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Why did you want to become a historian?
History has always intrigued me – I’ve wondered how people lived and acted, how the past informs the present, what utensils people used and what clothes people wore (and how it felt to wear those clothes). I’ve been especially interested in what people in the past thought and assumed (what they unconsciously accepted as normal, like social class, gender roles and perceptions of nature) about their lives and times.
How did you become a curator?
During and after my doctoral studies, my years teaching in American universities strengthened my belief in the importance of diversity and historical education, and my commitment to public outreach. My position as a curator at the Royal BC Museum is a remarkable opportunity to work with scholars and professionals in public outreach, educational programming and exhibits.
What does a curator do?
To curate means to care for. My job involves caring for, developing, displaying, studying and sharing our museum’s history collections and our province’s history. My work can be divided into three major areas: research, collection development and interpretation, and outreach.
I conduct research on the artifacts in our history collections to find out the stories behind them, and how these stories connect to our provincial, national and global history. I also evaluate donations to the Royal BC Museum’s history collection and make short-term and long-term plans and arrangements to acquire new items. And, to provide content and context for major exhibits, I select artifacts and write their stories.
My outreach activities include writing articles, giving lectures and doing tours for various groups, in order to share information about BC’s history and cultural diversity, our collections and our exhibits. I also respond to inquiries from the public and participate in conferences and community and scholarly projects.Stories by or about this person
Why did you want to become an archivist?
I've always been interested in stories about BC's pioneer days, ghost towns and so on. Like ghost towns, archival records are another kind of relic from the past and provide us with windows to look into that past. My work with archival films and sound recordings gives me a set of especially interesting windows to look through.
How did you become an archivist?
Through my background in audio-visual media. I was first hired in 1978 as a summer student, to copy sound recordings for preservation. I later worked as a contractor and my role gradually expanded; I was asked to research, write and edit books, to identify films made in British Columbia and eventually to help the BC Archives acquire and preserve historic films about BC. Finally, in 1998, I was given the opportunity to join the regular staff of the archives. (It only took me 20 years!)
What do you do as an archivist?
I still do some work with the sound and film collections. But I also help to deal with new acquisitions of archival records; with arranging and describing collections of records; with descriptive data and databases; and with many other projects. Recently, I edited a video production based on old films of soldiers in Victoria and Vancouver, training and preparing to leave BC to fight in the First World War. The video will be part of an exhibit commemorating the 100th anniversary of that war.