Friday, October 28, 2016

Women in the Archives

by Carson Murphy, Archivist

I couldn’t let Women’s History Month pass without mentioning some of the women involved in making the archives what they are. It is no secret that much of history is dominated by the male narrative, but what we sometimes forget as a society is that women did record many of these stories, especially in the past couple of centuries. Women recorded the births, marriages, deaths and other family milestones in the family Bible. How many of us had a mother or grandmother who clipped the obits and birth announcements from the paper? Who (one hopes) labeled the photographs of their children as they grew? The task to collect and preserve this information is just one more responsibility unassumingly donned by women and like so many of their other contributions in the past, generally goes unnoticed and unappreciated. Unless you are an historian or genealogist – in which case you’re often very grateful!

Mae Gauvreau on the D.A. Thomas holding her Kodak
Brownie camera. Of the photographs in the 1980.1131 donation,
 it is assumed several where taken by her. PRMA1980.1131.021.

As our donation records attest, it is often women who see the importance in collecting and safeguarding their family’s history. Whether it be in photographs, albums, scrapbooks, letters, or diary entries. They recorded minutes at countless meetings, including the societies formed by and for women such as the Imperial Order of Daughters of Empire, the Alberta Women’s Institute, the Lioness Club, Women’s Auxiliary, Anglican Church Ladies, United Church Ladies, Catholic Women’s League, the Kinnettes, Order of the Eastern Star, and later the Legion and Rotary. Many of these items were created by women, and then donated to the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre by them or female descendants.

The museum itself was established by the Peace River Women’s Institute, and prominent names such as Evelyn Mercer, Muriel Oslie, Eva Northey, Evelyn Hansen, Clara Richardson, Barbara Crawford, Evelyn Seeley, Edith Cruickshank, Aurelia Vangrud, Edith Clarke, Lois Stranaghan, Jean Cameron Kelley, Anne Macmillan, Katharine Hoskin Hunt, Adele Boucher and many others continually appear again and again as donors, volunteers, advocates and supporters. They saw the value in preserving these pieces of our community’s history. To all of the women who have contributed to and inspired the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre, we are truly grateful.

Want to know more the records we hold in our archives? Drop in or give us a call or email, and I’d be happy to show you some of our archival material. We have records for several of the organizations mentioned earlier, and thousands of photographs. Or drop into the museum and see our new exhibit Silent Dreams: Their Story, an exhibit that examines the challenges faced by women from pre-fur trade to the present day. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Prof. Dr. Eckhert Ehlers – down to earth

(Sources: Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre files; Sustainable Development of Megacities of Tomorrow)
Recently, Prof. Dr. Eckert Ehlers visited the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre to which he had, previously donated many items, such as academic journals, surveys of various Alberta communities, agricultural books and magazines, reports, soil surveys, diagrams and his thesis: [The Northern Peace River Country/Alberta Canada Genesis and Structure of a Pioneer area in a Boreal Forest Belt of North America].
In the 1960s, Dr. Ehlers was a student in Germany. But, to research his PhD thesis on agriculture and colonization, he chose the Peace Country, spending the academic year 1962-63 as a student at the University of Alberta and his field research in the Peace River area. During the winter, he lived in town with a German family – the Zobels. His days were spent copying homestead records at the Public Lands Office, run by Donald Sawyer.
Dr. Ehlers and Peace River Archivist Carson Murphy
In the summer of 1963, he spent about four months researching his case studies, of which he had five – Fort Vermilion, Worsley and Hines Creek, Shaftesbury Settlement, Fairview and Manning.
Dr. Ehlers has been accompanying The Future Cities Program as a chairman of the panels since 2004. The Research Program “Sustainable Development of the Megacities of Tomorrow, funded by German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). In its main phase between 2008-2013 focused on “energy and climate-efficient structures in urban growth centre” in developing and newly industrializing countries.
When asked how cities related to climate change, he replied: “The urbanization of the planet is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. Over 50 per cent of the people on two per cent of the earth’s surface produce over 75 per cent of the global greenhouse gases. Population growth, scarcity of energy and resources and climate change are closely connected. Both the livability and quality of life in the cities, and the development of climate – and energy efficient urban growth require sustainable solutions and strategies.
The reason for focus on megacities of tomorrow: Future megacities in developing and newly industrializing countries have role-model status in terms of growth and environmental management. Megacities are particularly pioneering in developing innovative solutions that affect national and international urban growth processes.