To introduce my Grade 10 Canadian history students to the process of inquiry and “doing history,” I take them down to the Archives Room. Students investigate the various sources: old Muses, newspaper accounts, usually articles NOT about Malvern, but on the back of a story about a football game, or a former alumnus/a. Students are required to select artifacts that took place between 1945 and 1982.
Because of the size of the Archives Room, only 10 students can enter at one time, and class sizes are much larger!! So I organized students into 3 groups of 10, and the first 10 go in, take a seat. The others sit outside the Archives room and use the class text Canadian Sources Investigated to learn about events using sources that will provide background and context for key events that happened during this time. When one student successfully found an artifact that had them wondering WHY, they were replaced by a student in the hall. It took 3 days for each class and a number of return visits for students who needed a second day.
One artifact from a 1958-59 Muse led to the following question “Why was Canada prompting individuals to join its Navy, Army and Air force if there was no war taking place?”
Students used a variety of other primary sources such as those found in Pages of the Past (Toronto Star) or Archives of Ontario to come to interesting conclusions. They were also using historical thinking concepts as a focus for their inquiries.
In conclusion, the Malvern Archives provides students with an opportunity to investigate Canadian history AND find connections to their neighbours, community or family.
By Jan Haskings-Winner