Category Archives: Theme Week

Collaboration between archivists and historians: finding a middle ground

Anna St.Onge [i] Let’s begin with a story One afternoon, a few years ago, one of our student assistants called me up from the back processing area to answer a patron question. “How can I help you?” I asked. “I’m looking for a diary written by a woman who emigrated from Hungary to Toronto in 1954.” I quickly ran through… Read more »

Changing the Narrative

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Jennifer Weymark Much like the saying “history is written by the victor” history also tends to be written by the privileged elite. Within the archival field in Canada, this privilege is directly connected to the colonial nature of archives. Across Canada, archival collections tend to be filled with documents related to, and from, the perspective of the upper echelon of… Read more »

Archives, Constructed and Incomplete

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Sara Janes Archival collections are put together through many individual actions and decisions made by many individual people, and those people, sometimes without knowing it, have a massive impact on how we understand the past. Records (documents such as papers, correspondence, photographs, maps, recordings, and more) need to get into the archives before they can be available for researchers. Records… Read more »

What makes for an archives? A look at the core archival functions

Roger Gillis Archives is a term that can have many different connotations. In the loosest sense of the word it can be taken to mean a collection of historical records, and what counts as “historical” varies from one setting to the next.  As institutions, archives tend to adhere to several core principles: acquisition, appraisal, arrangement & description, preservation, and access…. Read more »

Missed connections: looking for everything in the archives

Danielle Robichaud Archivists are commonly asked by researchers to produce everything available about a particular topic. While understandable from a researcher standpoint, fulfilling the request is a challenge. Unlike library holdings, archival material is rarely described to the item-level. This makes it difficult for archivists to do more than point researchers to where everything about a particular topic could be…. Read more »

Archives Theme Week: Creating Dialogue Between Archivists and Historians

Krista McCracken On May 25, 2017 numerous national media outlets covered Dennis Molinaro’s experience researching the PICNIC wiretapping program and his search for archival records related to wiretapping during the Cold War. To coincide with the media coverage Active History shared a post written by Molinaro which explored an in depth account of his experience attempting to access the wiretap… Read more »

Rediscovering the “Oracle of Wheat”

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By Anne Dance E. Cora Hind, first-wave feminist and famed agricultural journalist, was never one to back down from a fight. In the 1930s, the septuagenarian recommended reforms to a federal cabinet minister. The Canadian politician quickly dismissed Hind’s suggestions, much to her disgust. “This merely shows his colossal ignorance of the whole situation,” Hind later wrote in one of her… Read more »

Silenced Histories: Accessing Abortion in Alberta, 1969 to 1988

By Shannon Ingram Two years following the 100th celebration of Canadian confederation in 1967, the Omnibus Criminal Law Amendment Act was passed on May 14th, 1969 by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau that partially lifted the strict criminal sanctions regarding abortion nationwide. [1] The decades that followed the passing of, what many deemed, “the monumental omnibus bill” was no more liberating… Read more »

Firmly on the Left: ‘Ethnic Hall’ Socialist Women’s Activism and State Responses, 1919-1945

By Rhonda Hinther Authorities caught up with Regina Communist Party Activist Gladys Macdonald on June 3, 1940, along with two men, John Slavkowsky (whom the press identified as a Hungarian relief recipient) and Clifford Peet, another local Party organizer. According to news reports, the three, were “accused of printing a pamphlet known as the Saskatchewan Factory and Furrow, containing materials… Read more »

Rethinking the Contributions of Union Activist Ethel Wilson Within the Postwar Context of Alberta’s Male-Dominated Industrial Complex

By Cynthia Loch-Drake Struggling to make ends meet in 1934 while raising three small children after her husband deserted their family, Ethel Wilson took a job as seamstress in one of Edmonton’s major meatpacking plants. During WWII she became a union organizer and in the postwar era entered community politics, rising to become a cabinet minister in the Social Credit… Read more »