Local History & Genealogy

The Peterborough Collection is a special collection of items that covers the rich historical, social and cultural growth of the city of Peterborough and the surrounding counties from the early 1800s to the present. The collection fulfills a special role in serving the needs of researchers interested in local and family history. All the material is accessible to anyone who visits the library while it is open and inquiries can be made at the Adult Information desk.

Content Scope: The collection consists of a wide range of published materials such as books, maps, government documents, newspapers and other periodicals, directories, and indexes. Content includes items about the place; material by and about the people; material by and about the institutions, organizations and culture. Material such as unpublished archival documents, fragile items, photographs, sound recordings, videos, ephemera (e.g. pamphlets, brochures, etc) are not collected. Individuals seeking this type of material should consult other local archives such as the Peterborough City and Municipal ArchivesTrent University Archive or Trent Valley Archives.

Geographic Scope: The primary focus is on material that relates to the City of Peterborough and the County of Peterborough (including all its townships). Some material, such as family or general histories may be included that covers neighbouring counties such as Haliburton, Hastings, Northumberland, Prince Edward, and Victoria (Kawartha Lakes).

New - Digitisation of City Directories (July, 2016)

City Directory Image

The City's Heritage Preservation Office has recently completed a long-awaited project to digitize a local collection of City and County directories. With the oldest volume dating back to 1858, the annually published directories are a rich resource for researching a wide range of topics related to City history and family genealogy.

The digitization of the directories means that the public can now access them online at: https://archive.org/details/peterboroughcitydirectories.

A total of 115 books were scanned, with directories contributed by the Peterborough Public Library, Peterborough Museum and Archives, Trent Valley Archives and Trent University Archives. Funding for the project was provided by the Peterborough Public Library.
Although all the available directories were scanned, there are some years for which they are missing. The City would like to issue a call to any members of the public who may have copies of directories that are missing. They are invited to help complete the collection by loaning their copies to be digitized.
The missing years are: 1884, 1886, 1891, 1892, 1896, 1900, 1902, and 1911.
Anyone with directories from these years can contact Kathryn Matheson, Heritage Researcher by phone at 705-742-7777 ext. 1491, or by email at kmatheson@peterborough.ca

Original copies of the directories may also be available for consultation at the following organisations by appointment:

  • Peterborough Museum & Archives
  • Trent University Archives
  • Trent Valley Archives

 Highlights of the library's Local History Collection

  • City Directories - now accessible online at: https://archive.org/details/peterboroughcitydirectories
  • The Peterborough Examiner (on microfilm from 1856 to the present).
  • Fire Insurance maps for 1943 and 1968.
  • Dobbin Index, 1914 – 8 volumes that cover people, industries and institutions of the area.
  • Peterborough city and county war service record, 1914-1919.
  • Cemetery indexes for Peterborough and surrounding counties.
  • Early local census records for Durham, Peterborough, Newcastle District, Northumberland, Victoria (various dates – earliest from 1803). Consult the census index at the Adult Information Desk for specific holdings.
  • Parish records for St. Andrew’s United Church, Peterborough (record book – minutes, communion, baptism, 1858-1891; marriages, 1921-1960; 1972-1984).
  • Peter Robinson Papers (3 v. microfilm copies; original housed at the Peterborough City and Municipal Archives).
For specific information about the collection patrons should consult the Library Catalogue or call the Adult Information Desk at 705-745-5382 x2340 or x2350.

Research Service

We welcome email or telephone research requests for local information, such as copies of birth or death notices from the Peterborough Examiner (on microfilm). For more information, including fees for research services, please see our brochure on Peterborough and Area Community, Historical, and Genealogical Sources.