Voices from the Past
Dennis DuffyArchivist (Retired)
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.