About the Archives
The Vancouver Police Museum Archives (VPMA) collects, preserves, and makes accessible records of enduring value that document the history of local law enforcement and criminal investigation in the City of Vancouver.
The VPM Archives officially opened in 2017 for public research. The archives is home to thousands of documents, reports, photographs, mugshot books, and oral histories and includes:
22.0 meters of textual records
ca. 14,220 photographic items (prints, negatives, slides)
ca. 400 maps, drawings, plans, oversized print items
ca. 400 audio-visual items (film reels, reel-to-reel tapes, cassette tapes, VHS, Betamax)
The Archives plays a dynamic role in supporting the history of the museum site – the former City Analyst's Laboratory; provides context and provenance for the museum’s artifact collection; serves as a research source for exhibit development and public programming by VPMA staff; and assists researchers, historians, and all individuals interested in Vancouver’s law enforcement history.
What's in the Archives?
The VPM Archives acquires private records and reference material with a focus on the City of Vancouver that relate to:
The Vancouver Police Historical Society
The history of the VPMA and its premises
Local law enforcement
The Coroner's service
We also have a non-circulating Reference Library that contains the original medical and forensics journals and publications used by staff of the City Analyst’s Laboratory, along with general publications on policing and law enforcement history.
What's not in the Archives?
The VPMA is an independent museum. We do not receive administrative records from the Vancouver Police Department – these are transferred to the City of Vancouver Archives. Our collection represents a relatively small and select history of policing in Vancouver.
Please note that we do not have:
VPD case or investigation files
VPD employee files
There are many ethical considerations when conducting archival research, especially with the subject matter found in the VPM Archives. You may be denied access to certain records because they contain personal or sensitive information. This is meant to protect and respect the privacy of individuals and their families who have been affected by crime and violence.
The VPM Archives is legally obligated under FOIPPA to not disclose information unless the person whose personal information is in question has been deceased for over 20 years or if the record in question is over 100 years old.
Public Access to the Archives
Access to the VPM Archives is by appointment only.
Archival donations are not available for research use until they can be appraised, arranged and described by Archives staff, which includes reviewing records for any restrictions. Records that are open and available to researchers are listed in the VPM Archives Finding Aid.
Researchers are required to submit their research request by email using the Research Request Form. Please complete with as much information as possible that will assist us in locating any relevant records.
Your research request will be reviewed and you will receive an email with the next steps for your research. Please allow 2 weeks for a response.
Archives staff will undertake up to 30 minutes of research, free of charge. Larger or more complicated reference requests may be charged a research fee if the researcher is unable to attend in-person to do the research themselves.
Researchers will be notified of any applicable research or reproduction fees due before the work is completed. Payment must be received before reproductions/copies are sent. Please refer to the Archives Fee Schedule for more information.
If scheduled for a research appointment in the archives, researchers must be in full compliance with the VPMA Reading Room Regulations at all times during their visit.
Photograph Reproductions, Licensing and Permission Fees
The Vancouver Police Museum & Archives is self-funded, and all licensing and permission fees go toward the costs of caring for, conserving, and providing access to the collections. Researchers interested in using VPMA photographs must declare if they are using the images for non-commercial or commercial use.
Fees are not charged for non-commercial use which includes personal, government, educational*, non-profit, and local media use. It also includes limited runs of works or items created in or for the local market (Vancouver and the Lower Mainland).
*Educational use is defined as being part of a program or project of an educational institution. Does not include textbooks or academic presses (commercial use).
Commercial Use, Licensing, & Reproduction
Fees apply to the commercial use of archival material and are charged per image unless indicated otherwise. In order to use an image from the collection for commercial purposes, you are required to complete the VPMA Photo Licensing and Reproduction Request Form.
Once your application has been received, you will receive written confirmation of approval. You will also be notified of any applicable scanning and/or licensing fees, which must be paid before images can be used.
Submit A Request
To submit a research request, fill out the form below and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Note: Due to COVID-19, the Museum Archives are currently closed to the public. Research requests are still being accepted but please expect longer response times.