Queen's University Archives

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2012 News

Fully Accessible Entrance now Available

Queen's University Archives is pleased to announce that the North entrance to Kathleen Ryan Hall is now fully accessible during our regular hours of operation, 8:30 am to 4:20 pm Monday through Friday.

The Geraldine Grace and Maurice Alvin McWatters Visiting Fellowship

It is with great pleasure that Queen's University Archives wishes to announce the establishment of the Geraldine Grace and Maurice Alvin McWatters Visiting Fellowship. As the result of the generosity of their daughter, Dr. Cheryl S. McWatters, a long time friend and supporter of the Archives, and her husband, John MacDiarmid, an endowment has been set up in honour of her parents.

The Visiting Fellowship, to be funded by this endowment, is designed to foster, promote, and support original archival research by scholars, authors, or artists in the collections located at Queen's University Archives. The stipend provided, in the amount of $4,000, by this Fellowship is intended to help defray living, travel, or research expenses of researchers to come to Queen's University Archives, in person, to conduct their research.

For more information regarding The Geraldine Grace and Maurice Alvin McWatters Visiting Fellowship at Queen's University Archives, or to obtain a copy of the application form, interested persons are invited to click on: the fellowship page

1st Annual Geraldine Grace and Maurice Alvin McWatters Visiting Fellowship Awarded

Queen’s University Archives is pleased indeed to announce the awarding of the First Annual Geraldine Grace and Maurice Alvin McWatters Visiting Fellowship, to Ms. Judi Coburn of Toronto. In preparation for a novel she is writing, Ms. Coburn will be spending her four weeks in the QUA Reading Room researching Eunice Whiting, who at the age of seventeen, was arrested in 1837 for horse theft, and was incarcerated for the next three years in Kingston Penitentiary.  At the conclusion of her imprisonment, Eunice was interviewed by a curious Charles Dickens, who was struck by her beauty, her intriguing story which included running messages dressed as a boy during the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion, and as the famous novelist remarked, “with the devil in her eye” riding “four in hand better than any man in the county.”   

For further information relating to the Geraldine Grace and Maurice Alvin McWatters Visiting Fellowship, you are invited to visit the fellowship page

Queen’s University Archives wishes to thank Dr. Cheryl McWatters and her husband, John MacDiarmid, whose generous endowment has made this Visiting Fellowship a reality.

Queen's Archives Receives AAO Institutional Award

Queen's University Archives is honoured to have received this year's Institutional Award from the Archives Association of Ontario (AAO) “for its major contributions to the Archives Association of Ontario and to the cultural-heritage community as a whole."  Paul Banfield, University Archivist, accepted the award on behalf of Queen's Archives at the AAO Annual Conference, held on June 14th in Toronto.

This award is given to an archival Institution that has contributed significantly to the advancement of the archival field or community, or has demonstrated a significant level of innovation and imagination in the establishment of outstanding or model programmes or services. Recognition may be granted for the individual programmes or projects of particular merit or for a programme integrating many facets of archival enterprise.  According to the AAO Awards Committee, it was felt that Queen's Archives exceeded all of the aforementioned criteria.  The citation, as presented by the nominator for the award, reads as follows:

The Archives Association of Ontario Institutional Award is given to an institution “that has contributed significantly to the advancement of the archival field or community,” or that “has demonstrated a significant level of innovation and imagination in the establishment of outstanding or model programmes or services.” Queen’s University Archives meets both of these criteria and it has proven itself to be an institution worthy of this recognition. Over its long history Queen’s University Archives has developed an extraordinarily rich collection, spearheaded innovative programs, and fostered the talents of its archivists who have become leaders in the archival profession.

The Archives has roots that go back to nearly the beginning of the University. Queen’s was less than 30 years old when it received its first archival documents. From that early beginning, the collection has grown to house over 10 kilometres of textual records, close to three million photographs, tens of thousands of architectural plans and drawings, and thousands of sound recordings and moving images. The archives were administered by the Library until 1960, when the first Archivist was appointed. By 1981, the Archives had grown to become a separate administrative unit, under the stewardship of a University Archivist, which have included archival leaders such as Ian Wilson, Anne MacDermaid, Shirley Spragge, Don Richan and the current University Archivist, Paul Banfield.

In addition to serving a vital role for the University’s administration, Queen’s University Archives is very much a community archives and is the embodiment of a total archives. It is the repository for the institutional records of the University, but it collects private, corporate, and other culturally significant records as well. Queen’s Archives houses the records of the City of Kingston, long-serving as the de facto City Archives and additionally, it maintains a strong regional collection. The Archives exists to serve the teaching and research needs of Queen’s, but, by virtue of their strong collecting policy, they satisfy the needs of all manner of researchers from across Canada and from around the world.

The Archives is a model institution when it comes to its outreach activities, promoting the collection and its use. It develops or assists exhibits at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in addition to rotating in-house displays and virtual exhibits; for many years has been a feature of the local newspaper, Kingston This Week, publishing a gem from the collection on the second page of the paper every week, and has recently become a contributor to the Kingstonist website in order to promote its collection and the history of Kingston to a new audience. The Archives continually fosters research of its collection, actively promoting primary research to undergraduate classes and through incentives such as the recently announced Geraldine Grace and Maurice Alvin McWatters Visiting Fellowship and their sponsorship of the Annual Archives Lecture, which is now entering its 30th year.

The Archives is a leader in technological innovation and has a long history of enthusiastic adaption of new technologies to enhance archival work. From creation of a database on an IBM mainframe in the mid-1980s, which held the Archives’ finding aids, to taking an active role in acquiring digital records and testing, adapting, and instituting systems such as ICA-AtoM and Archivematica, Queen’s University Archives continually applies forward thinking approaches to advance archival preservation and access.

An example of where imaginative use of technology, strong community ties, and innovative outreach intersect is the Stones project, first developed in 2008 (with new modules being added up to the present), by the Archives in collaboration with numerous community partners. Stones: A Guide to the Social History of Kingston consists of a series of focused, interactive tours which explore the history of minority and marginalized groups in the city, including the Jewish, Chinese, Black, and Gay and Lesbian communities, along with an examination of the impact of the Penitentiary on the development of Kingston. Providing locations on Google Maps, matched with text and audio descriptions and reproductions of archival sources, Stones is an exemplary project which brings together communities, celebrates local history, and engages a wide audience while promoting use and appreciation of archives.

The Queen’s University Archives is a relatively small but extremely dynamic institution. It serves as a model for other archives across the province and, indeed, across the country and, for its continuing contributions to the archival field and its innovative programmes, it is eminently deserving of the AAO Institutional Award.

Queen's University Archives would like to thank the Ontario archival community for this prestigious honour!

Celebrating the War of 1812

Queen's University Archives is pleased to announce the launch of a new web exhibit on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Celebrating the War of 1812 examines the conflict from the perspective Kingston and the surrounding area, with a look at the social and economic impacts of the war. We would like to thank Claudia Chan, one of our wonderful volunteers, for the work she did on this project.

CFRC - 90 Years of Queen's Radio

Queen's Archives and CFRC 101.9 FM are pleased to present an exhibit in celebration of the 90th anniversary of CFRC. Created by Andrea McPherson, CFRC - 90 Years of Queen's Radio examines the history of Canada's oldest radio station from 1922 to the present day.  

Archives Launches New Database

Queen's Archives is pleased to announce the launch of our new database, combining many separate portals into one interface. 

The new database, located at http://db1.archives.queensu.ca/, will provide researchers with a more detailed and accurate means by which to search through our extensive holdings.

This is an ongoing project that will evolve over time to include all holdings acquired by Queens University Archives.

This project was made possible by a grant from the Government of Ontario through the Museums and Technology Fund of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

Government of Ontario - Ministry of Tourism and Culture - Museums and Technology Fund

30th Annual Archives Lecture

30th Annual Archives Lecture

Queen’s University Archives is pleased to announce that Dr. Cheryl McWatters will be presenting the 30th Annual Queen’s University Archives Lecture, entitled, “’The news of our failure is almost in every child’s mouth’: Accounts, tales, and travels through the archives."

This year’s lecture will take place:


Wednesday, 7 November 2012, 7:00 p.m.


Room 202, Robert Sutherland Hall (formerly known as the Policy Studies Building), located on Union Street, on the University campus.


Parking is available, above ground, off of Union Street, next to the playing field.

Dr. McWatters, who is currently the Father Edgar Thivierge Chair in Business History (with cross appointment with the Department of History), at the University of Ottawa, will be basing her lecture largely on her doctoral research, which was carried out in the Reading Room of Queen’s University Archives, and which involved the records of the Calvin Company, located on Garden Island though the 19th and early 20th centuries.  

All are welcome, and refreshments will be served at the conclusion of the Lecture.

Queen's Archives Receives KHS Award

Queen's Archives is honoured to be the recipient of the 2012 Kingston Historical Society Award for outstanding contribution to the preservation and interpretation of local history.

Kingston Historical Society Award

The text of the award reads:

Although archival material has been held in the Queen's libraries from the institution's early days, a formal archive was not established until 1960, when the first University Archivist was appointed.  During the ensuing five decades, the Queen's University Archives has enlarged its holdings to include some ten kilometres of shelved documents, two million photographs, tens of thousands of architectural plans and drawings, and thousands of sound recordings and moving images.  Most importantly, it boasts a highly trained staff, fully versed in modern archival management and conservation techniques, and, particularly, in the efficient provision of guidance and support to professional scholars and members of the public alike.  A program of changing physical displays in the public study areas and web exhibits, relating to events and individuals of topical interest and to secondary school curricula, have proven to be of great value and interest to the public.  The Kingston Historical Society is proud to recognize the existence of such a valuable and accessible resource centre within the Kingston community.

Queen's University Archives is pleased to accept this award, and looks forward to continuing to be a valuable resource to the Kingston community and beyond.