The many shades of information professions…..

Many information professions exist for future generations besides the traditional, stereotyped librarian.  (Please do not get me started on a rant against the new Pearl Vision  naughty librarian  eyeglass commercial.)

Many professions require astute  information professionals who mine for nuggets of info for the betterment of others.  Stuart Manson is one such fellow.

Meet Stuart.  See his use of information.  Research, Stuart, research.

I work for a historical research company , Public History, working under contract on projects for clients.  As a project manager, researcher, and analyst, an average day can involve many tasks. For instance, meeting with project teams conducting research under my direction, planning research and project workflows, conducting research at local archival institutions, analyzing documents, quality control tasks with document databases we produce, or writing reports on historical events of interest to the project. Because I am also a part owner of the company, my day can also entail marketing, preparing proposals, and dealing with HR issues. I’m also responsible for the corporate library.

Many of our projects involve litigation. For example, a First Nation sues a government over an alleged historical grievance, they (the government) contract-out the research and other associated work tasks to us. Or, vice versa, a First Nation hires us to gather historical information on a potential land claim.  The tools we use vary because the research can involve government documents dating from as early as the 17th century, to e-mails and electronic documents from two years ago. Most often, we use archival inventories, collections descriptions, finding aids, file classification system manuals (old and new) and databases to identify potentially relevant material. Then we review that material which can be in its original paper format, or on microform, or scanned images.

Historical research is the foundation of most of our activities. History is important because in Canada, many grievances involving Aboriginal people were not fully addressed in the past. For a while, First Nations were not even allowed to hire lawyers to pursue grievances. Thus the government and the courts have allowed the consideration of these historical issues, which may originate from events occurring decades or even centuries ago. The historical research is evidence-gathering. Instead of fingerprints and DNA samples, it’s letters, ledgers, maps, account books, legislation and a host of other types of old documents.

Our clients benefit from our research in that after we conduct the research, we scan and organize the relevant documents in databases which the lawyers can use to organize their own legal strategies, to produce the documents the courts require them to share with opposing counsel, etc. The narrative reports we prepare, based on the documentation, allow the lawyers to quickly get up to speed on the major events and chronology of the issues.

A common type of project is an Indian reserve surrender – the formal release of Indian land for sale. We’ll examine whether the surrender was conducted in accordance with the established rules, whether the land was sold properly, etc.

While we specialize in Aboriginal issues, we also work on non-Aborginal projects. We’re able to easily transition those research and analytical skills to a variety of different subject matter.

In addition to being a researcher with a red cape,  a former classmate, fellow University of Ottawa alumni, Stuart  is also my cousin and the son of a school librarian…it runs in the blood,  I guess.