Article by Nicole Courrier now available online!

One of our own students recently had an article published online at U of M Today. Written during Nicole’s time at the University of Manitoba Archives and Special Collections, “A tale and picture from the Prince of Wales’ Manitoba hunting trip”  looks at Manitoba’s connection to King Edward VIII and one of the many notable photographs by L.B. Foote. Nice work Nicole!

EDWARD VIII, PRINCE OF WALES, AFTER HUNTING AT DELTA MARSHA, MB. / Photographer:L.B. Foote.

EDWARD VIII, PRINCE OF WALES, AFTER HUNTING AT DELTA MARSH, MB. / Photographer: L.B. Foote.

 

 

Behind the Scenes: Getting a Student Chapter Off the Ground

After the Association for Canadian Archivists’ 2013 meeting in Winnipeg, we were inspired to start a student chapter of the ACA for students at the University of Manitoba. Choosing to be part of this national organization makes us feel more connected to the Canadian archival scene as a whole and to our fellow students specifically.

Seeing the vibrant student communities in other Archival Studies programs across Canada made us wish for a more connected community in our own program, so we decided to see if we could get a student chapter off the ground. The U of M’s Archival Studies program is unique in Canada in that it requires a thesis to graduate; while this approach has its pros and cons, it means that students can feel a bit disconnected from each other as they complete their coursework and begin writing their thesis. Our initial goals for the U of M’s student chapter were to foster a sense of community among Archival Studies students, to make our work more visible to the ACA and other archivists, and to gather resources for prospective, new, and established Archival Studies students.

The process of getting the student chapter off the ground ended up being a bit more complex than we anticipated; starting a new student group at the University of Manitoba requires quite a bit of red tape and running around. We were lucky to have lots of support from our faculty advisors, Greg Bak and Tom Nesmith, as well as from Tina Chen, Head of the Department of History. On the ACA side of things, we lucked out in having the Director-At-Large in charge of student chapters, Heather Beattie, based right here in Winnipeg.

Students at all stages of their degrees were enthusiastic about starting a student chapter and were helpful in getting the student chapter going. We have a great executive committee: Nicole Courrier is Vice-Chair, Natalie Vielfaure is Secretary-Treasurer, Sarah Ramsden and Kevin Palendat are our Communications Coordinators, and Jessica Nichol is the First-Year student representative. In addition to our own committees, we’re happy that we’ve been able to strengthen ties with the Association for Manitoba Archives through the work of Sarah Story, the AMA’s student representative.

The students who aren’t on the executive are also crucial to ensuring the success of the student chapter. In December 2013, the student chapter sold postcards featuring an image from the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections; we’re grateful to all the students who helped sell postcards and to UMASC for allowing us to use one of their images! We were able to raise nearly $400.

While we haven’t hosted many formal events yet, we are putting that postcard money to good use and bringing in professor and theorist Wendy Duff from the University of Toronto in May! We’re really excited to host Wendy for two lectures, one in the evening of 20 May and one in the afternoon of 21 May. We’d also like to thank the ACA for providing a bit of seed money to get our chapter off the ground—we’re using that money for refreshments for Wendy’s evening event at the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections. We encourage all our members to come out to one or both of these events! They’re free to the public and should be interesting discussions of archives and social justice.

Thanks to everyone for a great first year! Elections for next year’s executive will be held the week of 21 April, and nominations can be submitted toacaumchapter@gmail.com by 18 April.

Elizabeth-Anne Johnson & Danna Slessor-Cobb

Why Bother Blogging?: One Blogger’s Perspective on Blogs

My name is Jesse Boiteau and I am a second year student in the Archival Studies Masters Program at the University of Manitoba.  Over the past seven months I have had the opportunity to establish a blog and generate posts for the Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (CTR).  The CTR will be located at the University of Manitoba`s Fort Garry Campus and will house the records of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) on Indian Residential Schools.  One of the blog’s main objectives is to aid the University of Manitoba in remaining transparent during the CTR`s establishment.  It has also given the opportunity for the general public to voice their opinions and concerns on a variety of topics related to the TRC and the CTR.  To date (March 4, 2014), the blog has been viewed 3634 times by 36 different countries, amassing 37 comments from a variety of individuals.

This experience has been especially interesting to me because it will serve as a case study for my thesis research. My thesis is focusing on how implementing forms of transparency can lead to more user participation in archives (or at least that is the plan as I am writing this post).  Social media will play a pivotal role in my research seeing as it is a strong catalyst for transparency and participation.  In terms of user participation, my post entitled Is Social Media the Answer?: Achieving Archival Transparency and Enabling Participation has attracted by far the highest number of comments, eluding to the fact that this topic is generating more interest than just my own. Although the blog has been well received thus far, there have certainly been some challenges along the way.

One of my biggest hurtles throughout this process has been altering the writing style that has been drilled into my brain throughout my academic studies.  Writing a blog post is not the same as writing an academic essay. Although it has been a refreshing change, it has forcefully kicked me out of my comfort zone.  Yet, having a space where I can explore various writing styles has honestly been one of my favorite aspects of the blogging experience. Blogs are meant to be on the lighter side, including elements of humour and language that is appropriate for a wide array of readers.  This notion of utilizing (or not utilizing) proper and less technical terminology is something that has hindered archival institutions for a very long time, and continues to create barriers for researchers today.

Another important part of the blogging process is knowing your target audience when deciding on the content being shared via the blog.  The topics that I have chosen so far have ranged from TRC related projects to local Indigenous archival initiatives to more politically infused posts such as the post entitled 1/3 Full or 2/3 Empty: The (potentially) Missing Records from the National Research Centre (NRC).  Although humour and a more relaxed writing style are highly encouraged in this form of writing, it is important to remain mindful of the subject matter that is being presented, as well as the potential readers who are being attracted to the blog.  Striking a balance between a lighter writing style and respect is very important.  I have also discovered that incorporating a collaborative writing process can go a long way to creating a more balanced blog.  When dealing with sensitive or political subjects, it is essential to have the blog posts reviewed by individuals who have a stake in the information being shared.  Also, having guest bloggers is a great way to introduce a different point of view and perhaps attract a wider audience.  From a practical standpoint, it also gives the blogger a breather without causing an extended break between posts (something that can really hinder a blog’s momentum).

I hope this post will encourage more students to try their hand at blogging.  The process itself has selfishly helped me solidify my thesis topic, and it has also connected me with a number of individuals who are interested in the same topic.  By no means do I consider myself a blogging expert, and therein lies the beauty of blogs; anyone can start one and your only limitations are your creativity and ambition.

Jesse Boiteau

This post first appeared as a Monthly Spotlight feature on the blog that ran in March. Thanks very much to our guest blogger Jesse Boiteau!

 

1st Meeting of the Thesis Writing Group

To all Archival Studies MA students,

Members at the last student chapter meeting supported the idea of establishing regular meetings for our members. We envision students committing an evening to working on their thesis (or other schoolwork) in the company of other students at a predetermined location. In the interest of making this a designated work time, be prepared to turn off your cell phone for these sessions! After putting in a few good hours of work, we can reward ourselves with all the texting our fingers can handle and, more importantly, we can go out together and socialize!

The University of Winnipeg Archives has been kindly offered as the location for our first meeting that will take place on Thursday, April 10th from 4:00 – 7:00 pm. In the future, we hope to select regular meeting times (ie: every second Thursday evening) in order to establish consistency.

Hope to see you next week for our inaugural meeting!

by Dyan / The Keep Calm-O-Matic

by Dyan / The Keep Calm-O-Matic