Skip to Main Content

Archival material

Archival Materials at RBSC

This is a guide to searching for archival material in Canada and internationally, with an emphasis on British Columbia. Archival material includes primary sources (generally unpublished material ) such as manuscripts, letters, photographs and audio-visual material.

What is a fonds?

The word "fonds" is used to describe most archival collections in Canada and also in many European and Latin American countries.  Fonds simply means the documents in any media or format created or received by a person or an organization in the course of their personal or professional activities.  For example, the "Jane Smith fonds" would refer to the records created and received by Jane Smith.
Read the wikipedia article for  the term "fonds."

Related Resources

If you want to continue your research beyond our collections, the links below will help guide you in finding other useful sources.


Related UBC Sites

Department of Central, Eastern, & Northern European Studies

Department of English

Department of Geography

Department of History

Department of Political Science

Department of Theatre and Film

Related Websites


  • A database of archival descriptions from repositories across the province of British Columbia. Search by keyword, or browse by subjects, places, names or repository.

Archives Canada

  • Gateway to archival resources found in over 800 repositories across Canada. Use the interactive map to locate provincial archival networks.

Digitized Okanagan History

  • Search D.O.H. to access copies of local historical materials including photographs, textual documents and publications from participating Okanagan memory institutions.

Canadian Archival Resources on the Internet

  • Comprehensive list of links to Canadian archives and associated resources on the Internet. These include links to individual repositories, multi-repository databases, archival listservs, archival associations, educational opportunities, and other related sites.

Handling Archival Material

Using Archives - Library and Archives Canada

The National Archives Palaeography Tutorial (how to read old handwriting)

  • A tutorial on deciphering handwriting from the National Archives in the U.K.

Script Tutorials

  • Resources for old handwriting and documents.

Batch-processing photos from your archive trip

  • Hints on keeping track and converting the photos you take of archival material, by Miriam Posner of Emory University Libraries.