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For more information about program offerings or to book a tour and/or program for your classroom please contact the Oxford County Archives:

Email: archives@oxfordcounty.ca
Telephone: 519-539-9800, ext. 3918

*Program admission is free. Donations to the Oxford County Archives to help support our services are always welcome.

Volunteer opportunities

The Oxford County Archives provides high school students with an excellent opportunity to complete their mandatory volunteer hours. Volunteer positions at the archives are ideal for students who are interested in gaining experience in an office/administrative setting and have an interest in history, education or research.

Examples of volunteer work includes arranging and describing archival collections, conducting historical research, transcribing historical journals, ledgers, and letters, translating letters from French to English (for bilingual students), helping with outreach programs, creating children's activity pages and crafts, and conservation work.

Oxford Famous Monologues

Format:

The Oxford County Archives provides drama educators with an archives kit prepared by archives staff to be used as a classroom resource. The kit includes biographical information on significant and interesting individuals in Oxford County’s history.

Activities:

Oxford Famous: Monologues is a program designed to meet the curriculum requirements of high school drama programs for grades 9 to 10. Students will be presented with archives kits containing information on important figures in Oxford County’s history. Students can use these kits to research the life of a historical figure and write a character sketch based on the information they were given. The next step is for students to develop and present a monologue (max. 2 minutes in length) as the historical figure they have chosen. Students will be asked to tell a story from the individual’s perspective.

Learning objectives:

Students will learn how to interpret text to be used as inspiration for a character sketch. This activity will help students develop their creative writing skills and they will learn how to independently analyze text to create a monologue, use their imagination and envision how a real person in history would think, feel, act and speak. Students will also be given the opportunity to practice and hone their presentation skills through performing in front of their peers. By taking part in this project students will be made aware of and engage with Oxford County culture and heritage through a highly interactive learning format.

Research Unplugged: Hit the Books!

Format:

The Oxford County Archives will present a variety of historical resources, both primary and secondary sources, to be used by students for research purposes. Archives staff will help facilitate a research lesson using these resources. Resources may include: journals, maps, letters, newspaper articles, academic research notes, scrapbooks, photographs, postcards, posters, directories, historical bylaws, literature, etc.

Activities:

Research Unplugged: Hit the Books! is a program designed by archives staff to meet the historical inquiry and skill development portions of history curriculum for grade 10. With the help of archives staff, students will be given the opportunity to examine life in Oxford County and Canada from either the historical period between 1914 to 1929 or 1929 to 1945. Students will be gathering information from both primary and secondary sources. Using a worksheet and working in groups, participants will be asked to find the answers to a number of questions; the answers will be found in a variety of archival records. Topics students will be researching include: political history, the history of social programs, business and industry, entertainment, gender roles, life on the home front, propaganda and the role of Oxford County residents during WWI and WWII.

Learning objectives:

Students will learn how to determine the differences between primary and secondary sources and utilize a variety of historical records. The main objective of this program is to teach high school students how to research offline using resources other than digital records. This program will aid students in the development of their research skills, preparing them for more advanced research and essay writing. They will be made aware of the range of research sources available to them which are often found in libraries and archives while also becoming engaged with local heritage. They will learn how to examine history with a critical eye and determine the significance of historical events, people and places while making comparisons to their own experiences in the present.

Into the Archives: Perspectives on the First and Second World War

Format:

Students will be presented with a variety of archival records including speeches, correspondence, posters, publications, scrapbooks, propaganda, newspaper articles and photographs relating to the First and Second World War. Students will take part in a critical analysis activity facilitated by archives staff and spend time examining first person and media accounts of both conflicts.

Activities:

Into the Archives: Perspectives on the First and Second World War is a program designed to meet the historical inquiry and critical thinking portions of history curriculum for grades 11 and 12. Using the worksheets prepared for them, students will work in small groups to examine a variety of archival records presented to them. They will be asked to critically read and study the records to understand their historical significance and to determine the creator’s purpose, perspective and message. They will be comparing what they see and read to what they have already learned in class. We will have the students discuss censorship, propaganda and the differing perspectives that existed during the wars. Examples of questions students may be discussing are: Are all the perspectives you read and saw today the same? How did the media portray both sides of the conflict? How did the public view Canadian soldiers? What was life really like on the front?

Learning objectives:

Students will learn how to determine the differences between primary and secondary sources and utilize a variety of historical records. At the end of the program, students will understand the historical significance of written and visual accounts of the First and Second World War and improve their critical reading/thinking skills to determine the biases and messages within historical sources. Students will also learn about the significant role of media, propaganda, censorship and nationalism during both conflicts. Finally, through this program students will discover that not all historical narratives are the same.

On Trial: The Crown vs. Reginald Birchall

Format:

Educators will receive archives kits filled with copies of historical texts to be used for analysis by students. These kits will include records such as newspaper articles, an autobiography, court documents, autopsy reports and historical research notes. The sources will be both primary and secondary and will be written from a variety of different perspectives and for different purposes. These resources will be studied by students to be used in a mock court trial facilitated by archives staff.

Activities:

This program is designed to meet the curriculum requirements of high school law programs for grades 11 to 12. Students are presented with archival records relating to one of the most significant criminal trials in Oxford County’s history, the murder of Fred C. Benwell by Reginald Birchall in 1890. Birchall’s trial took place in Woodstock’s Town Hall and attracted considerable attention from local, national, American and European newspapers. After students are divided into three groups (judge & jury, prosecution and defense) and are presented with an overview of the trial, the prosecution and defense will be asked to read through various newspaper accounts of the trial, investigation documents, and excerpts from Birchall’s autobiography to compile evidence. These two groups will then present their findings, for and against the charges of murder being laid on Reginald Birchall, to the judge and jury in a mock court trial activity.

Learning objectives:

While examining the historical sources in the kit, students will learn how to look for similarities and differences in the narrative, discover biases present in the text, determine the author’s purpose, and analyze documents used in criminal trials. Students will also be given the opportunity to develop their debate and oration skills during the trial activity, practice gathering evidence for a trial and learn about historical court proceedings in Canada while critically examining the flaws in the historical legal system.