History Club: An Archival Program for Students

History Club was started by a group of teachers at LCCVI high school in Petrolia. Participating students were given the opportunity to research a local fallen soldier from the First World War and write an essay on their findings for submission to Library and Archives Canada’s Lest We Forget Project. In the fall of 2012, a work-to-rule disruption threatened the survival of the initiative.

Thanks to a timely community partnership, the Lambton County Archives (LCA) was able to ensure the continuation of the club. Archivist Heather Lavallee and local librarian Leigh Jackson acted as consultants, providing research help, offering instructional sessions, and creating an online research guide for students.

Program Objectives: Fostering Community-Led Partnerships

Through History Club the LCA, which traditionally served retirees and seniors, saw an opportunity to connect with an underserviced user group — teenagers. Previously, LCA programming and service priorities worked in favour of existing patrons.

Archivist explaining research methods to members of History Club. (Photo courtesy of David Pattenaude, The Petrolia Topic.)
Archivist explaining research methods to members of History Club. (Photo courtesy of David Pattenaude, The Petrolia Topic.)

By consulting and engaging with the club’s teacher representatives, the LCA was able to design, plan, and deliver tailored outreach activities to meet the immediate needs of a local community group, and thereby shift the programming focus outward.

Program Outcomes

With the ACRL Information Literacy Standards as a framework, a series of monthly instructions sessions was developed. Using recommendations from William Horton’s E-learning by Design manual, a dedicated research site was created to share links to recommended resources, research tips, presentation summaries, and contact information.

Participants:

  • learned genealogical and historical research skills
  • gained a better understanding of their community through the study of local history
  • created materials to add to the archival collection (local and national) while contributing to the historical record
  • developed an awareness of the role of the LCA within the community

LCA:

  •  promoted our collection and services
  • developed relationships with members of the community that were not typically represented
  • removed traditional barriers to archives use by developing an online research guide allowing students to easily access resources remotely and waived user fees for in-person visits
  • highlighted the value of the LCA as an important community resource
  • gained materials to add to the archival collection

Results

Results-Graph-copy
Through collecting statistics and using assessment metrics, we were able to generate the following results.

Most importantly, the essays which the students wrote will be added to our collection at the LCA.

Conclusion

History Club was a successful program for participants, the LCA, and the local community. The students learned genealogical and historical research skills, and the club was able to continue and thrive thanks to the support and expertise of the LCA.

Through instructional sessions and the creation of a research site, the LCA reached an under-represented user group, developed new community partnerships, increased in-person visits, and raised awareness of LCA resources and services (while adding to the archival collection with user-generated content.)

Most importantly, the LCA was able to offer timely programming to meet community needs. Moving forward, the LCA hopes to establish further community-led partnerships and work to expand the History Club program by connecting with other local high schools.

The above blog post was written by guest bloggers Archivist Heather Lavallee and Librarian Leigh Jackson.

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