Onwards: The University of Toronto Through Times of Change

2021, University of Toronto Archives
Archives, calls to change, geographic storytelling, University of Toronto
About This Project

Date: May 3, 2021
Partner: University of Toronto Archives (UTARMS). Supervisor: Tys Klumpenhouwer (University Archivist)
Location: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/32ee61fbb9ba40f4b1619eadc20e628c
Project Members: Carys Owen, Annie McCarron, Leora Bromberg
As the University of Toronto navigates and responds to the current ‘unprecedented’ moment of the COVID-19 pandemic, this exhibition looks to the University’s past responses to calls to change and crises for any lessons we may be able to carry forward or resonate with today. The featured stories each emerge from the archival collections held at the University of Toronto Archives (UTARMS), tracing examples of the University’s responses to medical, environmental, pedagogical and social justice calls to change over time. The exhibition also aims to amplify lesser known histories and stories on campus and shift our attention from the institution to the individual community members who push the University forward. Designed using ArcGIS StoryMap software, this exhibition uses interactive geographic storytelling to step beyond the walls of the Archives and imagine the archival records in the context of their original locations across campus. This format aims to promote the value of archival records as primary source research materials and the value of archives more broadly within their communities. In making these records digitally accessible and marking each featured location on campus with a small poster, this exhibition brings the Archives to the public during a time when the Archives remain closed to visitors as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

Conducting archival research remotely has been quite challenging, but our team was lucky to receive a great deal of flexibility and support from the UTARMS archivists, each of which sat down to meet with us virtually to help us navigate the collections and suggest potential records and stories to feature. The exhibition’s design process was highly collaborative, with each member of the team taking on responsibilities in researching, writing and design. Each team member also had the chance to get in touch with faculties and individuals associated with the featured locations in order to invite them to partner with us to promote and share the project. The online exhibition will launch to the public May 3, 2021, with the hope that it might inspire visitors to safely explore some of these locations across campus and reflect on their histories over the summer. Once the Archives re-open to the public, the online exhibition may be adapted to their on-site display cases, with the objects still presented based on their locations.