Archive Essentials

An archive is many things:

  • For a researcher, it’s the equivalent of an archaeological dig.
  • For a society, it’s a scrapbook – quite literally bits and pieces of a culture’s history
  • For a student, it can be a choose-your-own adventure story.

Over the years many citizens of our province have entrusted their most treasured possessions to Memorial University. Our archives are, in a sense, a physical representation of the university’s special obligation to the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador.

With this in mind, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (partnering with CITL) has spearheaded Archives Essentials, a BrightSpace shell that is designed to teach students how to get the most out of the archives on campus.

The Maritime History Archive (MHA) is the focus of this initiative. A treasure trove located in the Henrietta Harvey building on the St. John’s campus, the MHA collects documents relating to the history of maritime activities in Newfoundland and Labrador and throughout the North Atlantic world. It is the largest collection of its kind in the world and everything in it is one-of-a-kind.

Unlike libraries, archives are a bit of a mystery. How they work, who gets to use them, why would you use them and how do you use them are all questions we’ve heard many times from students just like yourselves.

  • Do you have to use the archives/archival documents in one of your courses/in a research project?
  • Would you want to include primary, archival resources in your research project but aren't sure how to get started?

Ask your professor to incorporate Archives Essentials into a course you are taking or try investigating the shell on your own by visiting .

On your own Archives Essentials will take approximately three hours to complete. As part of a course your professor might opt to spread the material out over several weeks (and might even give you credit for taking it!).

In the meantime, check out some of our Archives Essentials videos on YouTube.

You’ll immediately understand how much a culture has to lose if it doesn’t pay attention to the details of its past.