or district responsibility code (e.g., District 191) assigned to the agency or district responsible for each band.


Example of card from Bands — Alphabetical, Abegweit to Garden River, e010780793-001

List of PDFs

Bands — Alphabetical — Old Number (RG 10, Volume 10885)

Cards are arranged alphabetically by band name.

The cards indicate the band name and number, the superseding band number handwritten on the card, and the agency or district responsibility code (e.g., 507).


Example of card from Bands — Alphabetical — Old Number, Gibson to Nemaska, e010780794-002

List of PDFs

Economic, Industrial & Business Development — Alphabetical (RG 10, Volume 10885)

Cards are arranged in the alphabetical index by name of corporate body, and in the numerical index by the tertiary file number assigned to a given project.

These cards list headquarters files generated under the modified duplex 19-10 (Industrial & Business) file primary. For example, 401/19-10-43 Economic, Industrial & Business Development—Manitoulin Island Cedar Oil Plant.

In the alphabetical index, this file appears under Manitoulin Island Cedar Oil Plant.


Example of card from Economic, Industrial and Business — Alphabetical,
Abamoweg Woodworkers Coop Ltd. to Zekelman Mobile Homes Project, e010780852-001

List of PDFs

Economic, Industrial & Business Development — Numerical (RG 10, Volume 10885)

Cards are organized by the tertiary file number assigned to a given project.

For example, File No. 401/19-10-43 is listed between No. /19-10-42 and No. /19-10-44.


Example of card from Economic, Industrial & Business Development — Numerical, 0 to 591, e010780853-001

The tertiary number may not be unique to one project until the number 72 is reached in the sequence. Until that point, tertiary numbers were used by more than one agency or district.

For example, both 191/19-10-22 and 201/19-10-22 exist. The first file is a file on Hay River Business Development in Mackenzie District (District Code 191); the second is a file on a Heritage Center in the Maritimes (District Code 201)


Example of card from Economic, Industrial & Business Development — Numerical, 0 to 591, e010780853-00

List of PDFs

Top of Page

First Series (RG 10, Volume 10885)

The First Series is a sub-series consisting of headquarters central registry files classified according to the duplex numeric filing system.

Cards are arranged numerically by subject block number.

The first card contains an index to the subject block numbers used in the First Series.

The remainder of the cards contain a list of headquarters files created under the First Series subject-based numerical file system. Under this system, file numbers were comprised of two elements:

  • a subject block (e.g., 62 = Membership)
  • and an agency code (e.g., 131 = Lesser Slave Lake).

This file would appear as 62-131.

The cards are also helpful in indicating if files were destroyed or migrated to other files.


Example of card from First Series Block Index, Block Nos. 59 to 68, e010780856-0071

List of PDFs

0/ — Headquarters (RG 10, Volume 10885)

Cards are arranged numerically by file number.

Classified according to the modified duplex numerical system, these cards contain a list of headquarters central registry files that employed 0/ as the responsibility code for headquarters.

This system was used only for a short time and most files created with this responsibility code were migrated forward into other district responsibility codes. The cards are especially helpful in tracing a specific modified duplex numerical file number with the responsibility code 0/.

Files that were destroyed are also indicated.


Example of card from 0/ — Headquarters, 0/100-1 to 0/113-4, e010780857-001

List of PDFs

Joint Schools — Alphabetical (RG 10, Volume 10885)

In 1945, the federal government introduced integrated joint schools, which allowed for education off reserves at provincially administered schools. The federal government bought seats in non-Aboriginal provincial schools. Many children attended federal day schools on reserves until about grade six, and were then transferred to one of the integrated joint schools.

Cards in this series are arranged alphabetically by name of joint school.

These cards can be used to identify the name or number of a joint school.

For example, File No. 911/25-11-391 breaks down as follows:

911/ = Agency No.
25-11 = Joint Schools
-391 = Joint School Agreement No.

Example of card from Joint Schools — Alphabetical,
Abbotsford Joint School to Keremeos Elementary Joint School, e010780858-001

List of PDFs

Joint Schools — Numerical (RG 10, Volume 10885)

Cards are arranged numerically by school number.

These cards contain the same information as the Joint Schools — Alphabetical cards.


Example of card from Joint Schools — Numerical, 181 to 400, e010780860-002

List of PDFs

Oil & Gas — Alphabetical (RG 10, Volume 10885)

Cards are arranged alphabetically by name of company.

These cards were generated to locate files pertaining to oil and gas companies that were involved with the Department of Indian Affairs. They refer to modified duplex numerical files, and in a few instances the E Series of the Department’s current central registry system. They provide a way to locate files by company, as well as to identify the company number.

Here is an example of one of these cards:

Canadian Delhy Oil Co. No. 4
Blood Reserve No. 148 773/20-6-435-148-4

This file number breaks down as follows:

773 = Agency
/20-6 = Oil & Gas
-435 = Account No.
-148 = Reserve No.
-4 = Oil & Gas Company No.

These files are also listed on the District or Agency Index cards.


Example of card from Oil & Gas — Alphabetical, Aberdeen Minerals Ltd. to Seaton Jordan, e010780861-001

List of PDFs

Oil & Gas — Numerical (RG 10, Volume 10885)

Cards are arranged numerically by company number.

These cards contain the same information as the Oil & Gas — Alphabetical cards.

These files are also listed on the District or Agency Index cards.


Example of card from Oil & Gas — Numerical, 0 to 168, e010780862-001

List of PDFs

Top of Page

Old Schools — Alphabetical (RG 10, Volume 10885)

Cards are arranged alphabetically by school name.

These cards can be used to identify the agency name, the school responsibility code, and the files created and classified under the School Files classification system in use until about 1953.

The files of the School Files Series transferred to Library and Archives Canada are in RG 10, Volumes 6001–6491.

The Old School File “subject primaries” are as follows:

  1. General
  2. Returns
  3. Salaries
  4. Supplies
  5. Buildings, Accounts, etc.
  6. Inspectors’ Reports
  7. Agents’ Reports
  8. Teachers’ Residence
  9. School Land
  10. Admissions and Discharges—Pupils
  11. Manual Training
  12. Supervising Principal
  13. Medical
  14. Live Stock
  15. Music Teachers—Appointment
  16. Music Teachers—Expenses
  17. Cadet Corps and Bands
  18. Not assigned
  19. Not assigned
  20. Physical Instructor
  21. Not used on the card
  22. High School Pupils
  23. Deaths—Pupils at Residential Schools
  24. Audit
  25. Preventorium
  26. Not assigned
  27. Not assigned
  28. Not assigned
  29. Not assigned

Departmental headquarters did not necessarily create records in all “subject primaries” for each school.

For the most part, these cards have been replaced by the electronic finding aid 10-17 that allows you to search by keyword or file number.

These cards can be used to determine the agency responsibility codes and names for the agency or district responsible for the school.

Cards for Day Schools are marked with a D and those for Residential Schools are marked with an R. This information is located in the card headings between the name of the school and the province.


Example of card from Old Schools — Alphabetical, Abitibi to Fountain, e010780863-001

List of PDFs

Old Schools — Numerical (RG 10, Volume 10885)

Cards are arranged numerically by school number.

The completeness of the cards is uncertain. For the most part, these cards have been replaced by the electronic finding aid 10-17 that allows you to search by keyword or file number.


Example of card from Old Schools — Numerical, 1 to 125, 0101780864-001

List of PDFs

Reserves — Alphabetical (RG 10, Volume 10885)

Cards are arranged alphabetically by reserve name.

These cards can provide the name, the more recent reserve number, and the agency or district responsibility code assigned to the agency or district responsible for each reserve.


Example of card from Reserves — Alphabetical, Ta-a-ack to Utza (Nahounli Creek), e010780865-012

List of PDFs

Reserves — Alphabetical — Old Number (RG 10, Volume 10885)

Cards are arranged alphabetically by reserve name.

These cards can provide the name, the old reserve number, and the agency or district responsibility code of the agency or district responsible for each reserve.

These cards should be used as a reference tool to determine the responsibility code of the agency or district under whose administration the reserve fell. Once determined, the Agency or District Index Cards can be used to identify the numbers of headquarters files created about a particular reserve.


Example of card from Reserves — Alphabetical — Old Number, Slosh Res. 1A to The Dalles Res. 38C, e010780866-012

List of PDFs

Top of Page

Schools — Alphabetical (RG 10, Volume 10885)

Cards are arranged alphabetically by name of school.

These cards provide the agency or district responsibility code and the school number.

For example, the card for Adams Lake, B.C. 976/003 breaks down as follows:

976/ = District Responsibility Code for Kamloops
003 = School No. for Adams Lake School

These cards are tools to identify which Districts or Agencies Index cards have lists of the folders for a specific school. These sheets can confirm the existence of files on a specific school in the records of the Department of Indian Affairs.


Example of card from Schools — Alphabetical, Adams Lake to Espanola, e010780868-001

List of PDFs

Volume 10886

Alphabetical Reserve List (RG 10, Volume 10886)

Cards are arranged alphabetically by reserve.

These cards are helpful if you are starting out only with a reserve name; they indicate the reserve number, band name(s), as well as the agency name and responsibility centre code. From this tool, you can then search under the appropriate Agency Index cards for files about the reserve in question.

These cards are useful only for files created before 1966. In 1966, agency codes were converted to district codes as part of a general reorganization of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.


Example of card from Alphabetical Reserve List, Lennox Island to Morley (Stoney), e010780894-007

List of PDFs

Volume 10887

Thousand Series (RG 10, Volume 10887)

The Thousand Series is a sub-series of central registry files introduced at departmental headquarters in 1923.

In this system, file numbers are comprised of two elements:

  • a subject block number in the thousands (e.g., 29000 = Surrenders),
  • and an agency code (e.g., 32 = Six Nations).

Hence, in this example, File No. 29032 documents surrenders of Six Nations lands.

The Thousand Series contains files relating to the general administration of Indian Affairs throughout Canada. Cards are arranged according to the subject blocks employed in the Thousand Series classification system.

The title of each set of cards provides the subject number, subject title, the range of file numbers contained on each card, and the number of cards per subject; for example, 1000—Fairs—1001-1168—1 of 1.


Example of card from Thousand Series, File Block Number 1000, Fairs, e010780985-001

The Thousand Series used a filing system in which the file number consisted of a subject number and the Department of Indian Affairs old agency responsibility codes.

For example:

  • If you are searching for records related to leases concerning the Carleton Agency (107), you would search under the 13000—Leases cards.
  • But, you would need to know the particular agency responsibility code to find the proper record. In this case, it is File No. 13107: (13000 series number) and the responsibility code for Carleton Agency (107).

The agency responsibility codes are listed as part of finding aid 10-96.

Note: The physical file for Block Number 28000 on Survey Accounts is empty.


Example of card from Thousand Series, File Block Number 13000, Leases, e010780997-002

List of PDFs

Top of Page

Black Series (RG 10, Volume 10887)

The Black Series — named after the colour of the leather letter books used by the records office — is a sub-series of central registry files dealing with almost all aspects of the departmental administration of Indian Affairs in Western Canada, 1872–1959. The bulk of the records concern the period 1872–1923.

These cards, arranged numerically from 1 to 600552, document all Black Series files in existence at the time the card system was created. The cards list no file titles. They contain information about the migration of Black Series files into later central registry filing systems adopted by the Department of Indian Affairs or within the Black Series itself.

Note: The physical folder containing files 4 to 93257 is empty.


Example of card from Black Series, 317001 to 404349, e010781030-005

List of PDFs

Black Series — P.A.C. Accession (Public Archives of Canada) (RG 10, Volume 10887)

Cards are arranged numerically by file numbers and contain a handwritten list of the Black Series records transferred to Library and Archives Canada (formerly the National Archives of Canada). This index groups the file numbers by the RG 10 volume numbers assigned to them by the National Archives of Canada.


Example of card from Black Series — P.A.C. Accession, Vols. 4083 to 4095, e010781031-001

List of PDFs

Black Series — Destroyed Files (RG 10, Volume 10887)

Cards are arranged in numerical file order, and document which Black Series files were destroyed by the Department of Indian Affairs.


Example of card from Black Series — Destroyed Files, 61939 to 583000, e010781034-002

List of PDFs

Red Series (RG 10, Volume 10887)

The Red Series — named after the colour of the leather letter books used by the records office — is a sub-series of central registry files dealing with almost all aspects of the departmental administration of Indian Affairs in Eastern Canada from 1872–1964. The majority of the records concern the period 1872–1923.

Cards are arranged in numerical order, from numbers 1 to 600592, and document all Red Series files in existence at the time the card system was created. The cards do not list file titles. They contain information about the migration of Red Series files within the Red Series, as well as into later central registry filing systems adopted by the Department of Indian Affairs.


Example of card from Red Series, 313335 to 341460, e010781037-010

List of PDFs

Red Series — P.A.C. Accession (Public Archives of Canada) (RG 10, Volume 10887)

Cards are arranged numerically by file numbers and contain a handwritten list of the Red Series records transferred to Library and Archives Canada (formerly the National Archives of Canada). This index groups the file numbers by the RG 10 volume numbers assigned to them by the National Archives of Canada.

This list is also contained in electronic Finding Aid 10-10. Red Series files comprise mainly records from Eastern Canada. For additional information, consult Finding Aid 10-376.

This list is also contained in electronic Finding Aid 10-13. Black Series files comprise mainly records from Western Canada. For additional information, consult Finding Aid 10-376.


Example of card from Red Series — P.A.C. Accession, 2408 to 3038, e010781038-002

List of PDFs

Top of Page

Red Series — Destroyed Files (RG 10, Volume 10887)

Cards are arranged in numerical order and document which Red Series files were destroyed by the Department of Indian Affairs.


Example of card from Red Series — Destroyed Files, 9 to 52117, e010781039-001

List of PDFs

Island Index Cards (RG 10, Volume 10887)

The Island Index Cards provide references to a wide range of files concerning any aspect of the administration of island reserve lands. Some reserves are islands (e.g., Parry Island, Walpole Island, Seabird Island), while others include islands within their boundaries (e.g., Akwesasne).

Cards are arranged alphabetically according to the geographic location. They contain the following information: island name; file title; and file number.

Example:

French River
Island in North Shore of Lake Huron
Island in Dry Pine Bay - French River
404812.................506-24-1
............................1/35-24-1

This index pertains to files created in the Red and Black, First, Thousand, and Modified Duplex Numerical Series.

The index indicates what files were merged into successive central registry filing systems. These cards are helpful if you are searching for records about a particular island. Use the index cards for the Red and Black, First, Thousand, and Modified Duplex Numerical Series if you do not have a particular island in mind.


Example of card from Island Index Cards, A–Z and Numerical, e010781034-001



Example of card from Island Index Cards, A–Z and Numerical, e010781034-001

List of PDFs

Other Resources

There are many resources that can assist in using the file history cards.

Further information about the headquarters central registry systems can be found in the following resources:

  • Finding aid 10-376 explains the different filing systems used by the headquarters of the Department of Indian Affairs. It also gives agency and district responsibility codes and subject codes for each of the headquarters filing systems. This finding aid is not available online yet and you should contact Reference Services for assistance.

  • Finding aid 10-160 (hard copy only, not yet digitized) indicates the volume within RG 10 where a particular file number can be found. If it is on microfilm, it also gives this number.
    Note: Finding aid 10-160 only lists permanent volumes in RG 10 up to Volume 13099.

  • Finding aid 10-160 (hard copy only, not yet digitized) indicates the volume within RG 10 where a particular file number can be found. If it is on microfilm, it also gives this number.
    Note: Finding aid 10-160 only lists permanent volumes in RG 10 up to Volume 13099.

  • The Aboriginal Documentary Heritage virtual exhibition (archived) contains an essay by Sean Darcy entitled The Evolution of the Department of Indian Affairs' Central Registry Record-keeping Systems: 1872–1984, which gives more detail about each filing system and how it was used at the Department.