Title and statement of responsibility area
Archibald MacMechan fonds
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Dates of creation area
1909-[193-], predominant 1917-1918 (Creation)
- MacMechan, Archibald, 1862-1933
Physical description area
34 cm of textual records
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Archival description area
Name of creator
Archibald McKeller MacMechan, eldest son of Reverend John and Mary Jean MacMechan, was born on 21 June 1862 at Berlin (now Kitchener), Ont. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1880 with a BA and taught school in Brockville and Galt for the next two years. In 1886, he entered Johns Hopkins University where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1889. That same year he was appointed professor of English language and literature at Dalhousie University, Halifax, where he remained until retirement in 1931. In 1889 he married Edith May Cowan; they had three daughters: Jean, Grace and Edith. MacMechan served as council member, 1896-1911, and president of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, 1907-1910, and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, 1916. Following the Halifax Explosion of 1917, he was requested by authorities to prepare an official history of the explosion and was given the title of director of the Halifax Disaster Record Office, 1917-1918. MacMechan authored several books and wrote numerous articles, essays, and poems for newspapers and magazines. He died 7 August 1933.
The Halifax Disaster Record Office material kept by MacMechan was originally stored with the records of the Halifax Relief Commission, which were discovered at its former headquarters in the fall of 1982, and transferred to the Nova Scotia Archives. These MacMechan materials were them separated from the Relief Commission records and added to the existing MacMechan fonds. Likewise, the correspondence with D. C. Harvey was obtained by the Archives as part of the D C Harvey fonds and was subsequently added to the MacMechan fonds which originally consisted of some manuscript and printed materials related to MacMechan’s historical work whose provenance in relation to the Archives was unknown.
Scope and content
Fonds consists of records created and accumulated by MacMechan in the course of his employment at the Halifax Disaster Record Office, 1917-1918, including correspondence, copies of reports, memoranda, journals containing typed notes and press clippings, and personal reminiscences detailing events of the Halifax Explosion, including damages, injuries, and medical and relief activities. Much of the material was used in MacMechan's history of the explosion. Also contains draft manuscripts of MacMechan's history and related correspondence. Correspondence includes letters discussing D. Fraser Harris's publication of the medical history of the explosion. Fonds also contains notes, newspaper clippings, lectures, and other items pertaining to MacMechan's research and writings on Nova Scotia history, including ships, navy, Acadians, and St. Andrew's Church, Halifax.
MacMechan favoured the use of carbon copy paper which has become brittle over time.
Immediate source of acquisition
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Script of material
Location of originals
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Restrictions on access
Original material from Halifax Disaster Record Office closed for access. Use online digital copies.
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
Website for Halifax Disaster Record Office materials available.
Item listings are available for the D C Harvey correspondence the Halifax Disaster Record Office materials and MacMechan historical writing portions of the fonds
Correspondence from Archibald MacMechan and other items are found in the D.C. Harvey fonds. Records relating to MacMechan's professional activities may be found in the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society fonds.
Archibald MacMechan: Canadian Man of Letters, a biography by Janet E. Baker contains an extensive bibliography of MacMechan's work (Lockeport, Nova Scotia: Roseway Publishing, 2000). Formerly known as MacMechan papers.