Exhibits and Digital Collections

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Historic cookbooks and cooking utensils in a glass display case
Explore highlights from our collections through physical exhibits and a variety of online venues.

We have fascinating collections, and we want you to enjoy them!

Through exhibits (curated selections of materials with some interpretive content), digitized collections (digital copies of our physical materials without interpretive content), and the occasional interactive activity, Archives & Special Collections strives to make its holdings accessible to the public in a variety of ways.

Digitized Collections

The vast and growing Southwestern Ontario Digital Archive (SWODA) at Leddy Library is the online home for digitized Archives & Special Collections materials with a connection to Windsor/Essex County, Chatham-Kent, and Sarnia/Lambton County. This includes a wide variety of Assumption College and University of Windsor publications, more general Windsor and region publications, as well as hundreds of historic images of this area found on postcards and photographs. Location information that cites "Leddy Library" or "Leddy Library Archives & Special Collections" tells you that the original is held in our vault.

To target your search, try the following:
  • SWODA Publications (regional and university publications including city directories, newspapers, yearbooks, academic calendars, and monographs)
  • SWODA Images (photographs, postcards, and ephemera)

Digital Exhibits and Online Projects

Materials held by Archives & Special Collections support a wide variety of interpretive projects created by students, professional scholars, and community members. Many of these are hosted by Leddy Library's Centre for Digital Scholarship, while others have homes elsewhere. Here we highlight a number of them:
My Star Predominant: Essex County's Raymond Knister

My Star Predominant: Essex County's Raymond Knister explores the life, death, legend, and written legacy of a modernist poet and professional writer from rural Southwestern Ontario. Some of the published works and typescripts featured are held in Archives & Special Collections. An original physical exhibit from 2005-06 (created by students in ENGL 26-305 under the supervision of Marty Gervais and Suzanne Matheson, in collaboration with Museum Windsor) was translated into this new digital form by Kawmadie Karunanayake in collaboration with Sarah Glassford, in 2022.

Michael Chekhov: The Actor is the Theatre

Michael Chekhov: The Actor is the Theatre is a digital exhibition featuring an archive of approximately 3,600 typewritten pages documenting Michael Chekhov’s work with the Chekhov Theatre Studio between 1936 and 1942, augmented by biographical information, photographs, and research guidance. The typewritten pages that form the core of the exhibit are held in Archives & Special Collections. Created by Lionel Walsh, Brian Owens, Peter Zimmerman, Pierre du Prey, Elena Reyes, Paulina Tobar, and University of Windsor Workstudy/Ignite students, 2010-2020.

William Cowper's Anatomy of Humane Bodies

William Cowper's Anatomy of Humane Bodies uses images and text to highlight fascinating elements of a seminal piece of medical literature first published in 1698 and the dispute over intellectual property that surrounded it. Created by Brian Owens, Kerry Kreelman, and Ana-Maria Staffen, 2009.

Assumption College: Through the Decades

Assumption College: Through the Decades provides an overview of the history of the University of Windsor's founding institution, 1857-1963. Lavishly illustrated and extensively researched, it draws heavily upon images and documents held in Archives and Special Collections. Created by Devon Fraser, 2021.

Public History: Southwestern Ontario

Public History: Southwestern Ontario is a public history digital archives project that showcases the work of students from the University of Windsor's Department of History. Created by students in HIST 497 under the supervision of Dr. Guillaume Teasdale and Dr. Adam Pole, in collaboration with Leddy Library's Centre for Digital Scholarship, ca. 2017.

The following exhibits feature materials held by Archives and Special Collections:

Breaking the Colour Barrier: Wilfred "Boomer" Harding and the Chatham Coloured All-Stars (1932-1939)

Breaking the Colour Barrier explores the history of race and sport in Depression-era Ontario through the story of the Chatham Coloured-All Stars, the first Black team to win a provincial Ontario Baseball Amateur Association championship (1934). The project grew out of a series of scrapbooks assembled by the familiy of team member Boomer Harding during the 1930s and later donated by them to Archives and Special Collections. Created by Miriam Wright, Heidi L.M. Jacobs, and Dave Johnston, 2017.

The North Was Our Canaan: Exploring Sandwich Town's Underground Railroad History

The North Was Our Canaan is the companion exhibit to a film exploring Sandwich, Ontario's role as a destination point for self-emancipating Black people determined to escape chattel slavery in the 19th century. Interviews, transcripts, raw footage, and associated materials from the filmmaking process were later donated to Archives and Special Collections. Created by Irene Moore Davis and Heidi L.M. Jacobs, 2020.

Windsor: Ontario's Gretna Green

Windsor: Ontario's Gretna Green is a digital exhibit exploring the role of Windsor and neighbouring Sandwich, Ontario as a destination for American couples seeking a quick, discreet marriage, between 1885 and 1913. Among the primary sources highlighted are marriage registers from St. John's Anglican Church held by Archives and Special Collections. Created by Katharine Ball, 2021.

Physical Exhibits

Archives & Special Collections regularly hosts small exhibits within our Reading Room. All are welcome to peruse them during our regular opening hours.

Current exhibits: Emancipation Day celebrations in Windsor; historic and/or obsolete office technologies; Assumption College & University of Windsor memorabilia.

We are also willing to loan items to other institutions for display in physical exhibits, provided the following criteria can be met: 

  • Items chosen for exhibit must by physically stable, and properly supported while on display. Items must not be bent, crushed, or distorted in any way. Nothing must be done to devalue the worth of the object.
  • The physical environment of the exhibition area must meet appropriate preservation standards. Specifically, the same standards concerning security, lighting, humidity and temperature within the Archives & Special Collections storage areas are to be maintained within the exhibition area.

Hands-On Activities

In April 2020, during the early days of the first COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, Archives & Special Collections celebrated Archives Week with a Historic Home Cooking Challenge. Try five authentic Second World War-era recipes from a cookbook in our collection for a (literal) taste of the past!

Contact Us

Interested in using our materials for an exhibition or digital project? Looking to access the originals of digitized materials you encountered online? Used our materials for a digital exhibit you think we should feature here? We'd be happy to hear from you.

By email:  archive@uwindsor.ca
By phone:  519-253-3000 ext. 3851
In-person:  Leddy Library (Main Building) basement, suite G-100
Send us a message