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For more information about program offerings or to book an archives kit and/or program for your classroom please contact the Oxford County Archives:

Email: archives@oxfordcounty.ca
Telephone: 519-539-9800, ext. 3918

*Program admission is free. Donations to the Oxford County Archives to help support our services are always welcome.

Volunteer opportunities

The Oxford County Archives provides high school students with an excellent opportunity to complete their mandatory volunteer hours. Volunteer positions at the archives are ideal for students who are interested in gaining experience in an office/administrative setting, have an interest in history and/or would like to work on hands-on projects.

Examples of volunteer work includes arranging and describing archival records, conducting historical research, transcribing historical journals, ledgers, and letters with the potential to translate letters from French to English, helping with outreach programs, creating activity pages and crafts, and conservation work.

Oxford Famous Monologues

Format:

The Oxford County Archives provides educators with an Archives Kit prepared by archives staff to be used as a classroom resource. The kit includes biographical information on significant individuals in Oxford County’s history.

Activities:

Oxford Famous: Monologues is a program designed by archives staff to meet the curriculum requirements of high school drama programs for grades 9 to 12. Students will be presented with archives kits containing information on important figures in Oxford County’s history. Students can use these kits to research the life of a historical figure and write a character sketch based on the information they were given. The next step is for students to develop and present a monologue (max. 2 minutes in length) as the historical figure they have chosen. Students will be asked to tell a story from the individual’s perspective.

Learning objectives:

Students will learn how to interpret text to be used as inspiration for a character sketch. This activity will help students develop their creative writing skills and they will learn how to independently create a monologue. Students will also be given the opportunity to practice and hone their presentation skills through performing in front of their peers. By taking part in this project students will be made aware of and engage with Oxford County heritage through a highly interactive learning format.

Research Unplugged: Hit the Books!

Format:

The Oxford County Archives will present a variety of historical resources, both primary and secondary sources, to be used by students for research purposes. Archives staff will help facilitate a research lesson using these resources. Resources may include: journals, maps, letters, newspaper articles, historical research notes, scrapbooks, photographs, directories, historical bylaws and voter’s lists.

Activities:

Research Unplugged: Hit the Books is a program designed by archives staff to meet the historical inquiry and skill development portions of history curriculum for grades 9 to 12. With the help of archives staff, students will be given the opportunity to research topics relating to Oxford County history; examples of topics could include: historical settlement, significant individuals, historical events or various social history topics. Students will be gathering information from both primary and secondary sources. Using a worksheet and working in groups, participants will be asked to find the answers to a set number of questions; the answers will be found in a variety of archival records.

Learning objectives:

Students will learn how to determine the differences between primary and secondary sources and utilize a variety of historical records. The main objective of this program is to teach high school students how to research offline using resources other than digital records. This program will aid students in the development of their research skills, preparing them for more advanced post-secondary research and essay writing. They will be made aware of the range of research sources available to them which are often found in libraries and archives while also becoming engaged with local heritage.

Crash Course in Conservation

Format:

Archives staff will lead a workshop on basic record conservation which can be applied to paper documents, books, photographs and other art medium. The program will be hands-on and allow students to independently apply their newly learned conservation skills. *This program can also be delivered offsite at participating schools, staff will transport the required materials for the workshop.

Activities:

During the Crash Course in Conservation program, students will be given the opportunity to learn the basics of conservation and what a career in archival or art conservation would entail. Students will first be given a tour of the Archives, the archival vault, the processing room and conservation lab. Archives staff will describe the conservation tools used at the Archives and provide a demonstration of what each instrument would be used for. During the workshop, students will have the opportunity to learn about the conservation process from start to finish including creating adhesive, unrolling documents using distilled water or a dehumidification chamber, dry cleaning and wet cleaning documents and repairing damaged records. Students will then practice these skills independently on damaged records. Program participants are welcome to bring their own documents from home to repair.

Learning objectives:

Participants in this program will learn a variety of skills which can be applied to future careers in conservation. Students will discover the resources available at archives and the requirements of working as an archivist and/or conservator. During the workshop, students will learn how to think critically and creatively to problem solve while working hands-on with damaged historical documents. At the end of the program students will have knowledge of the tools and skills required in the conservation profession.

Reading for Meaning: Historical Criminal Trials

Format:

Educators will receive archives kits filled with copies of historical texts to be used for analysis by students. These kits will include records such as newspaper articles, an autobiography and historical research notes. The sources will be both primary and secondary and will be written from a variety of different perspectives and for different purposes. These resources will be studied by students to be used in a mock court trial facilitated by Archives staff.

Activities:

This program is designed to meet the curriculum requirements of high school Law and History programs for grades 11 to 12. Students are presented with archival records relating to one of the most prominent criminal trials in Oxford County’s history, the murder of Fred C. Benwell by Reginald Birchall in 1890. Birchall’s trial took place in Woodstock’s Town Hall and attracted considerable attention from local, national, American and European newspapers. After students are divided into three groups (judge & jury, prosecution and defense) and are presented with an overview of the trial, the prosecution and defense will be asked to read through various newspaper accounts of the trial, investigation documents, and excerpts from Birchall’s autobiography. These two groups will then be asked to present their findings, for and against the charges of murder being laid on Reginald Birchall, to the judge and jury in a mock court trial activity.

Learning objectives:

While examining the historical sources in the kit, students will learn how to look for similarities and differences in the narrative, discover biases present in the text, determine the author’s purpose, and point out literary devices used to reinforce the author’s purpose or message. Students will also be given the opportunity to develop their debate and oration skills during the trial activity, practice gathering evidence for a trial to support their arguments, and learn about historical court proceedings. Students also become engaged with local history in a meaningful way.

*Program admission is free. Donations to the Oxford County Archives to help support our services are always welcome.