Mass Destruction of Cultural Heritage is Unfathomable

December 4, 2023

Archivists Respond to Conflict in Israel and Gaza

The Board of Directors of the Archives Association of Ontario (AAO) is heartbroken at the violence in Israel and Gaza. We are deeply saddened by the loss of life in the region over recent months and express our immense grief for any of our members who are affected or have lost family members or friends. 

Read more

AGM: Show & Tell. Celebrating 45 years.

7 p.m. Annual General Meeting.  

Join the Glencoe & District Historical Society and come to the meeting of the members to review the accomplishments of 2022 and make plans for the coming year.  Individual Memberships are $20 and family memberships are $25.  Tax Receipts will be issued by Membership Secretary Harold Carruthers.

Show and Tell!  Bring a family heirloom, artifact, or mysterious thing from the past to share with the group.  We’ll have some fun with this.

 

Existing members: this is your official notice to attend the annual general meeting to be held at the Archives, 178 McKellar Street, Glencoe, Ontario.  

Or attend via Zoom meeting.

Topic: Glencoe & District Historical Society Annual General Meeting 45 years!

Time: Apr 19, 2023 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us06web.zoom.us/j/83282727090?pwd=KzRZL0k2anJIbVhCaFNnamp3NzY5UT09

 

Meeting ID: 832 8272 7090

Passcode: 298019

One tap mobile

+15074734847,,83282727090#,,,,*298019# US

+15642172000,,83282727090#,,,,*298019# US

 

Dial by your location

+1 507 473 4847 US

+1 564 217 2000 US

+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)

+1 646 931 3860 US

+1 669 444 9171 US

+1 689 278 1000 US

+1 719 359 4580 US

+1 720 707 2699 US (Denver)

+1 253 205 0468 US

+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)

+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)

+1 305 224 1968 US

+1 309 205 3325 US

+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

+1 360 209 5623 US

+1 386 347 5053 US

Meeting ID: 832 8272 7090

Passcode: 298019

How to Transfer Municipal Records to a County Archive.

Check out this YouTube presentation for The Hasting and Belleville Community Archives entitled “How To Access The Community Archives When They Are Closed”. Published October 2020, their archivist, Amanda Hill, describes the Archives facility which was established ten years ago. She shows people how to access the collections from a computer.

The Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County is a service provided by the County of Hastings and the City of Belleville to help the municipalities of Hastings County preserve and provide access to their documentary heritage. https://www.cabhc.ca/en/about/resources/Transfer-of-municipal-records-to-the-Community-Archives.pdf 
This two-page document describes the process of transferring municial records to the county archives.

Although the Middlesex Centre Archives do not have the Municipal Records for Middlesex Centre, they do use a similar process. Each donor signs a Deed of Gift for their donation. The number for that donation is recorded on the Deed of Gift and every article within the donation. That is part of the processing work of donations.

When completely processed (number added, repairs completed), the donation is placed in the Archives on a specific shelf in a specific bay of shelving. The donation and its place in the Archives are then recorded. That donation can be found at any time with all its pertinent information. Access is easy and timely. If the donation has privacy implications, it is filed in the restricted files area. 

All these policies are already in place at the Middlesex Centre Archives under the direction of Archivist, Carolynn Bart-Riedstra. The processes were designed so that when Middlesex County establishes an archive facility, some of the work is already done and easily transferable.

Written by Carol Small, Chair, The Committee To Establish a Middlesex County Archives

Southwest Middlesex has a duty to save records

Municipal Act and Responsibility

Legal Mandate

  • Federal and Provincial Governments in Canada have mandated that public records be officially archived for legal, governance, and historical purposes.  
  • The division of records kept usually coincides with jurisdictional boundaries: Federal, Provincial, County, and Municipalities.  (Library and Archives of Canada Act, S.C.2004).
  • Ontario has further mandated that preserved public records be available to the public.  (Archives Act, RSO 1990; Archives and Recordkeeping Act, 2006; Archives and Recordkeeping Amendment Act, 2019.
  • The Ontario Municipal Act 2001, S.O. 2001. C. 25 Section 254 further states that municipal offices must preserve certain documents and they are to be publicly accessible. Those records need to be adequately stored.  It further indicates that municipal offices could deposit their records in an archives.

Many neighbouring Ontario counties have created their own archives to fulfill their legal obligations and to preserve important heritage materials. These include Elgin, Oxford, Huron, Perth, Grey, Bruce, Lambton, Haldimand, Wellington and more recently in 2020, Norfolk.  Middlesex County has not done so yet.

Often records are not easily accessible due to the location of the records in the municipality.  They are either stored off-site in another municipal structure or are not available for access to the public.  Whether in digital or hard copy, records need to be accessible in a timely manner, especially when there are MFIPPA requests.  

Environmentally controlled (EC) storage facilities are necessary for preserving records.  The temperature must be 18-21 degrees Celsius, which is colder than an office environment. Relative humidity (RH) should be between 45-50%.  If both elements are not met, mold can occur if humidity is too high, and paper can deteriorate if the temperature and RH are too low.  Based on the surveys returned from the municipalities in Middlesex County, none of the records are in EC areas. A few municipalities indicated the records are stored in their community centres. While these facilities may have air-conditioning, the RH control is still an issue.  

Even if municipal records are covered in Records Retention Schedules as per the Municipal Act 2001, S.O. 2001. C. 25 Section 253, some records have historical value that can be retained for researcher and/or historical value.   When records no longer serve administrative value, they could still have cultural value for information.  Less than 3% of municipal records are archival. While it might not be a lot, municipal records like tax assessment rolls, building plans, environmental assessments and other documents should be considered for placement in the Middlesex County Archives. 

Written by the Committee to Establish a Middlesex County Archives, July 2021

We Need a County Archives

Middlesex County does not have a county archives to protect our history for future generations.

Report from the Committee To Establish A Middlesex County Archives (CEMCA):

Unlike other counties that have established a County Archives (Lambton, Kent, Elgin, Oxford, Norfolk, Perth, Huron etc.) to house municipal as well as important historical materials, Middlesex County has not. In February 2020, representatives of historical societies and interested citizens from across Middlesex County gathered to ascertain the interest in establishing a Middlesex County Archives. The group had concerns about what would happen to their precious historical documents due to aging volunteers and lack of resources.  The group gave resounding approval to the initiative and the Committee to Establish a Middlesex County Archives was born. After two meetings, Covid-19 halted those for the year but work remained ongoing.  In February 2021 virtual meetings commenced via Zoom. 

How best to achieve the goal? The primary focus had to be municipal records. Through legislation, County and Municipal governments are mandated to officially store public records for legal, governance, and historical purposes.  The Ontario Municipal Act 2001, S.O. 2001. C. 25 Section 254 further states that municipal offices must preserve certain documents, and that they are to be publicly accessible.  Those records need to be properly stored and available in a timely manner.  It further indicates that municipal offices could deposit their records in an archive, to be secured. In addition, many historical societies hold historically significant documents and still more remain in private hands. Without a County Archives, there is concern about the location and condition under which many valuable historical documents are being stored.

CEMCA, through a survey to Mayors and Clerks, and another survey to Historical Societies within Middlesex County, ascertained much data – most materials were not stored in secure, environmentally-safe areas and most were not easily accessible.  That is a problem for municipal as well as local historical documents.

In June, CEMCA developed a series of “Facts Sheets” and other pertinent information to be sent weekly to County and Municipal Councillors and Administrative Staff. Information included: Municipal Act and Responsibilities, What is an Archives? How Will the Municipality and Clerks Benefit? Where Are the Records Now? Who Would Use the Middlesex County Archives, Resources Required and Challenges and Opportunities. To see any of this information, please check Middlesex Centre Archives webpage: www.middlesexcentrearchive.ca or email proposedmiddlesexcountyarchive@gmail.com.

Committee representatives from each municipality are contacting their councillors and/or making presentations to their councils. On September 28, 2021, CEMCA will be making a presentation to County Council to formally ask that a Middlesex County Archives be established.

Who benefits from a County Archives? Municipal clerks, town planners and developers, lawyers and architects, heritage advocates, scholars and educators, genealogists and family historians, tourists. The biggest benefactors will be our future generations!!!!!!!

How can you help? Contact your county councillors by writing, email or telephone to express your support for the Archives. For more information, please email proposedmiddlesexcountyarchive@gmail.com.

Let us lose nothing of the past, it is only with the past that one builds the future. Anatole France