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Archival Collections

The archival collections of the Kitchener Public Library and the Waterloo Historical Society are held by the Grace Schmidt Room. Advance notice of at least 24 hours is required to view a collection.

To view our archival finding aids, please visit our digital platform, History in the Making.

In an effort to provide better access and control over the library's archival holdings, we will not be accepting new archival collections until further notice.

To make a request to view a collection, please email gsr@kpl.org or call 519-743-0271, ext. 212. Viewing appointments must be confirmed by staff.

Directories

County and city directories are an excellent resource for researching property ownership, residency, regional growth and development, and the approximate age of buildings on a particular street.

Abbreviations Used in Directories

Early directories and atlases often used abbreviations to convey information. We have put together a list of common abbreviations to help you use the directories.

Abbreviations Used in Directories (PDF)

Directory Digitization Project

With the support of our partners and volunteers, we have recently completed the digitization of Kitchener-Waterloo city and Waterloo County directories from 1864 to 2014. Explore the collection of digitized county and city directories on our digital platform, History in the Making. Check back often to see what has been added to the digital collection!

The scanned directories are provided for private research and study only.

The City and County Directories Digitization Project and the purchase of the book scanner in the Grace Schmidt Room has been made possible for the Library through the generous financial support of the Waterloo Regional Heritage Foundation and the Waterloo Region Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS), who have also provided volunteer support dedicated in the memory of Norma Huber, long-time Waterloo Region Branch, OGS, member and genealogist.

Waterloo Regional Heritage Foundation

Ontario Genealogical Society

The library and its project partners would like to thank the following institutions and individuals for the loan of selected directories to complete the project:

  • City of Cambridge Archives
  • Waterloo Historical Society
  • rych mills
  • University of Waterloo, Special Collections and Archives

Oral History

The oral history collection, originally recorded on cassette tapes, is available in the Grace Schmidt Room. These recordings include interviews with prominent local figures and community members, and provide a wealth of family, local and social history.

Oral history cassettes may be borrowed for one week. You are allowed to borrow a maximum two cassettes at a time.  They may also be listened to in the Grace Schmidt Room. You will need to bring a pair of headphones to use our cassette player. Please be advised that older cassettes may have some loss of clarity and other irregularities.

Oral History Digitization Project

We are in the process of digitizing our oral history collection. As the recordings are digitized, they are being made available on History in the Making.

Photograph Collection

A large collection of photographs of Kitchener (formerly Berlin) and Waterloo County, dating back to the late 19th century, are available for viewing in the Grace Schmidt Room. These photographs belong to the Kitchener Public Library and the Waterloo Historical Society.

Digital Collection

Our growing digital photograph collection is available on History in the Making. New photographs are added regularly, so be sure to visit often!

Physical Collection

Photographs not yet added to the digital collection can be viewed in the Grace Schmidt Room. A collection of index cards contains information about each photograph.

On each index card, you will find:

  • Subject heading
  • Title and description
  • Acc. No. (also known as the “P” number)
  • Coll. (the owner of the photograph is listed here, usually KPL or WHS)
  • Neg. No. (negative number, if required)
  • Loc. (location where the photograph is stored)
  • Small copy of the original image (if available)

To view a photograph, please provide library staff with the “P” number and the “Loc” information from its index card.

Copyright and Conditions

Photographs are provided for research and private use only.

Researchers who want to publish or display any images must receive permission from the owner of the photograph, and are responsible for obtaining all necessary copyright permissions. Library staff will assist researchers to determine the copyright owner.

Kitchener Public Library and the Waterloo Historical Society do not accept responsibility for any violation of copyright. Information on copyright laws may be obtained from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO).

Researchers must cite Kitchener Public Library or the Waterloo Historical Society for every image used. Researchers must also forward two (2) complimentary copies of any work using Grace Schmidt Room photographs at the time of publication.

How to Order a Copy

The following charges apply to the copying of photographs, slides and digital images:

  • $10.00 per digital image (+ HST)
  • $10.00 per physical copy for 1 – 2 photographs or slides (+ copying cost + HST)
  • $5.00 per physical copy for more than 2 photographs (+ copying cost + HST)

To order copies of photographs, or for additional copyright information, please email gsr@kpl.org or call 519-743-0271 ext 212.

Soldier Information Cards

To honour the courageous men and women of Waterloo County who served Canada in the First and Second World Wars, Kitchener Public Library staff created Soldier Information Cards. The cards were created during and shortly after each war, using newspaper and magazine clippings, photographs, and information contributed by returning soldiers and their families.

Due to the fragile nature of the original Soldier Information Cards, access to the physical collection is limited.

Digital Collections

Due to the generous commitment of over 100 library volunteers, we have been able to digitize our Soldier Information Card sets and make them available online on History in the Making. Thank you to everyone who volunteered to help with this project!