Western University HistoryWestern Social Science

Michelle A. Hamilton

- Associate Professor
- Director, M.A. Public History Program

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PhD, University of Western Ontario, 2004
Telephone: 519-661-2111 ext. 84973
Email: mhamilt3@uwo.ca
Office: Lawson Hall 1223
Office Hours: Winter 2014 Mon. 3:00-4:30


Research Interests

Professor Hamilton is a Public Historian whose research focuses on historical and contemporary issues surrounding museums and heritage, social memory and commemoration, cultural identity and issues of representation, usually in regards to Aboriginal peoples in Canada.


Major Research Projects

I am currently co-writing a biography of Dr Oronhyatekha, one of the first Native doctors in Canada, possibly the first Native individual to establish a museum in Canada, and the Supreme Chief Ranger of the international fraternal insurance company, the Independent Order of Foresters. Well known in the nineteenth century, his memory has faded outside of the First Nations community. My co-author is Keith Jamieson, the curator of the exhibit Mohawk Ideals, Victorian Values: Oronhyatkeha, MD, shown at the Woodland Cultural Centre and the Royal Ontario Museum. Our biography will be published by Dundurn Press.

As a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Guelph (2005-08), I began researching the enumeration of First Nations and Métis people in Canada, particularly the links between census-taking, race, and the regulation of Aboriginal communities by the Department of Indian Affairs. This SSHRC-funded research is ongoing and forms a part of the 1871 and 1891 Census of Canada projects at the University of Guelph.

I am also part of the Franz Boas Papers Documentary Editing Project which aims to recontextualize the Canadian fieldwork of this noted anthropologist and to intellectually repatriate knowledge to First Nations communities represented in that fieldwork. The team is funded by a SSHRC Partnership Grant, by the American Philosophical Society which holds the Boas papers, and the University of Nebraska Press which will publish the approximate 25 volumes.


Select Publications

Monographs

Book Cover(2010) Collections and Objections: Aboriginal Material Culture in Southern Ontario. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

(2015) Franz Boas as Public Intellectual:  Theory, Ethnography, Activism. Eds. R. Darnell, M. Hamilton, R. Hancock, J. Smith. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2015.

Book Chapters

"'An expansive archive…not a diminished one':  The Franz Boas Documentary Edition Project." Franz Boas as Public Intellectual:  Theory, Ethnography, Activism. Eds. R. Darnell, M. Hamilton, R. Hancock, J. Smith. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2015.

(2011) With K. Inwood. “The Aboriginal Population and the 1891 Census of Canada,” Indigenous Peoples and Demography: The Complex Relation Between Identity and Statistics. Ed. P. Axelsson and P. Sköld. New York: Berghahn Books.

(2008) “Borders Within: First Nations and Anthropology in Victorian Ontario.” Lines Drawn Upon the Water: The First Nations Experience in the Great Lakes Borderlands. Ed. K.S. Hele. Aboriginal Studies Series. Kitchener: Wilfrid Laurier Press, 191-204.

(2006) “Iroquoian Archaeology, the Public and Native Communities in Victorian Ontario,” Historicizing Canadian Anthropology. Ed. J. Harrison and R. Darnell. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 65-74.

Journal Articles

(2008) “‘Anyone not on the list might as well be dead:’ First Nations and Enumeration in Canada, 1851-1901," Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 19: 57-79.

(2007) With R. Woods. “‘A Wealth of Historical Interest:’ The Medical Artifact Collection at the University of Western Ontario,” The Public Historian 29, 1: 77-91.

(2006) With S. McKellar. “Learning Through Objects: Development of the UWO Medical Artifact Collection as a Teaching and Research Resource,” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 23: 219-40.


Awards and Distinctions

2013 SSHRC Partnership Grant for the Franz Boas Papers Documentary Editing Project

2013 SSHRC Connection Grant for the Annual Meeting of the National Council of Public History/International Federation for Public History

2012 Finalist, the Speaker's (Ontario Legislature) Book Award for Collections and Objections

2012 Community Service Learning Grant, UWO

2011 Clio (Ontario) Prize Winner for Collections and Objections from the Canadian Historical Association

2011 Chalmers Award Winner for Collections and Objections from the Champlain Society

2011-14 SSHRC Standard Research Grant, for Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian Census research project


Public History Experience

Since 1993 I have worked at various museums across Canada, including the Museum of Ontario Archaeology (London), the Aylmer and District Museum, the Woodland Cultural Centre (Six Nations of the Grand River) and the Glenbow Museum (Calgary), in curatorial, interpretative, and collections management capacities. Between 2008-11, I sat on the Material Culture Committee of Museum London. Between 2010-13, I sat on the Board of Directors of the National Council on Public History, co-chaired its 2013 Annual Conference Program Committee, and currently chair its Professional Development Committee. I have also acted as a consultant or contract researcher for organizations such as the JP Metras Museum at Western, the Ontario Heritage Trust, and the C.A.V. Barker Museum of Canadian Veterinary History at the University of Guelph.  With Prof. Shelley McKellar, I currently manage the Medical Artifact Collection at Western. I am also a member of the Academic Sub-Committee for the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, the London Heritage Council Board of Directors, and the Fanshawe Pioneer Village Planning Committee and its Board of Directors.