Libraries a great place to start genealogy research


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 02/02/2021 (853 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Winnipeg’s public libraries may be presently closed except for contactless pickup and returns of library materials but there are a lot of great resources available online on their website:

No library card? You can get a temporary one that will let you check out digital materials online. And don’t let unpaid fines keep you from borrowing from the library as they stopped charging late fees (and DVD/Blu-ray borrowing fees) on Jan. 1 and cleared all outstanding fines.

Researching family history has become a popular pastime during the pandemic. Genealogy is really interesting but the sheer number of different sites to visit, with links to sites that link to other sites, can be a bit overwhelming at first. The library has bundled together some great resources on itsgenealogy info page. The website boasts millions of paying members worldwide but with your library card, you can view Ancestry Library Edition for free. In addition, is a searchable database of archived newspapers from around the world that is also free to access with your library card. Winnipeg Free Press newspapers between the years 1872 to 2016, are archived there, as are newspapers from 32 cities and small towns across Manitoba.

Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press Winnipeg’s public libraries, including the Harvey Smith Library in the West End (above), are great resources of genealogical information.

You may remember the Henderson street directories for Winnipeg that came out annually from 1880 – 2000. They were comprehensively updated every year with the most current information about residents or businesses at (almost) every address on each street and are very useful if you’re looking for the history of your house. A link to the editions that the University of Alberta has digitized is available on the Winnipeg library website. The entire physical collection is housed in the Local History Room at Millennium Library and the librarians will find directory listings for you if you call. They will also dig up census data, Winnipeg and Manitoba phone book entries going back 100-plus years as well as research local history topics.   

Not all family history projects require as much research. Some people create family trees with just birth, marriage and death dates.

Others compile oral histories by interviewing their relatives during Zoom calls or over the phone in order to preserve their elders’ memories and to ensure that treasured family lore isn’t forgotten.

You can find books on every type of family history project imaginable at the library and librarians at 10 branches can be reached by phone between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. every weekday except for Thursdays, when the hours change to 1 to 8:30 p.m. They all do a uniformly wonderful job of finding answers to questions posed by library patrons and will email information or call you back if they don’t find the answer immediately.

Anne Hawe is a community correspondent for the West End. She can be reached at

Anne Hawe

Anne Hawe
West End community correspondent

Anne Hawe is a community correspondent for the West End. She can be reached at

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