Colonial Correspondence

Why does this document exist?

Colonial Correspondence contains a vast range of materials created by and relating to the colonial government (1843-1871) in British Columbia. Underfunded and under-administered, the colonial government had few departments and little staff or inclination to organize its filing system into discrete units. At the BC Archives, Government Record (GR) 1372 Colonial Correspondence not only contains thousands of letters relating to the governance of the colony, but also includes documents about a wide range of issues relating to economy, culture, and society within this nascent state. This correspondence includes, for example, transcripts of inquests, death warrants, petitions from citizens for publicly funded services like post offices and schools, complaints about local officials, problems with and questions about land, and a variety of other materials.

Why would we use this source?

Colonial Correspondence is a gold mine of information about colonial British Columbia. It not only documents the activity and interests of the government and the judiciary of the period, but is also a rich source of information about a wide variety of issues of concern to the people who wrote with complaints, inquiries, or pleas for help from the governing body. For anyone interested in any aspect of colonial government, law, and society, this collection is an excellent place to begin research. Like any source it will not tell us exactly what happened in the past, but it does let us "see" a very wide range of issues that concerned people.

How do we find and use this source?

GR-1372 Colonial Correspondence is indexed by the author of the letters. There is also a Subject Guide card catalogue in the BC Archives Reading Room that identifies letters about many particular events, topics, and places. The Correspondence Outward of the Department of Lands and Works (1859-1972), which contains a great deal of valuable information about the settlement and use of land in colonial British Columbia, is filed separately in GR-2900.

To leave this site and explore this source at the British Columbia Archives, go to:

British Columbia
Colonial correspondence
Originals 1857-1872, 18.9 m
Microfilm (neg.) 1857-1872, 35 mm, 76 reels [B01300 - B01375]

British Columbia (Colony)
Lands and Works Dept
Lands and Works Dept. correspondence outward
Originals 1859-1872, 38 m