DHH Archives and Library
DHH has a number of historical resources available for research in our Reading Room but which are not yet available Online (For those that are, please consult our Histories). The Reading Room maintains a comprehensive listing of finding aids, guides, lists and other research tools to assist members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Dept. of National Defence, and the general public in their research on Canada’s military history. Some of the major resources are (click on the link for a description):
- DHH Library;
- Fonds Database Records;
- Document Collection;
- Kardex Collection;
- Naval Historian's Collection;
- Annual Historical Reports (AHRs);
- Permanent Reference Files (PRFs);
- Biographical Files;
- Card Collections;
- Steiger Materials;
- Public Record Office (PROs); and
- Pamphlet Collections.
The DHH Library contains approximately 15,000 books and 450 periodicals which collectively enable research and promote a greater understanding of Canadian military history.
This collection includes Official histories of allied and enemy forces, general histories, campaign histories and some technical works, as well as numerous Canadian and British regimental histories. Some bound runs of periodicals are held. There is an extensive collection of officers’ lists and printed regulations and administrative orders, mostly Canadian, for example: Admiralty Fleet Orders, Militia Orders, General Orders, Canadian Army Orders, Air Force Administrative Orders, etc. It also contains numerous documents on peacekeeping.
Access: The Library collection is accessible to the public from DHH's Public Reading Room.
Circulation: Certain documents can be borrowed/loaned through inter-library loan services.
Fonds Database Records
The Fonds Database Records consist of archival fonds and collections, including all records received since 1 January 1995. Fonds Database Records also ties together older related material held by DHH and its predecessors in the Document Collection, the Kardex Collection, or other collections described below. Fonds Database Records includes records with substantive historical information emanating from the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Cold War, peacekeeping missions, operations and exercises, and the development of the Canadian Armed Forces. There are records on the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) as well as the unified Canadian Armed Forces.
As of 1 January 1995, the fonds database was established for all records newly acquired at DHH. The fonds database replaced item-level card cataloguing and implemented the Canadian Rules for Archival Description (RAD). Utilizing the principle of Respect des Fonds for both new acquisitions and records held in older collections at DHH, the database highlights the relationships among the records and provides context. As of 1 May 2013 the database contained 745 fonds, 114 collections and 793 series level descriptions received since 1995, and including all pre-1995 fonds and collections with finding aids. All finding aids are available in both hard copy and electronic format. None of the databases maintained by the Archives are online. However, they are available to the public in the Reading Room.
There are also approximately 730 fonds level and 550 series level descriptions available on Archeion, the online database of descriptions of records located in archives across Ontario. The following link will guide you to these resources:
The Document Collection includes documents, reports and narratives received between 1971 and 1994. It is largely composed of individual items, and includes publicity announcements, journal articles, conference papers, interview transcriptions, memoirs, among other types of documents. The periods and topics covered include the Second World War, the Korean War, the Cold War, peacekeeping missions, operations and exercises, and the development of the Canadian Armed Forces. The collection was closed to new acquisitions on 31 December 1994.
There is a card catalogue to the collection, which was created based on the Library of Congress and U.S. Air University Library cataloguing systems. It has been completely digitized and is available in PDF format in the Reading Room.
The Kardex Collection includes papers from the former Army Historical and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Historical Sections. The bulk of the material dates from 1939 to 1964, with some earlier and later material. It includes files generated by Canadian Military Headquarters and 1st Canadian Army Headquarters during the Second World War. Also includes operational and administrative files of Air Force Overseas Headquarters in London, UK during the Second World War. There are also post Second World War records, including policy and operational papers related to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), participation in the Korean War, the development of the North American Air Defence Command (NORAD), civil defence planning and Canadian peacekeeping activities under the United Nations and other auspices. They are filed according to the Directorate Kardex classification system. The Collection was closed to new acquisitions in 1971.
There is a card catalogue to the collection. It has been completely digitized and is available in PDF format in the Reading Room. A part of the collection has been transferred to Library and Archives Canada (LAC). Transfer lists are available. There are also finding aids to part of the RCAF Historical Section papers (the 181 series). All lists and finding aids are available in both hard copy and electronic format.
Naval Historian's Collection
The Naval Historian’s collection is also known as the Naval Kardex collection and the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) Naval Historical Section fonds (81/520). It includes a large collection of reference files compiled by the Naval Historical Section during the 1950s and kept up-to-date until 1965-66. It was arranged by the old RCN file numbers and catalogued in a separate Kardex. Most of the documents cover the period of E.C. Russell’s tenure as Naval Historian during 1952-1966, and there is also material collected by the first Naval Historian, Dr. Gilbert Tucker, during the Second World War. The material documents the history of the RCN from the First World War up to the 1960s, with the Second World War as the predominant topic.
In addition to the card catalogue, a complete copy of the catalogue is available in PDF format in the Reading Room. There are also finding aids to the collection. These are available in both hard copy and electronic format.
Annual Historical Reports (AHRs)
Annual Historical Reports (AHRs) are submitted by regulation each year by every active Canadian Armed Forces unit. There are approximately 575 units currently submitting reports. The AHR provides an historical summary of the unit's activities for the calendar year ending December 31. An AHR consists of a covering letter, a narrative account of unit activities for the year with information on unit administration and personnel, plus annexes. They are written in French or in English. Some AHRs include photographs, newspaper clippings and/or other items related to the unit’s activities.
At present the Archives does not have the AHRs database online. However, it is available to the public in the Reading Room. A finding aid is also available in both hard copy and electronic format.
Permanent Reference Files (PRF)
The Permanent Reference Files (PRFs) are working files created for Canadian bases in Canada and abroad, Canadian units, Canadian ships, squadrons of the Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Armed Forces, and aircraft types, both Canadian and foreign. They include booklets, newspaper clippings, photographs, articles, press releases and similar ephemeral materials. A finding aid is available in both hard copy and electronic format.
The Biographical Files are open working files for many Canadian servicemen and civilians of all ranks and professions, and for some selected foreigners. They include press releases, information sheets, articles, newspaper clippings, photographs and various other documents. A finding aid is available in both hard copy and electronic format.
The Biographical Files are supplemented by a number of card collections of Second World War honours and awards, casualties, prisoners of war, etc. for Canadian personnel. There are also card files of Canadians who served in the British flying services during the First World War and for those Royal Canadian Navy personnel who received honours and awards during 1941-1960. Finding aids and a guide are available in both hard copy and electronic format.
The late Alfred G. Steiger’s (1900-1972) material is a collection of documents in the German language which originated in Germany during the Second World War. Many are translated into English. They include: documents relating to research on specific aspects of the First World War; lists of documents held in other archives; and some secondary published material about German military history in general. A finding aid is available in both hard copy and electronic format.
Public Record Office (PROs)
The Public Record Office (PROs) material are documents that were photocopied in London UK for research on the Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy official histories. They include records of the British Admiralty and related bodies concerning all aspects of the organization and operations of the Royal Navy and associated naval forces, as well as records of the Air Ministry, the Royal Air Force and related bodies on the development of military aviation and the aviation component of the armed forces. A finding aid is available in both hard copy and electronic format.
The Pamphlet Collection is a small collection of training pamphlets of Canadian and British origin (FN Series). A finding aid is available in both hard copy and electronic format.