Archives of Ontario & the Alvin D. McCurdy fonds

Since June 2020, the Archives of Ontario (AO) has uploaded over 4,500 images from its collection to the Wikimedia Commons as part of its GLAM Wiki project.

Recently, it has added 155 images to its existing gallery of images from the Alvin D. McCurdy fonds. The gallery, which now includes 270 images, is but a small sampling from a collection that remains one of the pre-eminent sources for the study of Black histories in Ontario. It was inscribed on the Canadian Commission for UNESCO’s Canada Memory of the World Register in 2021. 

Photograph of two barbers in their shop
[ca. 1900] – Archives of Ontario

The McCurdy fonds documents the development of some of the oldest Black communities in Canada, many of which were terminals of the Underground Railroad. It is also one of the pre-eminent collections for understanding the histories and stories of Black Canadians’ journeys and contributions to Canada at large. In addition, the recent upload also includes a number of photographs, mostly portraits, that were taken at studios in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania that shows the breadth and reach of McCurdy’s work.

Alvin D. McCurdy, who died in 1989, was a community builder who brought people together through the records he collected, preserved and made available from his home in Amherstburg. By making these images freely available through the Wikimedia Commons, the Archives of Ontario is hoping to support and honour his work by providing educators, students, researchers and ordinary citizens easy access to the primary resource material that he collected.