What is found at Library and Archives Canada?
Bibliographies and published sources
Online research guide
Conducting Research on Residential Schools: A Guide to the Records of the Indian and Inuit Affairs Program and Related Resources at Library and Archives Canada (archived content) [PDF 689 KB]
Detailed instructions on how to access these records, including records documenting Residential school attendance.
Online and non-digitized photographs
Residential schools and students can be found in our
Archival Search database.
Tips on how to find photos: We suggest using keywords in both languages, as they can provide different results.
- Any Keyword(s)=residential school; Type of documents= Photographic Material
- Any Keyword(s)=pensionnats; Type of documents= Photographic Material
What is NOT available at Library and Archives Canada?
Finding Residential School Records
Why consult residential school records? What information can be found in them?
There are many different types of records related to residential schools. The following types of government records are likely to mention the names of students:
- Attendance and discharge forms
- Applications for admission
- Applications for educational assistance
- Daily registers
- Records of death for pupils in residential schools
- Nominal rolls
- Principal's monthly reports
- Pupil withdrawal forms
- Quarterly returns
- Transportation records for students
How do I find documents from residential schools that mention a student's name?
If you know the name of the school and the years the student attended, you can search to find references to records in the database Archives Search--Advanced.
- Enter keywords: 1) Name of school 2) Type of record (e.g. Nominal roll)
- If the reference is a file from the School Files Series - 1879-1953, you can view by clicking the microfilm reel number in the content list.
If you would like to order a copy of a record that you have found, please visit the Reproduction Requests section.
- For more detailed information about these records, see the section online research guide.
- Not all types of records exist for each school. Only some types of records will contain names of students. For more information on the types of records produced by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, and the information they contain, please see Appendix II of Conducting Research on Residential Schools.
- There are many different documents about residential schools in Library and Archives Canada's collections. For a list of government documents, and other documents about residential schools, please see Appendix III and Appendix IV of Conducting Research on Residential Schools.
Types of federal government records held at Library and Archives Canada
Table 1: List of Reference Numbers, Collection Titles, Record Types, and Examples for Federal Government Records
||Indian and Inuit Affairs Program sous-fonds (part of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development fonds)
||Many types of records, including: attendance and discharge records, school establishment, administration files, inspection reports, transportation of students, quarterly returns, nominal rolls, principal's monthly reports, medical records, training of teachers, and plans of buildings.
||School Files Series|
RG10-B-3-d, Vols. 6001-6491
||Administration Program, Indian and Inuit Affairs Program sous-fonds (part of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development fonds)
||Deputy Minister's records and some Central Registry files, 1922–1983. Funding, curriculum and administration of Indian schools.<
||Vols. 330-442, 496-97, and 632-669 and accessions 1983-84/231 and 1983-84/247|
||Northern Affairs Program sous-fonds part of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development fonds)
||Inuit and Indian social and economic conditions, general, after 1920. Includes schools.
Native education. General files, including records on policy, funding of church and territorial schools, curricula, and files relating to specific schools, ca.1906 ff. see also liaison files with the individual churches
The "Eskimo Book of Wisdom", ca. 1930–1946 (developed for and used in northern schools).
|Vols. 567-613, 614-669, 1129-1130|
Vols. 535-546, 641-646, 1130, 1260-61, 1339, 1434; accession 1985-86/220
Vols. 1131, 1339
||Legal files, Office of the Departmental Legal Advisor, Indian Affairs Branch(part of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration fonds)
||Lawyers' working files on a wide variety of legal and policy issues, ca. 1945–1966. These include drafting regulations on Indian schools and estates.
Examples of non-governmental records held at Library and Archives Canada:
Table 2: Church Records in the LAC holdings
|MG 17, B 2
||Church Missionary Society [Anglican]—microfilm and microfiche copies of headquarters correspondence and accounts, reports and journals from mission posts, and letters sent to the missionaries across North America.
||Finding Aid MSS 23 |
|MG 17, B 4
||Colonial and Continental Church Society [Anglican]—microfilm copies of minutes, reports, publications and other records of the CCCS and predecessors.
||MSS Finding Aid 40|
|MG 29, D 53
||Reverend Allen Salt—Methodist missionary, after teaching at Alderville Industrial School. He kept journals 1854–1855 and 1874–1899 at various missions.
||Shelf list prefaces microfilm reel C-15709|
Table 3: Private Records of Superintendents General of Indian Affairs
|MG 27, ID10 (R-4037)
||David Laird—Served as Minister of the Interior, 1873–1876; Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West Territories, 1876–1881; and Indian Commissioner for the North-West Territories, Manitoba and Keewatin, 1898–1914.
||No finding aid|
| MG 26, A (R-4505)
||Sir John A. Macdonald—Served as Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, 1878–1887 (Minister of the Interior, 1878–1883, and Privy Council 1883–1887).
||Finding aid MSS 104|
|MG 29, E 106
||Hayter Reed—Served as Indian Agent for Battleford District in 1881; Assistant Commissioner for the North West Territories in 1884, Commissioner in 1888 and Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs in 1893.
||Finding aid MSS 1394|
|MG 27, IC4 (R-4505)
||Edgar Dewdney—Served as Indian commissioner for Manitoba and the Northwest Territories, 1879-1888; Lieutenant-Governor of the Northwest Territories, 1881-1888; Minister of the Interior and Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, 1888–1892.
||Finding aid MSS 56 (electronic)|
|MG 27, ID6 (R-4035)
||Thomas Mayne Daly—Served as Minister of the Interior and Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, 1892–1896.
||No finding aid|
|MG 27, IID15 (R-7693)
||Clifford Sifton—Served as Minister of the Interior and Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, 1896–1905.
||Finding aid MSS 136 (electronic)|
Examples of photographs and maps of residential schools:
- RG85, Accession # 2003-02187-6, 1973-357 NPC, Northwest Territories and Yukon Branch: Photographs
- R8236-0-7-E, David Ewens collection, Indian Industrial Schools Album
- R13144-0-2-E, Ryan Swain Family Fonds (St. Paul's Residential School, Aklavik and Herschel Island, NWT)
How to start an archives or a resource centre
The following online resources from other organizations provide useful information to those who wish to start an archives or a resources centre.
Association of Canadian Archivists
ACA Books and Guides
In addition to the Archivaria journal, ACA has other publications including a variety of books and guidelines related to the archival profession. All publications are available for purchasing.
Archives Association of British Columbia
National Library of Australia
Preserving Australia's Multicultural Documentary Heritage: A Starter Kit for Community Groups [PDF 698 KB]
A guide to help small community organizations of diverse cultural background to get started in looking after their archival collections: organizational records, letters, diaries, newsletters and magazines, photographs, audio and videotapes, oral history records, electronic files, and other unpublished materials.
Halifax Municipal Archives
Preserving Communities: A Guide to Archiving for Community Organizations
A guide to help organizations or communities to develop and manage their own archives.