Dalhousie University Reference Collection

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Dalhousie University Reference Collection

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  • Textual record
  • Textual record (electronic)

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Physical description

40 m of textual records

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Administrative history

Dalhousie University’s first Board of Governors was based on the Board of Trustees formed by Lord Dalhousie in 1818 to oversee the building and establishment of his new college. Consisting of members from the Nova Scotia government and local religious leaders, these trustees formed the basis of the seven member Board of Governors incorporated in 1821.

Today’s Governors continue to act as trustees. The Board of Governors’ sphere of responsibility encompasses the entire university although it is primarily concerned with the university’s mission, assets, and advocacy. Although the Board of Governors is the university’s senior governing body, it works with the Senate and President of Dalhousie to manage university affairs. The Senate is responsible for the internal regulation and policies of the university while the President manages the general administration of the university.

Since its incorporation, the administrative structure of the Board has undergone many changes. For example, the original Board was dissolved in 1840 and reformed to facilitate the growth of the new college; further changes were made in 1848. In 1863, an “Act for the Regulation and Support of Dalhousie College” replaced all earlier statutes regarding the Board. Significant changes to the Board were also made under the 1935 Dalhousie Act which changed the way members of the Board were appointed. This Act also attempted to create a closer working relationship between the Senate and the Board of Governors.

Today, the Board of Governors has a membership of twenty-six people; they serve three year terms and meet on a monthly basis. The President of Dalhousie, the Mayor of Halifax, and the Chair of the Senate are ex-officio members of the Board. Students, alumni, and faculty are also allocated seats on the Board. The Board of Governors has eleven internal committees dedicated to specific areas of university affairs ranging in subject matter from staff relations to pension investments. In 1935 an Executive Committee was formed which has the power to act as the Board, in most regards, between meetings. The Steering Committee of the Board of Governors consists of the Chair, the Vice-Chair(s), the President, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer, and any other member appointed by the Board.

Past chairs of the Board of Governors include Lord Dalhousie (1818-1820); James Kempt (1820-1826); M. Wallace (1826-1836); Sir Colin Campbell (1836-1840); Lord Falkland (1840-1848); Sir William Young (1848-1885); Sir Adams G. Archibald (1885-1893); John Doull (1893-1900); John F. Stairs (1900-1905); Thomas Ritchie (1905-1908); George S. Campbell (1908-1929); G. Fred Pearson (1929-1932); Hector McInnes (1932-1938); James McG. Stewart (1938-1942); Lieutenant-Colonel K.C. Laurie (1942-1957); Brigadier H.V.D. Laing (1957-1959); Donald McInnes (1959-1968); A.G. Archibald (1981-1986); W. Struan Robertson (1986-1991); George C. Piercy (1991-1993); Allan C. Shaw (1993-2001); and James S. Cowan (2001-)

Over the years Dalhousie University’s Board of Governors has included many notable Nova Scotians including Joseph Howe, Charles Tupper, R.B. Bennet, and W.S. Fielding.

Custodial history

The materials in the collection come from a wide variety of sources and the custodial history of most of the materials is unknown. Dalhousie Alumni frequently mail yearbooks, convocation programs, photographs, and other materials related to Dalhousie University. Departments and Faculties across campus transfer miscellaneous material about Dalhousie that does not necessary belong with their records. If these materials are retained, they are invariably added to the University Reference Collection.

Scope and content

The collection contains a wide variety of printed materials created by or related to Dalhousie University, including convocation programs; university calendars; faculty, staff, and biographies; faculty and school histories; newspaper clippings; and many other materials related to the university. Materials span from the mid 19th century to the early 21st century.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


The collection is listed physically. Individual files are assigned subject headings to facilitate browsing and searching.

Language of material

  • English

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Restrictions on access

There are no access restrictions on this collection. All materials are open for research.

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

The University Archives is the repository for non-active records created by Dalhousie University's faculties, departments, and administrative offices. These records are organized into into various fonds in the University Archives record group ("UA"). See, in particular, the Board of Governors fonds (UA-1), the President's Office fonds (UA-3), the Senate fonds (UA-5), and the TUNS/DalTech fonds (UA-10). The scope and content of records from faculties and schools vary.

Related materials


Further accruals are expected.

General note

Preferred citation: [Identification of Item], Dalhousie University Reference Collection, MS-1-Ref, Box [box number], Folder [folder number], Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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

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