Manitoba History: Rural Resources Archives - Brandon, Manitoba
by Kate Kuntz
The hopes, fears, disappointments and successes of Manitoba’s first settlers are documented in what most people might consider junk. Having survived countless spring cleanings, these documentsearly newspapers, old photographs, diaries, maps, financial records, family histories, scrapbooks, and personal lettershave found their way into the Rural Resources Archives presently located at Brandon University.
The Rural Resources Archives were established in 1975 through a foundation grant from the Manitoba Pool Elevators. The funders and founders envisioned the archives as a permanent documentation of rural life which would be of use to both the general public and scholars doing research into our historical past.
Several factors led to the inception of the archives. There had been a resurgence of interest in preserving community history since it was almost 100 years ago that the railroad came through and the settlements which sprang up along the tracks were soon going to be celebrating their centennials. Recently, one Manitoba printer had 137 local history books in the works, ranging from “slender paperbacks to hefty hard-backed jobs you need two hands to life.”
This popular interest in local history has uncovered all sorts of information from how taxes have been collected to how great-grandmother baked an apple pie. The accumulation of these documents stressed the need for a facility to store and preserve them for future generations.
“We are rapidly losing an excellent primary source of Manitoba’s history as our elderly citizens die. Their “personal archives” consisting of family photographs, wedding invitations, letters, and family scrapbooks are often lost or thrown out.” So says Sally Cunningham, archivist at the Rural Resources Archives.
“As people begin to realize the importance of these documents, they begin to look around for someone who will insure their continued existence. Some of the younger people don’t recognize the importance of the materials, so I try to encourage the present holder of the documents to make arrangements concerning the disposal of their “personal archives” in much the same way one makes a will” Cunningham says.
The response to the archives has been overwhelming; the space allocated to the collection is now bursting at the seams. To date the Rural Resources Archives collection includes:
Page revised: 13 September 2016Back to top of page