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Description found in Archives

8th Earl of Elgin - Public Life [textual record (some microforms), graphic material, cartographic material] 

Series consists of


1819-[1863], predominantly 1846-1854

Place of creation

Various places

1.153 m of textual records.
6 microfilm reels.
5 prints : lithographs.
4 drawings.
5 maps.

Scope and content

This series encompasses the Canada-related correspondence and records retained by James Bruce, Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, on his departure from office in 1854, plus a number of items accumulated over the next decade through his interest in and role as an advisor on the affairs of British North America; the albums of cuttings from newspapers and other periodicals; and a small quantity of art works produced under his patronage. The original organization of these records remained readily recognizable and has been preserved to the fullest possible extent, with due attention to maintaining the ability to match the original documents to the microfilm copies. The order of the material remains essentially as established during Elgin's tenure as Governor-in-Chief of the Province of Canada and Governor General of the provinces of British North America. Within this hierarchical structure, correspondence with imperial authorities formed the highest level, followed by correspondence with diplomatic colleagues, then communications with fellow governors, the Commander of the Forces and the Admiral on the Atlantic station, politicians and officials within the colony, and individuals. The official Despatches and parallel series of Private Letters exhibit neatly segregated sequences of those received and (drafts or copies of) those sent. The original structure of his communications with diplomatic personnel remained largely intact; items rarely appear astray from their proper location. However, the original organization of the remaining official correspondence has been significantly compromised. The essential key to understanding how and why correspondence appears in one sequence and not another lies in recognizing the "responsibility centre" principle underlying the classification. The despatches and the private letters were exchanged with the Colonial Secretary rather than with the individuals occupying that office. Lord Elgin's despatches and letters to the Colonial Secretary reported WHAT HE DID as Governor-in-Chief administering the Province of Canada and as Governor General promoting inter-colonial collaboration across British North America. His correspondence with the British Legation at Washington, with fellow governors and the Commander of the Forces as well as with officials and individuals within the colony demonstrated HOW HE accomplished things.

Graphic (art)
90: Open
Cartographic material
90: Open
Textual records
90: Open
Textual records: microform
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.