Overview of the project

University of Alberta Libraries in partnership with the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN), Canadiana.org and Internet Archive, engaged in a multi-year digitization project of microfilmed materials as originally gathered and produced by the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions (CIHM). This CIHM digital archive begins with pre-1900 non-serial materials and continues forward to 1920.


The Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions was created in 1978 with the goal of collecting, preserving and making accessible Canadiana materials. The collected materials were microfilmed and made accessible to interested libraries and archives throughout Canada and around the world. [For a detailed account of CIHM's history, read "Preserving and Providing Access to Canada's Printed Heritage: The Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions at 25 Years" by Myriam McCormack, 2003.]

Thirty years later in 2008, opportunity arose to begin an ambitious campaign to create greater access to the CIHM materials through the use of large-scale digitization and online digital library access. A five year mass digitization project was initiated, which today makes the CIHM collection available online, for free, to all people. This CIHM digital archive complements the materials digitized and made available through Early Canadiana Online and our content partner, Canadiana.org.

Project scope

The project includes the digitization of mostly non-serial CIHM materials up to 1920.

Project timeline

2008 - Digitization begins with Internet Archive at the University of Alberta

2013 - Digitization is completed

Project funding:

University of Alberta Libraries recognizes the generous funding provided by the Canadian Research Knowledge Network's Digital Content Infrastructure (DCI) Project for the Human and Social Sciences.

Commitment to digital preservation

University of Alberta Libraries is committed to providing long term access to the CIHM digital collection and as such, has taken actions to ensure the digital preservation of this resource for generations of readers and researchers to come.

Important information For CRKN members and other libraries

Record sets for digitized CIHM materials are freely available for other libraries to download and include in their local library catalogues. Record sets may be downloaded from the following URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.7939/DVN/10710. Records may also be harvested using the OAI-PMH protocol in Dublin Core format using the set “contributor:canadiana.org” in queries such as this.

Digitized materials and source files are available for download via the Internet Archive website. For details, see: https://archive.org/details/university_of_alberta_libraries_microfilm. Files can be downloaded from each item's record page (click on "All files: HTTP" in the left sidebar of the IA record page).