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Archives at Concordia

Oscar Peterson rehearsing with the Johnny Holmes Orchestra at Victoria Hall. Unknown photographer (ca. 1945). Johnny Holmes fonds, P016-02-013, Concordia University Library, Special Collections.

This guide to primary resources in Black History provides details about primary materials available at Concordia, at other institutions, and in primary source databases. These resources document the contributions and experiences of Black communities, organizations and individuals in Quebec, and more broadly in Canada and around the world.

This guide serves as a starting point for research into Black History in Quebec. It provides information about resources available at Concordia University - including those preserved and accessible in the Library’s Special Collections, the Records Management and Archives Department, the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, and the Visual Collections Repository. It also provides links to resources available at other archival institutions that help to tell the stories of Black History in Canada.

Black History and Community Archives at Concordia

Archival fonds and collections are important resources documenting the histories of individuals, families, and organizations. Made up of both primary and secondary sources, they contain evidence of community and individual memory, and include traces of lives lived, from the seemingly mundane actions that sometimes go unnoticed to the extraordinary ones that are part of the intricate tapestry woven as people move through the world.

Archives documenting the experiences and contributions of Canada’s Black communities are not always easy to find. Racism, bias, and narrow collecting policies have resulted in the exclusion of archives focusing on the histories and perspectives of Black artists, writers, scholars, and community groups from archival repositories across the country, leading to a lack of materials available on Black Histories in Canada. Despite this, rich archives of materials documenting the stories of many Black Canadians have been compiled and are available for consultation in a variety of spaces – from Universities, to community groups, and museums. 

This page is a resource on the Black History and Community Archives that are available at Concordia University. Most of the archival records related to Black Histories are preserved at the Library’s Special Collections. Researchers and students will also find related records in the collection of the Records Management and Archives Department (RMA), the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling (COHDS), and the Visual Collections Repository (VCR).

Explore the collections

Consulting materials at Concordia

The materials described in this guide are in the collections of several repositories and most must be consulted in-person. For information about obtaining access to the primary resources described, consult the websites for each repository: Library’s Special Collections, Concordia’s Records Management and Archives Department, COHDS, and VCR.

See the Special Collections webpage for more information about conducting archival research, including how archives are organized; viewing and handling archival materials and rare books; and how to request reproductions.

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