Toronto House of Industry Project

As part of the celebrations of our 50th anniversary in 2017, Toronto Branch OGS funded the digitization of a major portion of the House of Industry fonds at the City of Toronto Archives—some 75 printed annual reports and 13 handwritten manuscripts detailing the individuals and families helped by the institution from 1837 to 1909.

single page frm a handrwitten book.

A sample page from the the first volume transcribed by Toronto Branch volunteers.

The manuscripts, in particular, are a phenomenal source of information about families made vulnerable by illness or injury, an absent parent or spouse, addiction, or simply temporary bad luck.

The 88 books have been digitized by The Internet Archive and are available to view now. The printed books have been processed by OCR making them fully searchable, but that process was not possible for the 13 handwritten manuscripts.

Toronto Branch volunteers to the rescue! Machines may not be able to read the handwritten records—but humans can. Over the past several months, a team of volunteers has been creating verbatim transcriptions which will make the manuscripts every word searchable.

We are pleased to announce that the first of these transcriptions, covering 1855–1859, is now available. You will find both a .txt file and a PDF (more suitable for printing) have been uploaded to The Internet Archive: House of Industry, City of Toronto Collection.

Use this link to go right to the volume that has been transcribed: House of Industry minute book and case recommendations, 1855-1859. You’ll see links to the transcriptions right under the digitized image.


Would you like to be a part of this project? We can always use more volunteers and since the work is done online, you don’t have to be in Toronto. Please contact the project coordinator for more information.

Image of a substantial brick building with leafless trees, surrounded by a high board fence.

A photo of the House of Industry in the 1880s (Toronto Public Library Baldwin Collection image S 1a-3239a)