Commissioner of Public Records

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Commissioner of Public Records

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Reference code

RG 1

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Dates of creation area


  • 1702-1917, predominant 1857-1886 (Creation)
    Nova Scotia. Commissioner of Public Records

Physical description area

Physical description

34.5 m of textual records

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Administrative history

The office of Commissioner of Public Records, responsible for "examining, preserving and arranging ancient records and documents illustrative of the history and progress of society in this Province" was created by Lieutenant-Governor Sir Gaspard Le Marchant on 29 May 1857. The office lapsed on the death of its first and only incumbent, Thomas Beamish Akins, in 1891. In May 1899 Premier G.H. Murray, in his capacity as Provincial Secretary, responsible for preserving "the archives, registers and records of the Government and Province...," appointed the curator of the Provincial Museum, Harry Piers, deputy keeper of the public records, in indirect succession to Akins. The post of deputy keeper endured until February 1931, when it was superseded by that of archivist of Nova Scotia (Provincial Archivist).

Custodial history

The Commissioner of Public Records collection was in the custody of the curator of the provincial museum (as deputy keeper of the public records) until the appointment of D.C. Harvey as provincial archivist in 1931, after which it was transferred to the Public Archives.

Scope and content

Collection consists of Nova Scotia colonial government records, together with British and French imperial records relating to Nova Scotia, and comprises one continuous sequence of numbered volumes that have been arranged into 28 described series.

Notes area

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Volumes organized by collector according to provenance, document type or subject.

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Language and script note

Records primarily in English, but also in French, German and Mi'kmaq.

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Available on microfilm.

Restrictions on access

For preservation reasons access is provided through the microfilm with the original format volumes closed to use.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

Series descriptions available.

In addition to the series descriptions a volume listing with microfilm numbers is attached.

For Volumes 1 through 25 see Documents relatifs ... l'histoire acadienne: Volume I, Inventaire analytique des 25 premiers volumes de RG1 aux Archives publiques de la Nouvelle-Ecosse. (Fredericton, N.B., 1988), 468 pages.

Associated materials

Records relating to the Commissioner of Public Records collection may be found in the Commissioner of Public Records fonds, Harry Piers fonds and Public Archives of Nova Scotia fonds.

Related materials


General note

One series, Maps and plans (Volumes 472-473) recorded missing in 1886; one of the two volumes recorded missing in 1877. Series consisted of two large volumes of maps and plans, chiefly of alterations in the main roads throughout Nova Scotia, 1835-1865.

Collection selectively published as T.B. Akins, ed., Selections from the Public Documents of the Province of Nova Scotia (Halifax: Charles Annand, 1869), 755 pages.

Further information may be found in the published Reports (including catalogues) of the Commissioner of Public Records, 1858-1886; James Hannay's unpublished reports on Nova Scotia provincial archives (MG 9 B7, National Archives of Canada); and Joseph Plimsoll Edwards, The Public Records of Nova Scotia: Their History and Present Condition (Halifax NS, 1920); see also B.C. Cuthbertson: "Thomas Beamish Akins: British North America's Pioneer Archivist," Acadiensis 7(1), Autumn 1977, pp. 86-102; and C. Bruce Fergusson, "T.B. Akins: A Centennial Commemoration," Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society 31 (1957), pages 97-118.

Formerly known as: PANS MSS. Volumes.

Physical description

Includes original records bound into volumes, transcribed copies and finding aids.

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