Damascus WI explores archives

On March 12, the Damas­cus Women’s Institute gathered at the local community centre.

President Miriam Green welcomed everyone and the In­stitute grace was sung.

Following lunch convenor Shirley Langdon introduced guest speaker Elysia DeLaur­entis, the archives assistant at the Wellington County Muse­um and Archives. She has a background in art history and in folklore and been at the archives since 2000. Outside of work she maintains an interest in local history. She is past presi­dent of the Guelph His­torical Society and a member of the county His­tor­ical Society. She gave a brief history of the archives.

Its collection consists of municipal records from the ori­ginal 21 municipalities, family histories, photographs, private manu­scripts, diaries, pamph­lets, directories, maps, property deeds, receipts, cemetery tomb­­stone inscriptions, Newspaper collections relating to the history of Wellington Coun­ty, its people and places.

The archives relies on dona­tions to expand or fill missing links in its collection. If anyone is unsure about records in a home, office, church or group they should con­tact the ar­chivist before dis­carding. Every donation is documented, detailing the history of each donation and catalogued. Fra­gile items are microfilmed. Donors are asked to sign gift forms releasing own­ership. Donations are appraised and an income tax receipt will be issued for the donation’s value.

The archives is envi­ron­mentally controlled and is monitored constantly.

Genealogists, students, re­searchers, and individuals seek­­ing for long lost relatives use its resources. To use the collec­tion an entrance interview with the archivist will help to identify records needed. Access points include names of people, organizations, places, lots and concessions, creators, title, and subject.  Record the access number on a request form and present it to the archivist to get the document.

Aids and inventories are in the reading room.

Due to the rarity of the records the collection must remain non circulating. Reproductions of photos are permitted.

Federated Women’s Insti­tute of Ontario established a committee for historical re­search and current events as early as the 1920s. Institute branches were encouraged to com­pile a scrapbook, which was the foundation of the Tweedsmuir History book, to record the history of their local community.

Subjects included agricul­tural practices and industry, com­munity events including churches and schools, culture, history of the earliest settlers, the rural economy, labour, political, Sports and history of the local Women’s Institute branch.

In 2004, the archives took on the task of digitizing and indexing the Tweedsmuir books of all the Women’s Insti­tute branches in Wellington County and making them available through the Internet.

Langdon thanked DeLaur­entis for her presentation and, on behalf of the Damascus WI, presented her with a $25 dona­tion to the Wellington County Museum and Archives.

Roll call was "name a fad or fashion from your teenage days" was answered by 15 members which spanned a period from the 1920s to the 1960s.

Fashions included full skirts, crinolines and hoops, saddle shoes and bobby socks, penny loafers, pleated skirts, and straight skirts with a row of pleats around the bottom.

Plans for Dam­ascus WI’s 40th anniversary was discussed. The next meeting is the branch’s annual, with the election and installation of officers and planning for 2008 and 2009.

It is on April 9 at 10am, with a pot luck lunch.

submitted by Shirley Langdon