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News from Elgin County Museum 2013

Artwork by WM Bell- Smith Frederic Marlett Bell-Smith, Alma College Art Students, Eva Brook Donly, Marilla Adams, and Cornelia Saleno at work in the college's art studio, STEPAC

This Fall, 2013, September 9th through December 20th, go "back to school" at Alma College as the Elgin County Museum celebrates the cultural impact of this private ladies College with the exhibition, Alma College and the Forging of Canadian Culture 1880-1939. Paintings by artists such as W.M. Bell-Smith, William "St. Thomas" Smith, Lila McGillivray Knowles, and George Reid will feature alongside archival photographs, work by graduates Eva Brook Donly and Carolyn Curtis, and memorabilia tracing Alma College's evolution from a provincial Ladies College in 1880, to a vibrant centre of arts education and cultural life for the region.

Mike Baker Curator,
Elgin County Museum
519-631-1460 ext. 159

Archives facilitated a second printing of the Alma College History book - "All the Girls Have Gone" It can be purchased through the Alumnae or at the Elgin County Archives or Museum for $30 plus shipping.

Alma College Archives: Elgin County Archives Report, 2011/12

The Elgin County Archives is the place that houses all the photos and records that the Alumnae saved from Alma.

Any of you who may have Alma items, however trivial they might feel to you, when you decide you no longer want them, please get in touch with Stephen Francom (see below) or anyone at the Archives, to arrange a donation. I often get calls from children of former Alma students who have passed and the children want to know if we want Alma items. Let your children or family know that they should contact the Archives - say so in your Will!

The Archives also needs financial support to take care of our history. They have scanned most of the Alma photos they have (you can see them online). Almafilians have also been scanned. Many documents are listed online and they welcome your enquiries any time. The environment is controlled and it costs them about $25 a year for every box of ours that they have stored. A donation of $25 or more will receive a tax receipt if requested.

2011 Activity: The Susan Butlin Book "All the Girls Have Gone" was the main event in 2011. A group of Alumnae created a Committee and raised over $6,000 to have Alma's History completed. Those 200 books are now sold and we are considering whether to have a second printing. The Archives folks (Stephen in particular) were instrumental in the production/reference aspects of this book.

A 50th Anniversary Alma Medal was donated to the Archives. This particular medal was given in 1927 to a Daisy Davis (later Lipsey), an 1896 Graduate of the Music Program. Donated by her great niece, Carolyn Cameron of London.

In June Mr Tokuda visited from Japan (a sort of pilgrimage) to see the place where his Mother, Machico Nasu (1930-31) and his sister Hiroko Tokuda (1955-56) went to school. He was able to find photos and documents relating to their time at Alma!

A 1950s Alma blazer with several pins and crests was donated by Marg Scott McLeod.

Contact info:
Stephen Francom, Archivist/Manager
Elgin County Archives
450 Sunset Drive, St. Thomas, ON N5R 5V1
519-631-1460, ext. 127 or sfrancom
(Go to Search & read instructions - it's worth your while)

Elgin County Archives Publishes Alma College Images on Photo Sharing Site

In November 2009, Elgin County Council authorized county staff to use online social networking media to promote County events, programs and services.

In late January 2010, the Elgin County Archives published content on in an effort to distribute selections from its photograph collections and information about its resources, activities, programs and services to a wider and more diverse audience, and to take advantage of the interactive features of this service to encourage users to develop a greater awareness and appreciation of, and involvement in the resources, programs and services provided by the Elgin County Archives.

Use of online social networking media is becoming increasingly widespread and conventional, so much so that public service institutions and organizations not taking advantage of such services risk isolating themselves from contact with a significant and steadily increasing segment of their potential client base. Library and Archives Canada has had a flickr presence since 2008, and the National Archives of the United States is making extensive use of flickr as part of its outreach strategy. not only enables account holders to publish photographs online for an international audience and to organize and present this material in unique and effective ways, but also allows users of the service to interact with published content by appending comments and subject-identifiers or “tags”, and to distribute content to a still wider network of users by downloading and sharing images with friends and colleagues, by linking to content from their own websites and blogs, and by including images (with attribution) in published articles and books. To date the Archives has published approximately five hundred images and accompanying metadata from its photograph collections on its flickr site, including six themed galleries or “sets” featuring images documenting the history of Alma College: from the page cited above, click on the “Collections” link and then on the Alma College collection icon.

We welcome public participation in this project. Alumnae can contribute in several ways:

Post a comment or add a descriptive tag. You are encouraged to comment on or add a tag to any Elgin County Archives image you see on Simply log in, navigate to the pertinent image and follow the instructions on the page. Use the commenting feature to correct or embellish the information currently associated with a photograph for example, you may be able to identify people shown in the image.

Send an image to a colleague or friend. Images on may be shared with others, for a research project or personal interest. Log in, navigate to the image(s) you would like to share, and follow the instructions on the page.

Link to images from another Web site. Bloggers and web site developers are encouraged to share our images with others by linking to Elgin County Archives photo collections, sets or specific images.

Stephen Francom, Archivist/ Manager
Elgin County Archives
(519) 631-1460, ext. 127

How the Archives and Relics were Saved

In late 1997 a group of Alumnae investors committed to preserving Alma College purchased Alma's remaining chattels and memorabilia. Steve Peters, the Past Mayor of St.Thomas and Past Archivist for Alma College, generously offered us an empty office at City Hall for storage of the archives retrieved from the College. When Steve was elected to the Provincial Government, we moved the archives to other temporary storage until a permanent home could be found.

At the 2002 reunion, the alumnae voted to transfer the archives to Elgin County Museum, at 450 Sunset Drive in St. Thomas, Ontario. This location secured the archives in a permanent home so that Alma's rich history can be preserved for future generations. We thank the many volunteers who sacrificed their time to first move the Archives to temporary storage, then search out a suitable home, and especially to Mary Virginia Towers for overseeing the final move.

The Elgin County Archives now has a specific collection called the Alma College Records. Their website has a dedicated web page for Alma, which talks about the first 50 years of Alma College: History, Academics, Sports, Social Life and Residence. The Elgin County Archives is also home for the Scott-Sefton collection. There is a link within the Alma College description to view a selection of Alma images from the Scott-Sefton Collection. In addition, the Centennial Book is now available to download chapter by chapter.

The grand opening of the Alma College Collection on March 5, 2004 received local press coverage in the London Free Press and the St. Thomas Times-Journal.

How are the Archives Funded?

The Elgin County archivist at the time, Brian Masschaele, applied for and received a government grant to help with the cost of processing the Alma Collection. The grant, along with alumnae donations allocated to the archives over the past five years, have assisted the preserving of our Archives.

Alumnae who wish to donate to the Archives, and receive a tax receipt may do so by sending a cheque payable to Elgin County Archives re: Alma College Collection and mail to: 450 Sunset Drive, St. Thomas, ON N5R 5V1.

The Relics Need a Home

Once the Elgin County Archives selected items to be added to the Alma Collection, there were still several items that remain. We have affectionately called them the Alma Relics. At present, the Relics do not have a permanent home and are in storage. The goal of the Archive Committee is to raise enough funds to sort and display these valuable and sentimental items.

Alumnae who wish to donate to the Alma Relics, may do so by sending a cheque payable to: Alma College International Alumnae Association re: Alma Relics and mail to: PO Box 8084, London, ON N6G 2B0.