Dalhousie University Institute of Public Affairs fonds

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Dalhousie University Institute of Public Affairs fonds

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  • Textual record

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Physical description

19.7 m of textual records and other material. - 7 photographs. - 10 audio reels

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Archival description area

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Administrative history

The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) was founded in 1936 by Dr. Lothar Richter and Dalhousie University through a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation in recognition of the need for more economic and social support during the Depression. Initially, it was considered an experimental organization, intended to unify Dalhousie University with the community in respect to public policy and social science and to achieve greater regional economic and social development. The four main activity areas of the IPA were government, business, labour, and community, with a special focus on public administration.

Dr. Guy Henson became the director in 1957 and was given a mandate to reorganize the IPA. Under his guidance, the Institute broadened its research programs concerned with socio-economic programs. The IPA became deeply involved with the Africville Relocation Project and began to do significant work in the field of labour-management relations.

Kell Antoft succeeded Henson as director in 1977, a position he held for five years. In 1980, the Institute moved into its own building, the Henson Centre, named in honour of the efforts of the former director. In 1984, the Henson Centre, the IPA, and the Office of Part Time Studies of Extension were amalgamated to create Henson College of Public Affairs and Continuing Education. Funding for Henson College was discontinued in 1993 by Dalhousie University, which led to a decrease in the College's activities. As a result of this loss of funding, Henson College was amalgamated in 2003 into the College of Continuing Education (CCE). The CCE does not necessarily carry on the work and missions of the IPA or Henson College, and therefore should not be considered a newly named version of either organization. However, it is the sole remaining institution that arose from the work performed by its predecessors.

The Institute of Public Affairs maintained its own library, which supported the needs of its staff in addition to the public. The holdings totalled more than 18,000 items, which covered topics such as economic development, local government, industrial relations, management development, and labour organization. Beginning in 1984, the Institute's library was gradually integrated into Dalhousie University Libraries.

Custodial history

The records remained in the custody of the Institute of Public Affairs and its affiliates until it was transferred to the Dalhousie University Archives in various stages. Donald MacLean (an affiliate of the Institute of Public Affairs) transferred materials in accessions dated 1981 and an unknown date. MacLean and other affiliates transferred additional records in 1989, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2010, but not all of the records from those accessions are described in this finding aid.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of textual documents created and accumulated by various groups and organizations within the Institute of Public Affairs/Henson College. Documents include articles, correspondence, minutes, memos, newspaper and magazine clippings, interviews, field notes, pamphlets, and reports. Many of the documents pertain to the internal operations of the IPA.

The fonds also contains research proposals and reports related to energy, community growth, urban and rural development, labour studies, education, economic and industrial development, the medical sector, and housing. There is significant work on the status of African Nova Scotians in the employment and economic structure of Nova Scotia and the health of people in the Maritime provinces.

The fonds also contains reference material kept by the IPA in its corporate library, which was used in the research and drafting of various reports.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


On a wide-scale basis, materials originally filed together were separated on the basis that they belonged to different series that we had identified in our arrangement structure. Such series are subject-based. This was done in order to make the materials of the collection more accessible to researchers.

Language of material

  • English

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Restrictions on access

The bulk of the materials are open. Some administrative files are closed and a few files from different studies, especially the Africville study, are closed since they include personal information.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Materials do not circulate and must be used in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room. Materials may be under copyright. Contact departmental staff for guidance on reproduction.

Finding aids

Associated materials

See also the Kell Antoft fonds (MS-2-743) and the Guy Henson fonds (MS-2-373).

Related materials


Further accruals are possible, but not expected.

General note

Preferred citation: [Identification of item], Dalhousie University Institute of Public Affairs/Henson College fonds, UA-26, Box [box number], Folder [folder number], Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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This fonds description comes from the Dalhousie University Archives Catalog. The complete, original description is available there.

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