Friday, June 6, 2014

AAO 2014: Community Collaboration

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

I presented as part of the "Community Collaboration" panel on Friday May 30th.  The presentations in this session focused on archives building successful partnerships to highlight archival holdings and bring deeper historic knowledge to the broader community.

Flora Flung a teacher at Oshawa Central Collegiate and Vocational Institute presented on her involvement with the Durham Memorial Project and the Garrow Collection. Flung's presentation focused on bringing local history into the classroom and working with local archives, museums, and heritage organizations to create local history research projects for her students.  This presentation highlighted how local history can help bring historical topics alive for students and inspire student interest in the community they live in.  Flung also noted some of the challenges of integrating local history into the classroom: many students were unable to read cursive writing so some primary source material needed interpretation or transcription before students could use it and often research websites such as Library and Archives Canada were blocked by the school's firewall.  Overall, Flung demonstrated that local history and archival material can be successfully integrated into high school classrooms at a relatively low cost.

Jennifer Weymark of the Oshawa Community Museum and Archives worked with Flora Flung on the Durham Memorial Project and the Garrow Collection.  Weymark described her experience working with high school students and preparing archival resources for their use.  The presentation also highlighted the benefits of working with a teacher to adapt primary source workshops and other resources to meet student needs.  Weymark highlighted the need to teach students about primary sources and to help them gain the skills to analyze and determine the accuracy of source material (eg. the first photograph you find in Google might not be a photograph of the person you're researching).   This presentation illustrated a proactive approach to reaching out to students and working collaboratively with teachers. 

Both of these presentations were great examples of archives being used in community projects and the importance of developing outreach programs.   My presentation which concluded the "Community Collaboration" session focused on the history of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (SRSC), the role of community in the establishment of the archives, and the SRSC's involvement in commemoration events.  The presentation focused on the reunions/gatherings and conferences held by the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association and the role that these reunions had in creating a community archive.  I also discussed the SRSC's creation of exhibits and revamping of displays to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the first Shingwauk Reunion and to celebrate the history of the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association. 

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