Finding archives and research collections

Descriptive records

Descriptive information about archives and research collections held by Special Collections & Archives (SCA) can be searched using the Archives Database. Launched in 2019, the Archives Database provides details about SCA's literary and historical holdings. You can browse the site by: 

Although descriptive records are frequently being added to the Archives Database, what is currently available does not reflect a comprehensive list of SCA's holdings. Please contact us for assistance finding items of interest.

Digitized records

A selection of digitized records from Special Collections & Archives' holdings can be found online via the Waterloo Digital Library and as part of the Digital Exhibits and Digital Collections sections of this website.

Language in archival descriptions

Records held by Special Collections & Archives are historical in nature and contain language or depictions of people representative of their time. This includes problematic wording, cultural references, and stereotypes that are no longer used or appropriate today. Historical language has been maintained in its original form, in keeping with archival practice, to preserve the context in which the records were created. This approach, while potentially upsetting, allows for the critical assessment and questioning of historical material by contemporary researchers.

While the language of the record creators has been maintained, Special Collections & Archives staff understand the impact language and images have both on researchers accessing our collections and on the perpetuation of systemic and cultural bias. As a result, staff are actively working to:

  • replace inappropriate language introduced during legacy descriptive practices
  • identify and name instances of racism, sexism, ableism and other forms of discrimination
  • use current language that respects the people and events reflected in our collections during the (re)description of records

Special Collections & Archives staff view this manner of providing and expanding on the context of problematic records to be in keeping with the University of Waterloo’s Policy 33 - Ethical Behaviour, as well as the Association of Canadian Archivists’ Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

See the Language in archival descriptions changes news piece for examples of the related work in action.