Monday, July 5, 2021

Free: Finding Capt. Slatter in the Internet Archive

After watching Thomas MacEntee's talk on the Internet Archive during THE Genealogy Show, I returned to this data-rich resource with fresh ideas of what was available and how to search. 

Not only is the Internet Archive entirely free, it has some scanned resources from places that I would otherwise have to visit and research in person. See for yourself at

Searching for John D. Slatter

Because Canadian collections are well represented on the Internet Archive, I began with a new search for Capt. John Daniel Slatter (1864-1954), my husband's great uncle. At the turn of the 20th century, Capt. Slatter was renowned as the leader of the internationally-known Kiltie Band, the 48th Highlanders of Toronto. 

From previous searches, I knew this ancestor was often mentioned in news items and in city directories as John D. Slatter. That's how I searched for him in text contents (see above) of Internet Archive. I didn't limit my search by date or by collection, but I did put his name in quotes to search only for that phrase. Some searches take a few moments longer but it's worth the wait.

New finds for free! 

On the first page of results, I found John D. Slatter in the text of a calendar from the Toronto Conservatory of Music for the 1914-1915 term. 

He was listed as Bandmaster, 48th Highlanders, and a teacher of cornet, French horn, slide trombone, euphonium, and tuba. Our family never knew this ancestor played tuba, and we never knew he was on the faculty of this institution.

Also I found calendars for the University of Toronto, for the period 1913-1917. John D. Slatter was listed in the university materials as being on the faculty for the Conservatory of Music in those years. The Conservatory had an affiliation with the university, listing faculty for both institutions. It's a small thing, but we didn't know about it.

Next, I'll plug in more Slatter names, because Capt. Slatter had two bandmaster brothers also in Canada. With luck, one or both will be in the Internet Archive.

UPDATE: I found new results for Captain Albert Slatter and more results for Capt. John D. Slatter! Nearly all out of copyright (check rights document by document) and available to post here and on my family trees. Below, Capt. John Slatter at center of front row, leading the U of Toronto band in 1937.


"Free" is this week's #52Ancestors prompt from Amy Johnson Crow.


  1. I also like to reference, such a great resource! In addition to books and pamphlets, I have discovered recordings made by ancestors. I wonder if your Capt. Slatter ever made recordings with one of his bands, it's worth a check. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Great idea, thanks so much for the tip! Yes, Capt. Slatter made a number of recordings--including a very early wax cylinder recording. Let me see if they're in