Research Basics

Research Basics

New to research? Not sure where to begin?

We've collected some helpful links and tips below to get you started.

  • Interlibrary Loan (ILLO) is a service which allows Thunder Bay Public Library card holders to borrow items not found in our collection from another library.

    It can be used by anyone who has a valid Thunder Bay Public Library card in good standing. 

    ILLOs can be used to borrow books, select audiovisual items, articles and archival and genealogical microfilm.

    To learn more and to use the ILLO service, visit our Interlibrary Loans page.

  • Our Brodie location houses our collection of the Henderson Directories that span between 1884-2004. The Henderson Directories are like phone books but include additional information about the residents of a house, like occupation.  This collection is only available for in-branch use at Brodie. 

  • Our friendly Reference Staff would be happy to help you research your family tree! Visit the Ask Us page for more information. 

  • An index is what we use to find articles in our collections. Indexes list key information about an article like the paper it appeared, the page number, the headline, and the date as well as subject listings. You can think of it as the basic information for search engines. Our staff currently index newspaper articles into our database, the Gateway to Northwestern Ontario History

    Indexing newspaper articles goes all the way back to the 1920s when staff at the Fort William Public Library (now the Brodie Library) started indexing local newspaper articles. 

  • Microfilm are long strips of film that have either negatives or positives of documents, typically newspaper collections. The Thunder Bay Public Library, has microfilm copies of newspapers from Thunder Bay, Port Arthur, and Fort William from the late 1800s to the mid 2010s. All of our microfilms are available at our Brodie Location. Newer editions of newspapers are available at Brodie in PDF format. 

    To view microfilm, you have to use a machine called a microfilm reader. Brodie has two microfilm readers attached to computers that allows you to export pdf versions of articles or print them out. If you'd like a demonstration on how to use our microfilm readers, please contact our staff by emailing For more information on how are staff can help you with your research you can also visit our Ask Us page. 

Library Databases for Research

Research Starting Points

Print Resources

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Local History & Genealogy Resources

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We acknowledge that the City of Thunder Bay has been built on the traditional territory of Fort William First Nation, signatory to the Robinson Superior Treaty of 1850. We also recognize the contributions made to our community by the Métis people.

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