You are now in the Archives section of the site. Just like a real library, this section contains numerous documents, which are in fact exact copies of the documents found in the subsections of the main areas of the website, namely Contexts, Discovery, Aftermath and Theories. Here the items are organized by document type as they would be in traditional archives, rather than by theme.
The purpose of reproducing and organizing the documents here is to aid you in your research once you have gone through the rest of the site. Additionally, references at the bottom of each item will provide you with information about the library or collection in which it is located. At the top of each document the “About this Source” button links you to an explanation of exactly why and how historians use this particular type of source.
This site was designed as a “virtual library,” in the sense that a library is a place or building where various documents are collected, classified and preserved. These documents have much to tell us about our past, and constitute the basis for historical research. Without them, it would be very difficult to study and recount history. Several kinds of documents are found in a library. Archived items could come from a government service, a private company or an individual. In the same way, objects in archives can take different forms. Most archival collections are composed of traditional paper documents, such as government documents, court records, letters, newspapers and so on. But they can also contain photographs and maps.
Archives vary both in size and complexity. Private archives can be quite modest, while others, like the National Archives of Canada, are very large indeed. For example, along with millions of documents, the collections in Canada’s National Archives contain over twenty-one million photographs. This site is not that big and is not a library in the true sense of the term. Unlike a traditional library, the function of this site is not to preserve documents but to increase their accessibility. However, like a traditional library the site exists to give you the chance to read and analyze sources. Many of you would not have time to go around from one library to another. This is why we have literally brought the archives to you.
Nevertheless, though this site may seem vast and complex, it is important for you to realize that the documents here give only a very imperfect picture of Jerome’s story. The truth is that few period documents remain about this mysterious person. While nearly all of the published documents about Jerome are found here, just as many have disappeared. The authors of this site have searched through countless documents in a host of archives, such as the Centre Acadien at the UniversitÚ Sainte-Anne in Clare and the Provincial Archives of Nova Scotia in Halifax. They have also had access to several private collections on Jerome. The authors have chosen to include several hundred relevant documents, like photographs, newspaper articles, government documents and personal letters, in other words all the remaining traces of Jerome’s existence in the Maritimes.
We have had to deal with agonizing situations when certain descendants of families that had cared for Jerome chose not to share their private records with us. In a number of cases, we knew exactly what these people had in their possession, but since they were perfectly within their right to restrict access to what constitutes their family heritage, we simply had to accept it. In other cases, people simply refused to meet with us, because they consider, correctly, that Jerome’s story is part of their family’s private history. They don’t want their family heritage to become a public matter.
This site will give you some idea of what a historian or professional folklorist can feel about his or her sources. Frustrated by the disappearance of documents that have not been preserved from one decade to the next, he or she is forced to make up for “holes” in the sources, battling the lack of time and money in the search for information to fill the gap.
In sum, as you read these documents you will be examining sources that normally are hidden away in immense, complex collections in diverse archives in multiple locations. It is our wish that your research on this site will awaken a desire to pursue the questions that today are still unanswered. We hope this site inspires you to visit real archives one day. Below you will find a list of the principal archives that were consulted during the creation of this site. Till you have a chance to go there yourself, you can read the documents reproduced on the site in order to learn about the story of Jerome.