July 2021 - An Archives Update

It's time for some good news! Despite the ongoing presence of the pandemic we have had a very productive first half of the year.

In early 2021 we made significant improvements to our computer network so that the Archives staff was able to more efficiently and effectively connect remotely to the database and other programs normally used at the Archives. Through the use of this technology and the efforts of Archives Assistant Hélène Vallée, we have been able to launch a new feature on the cjhn.ca website, offering full text access to the indexed "Inter Office memorandum" newsletters published by Canadian Jewish Congress beginning in the mid 1940s.  (See https://www.cjhn.ca/en/list?q=fa2&p=1&ps=20 )

Meanwhile, while working onsite, we continued to prioritize carrying out the document selection and digitization which allowed numerous scholars and students to continue with their projects without travelling to us. So far in 2021 we have been able to host only a few research sessions on our premises, but we responded to over 400 queries received via email and telephone.  As of this month we are again open to onsite researchers by appointment, and bookings have resumed with enthusiasm.

During the month of February we had the help of a John Abbott College student intern in Archives and Records Management. Since the early weeks of her internship also had to be done remotely, we used some of her time to revise last year's popular Facebook feature "the Canadian Jewish Time Machine", and posted numerous historical vignettes related to the month of February. (See: https://www.facebook.com/CanadianJewishArchives.)

This summer's Concordia University Public History intern has been helping Archives Assistant Helene Vallée to inventory and re-box a large donation of census-related studies donated in May 2021 by retired McGill Social Work professor James Torczyner. She has also been digitizing some original 19th century Joseph family photographs belonging to a fascinating collection of pioneer Jewish family information received in July 2020 from the estate of the late Anne Joseph.

Also this summer, a student intern from University of Toronto is working under the remote supervision of the Archives Director while sorting historical materials at the Shaar Hashomayim synagogue in Westmount, Quebec. The results of this project may lead to an accrual of material from the synagogue, or a cooperative arrangement with regard to intellectual management of the holdings there.

With the help of the technologies that have become so familiar to us all in the course of the past year and a half, the Archives staff continued to participate in Zoom-based events over the past six months. In the first months of 2021 Archives Director Janice Rosen spoke about the archives' holdings and resources to a McGill University class "Living in Montreal: Ethnicity and Race from the Past to the Present" and to a group of research fellows from the Jewish Museum of Montreal.

On the larger stage, in July the TV5 series «39-45 en sol canadien» showed an episode about Fascism in Canada for which filming was done at the A D Canadian Jewish Archives in Sept. 2020. It can now be seen online at https://www.tv5unis.ca/.../39-45-en.../saisons/1/episodes/11  In it archivist Janice Rosen is interviewed and the Canadian Jewish Archives can be seen from numerous angles, first briefly at 7 seconds in, then more substantively starting at approximately 9:50 and 30:50. Scholars Pierre Anctil, Jean-François Nadeau and Hughes Théoret, all researchers who have used our collections over the years, speak in the episode as well, and most of the archival still images and graphics are from the Canadian Jewish Congress collection. Episode 9 in this series, on Antisemitism in Canada, also draws heavily on our images.

We contributed archival photos to several online exhibits, for example;"She Also Served: Jewish Canadian Servicewomen in the Second World War", now online at https://live-ucalgary.ucalgary.ca/she-also-serves/exhibition, and we provided pictures for several publications, for example; many of our photographs, including the cover image, will be seen in an upcoming survey of Canadian Jewish history by Frank Bialystock titled Faces in the Crowd (https://utorontopress.com/9781442604414/faces-in-the-crowd/).

We also provided the cover image for the latest issue of Canadian Jewish Studies, which again features a section devoted to Archives, edited by Janice Rosen. (See Issue 31, Spring 2021, at https://cjs.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/cjs.)