Earlier this year, the United Farmers Historical Society (UFHS) acquired a significant donation of materials that belonged to Thomas A. Anderson, a U.F.A. member who served as Secretary for the Cardston District local in the 1920s. The archives was contacted by the family of the record creator who had kept these materials in their family for generations.
According to Lula J. Anderson, Thomas’s daughter, Thomas and his brother journeyed from Utah to Canada in a covered wagon, arriving in the Cardston area in 1897. Their father, Johannes Anderson, had arrived prior to then as one of the area’s first settlers and Thomas’s wife, Mary Jane, arrived with her family in 1892.
Thomas established a homestead in 1900 on 160 acres of land, paying $2.50 in property tax that year. He built the first fences just east of the St. Mary’s River and turned sod to raise potatoes which “grew flat in shape because of the heavy weight of the soil”. In 1912, the Anderson family moved into Cardston for the children to attend school, but continued to farm their homestead.
Thomas remained in Cardston for the duration of his life, passing away in April of 1948. The Anderson farm, which had grown to 320 acres, was deeded to his wife Mary Jane.
The donation to the archives included a bound ledger in Thomas’ handwriting with the minutes of the Cardston U.F.A. Local’s meetings for the years 1919 to 1923. The ledger also includes membership lists, financial statements, notes, receipts, and letters, some of which are written on Cardston District U.F.A. Co-operative Association letterhead.
In addition, there are panoramic photos of the U.F.A.’s annual convention for 1918 and 1920, as well as the annual meeting of United Grain Growers for 1921. The donation also includes various agriculture related booklets on irrigation, seeding and forestry published between the years 1898 and 1917. Some of the notable titles are “Forest Conditions in the Crow’s Nest Valley, Alberta” and “Canada Department of Agriculture Experimental Farm for the North-West Territories”.
These items were located in Utah, and to ensure that they could be sent through the mail safely, UFHS reached out to the Archives Society of Alberta to identify best practices for sending archival records through the mail. Most importantly was to ensure that the items were packaged properly and that there was a way to track the mail so the donation does not get lost.
Other tips and suggestions included:
- The ledger should be individually wrapped with bubble wrap.
- All items should be packed tight so there is no shifting inside the box.
- The outside of the box should be shrink wrapped prior to mailing to ensure that the items do not get water damaged. The shrink wrap should be poked with little holes to allow for some air flow.
- The box should indicate that there is fragile material inside.
The UFHS Archivist worked with the donor to communicate these packing tips that would help prevent any damage to the materials. We are happy to say that the items arrived at the archives safe and sound. They have been accessioned and described under the Thomas A. Anderson (Cardston U.F.A.) Fonds. The next step is to work on digitization and adding to our online database to ensure access to these important records.
The United Farmers Historical Society would like to thank Valmae Snow and Tina Smith, descendants of Thomas Anderson and Lula (Anderson) Snow, for their generous donation to the archives and the history and photographs they provided to use in this blog post.
If you have a donation that you would like to discuss, please contact email@example.com.