The Volunteer Touch

Image: Handwritten recipes from Betty Welter fonds (from SPRA 129.07.01)

Like many other non-profit organizations, the South Peace Regional Archives relies on thousands of hours of volunteer support in order to achieve our mission. While we have spent much of the past year closed to our in-person volunteers, they have been actively giving their time and expertise to expand the reach of the Archives from their homes.

One time-consuming but valuable task is transcription. The featured artifact is one of many handwritten recipes preserved in the Betty Welter fonds (fonds 129), and transcribed by volunteer Suzanne Dunn along with a writing portfolio and a Brownies & Rangers Handbook from the collection. Another recent transcription task includes Randy Repka’s transcription of the Argonauts’ 1910-1915 cashbook; the digitized cashbook and Randy’s transcription are now both available on the Argonauts Ltd. finding aid. Volunteers receive a copy of the artifact to be transcribed, and despite coffee rings, tears, ink spills, or small cursive writing, make these valuable documents accessible to the public. Once transcribed, the documents are typed and saved on our server. Some transcriptions are available on our website. Transcription and uploading records to our website makes our collections accessible to people across the globe, at any time. Our website now has searchable databases, extensive finding aids, and links to photographs available on Alberta On Record. These resources are continuously being updated and expanded upon, so check back often!

Image: Argonauts Cashbook with transcription (From SPRA 357)

Although the duties of our volunteers vary widely, all their support is valuable and appreciated. Some volunteers worked on research guides from home, wrote articles for Telling Our Stories, proofread publications, or assisted with reference material collection. Others helped decorate and deliver our Heritage Holiday trees to various locations, allowing people who might not otherwise see archival photographs to engage with the past. Most years, we show our appreciation of our volunteers with a brunch party during the winter holidays. Because of gathering restrictions, we had to improvise; each volunteer received a “party in a bag,” a gift bag with a SPRA calendar, a variety of snacks and beverage mixes, an archival themed face mask, and hand sanitizer. While we missed their smiling faces and jolly company, we hope they enjoyed their gifts. Despite a year of challenges and road blocks, our wonderful volunteers have made the past year a lot more bearable!