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:


Curated by:

Irina D. Mihalache, Assistant Professor of Museum Studies, Faculty of Information

Editorial Assistant:

Susan Jama

Special thanks to:

Harold Averill

Jessica Barr

Julia (Jihae) Chun

Marnee Gamble

Liesl Joson

Hana Kim

Sylvia Lassam

Noel McFerran

Elizabeth Ridolfo

Fabiano Rocha

Simon Rogers

Karen Suurtamm

Jenaya Web

Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library

Alexis Moline

Samantha Eadie

Leora Bebko

Hannah Monkman

Julia Zungri

Kayla Wemp

Jessica Svenningson

Emilie Albert-Toth

Melanie Kane Mclees

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

Sarah Proulx

Sarah Rolko

Meagan Fillmore

Sarah Kelly

Nikita Lorenzo-Vicente

Christopher Shackleton

Bretton Weir

Katie Paolozza

Aurora Cacioppo

University of Toronto Archives and Records Management Services

Emily Welsh

Naomi Recollet

Napat Malathum

Jennifer Lee

Cassandra Kist

Kelly Manikoth

Tabitha Chan

Serena Ypelaar

Kathleen Vahey

Trinity College Archives

Amanda Mcneil

Marlee Yule

Susan Jama

Madison Stirling

Kendra Campbell

Tanya Mccullough

Karley Staskus

Jessica Baptista

Sadie MacDonald

Hannah Hadfield

John M. Kelly Library

Maeghan Jerry

Kristen McLaughlin

Erin Beaubien

Cassandra Curtis

Sydney Rose

Shauna Taylor

Shannon Crewson

Breanna Stephenson

OISE Library

Anna Maria Kawecka

Zhuohua Yang

Madeleine Long

Leore Zecharia

Daniel Rose

Connor Kurtz

Abebe Mengesha

Charlotte Gagnier

Alice Norton-Bell