Ted Youngberg, Chair of the Richmond ’79 Centennial Society and Leslie Ross, author of the book “Richmond-Child of the Fraser” look over some archival images. City of Richmond Archives photograph 1987 30 92.
Before 1982, archival materials were collected and stored by the Richmond Museum and Historical Society which had been formed in 1961. In 1982, Richmond’s first City Archivist was hired, working with the City’s Leisure Services Department. In 1987, in recognition of the Archives’ growing role as a part of the City’s records management system, the Archives was transferred to the City Clerk’s Department.
In 1992 when the Richmond Cultural Centre was built, a dedicated space for the Archives was created allowing the Archives’ holdings to be stored in one place for the first time. On July 29, 2002 the Corporate Records Management Program Bylaw 7400 came into effect setting out the terms and scope of activities of the City of Richmond Archives. This link will take you to the text of Bylaw 7400 which provides a picture of the stewardship the City of Richmond exercises over City government and community records during their lifetime: http://www.richmond.ca/__shared/assets/bylaw_7400463.pdf
Where is it?
The City of Richmond Archives is located in the Richmond Cultural Centre. The door to the Archives is located between the Library entrance and the Front Desk in the Rotunda of the Centre. A window to the left of the door shows a display relating to some aspect of Richmond’s history using material sourced from the Archives. Just through the door is a vestibule, featuring a photographic display.
The front entrance to the Archives is located between the Library entrance and the Cultural Centre front desk. City of Richmond Archives photograph.
Past the second door, you enter the Reference Room where most researchers do their work. A photographic timeline on the walls shows images from Richmond’s history and digital photo frames present images from specific photograph collections. A research library offers books, research finding aids and telephone/street directories. A microfilm/microfiche reader is provided as well.
The Reference Room at the Archives features a historical photographic timeline on the walls. Space is provided for researchers to work. City of Richmond Archives photograph.
Past the service desk and through the door is the Archives office. Here is where Archives staff and volunteers work at several work stations and tables. More research material can be found here as well as equipment for the handling and conservation of records.
This work station in the Archives office is set up for conservation work and includes an exhaust system for the evacuation of fumes. City of Richmond Archives photograph.
Through the doors at the rear of the Archives office is the closed Archives storage area, commonly referred to as the stacks.
These sections of rolling shelves are used for the storage of textual records in the Archives. City of Richmond Archives photograph.
Here, in a temperature and humidity controlled environment, is where the records held in the City of Richmond Archives are stored for future generations. Each set of shelves or drawers are labelled, as are the boxes and files located there, allowing the Archivist to find a single item among the mass of material stored there.
Drawers like these are used for the storage of maps and plans. City of Richmond Archives photograph.
The Archives acquires records for its collection in several ways. Public records are transferred from the City. Private records are received by public donation. The title of the material passes to the Archives with the understanding that ownership is held in trust for future generations.
The conservation of documents is an important activity at the Archives. Here a Contract Archivist works at disbinding old by-laws for preservation and accessibility. City of Richmond Archives photograph.
The Archives holds more than one kilometer of textual records, 170,000 photographs, 20,000 maps and plans and over 500 sound and moving image recordings. There are also collections of subject and biography files and a small reference library.
Photographic negatives, which deteriorate over time, are shown here after being dehumidified, and sealed to prevent moisture incursion. They are then frozen to slow the rate of their decay. City of Richmond Archives photograph.
What goes on?
When records are acquired by the Archives, whether from the City or as a donation, they undergo a fairly complex and time consuming process to ensure their preservation and accessibility. If a member of the public decides to donate a group of photographs, the process is:
- An accession number is given to the donation which consists of a four digit number indicating the year it was received and a second number indicating its order of donation, for example, a donation numbered 2019 5 would indicate the fifth accession of 2019. A Deed of Gift Agreement form is generated by the Archivist which includes a description of the photographs. By signing the Deed of Gift Agreement, the donor states that they are authorized to donate the material, that ownership of the material is transferred to the Archives and disposal instructions for the material are stated should the Archives decide not to keep it.
- Once the ownership of the photographs is transferred to the Archives, the Archivist will create an entry in the Archives database. The accession can now be stored in the Archives.
- Each photograph will be given a specific item number and will be placed in an individual acid free envelope. The envelopes are then placed in archival boxes, designed to keep out light and dust, and the boxes are placed on the photograph shelves in the Archives.
- Lastly, as time and staffing allow, the photos will be digitized. Once this is done they may be added to the Archives website allowing researchers to search the photos without actually coming to the Archives.
Volunteers at the Archives work at scanning some of the thousands of photographic images preserved there. Once digitized they can be made available online. City of Richmond Archives photograph.
The Friends of the Richmond Archives
The Friends of the Richmond Archives was formed in the fall of 1986 as a volunteer and non-profit organization by members of the Richmond ’79 Centennial Society Historical sub-committee. The Friends undertake a number of activities to support the City of Richmond Archives and to promote the preservation and understanding of Richmond’s history.
Members of the Friends of the Richmond Archives with a display at the annual Remembrance Day event at City Hall. City of Richmond Archives photograph.
Out of its membership of 216 people, a core group of volunteers take part in community outreach activities, support a publishing program for local history, and help fund the purchase of specialized archival equipment and projects at the City of Richmond Archives. The Friends have also endowed a UBC award for students in the Masters of Archival Studies Program and have supported a number of programs for local students in Richmond.
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie speaks at the Annual Archives Tea, a popular event open to members and guests of the Friends of the Richmond Archives. City of Richmond Archives photo.
The funds managed by the Friends are raised through donations and membership fees. If you are interested in the preservation of your city’s history and want to support the Archives in its work consider becoming a member of the Friends of the Richmond Archives. The membership form is available at: https://www.richmond.ca/__shared/assets/FOTRA_Membership_Application_Form_201851284.pdf . As a member, you will receive in the mail the semi-annual Archives News (the newsletter of the City of Richmond Archives), notifications of special events at the Archives, opportunities for volunteer involvement with the Friends, and an invitation to the annual Archives Tea. A receipt for Income Tax purposes will be issued for donations over $10.