Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Rooms in St. John's, Newfoundland

The Rooms is a cultural facility in St. John's, Newfoundland. It contains an art gallery, a history museum, and the Provincial Archives. I had never seen anything quite like it. It was lovely how they pulled together these various aspects of culture into one location.

There are no general admission fee to view the Archives in which there are several exhibits of their archival materials. There is, however, a fee for researchers; a one time $10 fee to obtain a permanent Researcher Registration number.

I researched in the Archives twice while on this trip and if you ask me I completely got my money's worth. I went the first time on our second day in St. John's before heading out to the outports where my family lived. My second visit was after having visited the sites where my Earles, Samms, and Organ ancestors lived. 

On the first trip I went to see if they had anymore information than what I had already seen online through websites like and .

The "records" that are online at those sites are transcriptions of the registers of vital statistics, not scans or digitized copies of the original records but typed transcriptions. The Archives had copies of the handwritten registers of these vital statistics. I didn't learn anything more than I already knew; they pretty much are what I saw transcribed online but a good researcher always wants to see the originals because we know errors can be made in transcriptions. In this case, I saw no errors but enjoyed the opportunity to see the registers.

After having visited Twillingate, Norris Point, and St. Anthony, we returned to St. John's.  

On the second visit to The Rooms I was looking to see if I could find information on a specific ship that sank in Bonne Bay in about 1869 or 1870. I will share more about the story I heard in another post. Unfortunately, I didn't find any info about the tragic sinking but I did look through registers of vital statistics that I hadn't checked before. I was able to glean a lot of data about my ancestors from Norris Point; the Samms and the Organs. I also got to look at resources that are not available online; gleanings from various newspapers.

If you have genealogical research to do on individuals from Newfoundland, you can get a lot of it online. Like I said the registers of vital statistics held by the Archives are transcribed online through the two aforementioned websites. In terms of vital stats, there really isn't much more on Newfoundland than what is online but that does not mean the Provincial Archives at The Rooms isn't worth the visit. The librarians there were incredibly helpful. One of them shared with me that he too had Earles of Twillingate in his family tree. Just to feel the support from them and to see the registers in person was worth the trip.

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