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One for the Records Books

Written by Museum Archivist Lisa Glandt

VPD Police Service Records

The Vancouver Police Museum Archives collection holds all sorts of records, each with their own story to tell. While working through the backlog of unprocessed records, I opened an unassuming bankers box to find some beautiful ledgers embossed with the label Police Service Records. Inside, the ledgers revealed handwritten accounting of an officer’s name, date of appointment, height, weight, age, place of birth, and previous police experience. This was followed by dates of appointment to different ranks or positions, salary level, and any other notable service comments. In total, we have 4 Police Service Ledgers in the archives, spanning the period 1901-1955.

What does this mean for researchers?

While we do not have formal VPD employee files in the collection, these ledgers are a useful resource when assisting researchers who are looking into a relative’s employment history with the Vancouver Police Department. It is exciting to carefully search through the ledgers and locate the name you are looking for! When I share my findings, I always caution that I do not know how complete or thorough the written information is, but that it is a good place to start. A record is only as useful as the information that it contains... or doesn’t contain.

5 photographs of the police Service Record ledgers, including specific detail pages

Currently, all of the ledgers are marked as “Restricted” for public research, because not all of the individual service “records” within each ledger are more than 100 years old. Information professionals such as myself must follow the rules laid out in the Privacy Act. This act provides guidelines for how we use, share, and protect the personal information found within the records under our stewardship. The ledgers can be used for research, but only the museum archivist is allowed to look through a given ledger to find a specific individual and share their information. Even with these restrictions in place, we are most fortunate that the ledgers are in excellent condition and will be a valuable record for many years to come. It is amazing that the ink used to write some of the earliest pages is still crisp and sharp - although sometimes the handwriting is difficult to decipher. In order to create a safe storage environment that will support their long-term preservation and use, the ledgers are stored in acid-free archival boxes that give them protection against light, dust, and water. Visually, they are a wonderful piece of VPD history and we are pleased to have them as part of our collection.


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