Did you know that the first week of April is Archives Awareness Week in Ontario? It’s true. In 2005, the provincial government passed Bill 34, proclaiming the celebration of archives throughout Ontario.
The wording of the bill states that “Ontario has a rich and colourful recorded history. Archives play an essential role in the preservation and use of that history. By acquiring, preserving and making available documentary materials from all aspects of society, archives promote the heritage of Ontario and safeguard the collective memory and rights of its citizens.”
Archives preserve the historical record of our communities and help to share that history.
Within our archival collection, we have land deeds that date back to 1815 and maps that show how Oshawa has changed, along with photographs that have documented it. We have minute books from the local Sons of Temperance group that highlight a fascinating time in North American history. There are newspapers that date back to before Canada was a country and provide us with a unique look at Oshawa during that time period.
Here at the Oshawa Museum, we not only collect the history of our community but we work to share it through a variety of mediums.
One of the most popular ways to share what we have in our holdings is through the creation of online exhibits. These exhibits allow us to look at items in a manner similar to museum exhibits, but we can reach a global audience. This format also allows us to exhibit items that are perhaps too fragile to be out on display in the museum. For example, we have our Letters from the Trenches exhibit that examines the First World War, using the letters of an Oshawa soldier. The online exhibit allows us to showcase these fragile letters without concern for their preservation as it is in a digital format.
We also head out into the public to share the history of our items and our community. In fact, I will be on Talk Durham on Thursday, April 7th to talk about some of the fascinating items in the archival collection. I will be joined by members of the Durham Region Area Archives as we celebrate local archives in throughout our region.