As I mentioned earlier, I am very happy to be co-hosting the “Weikipedia As Outreach And Activism For Canadian History” with Jessica Knapp of Canada’s History Society. Last week we ran our first webinar which featured Jade Pichette, Skylee-Storm Hogan, and Ezra Winton discussing their experiences editing Wikipedia, hosting edit-a-thons, and sharing advice for those wanting to host or participate in future edit-a-thons. A recording of the webinar is available below.
Our next webinar is Wednesday July 19, 2017 at 2pm ET and will feature Amy Marshall Furness, the Rosamond Ivey Special Collections Archivist and Head, Library & Archives at the E.P. Taylor Research Library & Archives, Art Gallery of Ontario. Amy will be discussing her involvement with the Art+Feminism editing community and how to use Wikipedia for outreach and activism in a GLAM setting. Interested in joining us? You can register at: http://www.canadashistory.ca/Explore/Webinars/Wikipedia-as-Outreach-and-Activism-for-Canadian-History-Webinar-Series
Leslie E. Tassell English Perennial and Bulb Garden
Recently while I was visiting Grand Rapids, Michigan and had an opportunity to spend time exploring the Frederik Meijer Sculpture Park and Gardens. It was a wonderful few hours on a gorgeous summer day and I loved the mixture of art, nature, and cultivated gardens. The Gardens opened in 1995, sits on 158 acres and aims to promote an understanding of gardens, sculpture, nature, and the arts.
Given that the site is 158 acres and that we had a limited time frame we were selective about which areas of the Gardens we explored. We spent the bulk of our time exploring the Sculpture Park which is 30 acres of outdoor paths, formal gardens, and natural landscape all geared to showcase large outdoor sculptures. There was a mixture of modern and traditional sculpture with some of my favourites being huge metal sculptures that were large enough to walk under. I also liked that they intentionally left some areas of the sculpture park ‘wild’ or more natural, it provided a great contrast to the sculptures.
One of my favourite sculptures from the Sculpture Park
In addition to the sculpture park during our visit there was also an indoor exhibition, Ai Weiwei at Meiher Gardens: Natural State. As part of this show Ai Weiwei’s work was in a formal gallery space but also located in conservatories and public spaces. Ai Weiwei is known as an activist and artist and much of his work on display was politically motivated or providing critical commentary on social events.
We also spent some time viewing around the indoor conservatories, the British style outdoor garden area, and the kids garden. We concluded our visiting the daylily show and competition that just happened to be occurring the day we visited. Lilies are one of my favourite flowers and I adored seeing the range of colours and styles of flowers featured in the show.
Overall this was a really great way to spend a morning, I left feeling like I learned something and also feeling really relaxed after spending so much time outside among beautiful garden spaces. I would definitely recommend this site to anyone traveling through Grand Rapids.
This survey is open to all members of the Canadian archival community regardless of their role, employment status, the size of their archives, or whether they classify their archives as a ‘formal’ or ‘informal’ repository. Multiple responses from archivists within a single large institution are welcome.
The survey aims to gather and then review institutional policies, best practices, and related perceptions existent in archives across the country as they pertain to engagement with, and support for Indigenous community members and researchers. The results of this survey will be used to identify potential barriers to, or practices in support of, reconciliation efforts between the Canadian archival community and Indigenous communities across Canada.
The survey can be accessed until July 21, 2017 at: http://unbc.fluidsurveys.com/s/TRC-TF-Survey/
This webinar series is suitable for GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) professionals, public historians, and those interested in Canadian history. No experience editing Wikipedia is necessary to participate. Folks can sign up to participate on the Canada History Society website. We have a great line up of experienced Wikipedia editors, community organizers, activists, and history folks who are going to be presenting as part of the series.
I’m overjoyed by how the Active History Archives Theme Week has come together. This week emerged after the ‘secret archives’ new story and the subsequent response from the archival community. The goal of the theme week is to foster discussion between archivists and historians. Posts in the week tackle issues of archival labour, how private records end up in archives, the legacy of colonial collecting practices, collaboration within archives, and archival outreach.
The theme week includes the following posts: (I’ll update with hyperlinks to the posts once they are live on Active History)
The article discusses the history of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (SRSC), the importance of shifting the historical narrative to the Survivor point of view, and the idea of the SRSC as a living archive focused on engagement. This engagement piece is something that is very dear to my heart and is at the core of my public history and archival practice.
Writing with Education Forum was a great experience. Many thanks to editor Michael Young for the opportunity and his support throughout the process.
I’m super excited to have been part of the planning for the “Beyond 150: Telling Our Stories” twitter conference that will be held August 24-25, 2017 on Twitter. Organized by Active History, Unwritten Histories, Canada’s History Society, and The Wilson Institute the conference aims to diversify the historical narrative and uplift marginalized historical perspectives. It is designed to encourage collaboration, public engagement, and spark discussion about Canada’s history in a way that is accessible to everyone.
For details on the conference, how you can participate, and the CFP check out today’s Active History announcement. Or follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #beyond150CA.
I’ve worked in an open office setup for the bulk of my professional career. This has typically meant sharing an office space with multiple co-workers and students. It has also meant working in a space that is open to the public. In 2015 there was around six or eight months where I had an office to myself, though I tended to have an open door policy.
Recently, after some internal discussions the space that I work in is no longer open to the public every single hour that I’m there. The new public hours have only been in operation for a bit over a week – but is essentially means half my time is spent with an open door and the other half the office door is shut. This week has got me thinking a lot about the value of closed doors, dedicated processing time, and carving out time for specific projects. I had forgotten how much value there is in having a door that can be closed.
I like the flexibility of being able to help people when they drop in. But I’m also really valuing the time I have carved out each day to work on longer term projects, processing that can’t be done in a public space, and the ability to have phone calls without worrying if someone is going to walk in.
When you are front line facing it can often become challenging to dedicate time to non immediate needs – the needs of patrons, rightly, come first. Having staff you can rotate off with or a dedicated space away from patrons can be a huge boon in terms of finding time to do all the other tasks associated with archives aside from research requests and public programming.
I’d be interested in hearing how others balance front line facing roles with other aspects of archival practice. I think is particularly a challenge in small shops where one person does almost everything – from accessioning to reference – and that individual needs to set their own schedule and boundaries.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Canadian Historical Association (CHA) annual meeting held at Ryerson in Toronto, Ontario. This is the first time I have had been back to CHA in six or more years and I happy to say it was a worth while experience. Though I’m still a die hard NCPH fan I can see that CHA has it’s place and value, especially to those practicing history within the academy.
CHA highlights for me included:
Meeting with Active History editorial collective and discussing the future of the Active History project. The last time I saw many of the other editors was in 2015 at the Active History conference, so it was great to be able to connect in person.
The “Decolonize 1867: Stories from the People event” was a great way to start my CHA experience. The session was organized by Stacy Nantion-Knapper and Kathryn Labelle and featured Catherine Tammaro, Brittany Luby, Naomi Recollet, Helen Knott, Jessie Thistle, and Carolyn Podruchny. The session was conversational in nature and included presentations focused around visual art, poetry, and storytelling. The words of the presenters invoked discussions of land, the ongoing impacts of colonialism, and a critical look at commemoration. Helen Knott’s poem “Indigenous Diaspora: Out Of Place In Place” was a beautiful and thought provoking discussion of land, colonialism, and resilience. Similarly, Naomi Recollet’s presentation of the “Unceded” video showcased the varying views Indigenous communities have to land, legislation, and government relationships.
One of the panels I really enjoyed was the The Indian Act: A Contested Technique of Colonial Governance, 1876-Present panel. This panel featured four presenters focusing on different aspects and interpretations of the Indian Act and the Act’s impact on Indigenous communities. Many of the papers on this panel subverted the standard colonial narrative and were looking for Indigenous perspectives on the Indian Act – either through oral history, finding archival sources written by Indigenous leaders, or reading government documents against the grain. The panel featured: Chandra Murdoch, “Mobilization of and against Indian Act elections on Haudenosaunee Reserves, 1870-1924”; Anne Janhunen, “Government Responses to Indigenous Political Organizing and Legal Representation in Southern Ontario, 1903-1927”; “Genevieve R. Painter, “Cutting Costs and Constructing Canada: A History of Sex Discrimination in the Indian Act”; Jacqueline Briggs “#PolicyFail: How the Department of Indian Affairs negotiated the dissolution of the assimilation and management projects in the 1960s”
I also enjoyed the “Recovering Indigenous Law in Ore-Confederation Land Conveyances to the British Crown, 1764-1864” panel. In particular, Jeffrey Hewitt’s discussion of “Wampum as Treaty Text” and the idea of looking beyond written text for historical information was something that resonated strongly with me. Hewitt also discussed the need for settlers to develop literary beyond the written word – and the need to view wampum belts, songs, and dances as valid sources of information.
Another highlight for me was connecting with folks I only know online at CHA. It was great to see some archivists and public historians at the conference and so many inspiring women participating in the event.
Things I would like to see more of at CHA:
The roundtable format used at the social media panel and the public historians panel worked really well. The format was conversational and included ample time for discussion. I would love to see more sessions borrow from this model.
More creative based sessions such as the “Decolonize 1867” event which re-positioned historical narratives.
More community engaged scholars sharing their work – and community collaborators speaking alongside academics at CHA. Community voices have value and we need to listen. This is particularly important when talking about marginalized communities and needing to open up the space to make room for those voices.
There was one solid queer history panel but it would have been great to see more queer history throughout the program.
I’m on a podcast! Given my obsession with listening to podcasts it might not be surprising that I’m very excited to have been part of a podcast recording.
Recently Scott Neigh of Talking Radical Radio interviewed Skylee-Storm Hogan and I about the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, activism and archives, and more broadly about documenting social movements. Our conversation was partially inspired by my recent Active History post on “Archives As Activism” which discusses some of the current trends around archiving and documenting social movements in Canada.