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Archives: An Integral Part of My Life

Archives have been an integral part of my life since 1966 when I began researching my family tree. From that modest start, I have gone on to become an acknowledged expert in several areas of Newfoundland history and genealogy. I have written numerous articles for various books and magazines and presented many papers and lectures. My first book on Newfoundland history will be published next year; another has already been researched. Several others are in the planning stages. I was only able to do this because there were numerous archival collections available to me, not only in Newfoundland, but also throughout Canada and the world. In sharing the results of my research, I have been able to inform and encourage others. I developed an even stronger appreciation of the immense value of archives, and was led to create several other archives. I have set up or helped to set up several museums. I have become an active member of many local, provincial, national and international heritage and history organizations. I have had the opportunity to help celebrate important historic events in our province. Through my research, I have also been able to give back to archives by sharing information I have gathered.

It is not sufficient just to have a facility that collects and stores documentary evidence of our past. For that past to live in the present, archives must be well-resourced with knowledgeable staff and state-of-the-art preservation and retrieval systems. In this way, archives become inviting, user-friendly facilities, appealing to a broader audience at home and abroad. I am just one of thousands of people who use our archives on a regular basis both for my own enjoyment and in an effort to celebrate our rich, unique culture and traditions. But without that first tentative visit to an archive, I would never have developed that interest nor made whatever contribution I may have made to a better knowledge and understanding of who we are and what events have shaped our lives and communities.

John F. O'Mara
Retired Broadcasting Administrator
Public Historian
St. John's, NL
September 16, 2004

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