University Level Workshops

Since 2013, the OJA has partnered with Prof. David Koffman of York University to bring undergraduate students into the Archives.  A two-hour information literacy workshop was developed for Koffman's 3rd year Canadian Jewish history class that required students to submit a paper using original research. The workshop was held at the OJA, which provided students with an on-site experience.  They then came back on their own time to work with an archivist to source appropriate records for their research paper.

This workshop provides students with a basic understanding of the differences between primary and secondary sources, the role archives play within the broader information service sector, as well as how to interpret and evaluate archival records when conducting historical research. The workshop identifies the concepts of provenance, context of creation, reliability and authenticity. It provides students with an introduction to critical literacy skills including the ability to recognize creator intent and bias. Students are not expected to exhibit any prior knowledge of or interaction with primary sources, nor are they expected to have any understanding of the role of archives in the field of information services.

The workshop is divided into three instructional units:

  • a lecture by an OJA archivist on the role of archives and the concept of a record.
  • a small-group activity, designed to draw on the five components of the historical inquiry process: formulate questions; gather and organize; interpret and analyze; evaluate and draw conclusions; and communicate.
  • a discussion session for students to share the results of their group findings with their classmates.

Upon completion of this workshop, students are able to:

  • Formulate questions about the content and context of an archival record in order to guide investigation.
  • Critically interpret the record and analyze information present and not present in the record.
  • Evaluate and draw conclusions about the meaning and intent of the record.
  • Identify the relevance of the record to specific research interests.
  • Communicate their ideas to their classmates.

This workshop is easily adaptable to meet varying course requirements in the humanities and social sciences. The OJA is happy to work with university professors to develop similar workshops for their students.

Please contact us for more information or to discuss possibilities for your university class.

Click here to read some of the student papers written using the OJA's archives.