Monthly Archives: January 2013

Volunteering at the Oxford County Archives 3

Yesterday was my last day volunteering at the County of Oxford Archives and it was definitely a full one (until 5:15 instead of 4:30…oops). I volunteered for a total of 50 hours this holiday season and received a crash course in the vast capabilities and responsibilities of a county archive. I was amazed by how much can be accomplished by so few people. The variety of things that the archivist Mary Gladwin conquers is phenomenal and she is a great teacher (and funny too!).

I arrived at the archives and started writing what Mary calls a Wikipedia blurb on my focus of research: Cassie Chadwick. The definition of the Wikipedia blurb is basically a short and sweet overview of the topic that will catch the attention of the students and get them excited to continue research by reading the primary documents provided with the brochure. The brochures are like a treasure hunt, the outside provides information about the County of Oxford Archives, while two of the inside panels provide the Wikipedia blurb. The centre inside panel houses a small envelope sealed with a sticker containing the primary documents. Within each envelope 6-7 primary documents are provided for each student, however each brochure package is not the same; each student will have similar but slightly different documents. This encourages group work and their ability to share to succeed in their studies. Through my research on Cassie Chadwick, I was able to find 17 different primary documents surrounding the mysterious woman and her scams as well as created a timeline that outlines her entire life. All of these were photocopied and made small enough to fit into the envelope. I was given permission to make two of the brochures to take home so that I have a copy of the work I completed.

It is pretty exciting to be part of the learning and teaching process through the use of my brochure. Later in January the COA will be implementing the educational program again using my brochure as well as another on Florence Carlyle that was completed during the last 3 weeks.

During my volunteering I learned just how much work and effort goes into even the smallest of learning materials. It took a lot longer to compile my research and focus it into a timeline format than I had expected, but because of my specific research, the Wikipedia blurb was simple to complete. I think that this program is very important to broadening the scope of history learned at the elementary school level because it allows the students to learn about local history rather than just the overarching themes of the War of 1812 and other topics studied in grade 7 and 8.

Around 4:15pm, the archivist remembered that she had promised me she would teach me how to do basic paper restoration during my time there. So we went into the restoration room and found a ‘weed’ (an historic document that is not of importance/duplicate) and she began to show me the tools needed and how to use them. She has a box of remnants of restoration papers that we tested for colour and settled on the correct one. I fixed a small hole and 3 tears in the document and let it dry while I worked on a document for the Woodstock Public Library. After the first document dried, the archivist showed me how to encapsulate the document so it wouldn’t become more damaged. She let me keep the document and gave me my own archival bone tool to keep.

The entire experience there was great and I am so thankful to Mary Gladwin, Marion Baker and Liz Mayville for making me feel so welcome. I learned so much in such a short time and it makes me look forward to a possible career in archives. I enjoyed the entire experience, even the tedious data entry. I met so many characters in the Oxford Historical Society, Oxford Genealogical Society and the County of Oxford Archives that I can’t wait to go back and visit!


Mary Gladwin, Marion Baker and myself


Completed Cassie Chadwick brochure


Cassie Chadwick Timeline


Cassie Chadwick brochure inserts

A New Year Is A Great Time to Dream

Less Stressed Students

dreamsI asked my 4 year old son what he wants to do when he grows up and he said “sleep in hotels and go down water slides.”

The first question I ask students when they come into my office is “If you could get paid to do anything you want, what would you do?”  Shockingly I find that often the answer to this question seems to have very little to do with their so-called ‘real’ career goals.  When did they stop dreaming?  Perhaps they have been brought back to ‘reality’ by a parent or counsellor or friend who, out of a sincere desire to ensure their ‘success’, has encouraged them to focus on getting a secure job with a big company rather than actually pursue their passions, strengths, motivations, and preferences.

No matter what the state of the economy, however, there are people who get paid to do what they…

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Books for Christmas? My Kryptonite

Since I was little girl, I have been a bookworm. My mom would wake me up for school (grade 1) and she would leave the room. Meanwhile I would grab a book and sit on my bed reading instead of getting dressed. Sooner or later my mom would return to my room where I was still not dressed and had my nose in a book. I love that story because I know it’s completely true, and it happened all the time. I cannot resist a good book or an interesting story which may or may not be a bad thing.

This Christmas I received “Burned” by Sara Shepard (12th in the Pretty Little Liars Series), “The Truth about Style” by Stacy London, “The Chew Cookbook”, “Meditation for Multitaskers: A Guide to Finding Peace Between the Pings” by David Dillard-Wright and “A New Literary History of America” eds. Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors. As of December 27th I had already finished “Burned” and I have started all the other books… at least 2 chapters into each. As you can see, I have continued my bookworm ways.

In addition to the physical books I received, my mom bought me my first eReader, a Kobo mini. I have downloaded over twenty books so far and I have started two. I am not sold on the eReader yet, I like the feel of a book in your hands and being careful not to crease the spine or bend the corners. I like the portability of the Kobo mini, the clarity of the screen and how light it is, but real physical books are still the winners at this point in my eReading career.

I love receiving books for Christmas because that is when I finally have a little bit of time to read something that I want to read instead of having to only read books for school. University can be overwhelming and without the light at the end of the tunnel (a new book awaiting me at Christmas or my birthday), it would be a lot more difficult to push my way through. Reading lets me escape from everything and truly relax, which is definitely needed after a 4000 word essay writing spree.