To celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2018, the Archives Association of Ontario published an organizational history book entitled In Pursuit of the Archival Endeavour: The Story of the Archives Association of Ontario. It is written by John Smart, Brian P.N. Beaven, Anne Hepplewhite, Ellen Millar, and Marissa Paron, and edited by Paul J. Henry, Brian P.N. Beaven, and Karen Teeple.
Tracing the history of the Archives Association of Ontario (AAO) from its origins in the 1970s as the Toronto Area Archivists Group and the Eastern Ontario Archivists Association, In Pursuit of the Archival Endeavour documents the evolution of archival associations in Ontario. By the time of the merger in 1993 of the Ontario Association of Archivists and the Ontario Council of Archives, the AAO had become the voice of archivists and archives in the province. Over the course of its first 25 years, the AAO has faced crises both financial and political while addressing the needs of the profession and its institutions. In a testament to the strength of the AAO’s grassroots origins, the roster of archivists who have served as board members, as staff, and as committee volunteers reads like a who’s who of today’s archival landscape. And on the occasion of its 25th anniversary, the Association looks forward to the next stage in its evolution.
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Of all national assets, archives are the most precious. We agree on this point. We also agree that precious assets need their guardians and that these professionals in turn are strengthened in their role by organizations that help to advocate, to train, to develop standards, and to facilitate communication and promote leadership in the profession. For 25 years, the Archives Association of Ontario has played this role. This engaging brief history paints a vivid and compelling portrait of the dedicated individuals and occasionally challenging circumstances that shaped the Association. And it augurs well for the next 25 years of the Association’s existence. Congratulations to the authors!
Robert MacIntosh, Director General, Archives Branch, Library and Archives Canada
The archival profession is often so busy collecting, preserving, and making available the stories of others that we forget to document our own journey. This book celebrates the Ontario archival community in its story over recent decades, particularly the role and achievements of the Archives Association of Ontario as a focal point for the development of archival practice in the province. Archives are relevant to contemporary affairs because of the insights they reveal into ongoing issues and facets of life. This book, similarly, is more than a celebration of past events: its reflections help us think about the future of archives in Ontario. Going forward, we must remember to also look back, and this important and readable book enables us to do so.
John Roberts, Chief Privacy Officer and Archivist of Ontario
This book will act as an impetus for other archival associations to collectively reflect on and document their own archival endeavours. The story of the AAO is a testament to the challenges, hopes, and realities encountered by generations of dedicated volunteers who have worked tirelessly to advance the objectives of both archives and archivists through difficult and often turbulent times.
Barbara L. Craig, Professor, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
Archives are the lifeblood of historical research; archivists our valued guides in our research endeavours. Archivists become the historians in In Pursuit of the Archival Endeavour, a valuable account of the creation of the Archives Association of Ontario over the past twenty-five years. Combining documentary and first-hand accounts, this book provides far more than an organizational history: it analyzes the changing political and cultural context for archives, the challenges of professionalization and education, and the dilemmas, debates, and challenges archivists encountered as they build a vibrant archival community.
Joan Sangster, Vanier Professor, Trent University and Past President, Canadian Historical Association / Société historique du Canada