Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hudson's Bay Company Archives

A while ago I received a note from Heather Beattie, archivist of the Hudson's Bay Company Archives.
She had read my post of September 3rd when I talked about Section A of their records, and has this to add:
"Since the Keystone Archives Descriptive Database was launched in 2005, HBCA archivists have been working to enter descriptions of the records in our holdings.
"Full online descriptions are currently available for Sections A, B, C, D, F, H, RG2 and RG7.
"This includes records of the Governor and Committee, Governor and Council of Rupert's Land, Commissioner's Office, Canadian Committee, Fur Trade Department, Northern Stores Department, Wholesale Department, Montreal Department, Southern Department, Northern Department, Oregon Department and Western Department, all Hudson's Bay Company posts and districts, and records of related or subsidiary companies.
"This is an ongoing project, and new descriptions are being added to the database on a regular basis.
"Until everything has been added to Keystone we are also continuing to provide access to some of the older Online Finding Aids, which have been available on the HBCA website since the late 1990's.
"I think these may have been what you were looking at for all of the non-Section A records -- much more detailed descriptions of most of these records are available in Keystone, and we generally encourage researcher to look there instead of (or in addition to) the Online Finding Aids."

She is exactly right -- I have only been looking at the Online Finding Aids in the HBCA archives rather than searching the Keystone Database in the Manitoba Archives website.
Of course when I started the search ten years ago, that was the only way to find the records.
So if you are searching today, do check out the Keystone Archives Descriptive Database and see what you can find.
Obviously it isn't only Section A on that database!

Heather finishes her message to me with this:
"All of the HBC records created prior to 1920 (and many more recent ones) are available on microfilm and can be borrowed through the interlibrary loan program.
"If you ever have any questions about our holdings or online tools, please feel free to contact me."

Thanks, Heather, for the information, and I will search through Keystone next time.
As a note -- I have always found the HBC archives staff helpful and willing to give information.
Because they receive so many emails the responses may not be immediate, but they know their archives and they do answer the questions to the best of their knowledge.

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