Nova Scotia Archives

5 July 2017
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Community Albums: Looking into the Past 150 Years of Nova Scotian Communities

Guest blogger Michelle Boychuk spent the past several months gathering stories and images from community archives across Nova Scotia. The result of this ambitious effort is the Community Albums Project, spearheaded by the Council of Nova Scotia Archives, which Michelle discusses below


It was three years ago that I braved the 3-day drive from Edmonton to Halifax so I could pursue a Master of Information and Library Studies at Dalhousie University. It wasn’t long until I felt at home in Nova Scotia, and so after graduation I stayed in Halifax to work with the Council of Nova Scotia Archives on their Community Albums project. This exciting project takes advantage of digital technology to provide a glimpse, through their archives, into communities across Nova Scotia. Using a virtual exhibit format, the albums showcase stories and images chosen by community archives to tell the story of their communities and people since 1867.

The venture began with a whirlwind lesson on Nova Scotian history and geography. I visited over 20 archives during this project, from Bridgewater to Church Point to Port Greville, and from Antigonish to Lake Ainsley to Isle Madame and back. I was welcomed warmly into each archives and told stories about each community. The Community Albums project allowed me to give them the tools to share those stories, and I learned more than I expected about Nova Scotia, as well!

Lake Ainsley

Putting the project together has been a combination of data entry, discussion, and scanning. After the initial consultations, I left each participant to run wild in their archives to select materials that they felt could encapsulate their communities over the last 150 years. No small task. The only rules I set were:

  1. that they provide necessary metadata, including titles, dates, a description of the item and any history associated with it, and an accession number for reference
  2. that the items be archival in nature
  3. that their selections cover all, or part of, the last 150 years
  4. that they limit their selections to 50 -60 items (perhaps the most difficult requirement)

Girl Guide Albums

After the launch, I hope that people take their time looking through the albums, reading the documents, and experiencing the lives lived through the photographs. Each album represents countless hours researching and crafting by the participants and we hope that visitors to the Project will spend some time visiting or revisiting these communities. For those inside the communities it is an opportunity to  relive fond memories, and for those outside it is a chance to learn and smile alongside them.

Community Albums launched on June 27th. Please visit at: Nova Scotia Community Albums — Archives Celebrating Canada's 150th