You may be aware that a few years ago the Records committee made an agreement with to make available the microfilm of Canadian meeting books, registers, and other records that were microfilmed in 1974. A full list of these holdings was published in Newsletter #13 in 1975 and is available as a pdf on the CFHA website.

Of course, Ancestry requires one to have a paid-up membership account and that prevents many people from accessing these microfilms. In Toronto, the Public Library has for many years given access to Ancestry’s Library Edition to library card holders but only on computers at the library. However, during this Covid period access is available for free at home to library card holders. Simply log into your account, click on “ebooks & online content” and within “A-Z list of databases” select “Ancestry Library Edition.” It may be that other libraries are offering this service during Covid.

A screenshot of the West Lake Monthly Meeting Register, 1820 – 1882, taken from

Card holders will be taken to Ancestry and under “Search” select “Card Catalogue.” There are two search boxes titled “Title” and “Keywords”. Entering the word “Quaker” in the Title box only yields 14 titles so use the Keyword box where 36 titles will be shown. Entering Society of Friends yields 7 hits.

The Canadian films are titled “Canada, Quaker Meeting Records, 1786-1988.” Selecting this will present a search screen for the films under that title.

At this point the researcher can make use of the nominal index that Ancestry made for all the Quaker films. This index is limited to forenames and surnames and not locations. For example, I entered Robert Saylor, a known ancestral Quaker to me, and it resulted in 133 hits in various films within the Canada holding. In one click the researcher is taken directly to the actual image of the page.

Within the Canada search page one can also choose a province, a meeting and then an actual book or register to browse the images. Once you are within the actual microfilm the index is not available for searching. The index is only available on the screen associated with the major title for that group of books. Do not overlook the group “Various” when selecting a Province as this has a number of Yearly Meeting books.

Two other titles of the 36 available are of major interest. “U.S. and Canada, Quaker Yearly Meeting Annual Reports, 1808-1930” and “U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935.”

The US holding is quite massive with a number of Yearly Meeting holdings available including Philadelphia. Notably absent are New York Yearly Meeting books which will soon be available on Find My Past, a competitor to Ancestry.

The transcriptions available on CFHA include most of the early Canadian minute books and registers up to about 1860. They are much easier to read that the microfilm images and the full text can be easily searched. Also available on CFHA are transcriptions of some early NYYM books for Nine Partners and Ferrisburg MM’s. Currently we are working on Muncy MM which is under Philadelphia YM.

Hopefully this is helpful to those interested and it would be useful to know if other Libraries are offering this access at home during the Covid period.

1 Comment

Evelyn Schmitz-Hertzberg · November 26, 2020 at 4:58 pm

The Quaker Archives and Library is managed by the Archives (formerly Records) Committee of Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.The Committee operates under Canadian Yearly Meeting Organization and Procedures 6.17.
In 2012 approached CYM Archives with a proposal to digitize and index records for the Quaker Archives and provide a copy of the digital images to the Archives in exchange for the perpetual right to display the digitized materials to customers on the, Inc. family of websites. After thoughtful discussion and exploration of the experience of other Quaker archives with ancestry, a Data Provider Agreement with was approved by CYM Trustees in 2013.
The ancestry contract makes clear that the records belong to CYM, and they will be released for

Leave a Reply