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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Canadian Local Histories and Special Collections by Michelle LaBrosse-Purcell, B.Sc., MLIS. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
No professional organizations exist for clergy in the same way the Alberta Medical Association or the Ontario Teachers’ Federation exists for doctors and teachers. Because not every profession has a related organization doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be able to find any employment history when doing research. Many companies (such as the insurance company London Life) keep corporate archives, so if the person you are researching worked for a large company, it always pays to find out what happened to the employee records, just in case they are still available for research. For a relative who was a carpenter or milliner, you might just be fortunate enough to find apprenticeship records in an archive.
In the case of clergy, most denominations have annual directories that list each man and the area he was in charge of. These directories can be found at Library and Archives Canada, Provincial Archives, Religious Archives, and (sometimes) at the place of worship itself. These directories are wonderful resources for determining where a clergy member was practicing. Often, a clergyman moved from congregation to congregation—and many times it was in a different part of the country. As well, these directories usually contain other contact numbers. Take, for example, the Anglican Church Directory which lists addresses of all Canadian dioceses, parishes, clergy, colleges, chaplains, religious communities, missions, and related organizations, together with officers and staff of General Synod, and statistics of the Anglican Church. Using a complete set of these directories, you would be able to trace a minister’s entire career history, no matter where he moved in Canada.
As well as annual directories, the personnel records of individual clergy members can sometimes be found with the archival records of the congregation. If we are again to take for example the Anglican Church, the Diocese of Huron Archives in London, Ontario, holds employment records of many of the ministers who worked for the diocese over the past 150 years. As each archive has different regulations about what records are confidential and the amount of time that must elapse before records are made public, it is best to check with individual archives to find out what their policies are. In the case of the Diocese of Huron Archives, the subject of the personnel file had to have been deceased for more than 25 years before the information is released.
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses Canadian Local Histories and Special Collections offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about these courses or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at email@example.com
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