The Brock University Archives and Special Collections has again partnered with the Digital Scholarship Lab to create a digital exhibit showcasing one of their unique collections. This particular exhibit features a guided history of the life and literature of Agnes Ethelwyn Wetherald, which was developed by Shauna Ribaric, Digital Resource Assistant.
Agnes Ethelwyn Wetherald (1857-1947) was raised in Rockwood, Ontario and was home schooled, unlike her brothers who attended Rockwood Academy, a boarding school owned and operated by their father William. Eventually Wetherald attended boarding schools in both the United States and Ontario and went on to develop a real talent for writing. She was a contributing author for The Toronto Globe, writing on a variety of topics, but was also a highly respected poet. In this exhibit, Ribaric takes a very thoughtful approach to not only providing a snapshot of Wetherald’s life, but also highlights how her life influenced her writing and displays how the subject matter of Wetherald’s writing changed over time as a reflection of the changes that took place throughout her life.
Creating a digital exhibit such as this is not a quick and easy process. Ribaric has done a remarkable job of analyzing an entire archival collection to tell one woman’s story. Ribaric explained the approach she took when developing her project: “I had scanned some material from this collection for the Digital Repository, but quickly found that an exhibit required a different perspective. I did some research using some of the books in Archives and Special Collections (included in my source list) and decided to do a chronological approach to Ethelwyn’s life. There were quite a few moments in her life that seemed to impact her writing style and I found it interesting how life influences both style and subject matter in Ethelwyn’s writing. The items I chose had to reveal more of her life story instead of just revealing items in the collection.”
This collection was brought to life using Omeka, a publishing platform for sharing digital collections, just one of many useful tools supported by the Digital Scholarship Lab. Ribaric and her colleagues in the Archives and Special Collections have spent quite a bit of time learning how to use this tool to share content: “It’s a great way to exhibit our diverse collections and shine a spotlight on important figures or events in our area. A completely different way for our users to experience our Archives. These kinds of exhibits enable us to reveal some of the interesting work happening in the Archives and Special Collections. A digital exhibit can be a great way to share a glimpse of a collection, but also link the user to a finding aid that includes so much more. Our collections also become much more accessible to the broader Niagara community who may be interested in certain historical figures/events from our area. Digital is the direction that our users are moving and I think it’s important that we keep ourselves relevant for researchers both in the Brock community and beyond. The digital repository has allowed us to connect with researchers internationally and I think Omeka will continue to support the effort to reach as many researchers as possible.”
To view the Agnes Ethelwyn Wetherald Fonds or other unique collections, visit the Brock Arcvhies and Special Collections located on the 10th floor of the Schmon Tower in the James A. Gibson Library. For more information visit their website.