Working in the Archive . . From Home

By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist

We are very fortunate that technology has made it that some professions are able to work from home during this time of self-isolation. The Oshawa Museum was already set up to allow staff to work remotely from home and thus we transition to working from home with relative ease.

Saying the transition was done with relative ease is correct but not entirely accurate. Part of my job is working with the archival collection, ensuring that it is catalogued, databased and properly stored.  I have been fortunate in that several new collections have been recently donated and need to be processed but that cannot be done from home. Working from home means little to no collections management work.

Working from home during this pandemic also looks a bit different from other times I have worked from home. To start, my family is home and, with the province declaring a state of emergency, there is no where I can send them so I have the house to myself. The kids are understanding but they are kids. This means they are loud, wanting my attention and seemingly capable of making a huge mess in a matter of minutes. This means my work day has been broken up into shorter periods of productivity interrupted by the needs of the children.

With all that said, I am very excited about a couple of projects that have begun in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.  The collaboration with Empty Cup Media is something that is all new to me and I am very excited about the potential here. While I have had a fair bit of experience with oral history projects, I have never created video content and I am excited to add this to the archival collection. I am hoping that the project resonates with many Oshawa citizens and that we are able to collect a wide variety of video submissions to document life in Oshawa at this time. I am also excited to see how Colin Burwell from Empty Cup Media takes these submissions and creates a documentary examining the impact of the pandemic on our community.

I am also hoping that the community is journaling this time and will donate their writings to the archives once this is over.  In 10, 20, 50 even 100 years from now, these journals will become the personal voices of the pandemic.  Much like diaries kept during the Spanish Flu epidemic have helped to humanize that world tragedy, journals kept during this time will help future historians trying to humanize the statics.

We are living in a defining moment in history, consider leaving a record for those who will one day study this time.

Published by Oshawa Museum

Since 1957, the Oshawa Museum has been acquiring and preserving for the public, records that trace Oshawa's rich history from its earliest settlement. Our collection includes historical information on Oshawa, its families, businesses, social organizations and many other areas of interest. Included in the collection are photographs, documents, scrapbooks and other Oshawa related memorabilia. In addition to making Oshawa's historical inforamtion available, our staff also provides lectures, presentations, conservation work and research assistance.

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