Nova Scotia Genealogical Research
By David Allen Lambert
This subject guide provides a list of essential resources and records to help you trace your ancestors from Nova Scotia. Many of these resources are held onsite at the NEHGS library and archives, or available online at our website, AmericanAncestors.org.
Genealogist's Handbook for Atlantic Canada Research by Terrence M. Punch and George F. Sanborn, Jr.
NEHGS, 7th Floor Reading Rm CS88.A88 G46 1997
Finding Your Canadian Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide by Sherry Irvine and Dave Obee
NEHGS, 5th Floor CS82 .I78 2007
Some 18th and early 19th century vital records can be located in township books for Nova Scotia communities. NEHGS has the following townships available on microfilm:
Annapolis, Argyle, Aylesford, Chester, Cornwallis, Digby, Douglas, Falmouth, Fort Lawrence, Granville, Horton, Liverpool, Londonderry, Maccan, Manchester, New Dublin, Newport, Parrsboro, River Philip, St. Mary’s, Stormont, Truro, Tusket, Westchester, Wilmot, Windsor, Yarmouth.
NEHGS, 4th Floor Microfilm CS88.N642
Marriage licenses by county on microfilm for 1849-1918: NEHGS, 4th Floor Microfilm CS88.N6443.N68
Marriage bond indexes 1853-1864: NEHGS, 4th Floor Microfilm CS88.N644.N64 #10
1864 and beyond
Official registration for Nova Scotia began in 1864, however, the returns are quite incomplete. (On the births you can often find the pre-1864 marriage date and place of the parents.) NEHGS has microfilm for births, marriages, and deaths for these years. After 1877 only marriages were recorded until 1908. NEHGS has microfilm of county marriage registers after 1877 to approximately 1918 for most counties. NEHGS, 4th Floor Microfilm CS88.N644.N64
Online access to vital records
novascotiagenealogy.com Online access to births (1864-1877, 1908-1912, delayed registrations 1830-1912); Marriages (1864-1937) and marriage bonds (1763-1864); Deaths (1864-1877, 1908-1962); and City of Halifax deaths (1890-1908).
Other vital-record-related collections
NEHGS also has two collections used in conjunction with vital records on microfilm:
Nova Scotia Coroners Inquisitions 1755-1928
NEHGS, 4th Floor Microfilm N6485.N68
Divorces and Matrimonial cause case files 1759-1951
NEHGS, 4th Floor Microfilm CS88.W649.N65
The following census records are available for Nova Scotia.
Pre-1851 census or tax list returns exist for various communities. Refer to the book Catalogue of Census Returns on Microfilm, 1666-1891 by Thomas A. Hillman
NEHGS, 4th Floor Reference MT.HA.742.P82.1987
|1851||NEHGS, Ancestry.com||Head of household (only Halifax, Kings, Pictou Counties survive)|
|1861||NEHGS, Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org||Names only the head of household, agricultural data|
|1871||NEHGS, Ancestry.com||First census to include all names of the household. This continued throughout the remaining years.|
|1881||NEHGS, Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org||All names of the household.|
|1891||NEHGS, Ancestry.com||All names of the household.|
|1901||NEHGS, Ancestry.com||All names of the household.|
|1911||Ancestry.com, Archives of Canada||All names of the household.|
|1921||Ancestry.com||All names of the household.|
The Archives of Canada has free access to most censuses online.
NEHGS has microfilm of Nova Scotia probates from the 18th century to the late 20th century.
NEHGS, 4th Floor Microfilm CS88.N643
Annapolis (1763-1970); Antigonish (1819-1963); Cape Breton (1872-1970); Colchester (1798-1969); Cumberland (1840-1969); Cumberland (1840-1969); Digby (1803-1970); Guysborough (St. Mary’s District 1843-1970, and Guysborough District 1946-1969); Halifax (1749-1968); Hants (1761-1900); Inverness (1831-1969); Kings (1783-1968); Lunenburg (1762-1967); Pictou (1811-1969); Queens (1743-1970); Richmond (1831-1969); Shelburne: (Barrington District 1866-1970, and Shelburne District 1784-1970); Victoria (1851-1969); Yarmouth (1794-1970).
Early land records can often be found in the colonial-era township books for some communities (see Vital Records – Pre-1864 for more about township books).
County Land Records
Annapolis (1765-1910); Antigonish (1785-1907); Cape Breton (1786-1969); Colchester (1770-1959); Cumberland (1764-1967); Digby (1785-1958); Guysborough (Guysborough District 1785-1967), and St. Mary’s District 1815-1969); Halifax (1749-1967); Hants (1763-1952); Inverness (1825-1929); Kings (1764-1901); Lunenburg: (Chester District 1879-1926, and Lunenburg District 1759-1961); Pictou (1771-1924); Queens (1764-1969); Richmond (1821-1963); Shelburne (Barrington District 1854-1950), and Shelburne District 1873-1961); Victoria (1851-1988); Yarmouth (1766-1969)
Crown Land Grants and Associated Maps
Nova Scotia Crown Land Maps
A series of 140 maps showing the location of crown land grants in Nova Scotia between 1750 and 1850. View or download the maps here: www.gov.ns.ca/natr/land/grantmap.asp.
NEHGS also has these maps available. Please ask for them at the reference desk on the 4th floor.
The Crown Land Grant Registers
Available at NEHGS on microfilm for the years 1732-1901
NEHGS, 4th Floor Microfilm CS88.N647.N68
The documentation relating to Crown Land Grants 1854-1967 are available on microfilm
NEHGS, 4th Floor Microfilm CS88.N6472.N68
Ambrose F. Church Maps. In 1864, Ambrose F. Church was commissioned to produce a series of maps for each county in Nova Scotia. Please ask for these maps at the reference desk on the 4th floor.
The Nova Scotia Historical Review (1981-1996)
NEHG, 5th Floor Stacks F1036.N928
The Nova Scotia Genealogist (1983- present)
NEHGS, 5th Floor Stacks F1036.N63.1983
The Casket (Antigonish, NS, 1860-1908, 1928-43)
NEHGS, 4th Floor Microfilm CS88.N645.C37
NEHGS has a number of Nova Scotia genealogical collections. The Fred E. Crowell collection is useful for those with planters from New England to Nova Scotia in the 18th century. This collection has also been placed online on AmericanAncestors.org.
Resources at AmericanAncestors.org
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