Shireen, Vino and Edward at work
The Toronto French School archival project commenced recently and is now fully underway. This initiative involves setting up an archives on their main campus and tapping into the records to support the School’s 50th anniversary, which is taking place this year.
The TFS Archives is quite substantial and includes a wide array of media including textual records, photographs, audio-visual materials, posters, artifacts and published items. The appraisal was completed several weeks ago and the selection work on the textual records is taking place now.
The President of the company, Ellen Scheinberg, has been fortunate to have the support of a number of talented and dedicated volunteers who are mostly students or graduates of archival and library science programs. There are also a few who have other backgrounds and skills that lend themselves well to this initiative.
We currently have been reviewing magazine and newspaper articles, selecting items that document the TFS as well as alumni, current and former teachers, members of the board and parents of alumni. A great deal of reading, cutting and culling has been involved and we all have been enjoying the stories documenting the school as well as prominent individuals associated with TFS.
Although newspapers can be great research tools they also pose a certain challenge to archives. They are quite voluminous and are because they are often available in digital form at this time (such as the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and other newspapers and magazines that are on-line and searchable), they are typically viewed as being devoid of archival value. In turn, newspapers of this vintage are extremely acidic and have a tendency to become quite brittle over time. As a result, they should never be stored in the same folders as other types of textual records. It is therefore important to either photocopy them and dispose of the original, segregate them from other documents or store them in acid-free envelopes when they are placed in the same files as other records.
I’ve included some photographs of some of the volunteers busy at work during this phase of the project. Vino and Elizabeth are graduates of the University of Toronto’s iSchool program which included library sciences, archival studies, museum studies, information management etc… Edward and Jackie just finished their first year of this program and have one year left before graduating. The TFS initiative therefore provides volunteers with a wonderful opportunity to acquire some hands-on experience with archival records. For those who already have experience, they will be able to tackle new facets of archival work that they have not been exposed to yet. It’s been a real joy to have them on the team and the staff at TFS have really marvelled at their enthusiasm and abilities.
Jackie (left), Elizabeth (centre) and Owen (right) delving into newspapers