It’s a virtual heaven for War of 1812 buffs and valuable tool for those with questions about the battles that helped define Canada as a nation.
The James A. Gibson Library has launched an online War of 1812 research guide, linking researchers and the curious to the University’s resources on the subject.
Think a catalogue of Brock’s 800-plus books on 1812 - those written before war was declared, during the two and a half-year conflict and after, along with historians’ takes penned since. Maps, soldiers’ letters, newspapers, magazines and other printed documents are also included.
“We have things that may have never been seen before and now it’s available,” said David Sharron, Brock’s head of special collections and archives. “For Brock, we want to get as much out there that’s 1812-related.”
The guide is a culmination of work done two years ago when the University received about $55,000 from Canadian Heritage to digitize more than 1,000 items and 22,000 images related to the war.
That project helped the University become known as an 1812 research centre in Canada, Sharron said.
Since 2010, the library has acquired more than 90 new items on the War of 1812, including a roster of Canadian volunteers who fought for the U.S. and sought compensation, and a volume of naval songs. These new resources will be digitized and online within the next six months but like all of Brock’s 1812 materials, they’re always available in Special Collections and Archives.
The online research guide provides an organized way to understand Brock’s collection of 1812 resources in a “one stop shop,” Sharron explained.
Staff and students are making good use of it so far but about 30 per cent of those tapping into the guide are from outside the University.
“It’s definitely something that would help any 1812 researcher,” Sharron said. “Our main purpose is to ensure nothing is missed when people want to do 1812 research.”
Even after the war’s bicentennial celebrations end in 2014, the guide will be maintained and items added as they’re acquired, he added.
“The collection is always going to be a focus. It’s something we’ve been building for 45 years and that will definitely continue.”