Archives: Frequently Asked Questions

New Finding Aid website

Trent University Archives is currently in the midst of moving our finding aids to a new platform. During this time, we recommend that you conduct searches in both of our old and new interfaces to make sure you find all of the items relevant to your research.

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We are Often Asked....

1. What are Archives and what do Archivists do?

We tell you here in an online tutorial. And the Association of Canadian Archivists tells you here.

2. Do I have to make an appointment before coming to the Archives?

Although we try to keep regular hours sometimes the Archives is closed if we are conducting a seminar, away at meetings, off-site attending to appraisals, and so forth. Therefore, although an appointment is not mandatory, it's a good idea - especially if you're coming from a distance.

3. Can I arrange for a tour or an orientation session for my students?

Sure, just give us a call or e-mail us with the request.

4. Who uses Trent University Archives?

Well, naturally Trent students and faculty use our resources as primary resource materials. Several theses have been written using our collections. But, more than half of our users come from outside the university. They are historians, biographers, film makers, playwrights and genealogists. We have kept track of the number of books which have relied solely, or in part, on collections preserved here at Trent Archives. That number now approaches 100 volumes.

5. How many people use the Archives and its collections each year?

Registered users in any one year total over 1,000. We do not register casual inquiries or administrative users of the Archives. This number does not reflect our largest source of inquiry - our Web site. Requests for research and photocopying of materials via e-mail now accounts for nearly 2,000 users in addition to the users who come on-site. The more records we digitize, the more e-mail traffic we have. Remote access eclipsed on-site usage several years ago and will continue to dominate as we digitize more and more of our holdings.

6. What is the oldest document in our collection?

Some of the earliest documents are difficult to accurately date. One easily identified item is a Journal of the British Parliament from the reign of James I. It is handwritten and spans 1620 to 1621. A full description is available here.

7. What is the oldest map in our collection?

We have many rare and beautiful maps in the collection donated by Robert Hunter. One of the earliest is ca. 1556. It was drawn by Giacomo Gastaldi and is of Eastern Canada. Another Gastaldi map from 1565 shows America. Gastaldi also drew a map of Montreal dated 1565. It is entitled "Village of Hochelaga" but also uses the term "Monte Real" for the first time. One of the most attractive maps in the collection is by Frederick De Wit and shows the Arctic regions from a polar perspective. It was drawn in 1680. A reproduction of this map is available here.