How to Use the SPRA Website

Before contacting us with your research request, we recommend that you follow the steps below and read the information on our Research Request page. This will help you to craft an effective research request and make the most of your complimentary 30 minutes of research assistance.

There are several ways to research through our website:

1. Finding Aids:

Finding aids contain information about archival records and the people and organizations who created them.

In the top right corner is a search box. Type in a search term. If your search term includes multiple words, enclose them in quotation marks, for instance, “Lake Saskatoon,” then press “Enter.”

This will bring up a list of pages on our website that include your search term.

  • Select one link.
  • Once in there, press Ctrl F simultaneously on your keyboard. (If you don’t use this feature, the computer will go back and search through all the collections again.)

This brings up a new search box. Type in your search term and the computer will highlight every time that term shows up in that particular collection or blog post. The search box will note the number of times the term shows up and the side bar will have a black bar at every spot the term shows up. Keep hitting enter until you find what you need. If you move the cursor around, you will have to place it back in the search bar before you can use the “enter” key to find the highlighted terms.

It can be a tedious process but it does yield results provided we do actually have material.

2. Alberta on Record:

  • Select “Research”
  • From the drop down menu select “Search our Photographs.”

This will take you to Alberta on Record.

  • Type in a single word term In the grey box where our name is displayed.
  • Click the search icon.

On the right, a series of thumbnails and text will appear. If you only want to see images, click on “show results with digital objects” This will change the list so that it only includes the thumbnail images.

Some of the digital objects have a fair bit of descriptive text with them as well so you may find some of the information you are looking for there.

Even if you don’t find exactly what you are looking for, some of the documents or photographs can provide clues to facilitate discovery in another source of records.

3. Online databases:

  • Select “Research”
  • Select “Search Databases”

Note: Our web databases will not work in Internet Explorer. You will need to use another web browser, such as Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.

We have several databases.

“Search Surname Database” is a database for our reference files. These files contain newspaper clippings about individuals and families that date back to the early 1900s. In most cases, there is a very brief note describing what the clipping is about (birth, marriage, obituary, etc.).

  • Select the corresponding letter for the last name you are searching.
  • Type in the last name in the search box and select “enter.”

The result will show you the last name, first names, note if the file is a general file or a specific family file, and a brief description of what is in the file.

“Search Compiled Community Book Names Index” is an index that allows you to search for information about people in the several community history books we have in our library.

  • Select the corresponding letter for the last name you are searching.
  • Type in the last name in the search box and select “enter.”

The result will show you the last name, first name, title of community history book, and page numbers. In some cases, the person may only have a brief mention in some other person’s story but there are often large stories as well. Some people and families may be mentioned in several books.

“Search Family Names/Businesses/Organizations/Communities/Sports in Newspaper Articles” are databases that allow you to search for information in newspaper articles.

  • Select the corresponding letter for the last name, business, etc. you are searching.
  • Type in the last name, business name, etc. in the search box and select “enter.”

The result will show you in which newspaper the name, business, etc. can be found, and on what page and column of the newspaper.  Newspapers are available here:

The Grande Prairie Herald/Herald-Tribune (1913-1948)

The Northern Tribune (1932-1939)

4. Reference Files

Our reference files contain clippings organized by topic and category.  Topics available are listed here.

5. Soldiers’ Memorial

The Soldiers’ Memorial lists all the currently known veterans from the South Peace who served in both those wars. In some cases, there is a just a name but volunteers are currently researching the individuals in order to compile histories, photographs, and links to other sources for that person.

  • Select the corresponding letter for the last name you are searching.
  • Scroll down the list to the name you are looking for.
  • Select the name you want. If it is highlighted in blue, there is more information. If it is in black, there is none.

Contacting us for records retrieval.

Once you have looked through the finding aids, databases and online photographs, let us know if there is anything you would like to see. We can pull records and have them waiting for your visit. To order reproductions of photographs or photocopies of documents, please use the link under “Contact Us” to submit an electronic form or to find pricing.

If you cannot visit us, we can provide up to 30 minutes complimentary research but anything after that we charge $22 per half hour.  And of course, we are available by phone or email to answer any questions you may have regarding your research.