We regret that it is not possible for staff members to perform detailed research on behalf of patrons.

A King Street business block as it looked in the early eighties

Local history

Special Collections holds a wide variety of resources of interest to those researching the local and urban history of the Kitchener-Waterloo area.

We also have maps, books, serials, and newspapers are available for consultation.

Doing research on a building? Try the Kitchener Public Library's House Research Guide. The Grace Schmidt Room of Local History has translations of selections from the Berliner Journal's "Progress in Berlin" column, which ran from 1873 to 1903 and listed residential and commercial construction and improvements.

The original copy registers for Waterloo County (North and South) and Brant County have been moved to the Archives of Ontario. Contact them for further information.

Books, newspapers, and other printed material

Waterloo County to 1972: An annotated bibliography of regional history

Dr. Elizabeth Bloomfield's Waterloo County to 1972: An annotated bibliography of regional history has been digitized and is available through the Internet Archive. The work is keyword-searchable and can be downloaded in various formats.


Among the most useful tools for the local historian are business and city directories.

The Library's collection currently includes a number of nineteenth and early twentieth century directories for the Waterloo region. To find directories in the Library catalogue, search for the following subject headings:

Some of our directories are too fragile to use, and we have digitized these for researchers:

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Special Collections holds restored paper copies of issues of Berliner Journal for the years 1859 to 1889. The Berliner Journal was a weekly that ran from 1859 to 1917 and which has been described as the principal German newspaper in Canada of that time.

The University of Waterloo Library's microfilm collection includes many of the newspapers issued in the communities of Kitchener and Waterloo over the years.

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Government documents

Early government documents of local interest in the collection include:

Journal of the proceedings and by-laws of the Municipal Council of the County of Waterloo (issues from 1851 to 1900; some missing).

The consolidated by-laws of the Municipal Corporation of the village of Berlin ... 1868 ....

This document gives important statistical data on the "Village of Berlin" in the year 1868. The reeve at the time was Ward Hamilton Bowlby, a prominent local lawyer, whose nephew's papers are preserved among the archival collections in the Doris Lewis Rare Book Room as the David Shannon Bowlby fonds.

Beginning with By-law #1, which describes the corporate seal for the Village of Berlin, by-laws related to such diverse matters as "the running at large of certain kinds of Stock or Cattle", regulations on "the assize and weight of bread" (the purchaser may demand that his/her bread be weighed at time of delivery), and the taking of a census of the clergymen and churches are listed. The volume also contains a biographical listing of all local clergymen.

Canada (Province). Board of Registration and Statistics. Census of the Canadas, 1851-52.

Canada's first census is an excellent source of historical economic and statistical information.

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Other printed material of interest to the local historian

Special Collections also houses a number of genealogies and family histories as well as several hundred monographs of local interest, ranging in date from the early 19th century to the present. One of the most interesting of these is the 1907(?) publication, Busy Berlin, which contains 37 photographs, 18 engravings, and 44 descriptions of local businesses and factories.

Prospectus for International Saengerfest, August 1886

The Library holds a selection of printed ephemera of interest to local historians, such as, Prospectus, Great International Sangerfest ... to be held in the Town of Berlin ... 1886 . This brochure describes the music festival which is considered to be the precursor of the present-day celebration known as Oktoberfest.

Yearbooks from local high schools, such as The Grumbler (1924-1941/1942,1945,1948/1949-1966), and Specula Galtonia (1926-1928) from Galt Collegiate Institute are also available.

To locate this material, please consult the Library catalogue.

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Local history and genealogy


The library has moved all of its reference online, including Special Collections & Archives. The Reading Room is therefore closed until further notice.

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