New Brunswick Archives and Libraries (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: New Brunswick Ancestors  by Althea Douglas, MA, CG(C). The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Research Resources for New Brunswick[edit | edit source]

Fire, water, mice, decay and mankind have all contributed to the loss of documents. What has survived over two centuries is sometimes surprising, but it is scattered among several levels of government and a number of repositories.

The New Brunswick section of the Library and Archives Canada’s Checklist of Parish Registers 1986 (pages 15-25) lists some 17th and 18th century records from early settlements (now available on microfilm) that were saved by National Archives agents before the PANB existed. Other local records were rescued by historians such as Dr. Webster and Dr. Manny, who winkled them out of their friends and family’s attics and bookcases and preserved them from destruction. Here is where to look today.

Provincial Archives of New Brunswick
Bonar Law-Bennett Building, UNB Campus
Fredericton, New Brunswick

The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick (PANB), housed in an imposing brownstone building on the campus of the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, was established in 1967, which makes it a relative newcomer among New Brunswick institutions. Its mandate is “to collect and preserve the documents of the people, institutions and government of the province”.

The genealogical section was created in 1971 to assist family historians and they have done an excellent job of making their holdings accessible to researchers and casual visitors, by mail and on the Internet. Their microfilming policies and willingness to lend films through inter-institutional loan is generous and their website contains many of their most popular finding aids, with access to searchable indexes online.

As the provincial government has taken responsibility for various local museums and private collections, there has been a rationalizations of holdings. Always cross-check pre-1990 references against the PANB finding aids and inventories. In a number of cases, the PANB has microfilmed material in other institutions and so the PANB is the source for inter-institutional loans of the films, not the institution holding the papers.

New Brunswick Museum
Archives and Research Library
277 Douglas Avenue
Saint John, New Brunswick E2K 1E5

Once upon a time, not so long ago, the Library-Archives division of the New Brunswick Museum, still housed in an impressive brownstone building, at 277 Douglas Avenue in Saint John, had the best collection of books and documents relating to New Brunswick history in the province, and was the place to pursue family history. Their library is still enriched by the Webster Canadiana Library and Ganong Library. An Inventory of Manuscripts, published in 1967, listed some 700 entries, ranging in size from a single page to files of almost ten feet.

In 1987, in spite of considerable public protest, the archival research services were drastically cut and some holdings dispersed. Records relating to provincial and county governments, apparently went to the PANB while much of the microfilm material, newspapers, published and unpublished genealogies, miscellaneous card index; custom house records, burial permits and cemetery records, were given to the Saint John Regional Library (The Free Public Library is the main reference branch). For researchers, confusion reigned.

The situation appears to have moderated and the library is again open for research, being said to have: “Business records, personal papers and ephemera relating to the economic, social, legal, military, religious and political life of New Brunswick, with a nineteenth century emphasis. Library holdings include New Brunswick city and county histories, histories, census records, almanacs, city directories.”

Le Centre d’études acadiennes
Université de Moncton
Moncton, New Brunswick E1A 3E9

The University of Moncton traces its origins to Collège St. Joseph, founded in 1864 in the Memramcook Valley by the Rev. Father Camille Lefèbvre. It was the first French-language college in the Maritimes. In 1868 it received a provincial charter to grant university degrees. The staff at St. Joseph’s collected Acadian documents, books, pamphlets and newspapers from the very beginning, but in 1940 Fathers Clément Cormier and René Baudry set up the “Archives Acadiennes” and in the early 1960s these were moved to the Champlain Library on the campus of the Université de Moncton.

The Centre d’études acadiennes was created by Father Cormier in 1968 and is the foremost repository of Acadian material, holding large collections of both primary and secondary source material. The Centre has a full time genealogist on staff and their publication list grows annually. Check it out on the website.

There are also two smaller Acadian centres:

Centre d’études madawaskayennes in Edmundston, New Brunswick which holds official records, papers of individuals, genealogies, photographs, newspapers, sound archives, materials pertaining to the northwest of the province.

Centre de documentation de la Société historique Nicolas-Denys, at the Centre universitaire de Shippagan, Shippagan, New Brunswick holding official records, papers of individuals, genealogies, census and church records on microfilm, materials pertaining to the northeast of the province.

Library Resources[edit | edit source]

When Hugh Taylor, the first Provincial Archivist, was preparing New Brunswick History: A Check List of Secondary Sources, he noted in the “Introduction.”

Since the principal collections of published material relating to the Province are readily accessible in the Legislative Library, the University of New Brunswick Library, the New Brunswick Museum, the University of Moncton Library, and elsewhere, it is unlikely the Archives will ever build up its holdings in this field.

They have of course, if only to provide reference works for their staff.

Legislative Library of New Brunswick
Legislative Building, Centre Block
706 Queen Street
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 1C5
Mailing Address:
P. O. Box 6000
Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1

This is one of the oldest libraries in New Brunswick, officially opened in 1841, and while it does not lend material, the public may use material in the building. It is the formal depository for all New Brunswick publications, as well as those from other provinces and the federal government. It contains over 45,000 volumes, excluding government documents.

University of New Brunswick - Harriet Irving Library
5 MacAulay Lane
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5H5
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 7500
Fredericton, NB E3B 5H5

The University of New Brunswick can trace its beginnings back to 1785 when the Academy of Liberal Arts and Sciences was established in Fredericton. The first degree was conferred in 1828 and in 1829 a royal charter was granted to a renamed King’s College. An act of the provincial legislature made King’s College into the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in 1859.
In the late 1930s the noted scholar and Honourary Librarian, Dr. Alfred G. Bailey, began acquiring archival records and a rare book collection. The library now holds an extensive Loyalist collection while the archives contain college records from as early as the 1820s. You can check their holding online.

Mount Allison University Libraries and Archives
Ralph Picard Bell Library
49 York Street
Sackville, New Brunswick E4L 1C6

On January 19, 1843 the Mount Allison Wesleyan Academy opened with seven students. Charles Allison had helped to found this preparatory academy for young men in Sackville, New Brunswick, and in 1854 a Ladies College was created. In 1858 Mount Allison University became a degree-granting institution under a provincial charter. As with UNB, over the years the library acquired many now rare books, periodicals and newspapers. Most are housed in the Ralph Picard Bell Library, or in the University Archives, which also hold historical and archival documents and a large collection of family histories, family files of notes and clippings, and the working papers of a number of family historians. The library catalogue can be searched for this information.[1]

The holdings include considerable material on the Yorkshire settlers who came to Chignecto in the 1770s and the early era of Methodism in New Brunswick. Growing out of the Yorkshire 2000 conference, held at Mount Allison in August 2000, there have been ongoing negotiations to establish a Centre for the Study of the Yorkshire Settlers, similar to the Planter Studies at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Saint John Free Public Library
1 Market Square
Saint John, New Brunswick E2L 4Z6

One of the oldest libraries in New Brunswick, it houses a large number of family and local histories, and an exceptional collection of scrapbooks that contain much genealogical information. These scrapbooks have been microfilmed by the archives and films are available from PANB.

  1. A Catalogue of the Winthrop Picard Bell Collection of Acadiana: Held in the Ralph Picard Bell Library, Mount Allison University As of January 1, 1973. (Sackville, New Brunswick: Mount Allison University, 1972) is an indexed photocopy of the then existing card catalogue, by call number. It includes material about Nova Scotia

Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Research: New Brunswick Ancestors

offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at <br> 

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.