Primary contact571 Queen Street
Fredericton, New Brunswick
CA E3B 5C8
The idea of the York Sunbury Historical Society (YSHS) was sparked in January 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, when a letter was sent out by Martha J. Harvey to the people of Fredericton suggesting a historical society be organized. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Within two weeks, a society was formed, and by the end of 1932, there were 132 members.
The first meetings of the YSHS were held on the second floor of the Post Office on Queen Street, and shortly after the society received the first of many donations of its historical artefacts: A collection of pistols and guns as well as various other items from Major F.A. Good on April 11, 1932.
The Society was incorporated in 1934. Its structure and purpose are set out in the bylaws accompanying that incorporation. Its purpose was to discover and preserve the history and heritage of York and Sunbury counties. Its structure provided for a Board of Directors elected by the members at the annual meeting and for committees to deal with different aspects of the Society’s mission. Today, the Society still has some 130 to 150 members, each one committed to the original mission of the YSHS.
The Fredericton Region Museum (FRM) is a small, non-profit museum that was founded in 1934 by the YSHS. The museum had been housed in several different locations until 1959, when it moved into the Officers’ Quarters on Queen Street, Fredericton.
The FRM depends on its hard working volunteers, as it is a non profit museum with a small paid staff. Bob Guthrie, beginning in 1969, held the first full time paid position as a curator. Prior to this, the job of a manager was done on a volunteer basis or as a part time paid position by people such as Katherine Hale.
The first 6,803 items collected by the YSHS were logged in 11”x14” ledger books and numbered as they were acquired from 1 to 6,803 and in some cases subdivided by letters (a, b, c etc.). The numbers were sometimes written on the artefacts and/or attached with a tag. The ledger entries give the date, donor, item type and short description of the artefacts and several items can be cross referenced in the early Board Minutes. In some cases, it gives a narrative history of the artefact. The ledger books are interspersed with short local histories and biographies for the York and Sunbury Counties. The original ledgers are kept at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick (PANB) in the York Sunbury Historical Society MC300 Collection and copies are kept at the FRM.
In 1968, the YSHS realized that the archival collection was at risk in the Officers’ Quarter building and transferred most the paper artefacts to the PANB (see Appendix 1). The Society retains ownership of its archival collection and with a Board resolution can remove items from the archives. The archival documents are catalogued in the MC-300 York-Sunbury Historical Society Collection Finding Aid. Funded by an Employment and Immigration Canada grant, the finding aid was the result of hours of meticulous arrangement, description and indexing. Members of the staff of the York-Sunbury Records Indexing Project, such as Diana Moore and Patricia Tozer, assisted the production of the finding aid in its latter stages. Copies of the MC-300 finding aid are available on the York Sunbury website, at the FRM and at the PANB. As archival documents are collected, they are added to the MC-300 Finding Aid.
The YSHS archival collection were also be found in P4-2 York Sunbury Historical Society Photographs and P132 York Sunbury Historical Society II Collection, which is a combination of photographs and documents. Our Collections Manager and volunteer, Brian Hallett, combined these into the MC300 between 2010 and 2015.
The remaining artefacts at the FRM and were inventoried and re-accessioned in 1969. At this point, the Society members sorted the artefacts by type and accessioned each artefact with a 1969.##.# number. The majority of the FRM artefacts have the 1969 number despite being collected between the years of 1932 and 1969. Society members compiled Gift Lists that are organized in binders by last name and have been added to as items have been accepted into the collection.
Archival documents left at the Museum or collected / created after the initial transfer in 1968 have been moved to the PANB on an incremental basis.
The YSHS and Museum is an incorporated independent non-profit organization. A twelve member Board of Directors, including one representative from the city of Fredericton, governs the York Sunbury Historical Society, Limited.
YSHS board members are elected with the exception of the City of Fredericton representative who is appointed. The Executive Board is elected annually from the board members at the annual general meeting of the Society and are: the President, Past President, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Secretary and the Treasurer. The YSHS and Museum Executive Director is hired by the Executive Board and the President is the member of the Board to whom the Executive Director shall report.
The Building Committee is responsible for all recommendations to the Board relating to leasing, structural issues and renovations. The Executive Director shall be an ex-officio member of the committee.
The Executive Director is the chief operating officer of the FRM, is responsible for the operation of the Museum’s programs and works with the Building Committee and the Province of New Brunswick’s Department of Supply and Service and Historic Places Section of the Provincial Heritage Branch to care for the needs of the building.
The Collections Committee shall provide recommendations to the Board of Directors on all matters relating to the Society’s collection including but not limited to care and conservation, budget and policy matters and other duties as may be assigned to it by the Board. The Executive Director and YSHS President shall be an ex-officio member of this committee and shall provide recommendations to the Collections Committee in matters pertaining to the collection.
The FRM collection consists of artefacts, archival records and archaeological material that represent the archival, material and cultural history of central New Brunswick, as well as selected non-New Brunswick material acquired for comparative study. The collection does not include historic buildings. The collection includes the artefact holdings of furniture, decorative arts and technology as well as aboriginal, military, medical, archaeological artefacts, archival photographs and papers, books and textiles.
Development of the collection will meet both the immediate and long-term objectives of the FRM. Development will build on strengths and address weaknesses of the collection as assessed by the Collections Committee, and will take into account current and future projects and needs. Strategies will include both planned and opportunistic approaches.
In developing the cultural history collections, the principal objectives are to acquire and preserve
Artefacts produced in central New Brunswick
Artefacts used in central New Brunswick but made elsewhere
Artefacts not made or used in central New Brunswick but related to York and Sunbury Counties, the province, collected for special study, exhibit and educational use
The York Sunbury Historical Society through its Collection Management Committee will strive to collect items or groups of items that contribute to a coherent collection. Above all the collection is designed to interpret and illuminate the nature of community in the York Sunbury Region.
The YSHS will pay attention to significant groupings or clusters of artefacts that may become available. In these instances, the integrity of these collections must be maintained and the objects kept together as a complete unit.
In planning additions to the collection, the human and financial resources required to care for and document the artefacts are important determining factors. The conservation requirements of artefacts proposed for addition to the collection must also be considered.
The availability of important artefacts can seldom be planned and prompt action is often necessary when discoveries are made.
Given the considerable size of the York Sunbury Collection, the Society must exercise great care in selection of additions.
Only small percentages of the artefact holdings are now, or will be in the future acquired by direct purchase.