About Memory PEI

Memory PEI is the archival description database for the Public Archives and Records Office of Prince Edward Island. The database contains close to 1200 archival descriptions, including government records and private sector material, held by the Public Archives and Records Office. More descriptions will become available online as entries are added to the database. You may also want to explore the PARO Collections Database for item-level access to vital statistics records, census material, and some of our most popular archival content, including maps, architectural plans, photographs, and other material.

The archival descriptions in Memory PEI are based on Rules for Archival Description (RAD), a system of rules for creating archival descriptions, agreed upon by the Canadian archival community, which enables institutions to describe their archival holdings in a standard format. These descriptions provide the contextual information about the creator of the fonds as well as a summary of the content of the records.

The term fonds is used to describe all the records created by one person, family, or organizational body together as a single unit. Fonds can be of varying sizes and can be subdivided into six hierarchical levels: fonds, sous fonds, series, sub-series, file, and item. Archives PEI includes descriptions of archival holdings at the fonds, sous fonds, series, and sub-series levels. Also, volume and item listings are available in pdf format for many of the descriptions.

A collection is a group of materials accumulated by a person, institution or organization on a particular subject, person or geographical area. These items are not the natural by-product of the individual or organization's day to day activities but an artificial grouping of items of wide provenance. In the past, archival and other institutions occasionally separated some kinds of materials, especially photographs, from their fonds creating artificial collections.

Memory PEI does not include digitized copies of records but instead provides a summary of the archival contents in the form of finding aids. Contact us to learn more about accessing archival collections and obtaining copies of material.


Guide to Browsing Memory PEI

1. Browse by subject - To browse Memory PEI by subject, select "Subjects" in the "Browse by" list on the homepage. The "Browse Subjects" column on the left lets you browse by subject heading and the grey button at the bottom allows you to expand the list (the button will disappear when you reach the end of the subject list). Click on a subject heading to see a list of results. Click on the title of the fonds/collection to view the record.

2. Search subject headings - The "Browse Subjects" page also allows you to search for subject headings. The search will return a list of matching subject headings. Click on the heading to view the fonds/collection results list.

3. Browse by people and organizations - The people and organizations records include brief histories of the persons, families, or corporate bodies that created the archival records. These records are linked to finding aids. To browse by name, choose "People and Organizations" from the "Browse by" list on the homepage. This will bring you to the "Browse People and Organizations" page. Browse the list by clicking on the "next" button located on the bottom of the page. You can filter your results to only people, families, or corporate bodies (the filter is located on the left side of the screen). Click on a name to see the brief history and links to any associated finding aids.

4. Search people and organizations - You can also search the list of names. The name search box is located at the top of the "Browse People and Organizations" page. The search will return a list of all names that match your search term.


Guide to Searching Memory PEI

1. Basic searches - Basic searches can be conducted from the search bar in Memory PEI. Basic searches query all fields of the finding aid. Enter your search term(s). Use boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) or quotations to build your search. The database will produce a set of descriptions that match your search as you type. You can select one of the matching descriptions or click the "Search" button to get a full list.

2. Basic search results - The search results screen with show all records that match your search term. Click on the title of fonds/collection to view the description.

3. Use search filters to narrow search results - You can narrow your search results using one of the filters in the left column (language, level of description, place, name, etc.). Selecting one or more of the filters will further narrow your results.

4. Review your search results - The finding aids are organized into various areas such as "Title and Statement of Responsibility" and "Dates of Creation" and provide information about fonds or collection and its creator. The reference code (ie., accession number), found at the top of the screen in the "Title and Statement of Responsibility" area, can be used to request the material at the Public Archives and Records Office. The left-hand menu can be used to browse within a fonds or collection if series or subseries descriptions are available. Related file and/or item lists are linked as PDFs in the "Notes" section of the description.

5. Advanced searches - Advanced searches may be useful if you are trying to locate a specific collection, are trying to search by accession number, or if you're getting too many results with a basic search. The advanced search is accessible from the "Advanced search" link in the basic search bar. The "Advanced search" page allows you to target your search to specific fields and use search filters. Type you search terms into the search box and use the drop down menu to select a field. Options include:

  • Any field - will search all the fields below

  • Title - will search titles at all levels of description (fonds, series, subseries, etc.)

  • Archival history - this will search short histories about the creators of archival material (persons, families, corporate bodies)

  • Scope and content - this will search notes about the types of material in the collection

  • Extent and medium - this will search notes about the size and format of material

  • Subject access points - this will search the list of subject headings associated with collections. NOTE: Subject headings can also be browsed alphabetically

  • Name access points - this will search the list of names (people, families, corporate bodies) associated with collections. NOTE: Names can also be browsed alphabetically

  • Place name access points - this will search the list of place names associated with collections. NOTE: Place names can also be browsed alphabetically

  • Identifier - this will search the unique identifier (ie. accession number) associated with a collection (eg. Acc2702)