The first Mechanics’ Institute was founded in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1821 to provide technical education to working men. In Halifax, the Acadian Recorder of December 24th 1831 published an invitation to members of the recently founded Halifax Mechanics’ Library and others to gather on December 27th to consider the formation of a Mechanics’ Institute for Halifax. The Halifax Mechanics’ Institute was formed and adopted as one of their objects the “accumulation of models and apparatus” to promote the diffusion of knowledge. Both a Journal, that recorded the meetings of the Institute, and an Inventory, that recorded the objects and specimens presented to the Institute have survived.
The Journal, 1831-1846, includes minutes of the public founding meeting of the Mechanics’ Institute, general and annual general meetings including the names of presenters, the subject of their presentation, and lists of items donated to or purchased by the Institute. The Journal is held by Nova Scotia Archives.
The Halifax Mechanics’ Institute Inventory contains an inventory by C Creed of apparatus and specimens held by the Mechanics’ Institute in 1839 and a list by Errol Boyd, curator, of items presented to the Institute’s Museum between 1847 and 1860. The Inventory is held by the Nova Scotia Museum. Much of the Institute’s collection seems to have been lost when the Institute ceased operating in the 1860’s although some of the collection was eventually transferred from Dalhousie College to the Provincial Museum, founded in October 1868.