Collections - Full List

Atlases, Gazetteers and Maps

The Halifax Central Library Local History Room has numerous atlases, gazetteers and maps, including:

  • City Atlas of Halifax, 1878
  • Halifax and Dartmouth city and tourist maps from1900s to present
  • Nova Scotia road and tourist maps from 1930s to present
  • Nova Scotia topographical maps
  • Thematic maps

Biographical Dictionaries

If your ancestors were well-known citizens or business leaders, they may have been featured in a biographical dictionary. For example:

Biographical Review: This Volume Contains Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens of the Province of Nova Scotia, by Harry Piers. 1900.


Bibliographies will introduce you to other research materials on a particular subject. For example:

A Dartmouth Bibliography 1750-1961, by Fiona Black. 1992.
Annotated Bibliography of Genealogical Works in Canada, by Kathleen Mennie-de Varennes. 1986.
Cape Bretoniana: An Annotated Bibliography, by Brian Douglas Tennyson. 2005.

Business History

Research local business history using City Directories, Clipping Files, business directories, or some of the many published business histories. For example:

Casting a Legend: The Story of the Lunenburg Foundry, by Marike Finlay-de Monchy and Karin Cope. 2002.
Halifax and Its Business, Containing Historical Sketch and Description of the City and Its Institutions, Also Description of Different Lines of Business, with Account of the Leading Houses in Each Line, by G. A. White. 1876.

Cemetery Records

Thanks to the efforts of genealogical societies and their volunteers, many cemeteries throughout Nova Scotia have been transcribed. For example:

Cemetery Inscriptions for Lunenburg, Queens and Shelburne Counties, by the South Shore Genealogical Society. 1981.

Census Indexes

The Library does not carry individual (nominal) Census returns. Please consult with the Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management. The Halifax Central Library Local History Room does carry indexes to Census returns, organized by surname. For example:

The 1838 Census Index of Hants & Kings Counties, Nova Scotia, by Karen E. McKay. 1997.
The 1752 Census of Isle Royale (Known As Cape Breton Island): As a Result of the Inspection Made by Sieur De La Roque, by Joseph de La Roque. 1997.
Surname Index to the 1901 Census of Canada, Nova Scotia, Halifax County (Excluding Halifax City), by the Bridgewater Business & Information Services. 1995.

Church Histories and Records

Many churches publish histories of their congregations, and mention community leaders or religious activists. Some church registers have also been transcribed. For example:

Religious Marriages in Halifax, 1768-1841: From Primary Sources, by Terrence M. Punch. 1991.
Song of the Spirit: 150th Anniversary, Beechville United Baptist Church, by Pearleen Oliver. 1994.

City and Provincial Directories

Directories can identify the address of a particular person, the occupants of a particular street or the location of a business within the community. Directories also contain a number of great advertisements of local businesses. See also Telephone Directories. Directories are available at the Halifax Central Library Local History Room:

  • Halifax and Dartmouth: 1869-2000
  • Provincial /Maritime: 1866, 1870, 1871, 1890-97, 1914
  • National: 1857

Clipping Files

The Halifax Central Library Local History Room collects newspaper clippings of Halifax newspapers from the 1950's to present. Articles about Halifax and Nova Scotia are a great source of information that cannot be found in other published materials. For example:

Halifax County, N.S. - Buildings
Halifax County, N.S. - Clubs and Organizations
Halifax County, N.S. - Cole Harbour
Halifax County, N.S. - Devil’s Island
Halifax County, N.S. - History - to 1968
Halifax County, N.S. - History - 1969 -
Halifax County, N.S. - Maps
Halifax County, N.S. - McNab’s Island
Halifax County, N.S. - Peggy’s Cove

more »

Community History

Reading about the history of local towns, counties and their settlers will add insight into your own ancestor’s way of life. They may even be mentioned. For example:

Haulin’ In the Family Net: Volume IV, McNab's Island, Eastern Passage, Cow Bay, Devil's Island, Lawlor's Island, by Linda Gray-LeBlanc. 1999.
History of the County of Lunenburg, by Mather B. DesBrisay. 1895.
In the Wake of the Alderney: Dartmouth, 1750-2000, Harry Chapman. 2000.
Place-Names and Places of Nova Scotia, by the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. 1967.

Check Halifax Historic Communities to locate materials about Halifax County communities.

Family Histories

Someone may have already written about your ancestors. Check community histories, published family genealogies, or Royalty, Landed Gentry and Peers guides. For example:

A Catalogue of Published Genealogies of Nova Scotia Families, by Allan E. Marble. 1984.
Debrett’s Peerage and Baronetage, by Charles Kidd and David Williamson. 2000.
The Richard Families of Guysborough County, by Irene C. Schofield. [1996].

Government Documents (Halifax Regional Municipality)

Halifax municipal records are a great source of information about the history and development of the city. The Halifax Central Library Local History Room collects municipal annual reports and budgets, planning and development studies, committee reports, council minutes, bylaws and city charters. The Alderney Gate Public Library houses similar materials for the former Dartmouth City. For example:

  • Halifax Annual Reports: 1857 (with gaps)-1921
  • Halifax Budget: 1917 to present
  • Halifax Council Minutes: 1890-present
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia. School for the Blind Report: 1963-1976

Government Documents (Nova Scotia)

The Halifax Central Library Local History Room is a legal deposit site for Nova Scotia government documents. The Department collects budgets, annual reports, department studies, royal commissions, legal statutes, statistics and agency reports. For example:

  • Nova Scotia. Department of Public Health. Annual Report: 1948-1986
  • Nova Scotia. House of Assembly Debates (Hansard): 1967-present
  • Nova Scotia. Public Accounts: 1949-present
  • Nova Scotia. Royal Gazette I: 1965-present
  • Nova Scotia. Royal Gazette II: 1973-present
  • Nova Scotia. Statutes: 1827-present
  • Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall, Jr. Prosecution: Commissioners’ Report. 1989

“How To Research” Manuals

There are a variety of genealogical “how to research” books, organized by geographic region, ethnic, religious or cultural identity. Consult the “Beginner’s Guide to Genealogy” resource list for suggested titles.

Immigration History

Immigration policies may have influenced where and when and why your ancestors settled in Canada. Find pictures of passenger ships or studies of distinct migrant groups. For example:

Erin’s Sons: Irish Arrivals in Atlantic Canada 1761-1853, by Terrence M. Punch. 2008.
Great Passenger Ships of the World, by Arnold Kludas. 1975-1977 (6 volumes).
Uprooted: The Shipment of Poor Children to Canada, 1867-1917, by Roy Parker. 2008.

Interlibrary Loans

Borrow books, newspapers and primary records from other libraries and archives through the Interlibrary Loans service.

Military History

Explore the lives of your military ancestors with resources on unit history, military ships, veteran memorials, costumes, battlefield plans and home front activities. For example:

Battlefields of Canada, by Mary Beacock Fryer. 1986.
The C.E.F. Roll of Honour: Member and Former Members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Who Died as a Result of Service in the Great War, 1914-1919, by Edward H. Wigney. 1996.
The Home Front: Wartime Life in Camp Aldershot and in Kentville, Nova Scotia, by Don F. Ripley. 1991.


Local newspapers contain obituary notices and are a good source about current events. The Halifax Central Library has microfilm copies of:

  • Chronicle Herald: January, 1880-present
  • Mail Star: January, 1894 to present
  • Daily News: January, 1980-present

The Halifax Central Library also has the following Dartmouth newspapers on microfilm:

  • Atlantic Weekly-1893-1900
  • Dartmouth Free Press-1954-1982
  • Dartmouth Patriot-1901-1916; October 1992-December 1993
  • Dartmouth This Week-1983-1987
  • Dartmouth Times-August 4 1883-November 19, 1884
  • Mirror-December 1881-April 1882

Don't forget to check the Obituary Index for the Chronicle Herald/Mail Star from 1961-to present.

To identify newspapers from across Nova Scotia, try:

Nova Scotia Newspapers: A Directory and Union List, 1752-1988, by Lynn Murphy and Brenda Hicks. 1990.


Journals, magazines and newsletters are a great source of current historical research. Try an online database such as the Canadian Periodicals Index (CPI.Q) or Proquest. The Halifax Central Library Local History Room also houses 30 national and international genealogical newsletters from the Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia exchange program. For example:

  • Aberdeen & North-East Scotland Family History Society
  • Generations (N.B)
  • The New England Historical and Genealogical Register
  • The Newfoundland Ancestor
  • Nova Scotia Genealogist
  • Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society Journal

Record Indexes

Many primary sources, such as census, cemetery, township, newspaper and probate records have been indexed, some on CD-Roms, to make finding your particular ancestor a little easier. For example:

The Argyle Township Books (Nova Scotia): Record Book, by Carol Jacquard. 1994.
Carleton’s Loyalist Index. CD-Rom, 2005.
Canadian Genealogy Index, 1600s-1900s (includes The Atlantic Canadians 1600s-1900s). CD-Rom, 1997.
Dartmouth Cemeteries. CD-Rom, 2007.
Deaths, Burials and Probate of Nova Scotians, 1800-1850: From Primary Resources, by Allan Everett Marble. 1999.

Surname Dictionaries

Surname dictionaries explain the origins, meanings and spelling variations of the most common European and North American last names. They may also illustrate family crests, coats of arms and mottos. For example:

Dictionary of American Family Names, by Patrick Hanks. 2003.
Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, E.R. Seary. 1998.
In Which County?: Nova Scotia Surnames from Birth Registers: 1864-1877, by Terrence M. Punch. 1985.
Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia, by George Way of Plean. 1994.

Telephone Directories

Telephone directories, including Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford, Sackville and many of Halifax County’s communities, are a great alternative to City Directories. The Halifax Central Library Local History Room has:

  • Cape Breton District Telephone Directory. 1935
  • Halifax-Dartmouth and County Telephone Directory: 1915-present
  • Nova Scotia Eastern District Telephone Directory. 1922

Vital Statistics

Births, marriages and deaths are often announced in local newspapers or religious newsletters. See also Newspapers. For example:

The Presbyterian Witness and Evangelical Advocate, Halifax, N.S.: Vital Statistics, 1888-1908, by James McCormick. 2000.
Vital Statistics from Halifax Newspapers, 1855-1856, by the Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia. 2000.


The Alderney Gate Public Library has yearbooks for the following Dartmouth schools:

  • Dartmouth High School: 1942, 1947-50, 1971-present
  • Dartmouth Regional Vocational School: 1971-1988
  • Nova Scotia Community College-I.W. Akerley Campus: 1989-1993
  • Prince Andrew High School: 1977, 1983-present

The Halifax Central Library Local History Room has yearbooks for the following Halifax schools:

  • Queen Elizabeth High School: 1943-2005/06
  • St. Patrick’s High School: 1955-2005