By John Lutman
May 19th marked a special occasion for the Diocese of Huron Archives, indeed for the entire Diocese. A plaque was unveiled in the Archives in honor of Maisie Allen, for 19 years archivist for St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The plaque reflects her intrepid work as Archivist and for her assistance in transferring the materials – all 65 boxes – from St. Paul’s to the diocesan archives.
The plaque recognizes her innate understanding of two of the basic tenets of the archival profession: “appraisal” – identifying materials worthy of permanent retention – and “preservation of the record” – ensuring that the materials are safely stored and cared for. After all, archival, unpublished, primary source materials comprise the stuff of history. Without them, history cannot exist. They represent our collective memory, which we pass on to future generations. This is why it is essential to preserve and make available the historical record as represented by the archival record.
The plaque reads:
The Maisie Allen
St. Paul’s Cathedral fonds
Acquired in 2013-2014
Maisie has fulfilled her responsibilities with a high degree of competence and with a remarkable tenacity. She obviously loves her work as witnessed by her enthusiasm and by her comprehensive knowledge of the history of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
In past chats with the archivist and in her remarks at the unveiling, Maisie shared with those present some of the challenges in locating materials in the out-of-way locations within the Cathedral building, which are common to all archivists as they search for archival records. She found papers high up on cupboard shelves, in sagging boxes under staircases, in tunnels, in the garbage, and in forgotten filing cabinets stored in the corners of musty basements.
Most importantly, from an acquisitions perspective, she graciously accepted donations of materials from congregants. She spread also spread the word around St. Paul’s among clergy and staff about the importance of the preservation of the record and has thereby ensured that archival materials are promptly and systematically deposited with the archive. For the archivist, this is half the battle.
The great mass of archival material that comprises the Maisie Allen St. Paul’s Cathedral fonds now transferred from the Cathedral to the Diocese of Huron Archives is a tribute to her efforts in locating and preserving materials which might otherwise have been lost to history. I look forward to working with Maisie in the future as further materials are transferred to the diocesan archives.
John Lutman is archivist for the Diocese of Huron
Featured photo: Maisie Allen, archivist for St. Paul’s Cathedral, and John Lutman, archivist for the Diocese of Huron, unveil a plaque in the diocesan archives honouring Maisie
Below: The range of shelving in the Diocese of Huron Archives holding in part the Maisie Allen St. Paul’s Cathedral fonds.