Scribbles in the archives: records of childhood in Canadian archives

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Lehew, Kristine
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Researching the history of childhood in Canadian archives is a complex endeavor because the nature of childhood is historically and culturally contingent. Often researchers have to access a variety of sources to gain an understanding of how childhood was lived. This thesis examines how the voices of children in the archives are often manifested in three types of records: child created, adult created and later recollection records. These record types are the framework for this thesis. The first chapter is focused on child created records in the Mennonite Heritage Centre Archives. Child created records are records, in various mediums, that are created by a child while they are still young. The curation of child created records makes it so these records are recreated throughout their lifetime and often have different meanings when they at last enter an archive. Chapter two examines adult created records that were made by adults to document the lives of children. This chapter looks at Calgary children through the lens of the playground movement. This focuses on records collected by the City of Calgary Archives and ways in which childhood stories can be found in the nuances of adult created records. The last chapter of this thesis explores the need for later recollection records of childhood. Later recollection records are created when someone reflects back on the experiences of their childhood and creates a record of these stories. For this chapter I use records from the National Centre of Truth and Reconciliation regarding the history of residential school. Later Recollections are important ways to let various stories of childhood become visible in archives for children who were improperly or not recorded at all. This thesis also examines how later recollections can be manifested in the ways individuals become involved in archival descriptions. The ethical implications of how childhood is recorded is examined throughout this thesis in order to bring a greater understanding to how Canadian archives record the details of childhood.
Childhood, Childhood History, Archival Studies, Archives, Mennonite History, Playgrounds, Residential Schools