Google searching can be invaluable, but it if you don’t know what you’re looking for, the chances are very good that you’ll never find it. Whereas if you head out into your community and make contact with library and archive professionals, your research will go to an entirely different level.
In most libraries, you can make an appointment with a librarian to help you research a specific topic. Museum staff and archivists are also a hidden treasure. You will be amazed at what these professionals can help you discover, such as where to start searching, how to search.
Research isn’t expecting to see something, finding it, and then saying, “A-ha, there it is!” The secret lies in looking without expecting what you’re going to find so that you can see what’s actually there. It’s one step at a time. Librarians and archivists can show you how and where to start.
What’s the Question?
Good research almost always starts with asking good questions. If you know what the target you’re aiming for it, you’re much more likely to hit it. If you’re uncertain about how to go about this, try this useful online resources courtesy of the Centre for Innovation in Research and Teaching has some excellent ideas on how to get started.
Find our downloadable bibliographies and lists of online sources and resources here.
Library & Archives Canada
Library & Archives Canada (LAC) is a federal institution tasked with acquiring, preserving and making Canada’s documentary heritage accessible. It is a vast repository of information, images, audio, films, artwork, and much, much more.
There are many things you can do in person at the LAC in Ottawa. But you can also access their resources online. The best place to start if you are unfamiliar with them is to Ask Them a Question.
You will be amazed at how much is there, and how helpful the staff can be in helping you find whatever it is you are searching for. Highly recommended.
An extensive list of museums across Canada can be found here on this Wikipedia website listing.
PastPerfect Museum Software is an application for collections archiving. It was designed for museums but is also used by many archival institutions and museums including libraries, archives, and natural history collections. PastPerfect allows for the database storage of artifacts, documents, photographs, and library books. PastPerfect is utilized by over 9000 museums nationwide.
You’ll only find it at your local museum, library, or archive. Visit them and ask politely if it might be possible to search using their PastPerfect software.
Most libraries across the country subscribe to an Ancestry site, an invaluable site for researching family heritage, whether it is your family or someone’s you are researching. Family Search is the most economical way to start and is well worth exploring.
Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committees (LACAC) are appointed by Municipal Councils to advise on the matter of conservation and heritage within their communities. They can be great resources for finding lesser-known resources and local information on a local level. Look for a LACAC committee in your community.
Ontario Heritage Toolkit
The Ontario Heritage Tool Kit was designed to help understand the heritage conservation process in Ontario. Most provinces will have similar resources. Do a Google search for your province, territory, or community, and include keywords for the subject you are searching for (e.g. Spanish Flu, Pandemic, WW1).
NoodleTools is software that provides students with a systematic but flexible framework for navigating the tangled web of research. Students develop expert critical-thinking skills, gain confidence, and replace ‘patch-writing’ (unsuccessful attempts at paraphrasing) and plagiarism with synthesis. The software is for purchase, but the pricing is very low.
Statistics + Numbers
Here is a list of various online statistical and numeric information. If you need numeric data to tell your story, these are the places to start looking for information.