Julia Hendry, head of Archives and Special Collections at the Wilfrid Laurier University Library, passed away on April 3 after a courageous battle with cancer.
As well as an accomplished archivist, librarian, researcher and teacher, Hendry was a cherished co-worker who fostered strong relationships across the Laurier community.
“Julia was a beloved colleague, a bright light, talented, excellent and always forward-looking – truly one of those people who touched so many lives at the university in such a meaningful and profound way,” said Gohar Ashoughian, Laurier’s university librarian.
“Her leadership of the Laurier Archives was always focused on making strong connections with donors, faculty, students, administrators and community to highlight and celebrate Laurier.”
Hendry earned an Honours BA in history from Queen’s University in 1996. Her passion for archives began with a co-op placement in the Rare Books Division of the National Library of Canada, now Library and Archives Canada, while completing a master’s degree in library and information science at Western University.
– Gohar Ashoughian
Upon graduation, Hendry was hired by the University of Illinois at Chicago as an assistant special collections librarian and rose to the position of university archivist. She also worked with the records of social support organizations such as Hull House and the Chicago Urban League. Engaging with this type of material was rewarding to Hendry, who throughout her career and life engaged with issues of social justice and was drawn to documenting people and issues under-represented in archives. At Laurier, for example, Hendry was actively engaged with decolonizing the academy, which she viewed as essential work, and was instrumental in organizing the “The Land We Are” initiative that explored local Indigenous history.
In 2010, Hendry and her husband, Tom Perrin, moved to Waterloo, where she had accepted the position of head of Archives and Special Collections at Laurier. She hit the ground running and made the university archives a key resource for Laurier’s centennial celebrations in 2011. In the years that followed, Hendry demonstrated leadership and vision: she helped expand the scope of the archives collections; enhanced collection-management and access systems; furthered the digitization of the archive collections; and sought funding and built partnerships internally and externally.
During her time at Laurier, Hendry was active in the life of the university community, serving on numerous committees and as a member of Senate. Externally, she was involved with a variety of local organizations, including the Waterloo Regional Heritage Foundation. She was also an active member of the Association of Canadian Archivists and the Archives Association of Ontario. Throughout her career, however, Hendry especially cherished the time she spent inspiring students and researchers to work with primary sources.
Hendry leaves behind her husband, Tom Perrin, and sons Benjamin, 13, and Elliott, 10, as well as her extended family and many friends and colleagues at Laurier and in the broader library and archives community.