Métis Nation of Ontario
500 Old St. Patric St, Unit3
Ottawa, ON
K1N 9G4

Tel.: 613-798-1488
Toll Free: 800-263-4889
Fax: 613-722-4225

The 5 W's - Who When Where What and Why for Records

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It is equally important to analyze and evaluate possible records to search in order to develop your research plan. Next note the order you wish to search them. If you answer each of these questions you will have the background you need to make your research plan.

1. What is the record? What is it called? What medium is it found in?

  • record the complete title immediately to save time later
  • note whether it is a book, manuscript, photograph, microfilm, photocopy, digitized image

2. Why was the record created?

  • for example a church or government record
  • why would it be useful for genealogy – usually links children to parents

3. When was the record created?

  • a check of the timeline may help with this date
  • knowing “when” can help with knowing what questions were asked in census or vital statistic records
  • when was it made available for public viewing or do you need to submit a Freedom of Information request form in order obtain the information you require

4. Where was the record created?  Where is the record found today? Where did you view it? Where have you put it?

5. Who created the record?

  • the record may be created by a federal, provincial, urban or rural agency
  • by a member of the clergy, a school official, a newspaper reporter, researcher, photographer or family histories

Further Reading

  • Dunsford, Fraser. The Beginners Guide to Genealogy.
    Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2006.
  • Dunsford, Fraser. The Beginners Guide to Ontario Genealogy.
    Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2007.
  • Merriman, Brenda Dougall. Genealogy in Ontario: searching the records. 4th edition.
    Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2008.
  • Roberts, Dr. John. Discover Your Metis Ancestry: a beginners Guide.
    Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2008





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