Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Primary Source Mother Lode: The St. Francis Xavier University Online Archives

In the early 20th century, St. Francis Xavier, a small Catholic college in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, stood as one of North America's most innovative and active institutions working in support of cooperative development. Beginning in the mid-1930s, Roy Bergengren began corresponding with some of the leading lights at St. Francis Xavier (particularly Father Moses Coady), which led to a great deal of mutual influence between the American credit union and the "Antigonish" movements.

Given this history, I've been wanting to make a trip to Antigonish for a while now in order to dig through the Coady-Bergengren correspondence that is housed in their archives. Though such a journey remains in the realm of idle fantasy for the moment due to lack of funds, I was extremely excited today to discover that they have made a substantial chunk of their collection available to the public through an online archive!

After an hour digging through the site, I can safely say that it's a true treasure trove for credit union historians. Thus far, I've found old pictures, impossible to find pamphlets, and even some scanned versions of very rare credit union books (including one that I've been searching for fruitlessly for months: Bergengren's Soul -- expect a review in the near future :)). You can check out the full collection here; I'll conclude with a pair of choice photographs I stumbled upon in my browsing:

Roy Bergengren shows off the growth of the credit union movement, 1941

Roy Bergengren (L) receives an honorary degree from St. Francis Xavier, May, 1949

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