two gloved hands holding two old photos and a booklet relating to nursing in the 1930s.
Love to Learn

Archives Open a Window to the Past

Observed every year during the first week of April, Archives Awareness Week shines a spotlight on the importance of preserving the documentary heritage of Ontario’s communities. With this year's theme being 'Access Your Archives,' there are plenty of exciting ways to dive into the local history collection at the library and start exploring!

Discover BPL’s Local History Collection

Make a date during Archives Awareness Week, April 2-5, 2024, to get to know some of our local history resources and services.

Meet Our Staff

Introducing Marisa Purdy, the Local History & Digital Archive Coordinator at BPL. With a background in archival preservation, Marisa safeguards Burlington's history by collecting and curating both physical and digital documents and records for future generations. Beyond preservation, she meticulously organizes and catalogues local history collections, assists researchers, and provides valuable reference support to students, librarians, and anyone wishing to learn more about Burlington’s rich history. If you have a knack for organization, an analytical mind, a passion for history and information, and enjoy helping others, consider a fulfilling career as an archivist!

Marisa Purdy seated at a table looking at various archival items in BPL's Burlington History Room

Marisa Purdy processing a newly acquired archival donation in the Burlington History Room

Burlington History Room

The Burlington History Room, located on the second floor of Central Branch, contains the Burlington Collection (local history) and Burlington Historical Society Archives, which document the area's history and families. To provide a safe and secure environment, Burlington History Room entry is limited to library staff, Burlington Historical Society members, and those who arrange supervised access with BPL. The Local History Collection is reference in-library-use-only and contains many historical materials about our city, including many books, newspapers and newspaper clippings, directories, postcards, atlases, photographs, scrapbooks, and yearbooks.

Digital Archives

Burlington Digital Archive houses the local history digital collections of Burlington Public Library, Burlington Historical Society, and the City of Burlington. Anyone with Internet access can view our collective digitized historical materials, which document the history of Burlington and its pioneer families.

computer on desk beside a stack of notepads with screen displaying digital archive home page

Burlington History Index

The Burlington History Index is a retrieval tool for the library's non-digitized materials, primarily located in the Burlington History Room at Central Library. The alphabetical index serves as the sole resource for identifying and accessing uncatalogued materials within the BPL's local history collection.

Finding Aids

‘Finding aids’ are descriptive tools that help you find information in a specific record group, collection, or series of archival materials. Burlington Public Library is a member of the Archives Association of Ontario (AAO). You can find descriptions of our archival holdings on Archeion, a database of records located in archives across Ontario.

Reference & Research Services

If you have an in-depth research question, we can help! Please call 905.639.3611 extension 1155 or use our online form.

Enhancing Our Local History Collection

At Burlington Public Library, we are dedicated to gathering, preserving, and sharing materials that shed light on the people, culture, history, and development of Burlington. We're particularly interested in original, unpublished items like diaries, photos, and personal or institutional papers. We also welcome secondary sources that offer insights into Burlington's history. 

If you have materials you think would be a good fit, please reach out to our Local History & Digital Archive Coordinator. Your contributions help us preserve and showcase Burlington's story. 

Top image: This photo features items from a recently donated archival collection of documents and photos that tell the story of a Burlington resident who worked as a nurse in Hamilton from the late 1930s. Shown in this photo is a 1932 information guide from Hamilton General Hospital for nursing applicants, a nursing school graduation photo (June 1938), and a photo of nurse Annie Louise Smith (1938).