This searchable archives database provides descriptive information about the literary and historical collections maintained by Special Collections & Archives at the University of Waterloo Library.

Site details

The Archives Database runs on Access To Memory (AtoM) and is maintained by members of Special Collections & Archives and the Library's Digital Initiatives department.

The database is a work in progress. The records available for browsing reflect on-going efforts to migrate and (re)describe archival descriptions that were previously only accessible available via PDF finding aids or internal databases. You may come across descriptive records that appear incomplete or in-progress, but rest assured that ongoing improvements are underway.


The Library is committed to providing everyone with information and services in a manner that reflects their need and aligns with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Information about accessibility services offered by the Library is available on the Library Accessibility Services website.

Problematic language in archival descriptions

Records in the Archives Database are historical in nature and contain language or depictions of people representative of their time. This includes problematic wording, cultural references, and stereotypes that are no longer used or appropriate today. Historical language has been maintained in its original form, in keeping with archival practice, to preserve the context in which the records were created. This approach, while potentially upsetting, allows for the critical assessment and questioning of historical material by contemporary researchers.

While the language of the record creators has been maintained, Special Collections & Archives staff understand the impact language and images have both on researchers accessing our collections and on the perpetuation of systemic and cultural bias. As a result, staff are actively working to:

  • replace inappropriate language introduced during legacy descriptive practices
  • identify and name instances of racism, sexism, ableism and other forms of discrimination
  • use current language that respects the people and events reflected in our collections during the (re)description of records

SCA staff view this manner of providing and expanding on the context of problematic records to be in keeping with the University of Waterloo's Principles of Inclusivity and Policy 33 - Ethical Behaviour, as well as the Association of Canadian Archivists' Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.


The collage-based banner on the Home page was designed by Katie Turriff, a University of Waterloo co-operative education student who completed a placement in Special Collections & Archives.

The team of people who maintain the archives database is indebted to members of the AtoM community for their advice and willingness to share their experience. Questions or comments regarding the site are very much welcome.