Category Archives: Doing History

In Praise of a Nondescript Government Facility (or, The Most Canadian Title Ever)

Alan MacEachern As I drove deeper into a suburb in the small town of Matane on Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, things got busier instead of quieter. More and more parked cars lined the streets. There were no sidewalks, so the many people walking were all in the street, all of them headed toward the same low-slung, nondescript office building in the… Read more »

Hacking History 3.0: Writing History One Wikipedia Page At A Time

Jessica Knapp and Krista McCracken  For the past two years we have hosted a Canada Wide Wikipedia Edit-a-thon for Canadian history. This national event has encouraged folks from across Canada to join us in editing Canadian history content on Wikipedia. As of 21 August 2013, there were 113,554 articles on Wikipedia relating to Canada, a mere 1.92% of the articles… Read more »

Public Historians at the Playhouse

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Paul Ward On a cold Monday morning in late autumn last year, nearly 30 first-year undergraduate History students from Edge Hill University visited the Playhouse Theatre in Williamson Square, Liverpool, UK. They delivered informal short presentations about major historical events including Napoleon at Waterloo, the rule of Margaret Thatcher, the suffragettes, and other historical figures such as Marie Curie. This… Read more »

Negotiating the Personal: Working with the Diaries of Ida Martin

Bonnie Huskins & Michael Boudreau Ida Martin, a working-class housewife from Saint John, New Brunswick, kept daily entries in a series of five-year diaries from 1945 to 1992. These diaries are the basis of a manuscript for McGill-Queen’s University Press that we are currently revising. They are the focus of the reflections here, which also consider the importance of “life… Read more »

Family archives and research at Assumption College’s French Institute

Leslie Choquette As director of the French Institute at Assumption College, a research center focused on French-Canadian migration to New England, I have worked with three donors of family archival collections, not just to give their materials a good home, but to use them to shape their family stories for different audiences. This experience both convinced me of the usefulness… Read more »

Professional Historians, Personal Histories: A Roundtable on Objectivity, Subjectivity and Family History

Laura Madokoro This week, Active History features a roundtable on history called “Professional Historians, Personal Histories: A Roundtable on Objectivity, Subjectivity and Family History.” As the title suggests, the four contributions from Benjamin Bryce, Leslie Choquette, Bonnie Huskins and Michael Boudreau and Brittany Luby focus, from different perspectives, on the question of the relationship between professional historians, family histories and… Read more »

Seeing What Lies Beneath Paintings

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By Brett Liem and Michael Robertson Last year we published a short article in Active History where we described optical techniques for recovering the contrast from faded documents.  A range of light sources from ultraviolet (UV) to near-infrared (NIR), filters, and a camera adapted to form images with light outside or the normal visible spectrum were used to reveal residual… Read more »

Eating History: Canada War Cake

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By Sophie Hicks This is the fourth post in a summer series exploring societal, community, and familial connections to food and food history. See the series introduction post here. An earlier version of this post appeared on The Canadian Cooking Chronicles, as part of a final project for an Archives Practicum class. As an unapologetic fan of Ian Mosby’s work… Read more »

Decline of the American Empire

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The Decline of the American Empire (1986), or how historians are depressed, hedonistic and abusive scholars who lead meaningless lives and don’t write any history.  Serge Miville “There are three important things in history: First, the numbers, second, the numbers and third, the numbers. That’s why South African blacks will eventually win, and North American blacks are likely to never… Read more »

Ten Keyboard Shortcuts Every Historian Should Know

By Sean Kheraj You’re sitting uncomfortably in the audience at a conference waiting for the presenter to begin. They’ve finally loaded up their PowerPoint file from an old USB flash drive and all that’s left is to set it into presentation mode. They click around aimlessly on the screen trying button after button to no avail. Inside your head you’re… Read more »