Search the Archives’ database for records and information.


Using the Archives online database, you can find and request amazing material about Toronto’s history and culture. To start your search in the database, click the blue “Search the Archives” button.

Once you have identified records you would like to see, you can request to view them. Many of the records at the Archives are not scanned, so if you would like to look at them, you will need to request the records and view them in person at the Archives.

The first step is creating a list of records you want to see. The Save to List button or link will add a record to your list. This function appears both on the search results screen and on every individual description screen.


Search results with "Save to List" button highlighted.


Full description of archival item with "Save to List" link highlighted at top of page.



You can see the number of items you have in your list at the top of any screen. You can view your entire list by clicking the View List link.


Results of search with "View List" link highlighted at top of page.


In the list screen, you can remove records from your list by clicking the Remove From List button underneath each hit.




In the List screen, you can create a Records Request Form pdf that you will use to request records from the Archives. This pdf will contain everything on your list. To create your pdf, click the arrow beside the Options bar at the top of the screen.


Search results with "Create records request form" button highlighted.


The pdf will pop up in a new screen.


PDF of Records Request Form showing archival citations and barcode.



Note that you can request only files and items, not fonds, series, or subseries. The latter are groups of records that may contain tens or hundreds of files or items. You can tell that a record can be requested because the entry on the Records Request Form pdf has a box number and a barcode.


Records Request Form pdf with box number and barcode highlighted.



The Records Request Form contains all of the information that Archives staff need to retrieve your records for you. If you are in the Archives, you can print this form and give it to the Research Hall staff, and your records will be retrieved from storage within one hour. You can also generate this list at home, and email it to the Archives ahead of time, indicating the date you would like to review these records. We will have them ready for your visit. Our email address is

Note that you can only request five boxes at a time. Please mark on the Records Request Form which five boxes you would like to view first. Once those have been retrieved, you can request another five.

If there are any items on the Records Request Form that require review because of Freedom of Information legislation or donor restrictions, Archives staff will discuss your options with you.

The boxes you have requested will be delivered to the brown wooden cubbyholes across from the Research Hall door where you came in. The box number is on a large white label on the side of each box. Look for the same box numbers as on your Records Request Form.


Archives box pick-up area with box number labels highlighted.


Records Request Form pdf with box number highlighted.


Please open only one box and one file at a time, and keep the records in the order you find them (don’t rearrange them). You may use a cart to move your boxes to a Research Hall table. If you would like help moving boxes, please feel free to ask Archives staff.


Understanding how archival records are arranged will help you find material you are interested in.

Archival records are described in groups (fonds, series, and subseries), which are made up of files and/or items. The groups are based on the creators of the records, and how the records were originally organized. This means that if you find a file or item that interests you, the rest of the group may also have useful material in it.


Flow chart showing heirarchy of archival records, with "fonds" as the biggest group at the top, "series" below it, then subseries, then files and items.

To see a list of all records in a group, go to the fonds or series description. One way to do this is to go into a file or item description screen. There, you will see a link under in the Forms Part Of field to the groups the file or item is part of.


File description with "Forms part of" section highlighted to show the series and fonds the item is a part of.


In the fonds or series description, go to the Record Consists of field, and click the Browse link.


Series description with "Record consists of" area highlighted to show that there are 1555 records attached. that the


This will take you to a new search results screen containing all of records attached to that fonds or series. (In a fonds description, you may see only series. In that case, you can go into the series description and click Browse again to see everything in that series.)


First two of 1555 files in a series.


In a few cases, the description of a group of records may direct you to a printed finding aid, because the contents of the group aren’t listed in the database. You will have to come to the Archives to see this list. Archives staff will assist you.


Text highlighted that says that a paper finding aid exists for this fonds.