Finding Myself in the Archive
This exhibit features the stories of fifty-four objects – letters, brochures, conference programs, photographs, postcards, newspaper clippings, maps, menus, textbooks, audio recordings, and even an epergne – from various special collections at the University of Toronto. What brings together these very different historic objects is their connection with migration, movement and travel. At one point in time, many of these objects accompanied travelers on their journeys across the world, in Canada, and even more locally, on the University of Toronto campus. Others were produced, won and lost by migrants, as they moved back and forth, in unexpected pathways; and some were intended to think about migrant experiences in Canada.
“Finding Myself in the Archives” has a double meaning: the stories’ authors found themselves facing objects they knew nothing about, tasked with unravelling their history in order to tell compelling and personal stories; in this way, the objects were themselves reunited with their pasts and reinterpreted by their storytellers. Getting to know the objects was no easy task as the authors faced many challenges in tracing the history of the objects and of their users, owners, and makers; in understanding how these objects fit within a current Canadian context; and in locating their journeys towards their present “homes”. In writing these stories, the authors encountered some very difficult histories, evidence of discrimination towards newcomers, established migrants, Indigenous communities and women. But they also found stories about generosity, humanity and resilience.
We invite you to read these stories, find connections with your own experiences with migration and movement, and think about meaningful objects in your own life!
“Finding Myself in the Archive” is a project developed in partnership with the Master of Museum Studies (MMSt) at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto and six University of Toronto libraries and archives (Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto Archives and Records Management Services, Trinity College Archives, John M. Kelly Library and OISE Library). Fifty-four graduate students enrolled in “Exhibitions, Interpretation and Communication”, a course developed by Prof. Irina D. Mihalache, were paired up with an object in order to write compelling and engaging stories inspired by the selected object. The exhibit is the product of intense (and sometimes frustrating) research, many drafts, and countless hours spent in the company of these fantastic objects!
Disclaimer: Please note the views and opinions expressed in each entry are exclusively those of the authors.
This exhibition was made possible by:
Irina D. Mihalache, Assistant Professor of Museum Studies, Faculty of Information
Special thanks to:
Julia (Jihae) Chun
Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library
Melanie Kane Mclees
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
University of Toronto Archives and Records Management Services
Trinity College Archives
John M. Kelly Library
Anna Maria Kawecka