Archival photographs in perspective: Indian residential school images of health

My latest article, “Archival photographs in perspective: Indian residential school images of health” is now out in the British Journal of Canadian Studies (volume 30, issue 2).  This article is part of a special issue edited by Evan J. Habkirk and Janice Forsyth focusing on health and the body at Canadian residential schools. Many thanks to Evan and Janice for all their work on this issue and for all of their assistance getting this article published. 

My article examines the use of archival photographs to supplement the historical narrative with an emphasis on using photographs of sport and recreation as a lens for examining student life, health and power dynamics within the residential school system.  This article draws on the idea of archival silence and critically evaluates present day usage of residential school images.  The article is based on my work with the Rev. Father William Maurice fonds held at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre.  Within this fonds I examined photographs from the Spanish Indian Residential School series which is comprised of photographs of the residential schools located in Spanish, Ontario.  This series is a mixture of photographs taken by staff/administrators and photographs taken by students at the School.  The contrast of student and staff generated photographs provides an insight in the power dynamics present in archival photographs and the context behind residential schools images.

If you would like to read a copy of the article but are hitting a paywall please contact me.

Nine Years of Blogging

"Ask More Questions" sign on a white wall between two clocks.

“Ask More Questions” Photo by Jonathan Simcoe on Unsplash

I know I’ve written about my personal blogging anniversaries before, but I still think it’s worth nothing that September 2017 marks nine years since I started this blog as part of a course requirement for a digital history class I took as part of my MA in Public History.  I know some folks have argued that the blog is a dying or irrelevant medium at this point however I still believe of its value within the archival and public history field as a form of scholarship and engagement.  Of course, I’ll also admit I love a timely tweet storm and have a soft spot for cat pictures on Instagram.

I have – gulp – written over 600 posts at this point.  I’ve also noticed in the past couple of years that this blog has evolved to have a more solid connection to my work in the archives field. I still talk public history and still come at archives from a public historian perspective — but there’s way more archives content then there was nine years ago.

Rather than recounting some of my favourite or most viewed posts I decided that instead this year I would highlight some of my favourite blogs.  These blogs are ones that I follow consistently and that inspire me to write my own blog posts.

  • Unwritten Histories by Andrea Eidinger.  This one’s a bit of an easy mark – Andrea’s blog is a must read for anyone interested in Canadian history and I love her sarcasm.
  • Things I’m Fonds Of by Emily Lonie.  There’s a pun in the title – thus it has to be great! Seriously, though this is a wonderful blog that consistently highlights innovate archival practices and collaborative projects.
  • History@Work, a multi-authored blog on the National Council for Public History website.  History@Work covers a great mix of public history topics and has a lot of great discussion based posts around current interpretation of historical events.
  • Nursing Clio, another great multi-authored blog.  If you’re interested at all in gender or medicine this is the history blog for you.  This peer-reviewed blog offers timely historically grounded posts on present-day issues.  Their tag line is “the personal is historical” and many of their posts connect to person or community narratives of history.
  • Claire Kreuger’s blog pulls directly from her thesis work.  I’m in love with her alphabet series.  Some of her hard hitting posts tackle reconciliation, settler narratives, and how to be an ally.
  • Uncatalogued Museum by Linda Norris.  This is a blog I’ve been following for years and that I keep coming back to for it’s insightful takes on museum exhibits and content design.
  • Allana Mayer’s tumblr account for her takes on archives, tech and labour.  Allana has also posted a number of great summary posts which compile resources on specific topics – her “Resources on Archives and Indigenous issues” post from 2016 is still a great source for information. I’d also suggest following Allana on Twitter.

What are your favourite archives and public history blogs? 

Active History Archives Theme Week

Archives Venn DiagramI’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)

Many thanks to all of the fantastic archivists who contributed to this series.

Sharing, Healing and Learning: Survivor Driven History

Shingwauk rEsidential School

Shingwauk Residential School, circa 1960. Source: Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre.

My latest piece “Sharing, Healing and Learning: Survivor Driven History at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre” was recently published in Education Forum the magazine of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF).

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.

Tours of the Shingwauk and Wawanosh Residential Schools Site

The third peice I wrote last year for Canada’s History is now up on their re-designed website.  My piece on “Tours of the Shingwauk and Wawanosh Residential Schools Site” talks briefly about the history of the Shingwauk and Wawanosh Indian Residential Schools, the range of historic site tours provided by the Shingwauk Indian Residential School, and the emotional impact which can be associated with these tours.

As the busy tour season approaches at Shingwauk I’ve been thinking a lot about the delivery of this programming and that role it plays in educating people about residential schools, colonialism, and Indigenous communities.

Historian’s Histories Interview

Microphone

Public Domain Image

I was recently interviewed as part of the Historian’s Histories series on the fantastic Unwritten Histories site.

I am extremly greatful for the work that Andrea Eidinger does through her site and delighted to have been asked to particiapte in her interview series.  I talk about my history roots, my love for public history, and how I use a public history approach to my archives work.

Archives As Activism

My latest post on “Archives As Activism” can be seen over on Active History. The post explores the connection of archives, activism, and community.

It discusses the idea that archives can disrupt social norms by collecting and archiving the work of those outside of mainstream society.  The piece also dives into examples of Canadian archives who have made an effort to collect material relating to activist movements.

Occupy Vancover signs.

Occupy Vancouver signs, 2011. Public Domain image.

Who Was Brian Vallée?

Last year I wrote a few posts for Canada’s History education section on their website. However because of website revamps some of that content was delayed in getting posted.  My second piece “Who was Brian Vallée?” is now available on their site.

This piece talks about Brian Vallée as an award winning author, journalist, film producer and Vallée’s work to raise awareness about domestic violence.  It also discusses different forms outreach to building awareness about the Brian Vallée’s life and his fonds held at Algoma University.  Brian Vallée’s lack of digital presence was one of the reason I initially became involved in editing Wikipedia – so it was nice to revisit and think about different forms of community and digital outreach.

Rapport Active History Interviews

Used under CC0.4 license.

My Active History colleague Daniel Ross and I were recently e-interviewed by Risa Gluskin for Rapport the Ontario History & Social Sciences Teachers’ Association blog.  Our interviews are part of Rapport‘s Doing History series which profiles “people working in the area of history but not necessarily as history teachers.”

The interview with Daniel looks at some of the some of the ideas behind active history and public history.  If you are unsure of what active history or public history is Daniel does a great job of breaking down these ideas and showcasing ways in which people can be involved in both active and public history.  The interview also includes a segment exploring Daniel’s interest in urban history.  My interview discusses my public history roots, how I entered the archival profession and my reconciliation work through the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre.

Many thanks to Risa and OHSSTA for showcasing Active History and our work.

Teaching the Legacy of the Sixties Scoop and Addressing Ongoing Child Welfare Inequality in the Classroom

My latest post “Teaching the Legacy of the Sixties Scoop and Addressing Ongoing Child Welfare Inequality in the Classroom” can be found on Active History. This post look at the connection between colonialism, the residential school era and the sixties scoop.  It also discusses ways in which historians and educators can incorporate sixties scoop history into their classroom spaces.