ST. ANTHONY, NL – The International Grenfell Association (IGA) is working with The Rooms in St. John’s to preserve more of the original records of Dr. Wilfred Grenfell and make them more accessible.
About a year and a half ago, the IGA asked The Rooms Corporation’s Provincial Archives Division team to work with the local Grenfell Historical Society (GHS) board to preserve the Grenfell Historic Society’s records in St. Anthony.
The first part of the project was conducted last year, when division staff took some of the records from the Grenfell Interpretation Centre. This year, they’re taking records from the Grenfell House Museum.
Archives director Greg Walsh and technicians Beverly Bennett and Elizabeth Fewer removed items from the site, including photographs, letters, diaries, ledgers, songs and poems.
They will copy and digitize the documents back in St. John’s and return the reproductions to the Grenfell House for next year.
The originals will remain preserved in The Rooms.
All the documents will be accessible in The Rooms’ online archives, available at therooms.ca/archives.
Fewer told the Northern Pen the records they gathered from St. Anthony will be available online gradually over the upcoming year.
The Rooms already has the largest collection of Grenfell records in the world.
Walsh says they have been criticized by some people who feel they’re taking a region’s history back to St. John’s and hiding it away.
But, according to Walsh, they’re doing the opposite.
“St. John’s just happens to be where The Rooms is located and where we’re based out of,” he told the Northern Pen. “We’re certainly not in business of taking this stuff and squirrelling it away and nobody gets to see.”
Thanks to the online database, he says, these items can now be available to anyone in the world.
Walsh says they’re also hoping to establish a computer kiosk at the Grenfell Interpretation Centre, so visitors can access the database directly.
“We’re hoping to have more of a direct link between St. Anthony and St. John’s,” he said. “The Grenfell collections we have are such an important part of what we do.”
Walsh, Bennett and Fewer delivered a presentation on how to access the archives at the Grenfell Interpretation Centre on Thursday evening, Nov. 9.