The HWDSB Educational Archives acts as a resource and museum for school memorabilia, artifacts, photographs, documents and other items for Hamilton and Wentworth County schools dating back to the mid 1800s. It is one of the largest repositories of its kind within Canada, and a testament to the dedication of staff, students and members of the public to preserve the history of education in Hamilton and surrounding areas.
Please visit our pages to learn about:
Address: 465 East 16th Street (Hill Park Learning Centre), Hamilton, ON L9A 4K6 – Directions
Phone: 905.527.5092 ext. 4585 | Email: [email protected]
Manager: Hal Hillgren
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Hours: Public visits can be arranged by appointment via phone or email.
NOTE: THE ARCHIVES DEPARTMENT IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR STUDENT TRANSCRIPTS. PLEASE CONTACT THE STUDENT RECORD DEPARTMENT FOR ASSISTANCE: CLICK HERE FOR STUDENT RECORDS
The Hamilton Board of Education established the Archives in 1988 as a place to house and preserve their growing collection of vintage minute books, documents, student records and other significant historic artifacts . When the Hamilton and Wentworth County school boards amalgamated in 1998 to form the HWDSB, the Archives grew to include the records and memorabilia of almost 350 former and current WCBE schools.
Since then, the Archives has developed into a more formally structured environment, maintaining residence in multiple facilities, starting with the former Ainslie Wood Vocational School, followed by a nearly 20-year period in the former Vincent Massey Elementary School on Macassa Avenue. Today, the Archives are located in the Hill Park Learning Centre, in a newly renovated facility designed with long-term preservation in mind. Day to day operations are handled by Manager Hal Hillgren and a diligent volunteer group of over 20 members.
Here are just a few of the services we can offer to schools, organizations and individuals:
- Research Requests: Members of the public wishing to gain information into a family member, ancestor or their own records can contact us with Research requests. For further information, please see our Research page. Please note that we do not retain transcripts. For those requests, please contact the Student Records department instead.
- Collecting Memorabilia: When a school is deemed surplus or otherwise set for closure, proper planning is undertaken by the Archives to meet with staff and arrange a visit to ensure the retrieval and storage of historically significant items for inclusion in our collection.
- School Reunion Assistance: Schools within the HWDSB are invited to contact us for assistance when planning for upcoming reunions and anniversaries. In most cases, we are able to provide historical information on opening dates, former staff lists, and general school history. We can also provide temporary loans of artifacts and memorabilia in our collection for display at the event.
- Outside Assistance: Over the years we have established working relationships with many outside organizations, such as the Ontario Genealogical Society, the Hamilton Mountain Heritage Society, and the Special Collections department of the Hamilton Public Library. Outside groups are more than welcome to contact us with any research or information questions that may be relevant to our holdings.
- Accepting donations: Despite first impressions, many of our most valued artifacts and memorabilia have come from personal donations, rather than directly from schools. If you have items from your school past that might be appropriate for our collection, please visit our Contact page.
If you’re in need of further information regarding historical information for Hamilton and the surrounding regions, be sure to visit the following links:
I’d like a copy of my transcript – do you have it?
The Archives does not retain student transcripts. Former students requiring transcripts who’ve graduated recently can contact Student Records.: https://www.hwdsb.on.ca/cce/hwdsb-student-records/
I’m looking for class pictures or yearbooks from when I was a student. Do you have them?
Maybe! We try to retain copies of both items whenever possible, but in many cases with former schools, items were often lost or discarded, and what remains is often down to the foresight and planning of select individuals. In the meantime, we work hard to collect, save and preserve what we can, and thanks to the efforts of our staff and the public our collection continues to grow, so there’s always a possibility for something new turning up.
I’m looking for information on the schools I attended. Do you have this?
We are generally able to provide basic information such as school histories, staffing, opening/closing dates, etc. Please note that while our collection is extensive, it is by no means complete, and on occasion we simply do not have the requested information available.
I have historical items (photos/media/documents/artifacts/etc) from my time as a student/teacher – can I donate them to the Archives?
By all means! We’re always open to donations of relevant items that can be integrated into our existing collections. In addition, if you have items that you feel we might be interested in but that you’d still like to retain, we can make copies or scans for ourselves.
Are there items that the Archives wouldn’t want?
Occasionally, we do get items that are deemed superfluous or irrelevant to our criteria. This could include artworks from schools that are commercial reproductions vs original works, candid photos of students with no I.D. and/or visible connection to a specific school or photos/media too damaged to decipher or preserve. Generally speaking, if you have an item and aren’t sure, please contact us first and we can come to a decision.
Do you loan items out?
On a case-to-case basis, yes. General loan requests include Alumni reunions or school anniversaries and closing ceremonies. For individuals, we generally offer copies/scans of items vs loans, depending on the material in question.
I’m interested in volunteering – how can I apply?
We’re always happy to meet with people interested in volunteering. For more information contact us by phone or email.