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Archives research guide: Searching the archives

Archives Search allows users to explore descriptions (finding aids) of archival records in the holdings of the Archives and Special Collections, and to view digitized records and photographs online. This section explains how to browse and search Archives Search in order to locate records relevant to your research.

How to browse

If you want to discover what types of records the Archives and Special Collections holds or if you haven't chosen your research topic yet, we encourage you to browse this collections and fonds list. If you're in Archives Search, you can also select the "Browse" drop-down menu beside the search box on the header to browse by archival descriptions, people and organizations, subjects, places, or digital objects (which will show you all digitized records).

How to search

Type a search term or two into the box below and press enter to start your search. Once your results appear, you can narrow them down with filters (on the left hand side of the results page) such as creator, subject, place, or level of description.

Search tips

  • Limit your search terms to one or two words rather than phrases

  • If you don't find any results, remove one or more terms, or try different terms

  • If you want to search for an exact phrase or a specific reference code (if you know it), enclose it in quotation marks. Example: "civil defence" or "0003-05"

  • For more search options such as filtering results by date range, level of description, or type of record, click the search box and select "Advanced search >>"

  • You can temporarily save descriptions to a personalized list by clicking "Add" under Clipboard on the right of any description. This will add a reference to that description to a list that you can access by clicking "My List" on the site header. You can't save your list, but you can print it or export it as a spreadsheet.