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
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, 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 feasible 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.
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; thus, it is the ideal platform for Tom's collection.
On April 26, 2023, a celebration for the end of the project saw 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