CI 9 Finding Aid Note
There are three digital repositories where CI 9s can be found: Library and Archives Canada; Canadiana; and the Mass Capture repository at York University.
This appendix is a brief guide to searching for CI 9s in each repository. Please note that you may want to search for the same information in all three repositories and, as I describe below, each one will yield slightly different information.
CI 9s at Library and Archives Canada (LAC)
The largest and most comprehensive collection of Chinese immigration certificates can be found here. The CI 9s are part of a larger group of Chinese immigration records held by Library and Archives Canada. LAC offers a concise description of these records and how they are organized in the “Immigrants from China, 1885–1949” section of their website.
All of the Chinese immigration records in LAC can be accessed through a database: https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/immigration/immigration-records/immigrants-china-1885-1949/Pages/search.aspx.
The search screen on this database allows you to search by three fields of information:
- Date of Registration
- Certificate Number
As LAC notes on their description of this database: “Names were input as they appear in the register; no distinction was made between given name(s) and surname. Try searching by surname only.”
This database gives researchers access not only to CI 9s, but to all Chinese immigration records held by LAC. Searching in this database will yield results for the General Registers of Chinese Immigration, 1885–1949, and any surviving certificates including CI 5s, CI 6s, and, of course, CI 9s.
Here is some further information about using each of these three search fields.
Name. Because there were no standards for anglicizing Chinese names, and because surnames and given names were often switched around, there is considerable inconsistency in the names that are recorded. One form of anglicization may have been used for many different Chinese names. For example, 于, 余, and 俞 will likely have been written as “Yu.” Additionally, try different ways of spelling the name. For example, for “Yu,” try also “Yue,” “You,” and even “Yee.” Despite these inconsistences, if you are looking for a particular person, and you do not have information for the other two search fields, searching by name is a very good place to start and can yield accurate results.
Date of Registration. You do not need to know the exact date of registration and, indeed, unless you are holding an actual immigration certificate in hand, it is unlikely that you will have this information. However, inputting a year of registration can be very helpful for narrowing results. For example, putting “Yu” into the search field under “name” generates over 2,000 results that include names such as “Yuen,” Yum,” and “Yunt” in either the surname or given name fields. However, adding a year, “1913,” limits the results to 800. If you know that the person you are searching for would have arrived in Canada around a particular year, it is well worth trying to limit the search by that year, and the years adjacent to it.
Certificate Number. If you have a certificate number, that is ideal. It can be the number for any certificates in Appendix A. For example, if you have the number of a person’s CI 5, and if they had given their CI 5 number when they registered to leave Canada, putting that into the search field will also give you their CI 9.
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) contracted Canadiana (now part of the Canadian Research Knowledge Network) to digitize the CI 9s on its behalf. Canadiana has the complete digital collection of CI 9s on a website dedicated to these materials: https://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.lac_mikan_161413.
The Canadiana holdings organize the CI 9s by microfilm reel number. Here is what you will find in each reel:
T-6047 – Sept 1910 to Jan 1912 – CI 9 no. 17286 to 20110
T-6048 – Jan 1911 to Oct 1913 – CI 9 no. 20111 to 22899
T-6049 – Oct 1913 to July 1916 – CI 9 no. 22900 to 27772
T-6051 – Nov 1917 to July 1919 – CI 9 no. 28650 to 31399
T-6052 – June 1915 to Sept 1929 – CI 9 no. 1 to 03240
T-6038 – Sept 1910 to Oct 1911 – CI 9 no. 15701 to 18099
T-6039 – Oct 1911 to Oct 1912 – CI 9 no. 10100 to 21100
T-6040 – Oct 1912 to March 1914 – CI 9 no. 21101 to 23800
T-6041 – March 1914 to Dec 1914 – CI 9 no. 23801 to 26500
T-6042 – Dec 1914 to Oct 1915 – CI 9 no. 26501 to 29200
T-6043 – Oct 1915 to Nov 1916 – CI 9 no. 24201 to 31700
T-6044 – Nov 1916 to Oct 1918 – CI 9 no. 31701 to 34400
T-6045 – Oct 1918 to April 1920 – CI 9 no. 34401 to 37100
T-6046 – May 1913 to July 1952 – CI 9 no. 00001 to 2375
Each reel has its own hyperlink. When you access the reel, you will be shown each certificate in that reel in numerical order. There are approximately 2,500–3,000 certificates in each reel.
As with the microfilm reels themselves, there is no nominal index for the certificates in the Canadiana repository. You cannot search this repository by the name of the migrant. You can only find a certificate by reading each certificate in the reel. Each reel is organized by date of issue and, as a result, often also by ship, since migrants departing on the same date usually did so on the same ship.
However, despite these limitations, and even if you have found the certificate that you are looking for in the LAC database, there are still very good reasons for looking at the same certificate in the Canadiana repository. Because the certificates in the Canadiana repository can be accessed, digitally, in a way that is similar to how you would have found them by searching a microfilm reel, you will be able to see certificates that are adjacent to one another.
As I show in chapter 3 in my discussion of the Lawson family, examining which certificates came after others was the only way to be able to see this family in the CI 9 archive. The Lawsons travelled as a family of five but they were not pictured together anywhere in this archive. However, seeing their certificates in sequence will allow you to see the migrants who travelled together at the same time and on the same ship. Indeed, looking at the CI 9s in the Canadiana repository is the best way to find Chinese migrants via the ship they boarded.
There is currently no way to search by ship in any of the existing repositories or databases. However, in the Canadiana repository, the certificates are organized de facto by ship and departure date, because that is the order in which the certificates were originally issued and filed. Scrolling through the certificates in sequential order allows researchers to see migrants who travelled together.
The Canadiana repository also gives researchers digital access to the certificates in reels T-6046 and T-6052. These reels contain the CI 9s of “native-born” Chinese migrants. Because of this classification, there are more certificates belonging to women and children on these reels than any of the others.
As described in the preface, Mass Capture re-digitized thousands of CI 9s. Because the Canadiana repository was digitized in batches using a semi-automated process, the image quality is not optimal. Mass Capture re-digitized the certificates in the following reels:
My project could not re-digitize all of the reels because of varying access restrictions and privacy concerns relating to some of the reels over the years that my research team worked on them. Some access restrictions are still in place even at the time of this writing.
Of the three repositories outlined in this appendix, the Mass Capture repository is the least comprehensive; however, this repository offers the highest quality images versions of the certificates it contains. Each certificate in the Mass Capture repository is digitized by a professional photographer who captured each one frame by frame. After they were photographed, each certificate in this repository was also given extensive post-production treatment where the levels, sharpness, contrast, and brightness were all manually adjusted to render the best possible image.
While the CI 9s contain a tremendous amount of information, there are additional resources that can help researchers follow the connections suggested in these certificates. As the discussion of the Lawson family in chapter 3 shows, cross-referencing the information found on the CI 9s with census records, genealogical search portals, and archival newspapers can generate a much fuller picture of the people captured in these certificates. Sometimes, as was the case with my search for the woman and the baby discussed at the beginning of chapter 3 (figs. 3.1 and 3.2), or the first Chinese woman photographed in this archive (fig. 4.2) discussed in chapter 4, these additional resources did not shed further light. Particularly in the cases where the migrant did not return to Canada, searching additional resources will yield very little.