Editor’s note: In our continuing recognition of Black History Month, RETROactive contributors from the Provincial Archives of Alberta highlight some of the resources available for researchers wanting to know more about the history of Alberta’s Black community.
Written by: Michael Gourlie, Government Records Archivist and Karen Simonson, Reference Archivist
Researching the history of Black communities in Alberta can be challenging. Sources can be limited and potentially scattered among many institutions within Alberta’s heritage communities. Much of the access is dependent on knowing a person’s name or having some additional background clues or information. But the history of Alberta’s Black communities can be teased out of the records preserved by the Provincial Archives of Alberta (PAA), and all the resources described below are available for researchers to see and consult for themselves during regular opening hours of the reading room.
In addition to published books and newspapers providing context to the community, the PAA is fortunate to have received donations of records from private individuals such as Fil Fraser, Selwyn Jacob and Junetta Jamerson. While these records can only tell part of the story, looking more closely at some familiar holdings at the PAA reveals perhaps some unexplored and unexpected traces of Alberta’s Black history.Read more