Tuesday, January 27, 2009

blog #1.

Nova Scotia, Canada – Archives and Records: www.gov.ns.ca
Acadian Heartland:Records of the Deportation and le Grand Derangement, 1714 – 1768.

The Nova Scotian archives are strictly governmental and their use is protected by Freedom of Information. “The ruling principal of acquisition,” the Acquisition Policies states, “shall always be provenance.” Policies are detailed and structured, giving a step-by-step account of every point in the archiving process and even giving definitions of words such as “fonds” “acquisition” and so on. There is a detailed account of the administrative history from the commencement of the Public Archives in 1927. Copyright policies are explicitly stated under a Public Service tab for the users.

This collection denotes a turning point in French Acadians in Nova Scotia and the surrounding areas. “These documents provide a factual account of events leading up to the Expulsion, first-hand descriptions of the Expulsion itself, and additional relevant documents from the aftermath years.”Because they are government documents, no French Acadian records survived British rule, so the website compensates the biased perspective with “various pertinent French documents from earlier years.” Also included among the official papers is a journal of a British commander in charge of the Expulsion in New England.

All publications have citations. Artwork has artist and date, when known, and medium. There seems to be a discrepancy between marking a piece of artwork “photograph of original sketch” or simply “sketch.” Unless the actual record is a photograph and not the original, then this could be problematic. There are no descriptions of the physical object, such as height and width, for textual nor artistic items. When applicable, more information is available about the subject or artist of portraits through a linked search. This is not necessarily pertinent to the average user, but the archivist in me hates that the photos are filed under: NSARM Photo Collection, Miscellaneous, Costumes.” I don't know how they do it in Canada, but Miscellaneous isn't the heading for Acadians in Lousiana.

The resources in this exhibit were digitized from published versions of the originals through a scanning method that uses optical character recognition (OCR) software. “This makes it possible to type into the Search Box any word or phrase of particular interest. The results displayed will present all pages within the volumes containing that word or phrase.” I searched for R. Harris, a painter I noticed in the images, and found every instance of the name “Harris” in all records in both French and English. Though I have no attachment to the name Harris, this website is designed for those who might. It is aimed at not only the general public of Nova Scotia and geographically displaced descendants, but to researchers of this time period, boasting the most important account of the Deportation. “First appearing in print nearly 150 years ago, these records are frequently discussed or cited in histories of the Expulsion, but have not been widely available for many years, so that examining and evaluating the documents on their own, as primary sources, has been difficult.” The website says that it does not translate or interpret, but has simply made the source available to all who are interested. In this way, it adds significant value to the realm of information for research, however I still feel that I am missing some of the information inherent in the original when I read the 150 year old text on my laptop in Ariel font.

Overall this website is very effective and useful. They add value by linking to other official websites of Acadian interests, such as the Office of Acadian Affairs, and by offering the exact same site in French.

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