This month we’re highlighting collections that take a deep dive into the Black experience. For Black History Month on social media, we’ve showcased some significant resources in VITA Collections for understanding and exploring Black history in Ontario and beyond.
As always, we recommend reviewing and searching the Abolitionist Newspaper collections. Past blog posts have featured these papers in articles like Fugitive Voices: Black-run periodicals in Abolition-era Canada and news about the re-scanning of the Voice of the Fugitive newspaper in Announcing the Abolitionists Collection.
South Western Ontario was a major crossing point for fugitive slaves and freemen coming from the United States. To learn more about this aspect of Chatham Kent and area, check out the wonderful exhibit “Let us march on until Victory is won,” from Chatham Kent Museum https://vitacollections.ca/ckmuseums/620/exhibit.
Family history collections often end up at local archives and public libraries, one is the Richard Bell Family Fonds at Brock University includes 85 photographs, tintypes and documents spanning c.1850 to 1950. The extended family lived in London and St. Catharines and the collection includes birth, death and marriage certificates, images from family bibles, snapshots from family day trips, and more. https://images.ourontario.ca/Brock/2817492/gallery
Community collections often highlight significant citizens. We want to broadcast some of the stories we’ve found from our VITA client collections. For example: Bob Turner, previously a catcher for the Chicago White Sox, Turner became Colborne’s first Recreational Director https://vitacollections.ca/cramahelibrary/355/exhibit.
Halton Region boasts the remarkable Veteran Henry Thomas Shepherd, who fought in both World Wars and whose story is shared in a virtual exhibit created by Halton Hills Public Library https://vitacollections.ca/HaltonHillsImages/558/exhibit.
And read on about Dr. Saint-Firmin Monestime. Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Dr. Monestime moved from Haiti to open a practice in Timmins, but a chance encounter in a restaurant convinced him to put down roots in Mattawa instead, a Northern Ontario town where he would later became the first Black mayor in Canada: https://vitacollections.ca/multiculturalontario/476/exhibit/17.
Black History in Canada includes advocacy and civil action for human rights here and around the world. The Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) houses resources for researchers and scholars and features a fascinating Black Voices collection on their site https://vitacollections.ca/cerlacresourcecentre/search.
Researchers of all kinds use the collections to find history and illustrations for material of all kinds. Recently, a researcher contacted us with thanks for the transcripts of Schooner Days for background material about Caymanian Captain Culrose McLaughlin (1896-1992) and two-time Canada’s Cup winner Commodore Aemilius Jarvis (1860-1940) for her article Black Yachting History.
We’re privileged to be able to promote and share these collections online, resources that can help us celebrate Black History every month. If you have a story or collection you want highlighted, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Banner image “Henry and Susanna Maude Shepherd Family” courtesy of Halton Hills Public Library.