May 28, 2015

Finding a Loyalist in the Haldimand Papers (Loyalist Research Part 6)

Previously I talked about the history of Loyalists in Part 1, Land Grants and Requirements for Loyalist Status in Part 2, Land Petitions in Part 3 and Land Records in Part 4 and Loyalist Lists in Part 5

Now I want to walk you through finding an ancestor on the challenging set of records called The Haldimand Papers. These important papers were kept by Sir Frederick Haldimand, 1718-1791. The papers document events in North America beginning with the Seven Years War and ending with the settlement by Loyalists after the American Revolutionary War.

Finding an ancestor in the digitized records is a challenge but it can be done and the wealth of information is incredible. The first thing you need to know is that although the papers have not been transcribed or indexed, there is an index to Loyalists found on Heritage Canada's digitized microfilm C-1475. 

When you consult this typed index you will see the individual's name followed by a set of numbers as in the example below. Warning: the film is blurry!

The 3-digit number is the Volume where you will find the original record, followed by the page number.  So in this example above we know that a record for Jonas Larroway is found in all these volumes. Volume 167 for example has 5 pages listed for Jonas.

Sounds easy, right? Wouldn't we just go to whatever film holds Volume 167 and then look for the pages? How I wish it were that easy but it's not. There are 43 digitized films for the Haldimand Papers on Heritage Canada but there is no explanation of what is found in each film. 

A look at Library and Archives Canada also comes up empty. There is nothing found that describes the films and provides a description of each. To complicate things, there are several variations of numbers being used including the Series B transcripts (H-4digits), the Series B transcript volume numbers (B-3digits), the Add MSS 4digits number from the British Library and the WMD film number of the actual papers. 

It took me quite awhile to figure out that the Volume (V) number is the equivalent to a  B number. So in the example above we want to find B-167. But we still don't know what film it is on. I'll share with you that it took me an entire day to figure out what films I needed. Once I figured it out,  I found an impressive set of miscellaneous papers with my ancestors' names receiving rations from the British Government, on Loyalist Muster rolls and more.

Without further ado, here are the steps you need to take to find your own ancestor!

Step 1. Consult the index found on Microfilm C-1475 Four bound volumes of transcripts which relate primarily to Loyalists, together with a typed index have been microfilmed on this reel. The Loyalist volumes in finding aid no. 599 are: Add. MSS. 21765 (B105), 21826 (B166), 21827 (B167), 21828 (B168) and Index. You may find it easier to download the typed index on Collections Canada. It is a PDF file which you can save to your computer.

I should mention that you would be wise to avoid looking for any filmed records (other than the index) in C-1475. The C films are very bad quality and are difficult to read, having been filmed in the 1950s. The H films were filmed in the 1980s and are much better quality. 

Step 2: Consult the PDF conversion chart I found online (and a huge thank you to the author!) which gives conversions from B numbers to the correct film. The author created the following columns: LAC (Library and Archives Canada) reel; Batch #s; B series; Add MSS; WMP reel #

You are looking in the B series column and then the LAC reel number.

So for example looking for B-167  on the Conversion Chart we see this:

We can see that B-167 is found on 2 films, H-1654 and H-1655. Ignore the 21827 as that is the Add MSS number. The important fact here is that B-167 pages 1 to 320 are found on H-1654 but they will be found at the end of that film, not the beginning. There are other Volumes (B numbers) at the beginning of the film. Then pages 321 to the end were filmed on H-1655.

Step 3: Go to the list of Haldimand Papers digitized films on and scroll down to H-1654. Start the film and note what volume (B number) you are viewing. You can see the source details at the bottom or right hand side of each filmed page, as in the example below:

We are only in B-163 and you want B-167 so you will have to scroll quite a bit further. Once you reach your volume (B number) of interest, simply look for the page numbers you want.

Here is an example of what you might find for an ancestor. This is a 1783 list of Loyalists who settled at Niagara, Upper Canada (present day Ontario) along with the number of household members (by gender and age)
Finding a Loyalist in the Haldimand Papers (Loyalist Research Part 6)


Linda Lemons said...

well done - thank you!

T said...

I can't imagine starting out looking for anything there without a guide! I was able to look and see; not sure if anyone I found is related to me. It was almost too much for my brain to handle!

Janet Smith said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. I always wonder how to look at these documents and if they had been digitized and available online. Thanks for teaching me a search technique for my Canadian roots!


Geolover said...

What has been uploaded is indeed ~transcripts~ rather than the original papers. Most of them are poor quality, rather low-resolution digitized images.

The original documents are much preferable. They have been microfilmed but are not easy to access. The University of Windsor Library has a set that can be use on-site. I imagine the Archives in Ottawa also has a microfilm set of the originals, but this is speculation on my part. Since most of the uploaded images are barely readable, one can hope that the original images' microfilms, which are of excellent quality, will be digitized in high resolution and uploaded.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this will help someone else. I recorded the image numbers for the first page of each book in the Haldimond papers in the microfilms I looked at. If everyone does this we'll fill in the blanks on Mr. P├ętrin's list.

Film H-1447
MSS21761 B-101 image 5
MSS 21762 B-102 image 218
MSS 21763 B-103 image 521
MSS 21764 B-104 image 1051
MSS 21765 B-105 and B-105a image 1527
page 62 image 1590
page 74 image 1609

Film H-1448
MSS 21765 B-105 and 105a cont. at page 113 image 3
MSS 21766 B-106 image 368

MSS 21828 Manuscript Group 21 Vol B 168 Musters of Refugees (Crossed off: Returns of)Loyalists desiring to settle in Canada 1784 image 1169

Mss 21826 B-166 image 614
page 46 Returns of Families of Loyalists Receiving provisions out of the different magazines or depot in the District of Montreal from the 25th of Octobr to the 24th of November 1780 Inclusive IMAGE 663
Mss 21827 B-167-1 image 876

Mss 21827 pt 2 B-167-2 image 5
Mss 21828 B-168 image 98
Mss 21829 B-169 image 236
Mss 21830 B-170 image 383
Mss 21831 B-171 image 667
Mss 21832 B-172 image 814
Mss 21833 B-173 image 841
Mss 21834 B-174 image 1122