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The Peterson Papers Project

In the winter of 2022-2023, the Northern Rockies Museum (NRM) successfully executed the Peterson Papers project: we cataloged and selectively digitized the research collection of Tom Peterson, a renowned local historian. In order to make the papers publically available, the NRM partnered with the Hinton Municipal Library Coal Branch Archives; today, the papers are available for in-person research at the Coal Branch Archives and online on Alberta on Record

The Beginning


Tom Peterson's research collection was the accumulation of two lifetimes of historical research: his stepmother, Constance's, and his own.  In the last years of his life, Tom donated his collection to the Northern Rockies Museum, intending that they be made publicly available. 

In August 2022, the NRM hired an Archivist to complete the project. A generous private donation, a Young Canada Works at Building Careers in Heritage grant, and a Yellowhead County Heritage grant funded the project. Civic Agency funding from the Town of Hinton also contributed to the project, as it enables us to be open year-round.


Throughout the winter of 2022-2023, our Archivist, Devon Fraser, worked to catalog the collection. This involved working through 13 banker's boxes of material, reviewing, refiling, organizing, and entering information into a spreadsheet. The finished project was 6 archive boxes of carefully filed material. 



From PP2.22, Thomas Lowe: an example of Tom's research notes

One of Tom's final wishes was that his collection be digitized for research access. It was not possible to digitize every page of the large collection. Instead, we digitized documents that represented Tom's unique research. The secondary source material he used to support this unique research was left in hard copy. Four dedicated volunteers worked to complete this digitization plan by the end of April 2023.  

Online Access

In order to showcase this material, we partnered with the Hinton Municipal Library Coal Branch Archives. The Coal Branch Archives is a member of the Archives Society of Alberta, and thus has access to the online archive database AlbertaonRecord. This platform links the collections of small archives across Alberta. It is the ideal platform for Tom's collection.



On April 26, 2023, a celebration for the end of the project saw over 100 guests crowd into the Tom Peterson Room at the Hinton Municipal Library. It was a fitting tribute to Tom's reputation in the community. The Jasper Fitzhugh wrote an article on the project, and CBC Edmonton interviewed our Manager and Vice-President. In autumn 2023, we transferred the collection to the Coal Branch Archives

What's it to me?

Tom focused his historical work on the Yellowhead region: Jasper, Hinton, and the river valleys around and between. The collection is organized into eleven series, or subject areas:

  • Archaeology and Early History of Yellowhead County

  • Expeditions in the Yellowhead Corridor, 1825-1853

  • Expeditions in the Yellowhead Corridor, 1860-1900

  • Jasper Park Surveys

  • Occupation and Exploration of Jasper National Park, 1800s and 1900s

  • Tom Peterson's Historical Tours and Presentations

  • Research with Peter Murphy on exploration and logging in Jasper

  • Railroads in the Yellowhead Corridor

  • Research with Fred Howlett on the Yellowhead Corridor

  • Hinton in the 20th and 21st Century

  • Northern Rockies and Central Alberta in the 20th and 21st Century

Do any of these titles intrigue you? Alberta On Record has all the details for your research! 

Research Tips

Once you are on the Peterson Papers page, click on the series (subject headings) in the grey box on the left side of the page. On each series page, look for the 'Scope and Content' section. This will list, in detail, all of the files and material in that series. 

In the left-side grey box, there are files listed under each series: these are digitized files that you can view right away. If you want to see something in the 'Scope and Content' that isn't digitized, you will contact the Coal Branch Archives to make an appointment to see it in person. 

We are so grateful to the people who made this possible: the Peterson family, donors, Hinton Historical Society board, the Hinton Municipal Library staff and board, the Hinton community, and many more. 

Tom wanted everyone to be able to use and learn from his collection: we encourage you to click the links on this page, visit the Coal Branch Archives, and become part of Tom's dream. 

In Memory of Constance, Tom, and Vi Peterson
History is here right now.

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