Since 1998, the Archives Council of Prince Edward Island, with the financial assistance of the Canadian Council of Archives and Archives Canada, has been developing Archives PEI, the Prince Edward Island Archival Information Network. This database contains descriptions, also known as finding aids, of archival holdings written in accordance with the Rules for Archival Description (RAD). Many of these descriptions are also available at the fonds level in Archives Canada, the Canadian Archival Information Network.
Archives PEI does not contain digitized copies of the actual records but does provide a summary of the contents of archival holdings as well as contact information for the contributing institution. The records in each institution, which include papers of private individuals, governments, and organizations, vary in nature and may take the form of textual records, photographs, maps, architectural drawings, sound recordings, and various types of film.
What is RAD (Rules for Archival Description)?
Archives PEI uses RAD, a system of rules for creating archival descriptions, agreed upon by the Canadian archival community, which enables institutions to describe their archival holdings in a standard format. These descriptions provide the contextual information about the creator of the fonds as well as a summary of the content of the records.
What is a fonds?
The term fonds is used to describe all the records created by one person, family, or organizational body together as a single unit. Fonds can be of varying sizes and can be subdivided into six hierarchical levels: fonds; sous fonds; series; sub-series; file; and item. Archives PEI includes descriptions of archival holdings at the fonds, sous fonds, series, and sub-series levels. Also, volume and item listings are available in pdf format for many of the descriptions.
What is a collection?
A collection is a group of materials accumulated by a person, institution or organization on a particular subject, person or geographical area. These items are not the natural by-product of the individual or organization's day to day activities but an artificial grouping of items of wide provenance. In the past, archival and other institutions themselves separated some kinds of materials, especially photographs, from their fonds creating artificial collections.