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How do I get help navigating the stie?

You should start by reading this FAQ in full. Then take a shot at trying to find what you're looking for.

If none of that works, please contact us using the contact form found here:

And select the first option: "Help finding something".

We will try to get back to you within 7 days, workload permitting.

How is the site organized?

Naturally, it's possible to search the site via the search box in the top right hand corner of the site. However, to make the most of your time on the site, it's a good idea to understand how the records are arranged in the system.

The archive uses the Rules for Archival Description the Canadian national standard for archival description, codified by the Canadian Council of Archives.

The overriding concern of the RAD system is to -- as much as possible -- maintain the actual arrangement of the files as they were used in real life. The term for such an aggregation of documents is fonds. The concept is originally French, although now it is used in archives in Canada, Austrailia and the UK.

A "fonds" differs from a "collection" in that the latter is an artificial grouping of documents while the documents in a fonds were grouped as they were while the documents were in use. For example, if you were organizing the documents from two separate parishes, you could -- if you wanted to -- pull all the birth registers from both and create a collection of birth registers. Although this has certain advantages if you're trying to find a birth record, it does introduce some difficulty if you're trying to do historical research on a specific parish. Using collections, the records of a parish would be broken down and scattered amongst the records of other parishes, making it very difficult to understand the historical context of a particular one. Therefore, In order to maintain the historical context of the documents, to "...preserve existing relationships between records and the evidential value inherent in this order."(RAD P3.0) you keep all the records of the parish together as a set, a fonds.

All of our fonds are listed under Holdings in the left hand navigation bar. The fonds are generally organized by parish, residential school name, and under each you will find sub-groupings, generally called "series" which represent a block of records, for example "birth records", or "financial statements". Inside of these sub-groupings are the actual items themselves. Not every fonds has series.

There are special fonds as well, for example a person of great historical note (a bishop for example) will have their own fonds. This is appropriate as such a person might have copious records and even if they might technically be part of a parish fonds (because in actual life they worked there) it would make a long and unwieldy hierarchy of records to drill through. RAD does make provision for exceptions in order to aid access:

"To ensure effective access to archival material, decisions related to description and the choice of access points should reflect the archivist’s obligation to all users. The rules in this standard should be applied in a way that results in descriptions and access points suited to both institutional and research needs."(RAD P1.0)

Generally the access points at the Algoma University Archive are:

  • parish names
  • residential school names
  • proper name of important people.

How do I stay up to date with news, new and updated holdings?

The easiest way is to check off the "Recieve email updates" box in your profile. You can only do this if you have an account.

If you do have an account, you can:

  1. Log in
  2. Click "My account" (first link at the top of the left hand nav column)
  3. Click "Edit" to edit your profile
  4. Click "contact" at the top (right after "account"
  5. Click off the checkbox.

Clearing this check box means we will never contact you via email.

This means you will receive email updates whenever there is a major event, addition to the collection or other news worthy event. The newsletter will update you on news as it becomes available, such as major events.

In order to view the most recent additions to the collection, simply use the "Recently Added" link on the left hand nav bar, as well as the "Recently Updated" link for changes to the collection.

Soon these two links will be provided with a subscription service so that you can view updates via RSS.