Collaborative Archival Practice: Rethinking outreach, access, and reconciliation using Wikipedia

I had a great time at the 2017 Archives Association of Ontario conference last week.  If you’re interested in the talk Danielle Robichaud and I gave relating to Wikipedia, archives, and reconciliation work our slides are now online.

It was great to meet Danielle in person (and yay for twitter connecting us virtually long before this conference). Many thanks to all who came to our talk.  If you have questions relating to our presentation, using Wikipedia in archives, or Wikipedia editing as reconciliation work feel free to reach out to either Danielle or I.

AAO: Wikipedia and Reconciliation

Headed to the Archives Association of Ontario conference this week? Come join Danielle Robichaud and I on Friday April 28th from 2:30-3:15pm in session 6b.  We’ll be talking Wikipedia and reconciliation and sharing some of our experiences editing Wikipedia within the context of reconciliation.

I’m really looking forward to this talk and hope to see many Ontario archives folks at AAO this year. If you’re planning to be at AAO but you can’t come to our talk please feel free to say hello during the conference.

[Edited for typo fails]

AAO 2017 Conference

The 2017 Archives Association of Ontario conference is slated for April 26-28, 2017 at the University of Toronto Faculty of Information (iSchool).  This year’s conference theme is “Come Together: Meaningful Collaboration in a Connected World.”  The draft program at a glance is available online and it looks like a great couple of days of programming. Early bird registration just opened and runs to March 12, 2017.  It’s been a couple of years since I’ve had the opportunity to attend AAO – I blame the fact that Sault Ste. Marie is so far from basically everywhere. But this is typically a great smaller conference with lots of friendly folks and good conversation.

As part of the 2017 conference Danielle Robichaud and I will be talking archives and Wikipedia as part of the Digital Storytelling session on Friday April 28, 2017.   April is going to be a busy month for me with both NCPH and AAO within a couple of weeks. But I’m really looking forward to connecting with Ontario archives folks at AAO and presenting with Danielle.

AAO: Toward Truth and Reconciliation

Today the Archives Association of Ontario (AAO) announced the first of two web pages “aimed at supporting the Truth and Reconciliation process and improving access to Indigenous focused archival and cultural resources.”  Toward Truth and Reconciliation is a page dedicated to “assisting Ontario’s archival community to navigate the path toward the decolonisation and Indigenization of our practice” and contains a list of open access resources relating to the TRC, decolnisation, Indigenous issues, and the intersection of archives/Indigenous communities.

The list is well worth a look for anyone interested in learning more about how the AAO is responding to the TRC’s Calls to Action and steps the archival community can take to decolonize and Indigenize their practices.  This list is ongoing and the first part of a larger project so I imagine it will evolve and be added to over time.  General comments and suggestions for improvements on the project can be directed to the AAO Web Administrator.

Full Disclosure: The list includes a link to my place of work as one of the Indigenous cultural heritage resources in Ontario, a blog post I wrote for Active History is included as a resource, and the Off The Record: Archives and Indigenous Issues publication listed also contains a piece I wrote about working at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre.  The page also contains a couple of my favourite pieces which I frequently recommend to folks interested in learning more about Indigenous communities, archives, and reconciliation.

Off The Record Issue on Archives and Indigenous Issues

The Archives Association of Ontario’s Off The Record open access issue on archives and Indigenous issues was recently released.  The issue includes a lot of great and insightful content including: three holdings profiles focusing on access to Indigenous-related materials and three feature pieces on various facets of the intersection of Indigenous communities and archives. Overall, it does an excellent job of showing some of diverse ways Indigenous people are represented in archives and how archives are handling discussions of reconciliation, access, and healing.

Full disclosure: the feature section includes a piece I wrote about my experience working at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre and working in a community based archive.  The cover also includes a photograph of the Shingwauk 1981 Reunion and one of the other features mentions the Archives of Ontario Family Ties 150 Exhibit and the SRSC content in that exhibit.

AAO 2014: Community Remembering and Faith-Based Commemoration

This is the second post summarizing my experience at the AAO 2014 conference. The first post, “AAO 2014: Context and Commemoration” can be seen here

Archives and Remembering 
This session focused on two community museums/archives and their efforts to commemorate community histories. 

The first pair of presenters were Laura Camilleri and Wayne Townsend from the Dufferin County Museum and Archives (DCMA).  Their presentation, “Remembering the Wars…Digitally” focused on the DCMA efforts to commemorate Dufferin’s veterans.  For the purposes of this project veteran was defined as anyone who had served in any conflict in any capacity.  The project allowed for archival material to be linked to museum collections and placed online via the Duff Stuff portal.  The portal is fee based.  However DCMA members get access as part of their membership fee.  Camilleri and Townsend highlighted some of the unexpected rewards of their project such as: building community partnerships, increased research requests, increased donations to the archive, and collaboration with local schools.  Having grown up near the DCMA and volunteered there it was nice to see some of the positive ongoing work and community outreach occurring within the institution.

The second set of presenters in this session were Mary Gladwin and Patricia Phelps who focused on the Oxford Remembers project. This initiative aims to commemorate the men and women who participated in WWI both at home and overseas.  Oxford County will hold 100 special events and programs from 2014-2018 to remember the 100th anniversary of the First World War.  Gladwin and Phelps highlighted the project’s galvanizing force and the enthusiasm of libraries, archives, museums, and community based groups to host commemorative events.  Everything from plays, pigeon shows, art displays, traveling exhibits, and film screenings will be held as part of the project.  Overall the project aims to raise awareness about the rich history of Oxford and the roles Oxford citizens played in the war effort.  This presentation was great inspiration for anyone interested in community engagement in collaboration.  It highlighted the benefits of working with multiple partners and keeping costs low through shared events and promotion.

Faith-Based Commemoration and Archives
This session focused on anniversary celebrations at two faith-based archives.  The presentations both focused on case study examples of successful archival commemoration efforts.

Gillian Hearns presented on “Making the 150th and 175th Anniversaries of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto.” Hearns’ presentation recapped the Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto involvement in the 1991 celebrations around the 150th diocese anniversary.  At this point the Archives was relatively new but the 150th celebrations helped bring legitimacy to the archives and highlight the value of the archives.  Hearn’s presentation also looked forward to the upcoming 175th anniversary that will be occurring in 2016.  Building on previous commemoration and history work Hearns described the 175th as an educational opportunity.  She saw the archive being tied to the larger diocese commemoration plan and focusing efforts on promoting the archive to internal stakeholders.  Hearn’s talk emphasized the importance of learning from past commemoration efforts and the role that commemoration can have in promoting the use of archives.

Hearn’s presentation was followed by Kate Rosser-Davies and her work commemorating the “Jubilee Years at St. Michael’s Choir School.”  The case study explored by Rosser-Davies focused on the 75th anniversary celebration of St. Michael’s Choir School and the commemorative publication of Seventy-Five Years of Service in SongAt the time of the 75th anniversary the archives at St. Michael’s was newly established and Rosser-Davies unexpectedly played a key role in the publication process of Service in Song.  The publication was community driven and school alumni were actively involved in the books authorship.  Rosser-Davies highlighted the challenges of managing a community based publication including editorial burnout, inconsistent voicing, factual issues, and managing so many contributors.  Despite these challenges the book’s community based nature did allow for stakeholders to learn about the value of archival collections and the importance of preserving the school history.  Rosser-Davies indicated the donations to the school archives increased following the book project.  Service in Song is a great example of school archives being used for commemorative purposes and the challenges of managing a community based publication.

AAO 2014: Context and Commemoration

Last week I attended the Archives Association of Ontario annual conference in Oshawa, Ontario.  The next few posts are recaps of the conference and some of the sessions I attended.

Keynote
The opening keynote speaker for AAO 2014 was Anthony Wilson-Smith of Historica Canada.  Wilson-Smith’s talk focused on his personal experience with history through journalism and working with Historica Canada.  The talk also centered on the importance of context and the role that archives have in preserving context in a increasingly digital age.  Historica Canada is the largest organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Canadian history and citizenship in Canada.  They are perhaps most well known for its Heritage Minutes.  Wilson-Smith’s talk touched on the Heritage Minutes and discussed how they are meant to be introductions to historical topics and not complete histories. Despite not having a direct archival focus the keynote was engaging and broached a number of digital preservation issues being faced by archivists.

War And The Public Memory
This session focused on war and civic memorials that have been used to facilitate commemoration.  The first presenter, Alexander Comber, focused on “War Trophies of Canada: Paper Trail to Artifact.”  Comber described his efforts to research the history and provenance of war trophies that were brought to Canada following WWI.    Using Library and Archives Canada records combined with photographs, oral histories, and other written accounts Comber aimed to identify the current location of surviving war trophies and document the history of war trophies across Canada.  Much of his research has been compiled in a Google doc and can be seen here.  Comber’s project highlighted the potential and short comings of using archival material to document public monuments. 

The second half of this session featured a presentation by Amanda Hill.  Her work “Beyond The Cenotaph” focused on her work with the Deseronto Archives and ongoing commemoration efforts around WWI. Hill’s presentation focused on her project to learn more about the 34 men listed on the 1923 cenotaph in memory of WWI soldiers.  This project was later expanded to research all men who served from Deseronto including those who were from a nearby Royal Flying Training camp.  Despite occasional research roadblocks and coming up against pay-walled resources Hill’s project has managed to illuminate the personal histories of many of the men from Deseronto.  Some of Hill’s research can be found online here.  Additionally, she has plans to share her research via live historical blogging during the WWI centenary and through other social media platforms.  Overall this was a great example of a community inspired commemoration project that has potential to engage a range of community members.

Archives Association of Ontario Conference

Next week I will be attending the 2014 Archives Association of Ontario conference.  This year’s conference theme is “Party With Your Archives” with many of the presentations focusing on the use of archival collections in community events, commemoration projects, and the creation of collective memory.

  On Friday May 30th I will be presenting “Marginalized Voices: Residential School Archives and Community Collaboration” as part of the Community Collaboration panel.  My presentation is focused on the use of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre and associated archives in commemoration events and the development of a community archive.

The complete conference program can be seen here.

AAO Institutional Award

In case you missed it on twitter or the archives listserv, Algoma University’s Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre and Arthur A. Wishart Library recently won the 2013 Archives Association of Ontario Institutional Award.  The The AAO Institutional Award recognizes an “Archival Institution that has contributed significantly to the advancement of the archival field or community, or has demonstrated a significant level of innovation and imagination in the establishment of outstanding or model programmes or services.”

 Other universities that have been awarded the AAO Institutional Award include Queen’s University Archives (2012), the Ryerson University Gallery and Research Centre (School of Image Arts) and the Library and Archives Special Collections Program (2011), Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections at York University Archives (2008), and the Trent University Archives (2003).

 The complete details of AlgomaU project and the award a press release can be seen here.

[Full disclosure: I’m very fortunate to have been part of this project since 2010, so this is a bit of shameless promotion.]