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Spring/Summer Hours: We are open by appointment only Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm. To schedule an appointment, please email your request to asc@torontomu.ca or fill out our appointment form .

Canadian Fashion from the 60s, 70s and 80s on display

Style changed forever in the 1960s (and we’re not just referring to the hemlines). Space-age design met space-age fabrics, many of which are still in use today: polyamide, polyester, acrylic, polyvinyl, and spandex to name a few. These are laboratory-brewed fibres, extruded through spinnerettes in liquid or molten petro-chemical streams. These were cheaper and more versatile than many of the natural fibres used in clothing up to this point.

The dresses currently on display in Special Collections each use an unexpected fabric to achieve their look, whether it is the plasticized cloth of this shiny-copper mini-dress, the silver lurex suit with multicolored threads from the disco-influenced 70s, or the 100% silk power suit from the 80s. Visit Special Collections today to see these fashionable fabrics produced by Canadian designers.

The dresses in this exhibit were taken from the Fashion Research Collection at Toronto Metropolitan University, a collection of costume items, accessories, flat textiles and paper patterns donated to the School of Fashion for use in teaching and research. The collection consists of about 4,500 items of mid-twentieth century men’s, women’s and children’s clothes and accessories and illustrates many of the social, cultural, technological and economic influcences on style made or worn in Canada. It contains designs by leading Canadian figures such as Beate Ziegert, Ira Berg and Pat McDonagh, as well as internationally famous names such as Sonia Rykiel, Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, Givenchy, Diane von Furstenberg, Perry Ellis, Laura Ashley, Thierry Mugler and Valentino.  There are also pattern and reference books, magazines and articles which are not duplicated in the Ryerson Library catalogue, making this a rich and valuable resource for fashion education.

Parades and Picnics from Ryerson’s Past!

It is almost that time of year again…time for Ryerson’s parade and picnic.  The annual event has students marching down Yonge Street to catch the ferry for a day of music and fun on Toronto Island.  In honour of this rite of passage for all Ryerson students, please enjoy this selection of images of parades and picnics from decades past.

Cameras beyond Kodak

The Kodak Canada Corporate Archives & Heritage Collection cameras are still on display in our summer exhibit on the 4th floor, but in today’s post we’re thinking outside the little black box. Although Kodak was easily the most popular camera manufacturer of the 20th century, and their products form the bulk of our camera collection, there were and are still other mass-market brands. One such company was Ernst Leitz, GmbH, located in Wetzler, Germany.

Leitz opened for business as an optical manufacturer called Ernst Leitz Optische Werke, an appropriate start for a brand that would become known for producing photographic lenses that rendered even small negatives sharp and clear. Their improved lenses allowed the Leica camera to use 35mm film, then the common gauge for motion picture film. Although 35mm stock was readily available to be chopped up as still film, the Leica was the first camera to make enlarging those small frames with clarity possible. Most consumer film cameras today use some variation of the Leica camera body design, spreading rolled film across the camera horizontally, from left to right and rewinding from right to left when each frame has been exposed. Add to these innovations a self-capping shutter that ensured an even exposure and it is easy to see why this portable, professional camera brand became the gear of choice for documentary photographers.

Leica IIf, ca. 1953-55, Heritage Camera Collection (2005.006.13.02)
Leica R4, 1981, Heritage Camera Collection (2005.006.13.01)

References:

Leica illustrated guide / by James L. Lager. Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. : Morgan & Morgan, [1976, c1975].

Jason Schneider on camera collecting : a fully illustrated handbook of articles originally published in Modern photography. Des Moines, Iowa : Wallace-Homestead Book Co., c1978-c1985.

Disney, Michael (2001). The Leica and the development of the modern 35mm camera. Retrieved July 22, 2011 from Eight Elm Photo & Video website:

Feature from the Collection: The Wellesley Hospital School of Nursing

The Archives latest acquisition is The Wellesley Hospital School of Nursing collection.  Donated by their Alumnae Association, this collection includes such wonderful items as a scrapbook from World War II, photographs of almost every graduating class, uniforms and a beautiful silver tea set.

On the left is Linda Cooper Wellesley ’68 – Associate Director, Collaborative Degree Program Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing and on the right is Shirley Heard Wellesley ’62 – Alumnae Association President. Also in the picture is a small part of the collection now housed in the Toronto Metropolitan University Archives. Photo courtesy of University Advancement.

The Wellesley Hospital officially opened on August 27, 1912 – with the Nursing School starting the same year.  The first class of graduates left the school in 1915.

The School graduated its last class in 1975.  Two years previous, the Ontario government mandated that nursing schools be taken out of the Hospitals and placed into Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology.  The Wellesley school was moved to Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, along with the school’s from Sick Kid’s Hospital and Women’s College Hospital, and amalgamated with Ryerson’s School of Nursing.

The following are some photographs of items in the collection. Stay tuned for further blog posts on The Wellesley Hospital School of Nursing collection as we come closer to their 100th Anniversary in August of 2012.

Feature from the Collections: Summer Fashions

Special Collections staff recently stumbled upon this gorgeous photograph of a lady relaxing in a hammock during a late 1890s summer and wanted to share. Knowing how warm our Ontario summers can be, we can’t help but feel thankful for our own more comfortable options for summer attire.

This unidentified amateur snapshot showing a woman relaxing outdoors illustrates how helpful it can be to have changes in clothing trends to consider when attributing a date to an image. In this case, the large puffed sleeves are a clue to the date of this photograph. According to the historical fashion online resources provided by the Vintage Fashion Guild:

“[In 1890-1900] with the decline of the bustle, sleeves began to grow and the 1830s hourglass revival was well underway. Sleeves ballooned to proportions never seen before or indeed since – reaching their height in 1895-96.”

The size and shape of the photograph itself can also help narrow down a time period for an image. In this case the somewhat rectangular shape of the print rules out the very early circular images produced by the No. 1 Kodaks, and the popular Brownie models produced in the 1890s tended to make square pictures that were a bit smaller. Our best guess is that the 10.3 x 12.9 cm picture might have been produced by the No. 4 Bullet Special Camera, produced between 1898-1900 and thereby giving us our “circa 1898” attribution.

Woman Reclining in Hammock, ca. 1895 (2008.001.212)

References:

Dressedforthephotographer : ordinary Americans and fashion, 1840-1900 / Joan L. Severa. Kent, Ohio : Kent State University Press, c1995.
http://catalogue.library.ryerson.ca/record=b1235603~S0

Vintage Fashion Guild. (n.d.) Fashion Timeline:1890-1900. Vintage Fashion Guild Resources. Retrieved July 22, 2011 from http://vintagefashionguild.org/fashion-timeline/1890-to-1900/

No. 4 Bullet Special Kodak Camera at Historic Camera’s History Librarium. Retrieved July 22, 2011 from http://www.historiccamera.com/cgi-bin/librarium/pm.cgi?action=display&login=no4bulletspecial

Cameras on display in Special Collections

Taking a vacation this summer or just dreaming of one? Either way you can fantasize about the lovely pictures you’d take with one of the cameras on display in Special Collections. Visit us on the 4th floor of the Ryerson Library this summer to see a rotating display of cameras from the past.

First up: Kodak through the years, featuring still and motion-picture cameras from the company’s early years right up to the Advantix point and shoot system popular in the 1990s. Film projectors like the Kodascope (see below), are also on display.

The Kodak No.1 Brownie camera, ca. 1900-1916 Kodak Canada Corporate Archives & Heritage Collection (2005.001.7.005)
Kodascope Model B 16mm film projector, 1927-1929 Kodak Canada Corporate Archives & Heritage Collection (2005.001.7.166)
Kodak Retinette 1B, ca. 1959-1963 Kodak Canada Corporate Archives & Heritage Collection (2005.001.7.055)
Kodak Vigilant Junior Six-20 camera, 1940-1949 Kodak Canada Corporate Archives & Heritage Collection (2005.001.7.043)
Instamatic 154, ca. 1965-1968 Kodak Canada Corporate Archives & Heritage Collection (2005.001.7.125)

Feature of the Week: Communist Leader Nesting Dolls

Russian nesting dolls (matrioshka) are hand-crafted, hollow wooden dolls of increasing size that fit inside one another. The name originates from the Latin root word mater (mother) and it is generally accepted that the dolls were originally a symbol of motherhood and fertility, with the smaller “children” fitting inside the outside mother doll. While the concept seems to have originated in China, they have been a craft tradition in Russia since the end of the 1800s. The Russian version of the dolls were introduced to the world at the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris and have been symbolic of Russia in the global mindset, and a popular souvenir, ever since.

Gorbachev, with Brezhnev nested inside. Leniniana Collection, Special Collections (2008.005.104)

The form of the nesting doll has been used to market figures from pop culture, including the Beatles and Star Wars characters, and not surprisingly, it has also used the likenesses of political figures. This week’s feature is a distinct cultural form of the matrioshka, depicting the leaders of the Communist Party in the U.S.S.R.

Stalin & Khrushchev. Leniniana Collection, Special Collections (2008.005.104)

Propaganda was used in virtually every aspect of life in the U.S.S.R. and visual representations of party leaders appeared on all manner of materials. As evidenced from Special Collection’s Leniniana artifacts, heroic likenesses of party leaders were reproduced on posters, plates, sculptures, toys and even embroidered onto looms.

Gorbachev, Brezhnev, Khrushchev, Stalin & Lenin.  Leniniana Collection, Special Collections (2008.005.104)

The matrioshka photographed for this blog appears to have been produced in the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and may be taken as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Communist cult of personality rather than an example of heroic leader imagery. Whatever its context, the style of this matrioshka would not have been out of place among the earlier artifacts in the collection.

It all comes down to Lenin. Leniniana Collection, Special Collections (2008.005.104)

For more information or to see more artifacts from the Leniniana Collection, contact asc@ryerson.ca to make an appointment, or drop by our reading room on the 4th floor of the library.

Sources:

DeLaine, Linda. “Matryoshka – Soul of Russia.” Russian Life. N.p. 2007. http://www.russianlife.com/article.cfm?Number=196 . 20 April, 2011.

Name the Dog Contest – And the winner is…

After 3 weeks of submissions and much debate by our panel of judges:

The second runner up in our contest is Debra-Jo Sujka of the Library.  She submitted the names Victoria and Gould for the location of the library where the dogs are now housed.

The first runner up is Deanne Wright in the Registrar’s Office. She submitted the names Mente and Artie – for Ryerson’s Motto “Mente et Artificio” (With Mind and Skill).

And the winner of the Toronto Metropolitan University Archives Name the Dog contest is……………………

Daisy and Risis submitted by Marion Sharp of Human Resources.

Marion selected the name Daisy after Ryerson’s first general purpose computer – An IBM 360-model 30 christened DAISY ( “Direct Access Information System”). Its functions were varied and included student registration, payroll, grade reporting, library circulation control, academic support and student directories.

Marion also chose the name RISIS, after the Ryerson Integrated Student Records System. This system was designed by Ryerson for maintaining student record information.  RISIS II was implemented in 1984. In 2005 the RISIS system was replaced by Peoplesoft.

Thank you to all the people who submitted names for our contest.

Butterflies in Special Collections

Photographs from Flora and Flutterbyes: Nature as Inspiration and Decoration currently on display in Special Collections, April 21 – June 8, 2011. Specimens courtesy the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory.

The Ulysses Butterfly on green turf in the display case.

The idea for the springtime butterfly theme emerged from the same cocoon as another great exhibit idea: the Ryerson student-curated “With Us at Every Age: Selected Animal Photographs from the Mira Godard Research Centre” (runs April 13 – May 7, 2011 at the IMA Gallery as part of the CONTACT Photography Festival). The student exhibit explores human-animal relationships through photography, and it includes the traditional and heart-warming portraits we expect to see of people and pets (cats and dogs included), but also draws attention to some of our more irrational relationships. The exhibit invites us to consider our creation of rare to absurd animalia: a toy stork in a children’s window display or a bear rug on a wall, and shows us images of aging with pets (and pet-themed ceramics). The use of photography as the medium works to both invite the viewer into these intimate worlds, yet provides a safe distance from which to consider the animals we have not treated so well.

For all the birds, reptiles and mammals that are showcased, we couldn’t help but notice a distinct avoidance of that other class of animals we see daily: insects. Though hardly the type of creature to develop a lasting bond with, these misunderstood and sometimes repellant animals also inhabit our homes and inform our relationships with each other. In some cases, as with the butterfly, the insect is seen as a source of inspiration and enjoyment. The butterfly’s colours are copied for our clothes, its pattern in flight informs our social graces, its taste for the most vibrant and delicate flowers expresses a certain model of femininity, and its ability to withdraw from the world and transform helps us describe our desire for second chances. The butterfly is so familiar, but unlike the subjects in “With Us at Every Age,” how many have we ever seen? Using both photography and preserved specimens, we invite you to browse the 4th floor display and be inspired by nature.


The butterfly specimens were borrowed from the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory, where at least 2000 free-flying tropical butterflies and moths are on exhibit throughout the year. Bred in Costa Rica or the Philippines, these vibrantly-coloured species metamorphose on arrival in Canada inside equally colourful chrysalides (also know as pupae), and flit about their business in an indoor rainforest as part of an effort to preserve butterfly populations through a sustainable form of agriculture. Here they offer us a fascinating look at the incredible variety of species in the wild.

The Ulysses Butterfly (left) and Blue Morpho see from both angles (dorsal – purplish colouring / ventral – spotted brown)
The Monarch Butterfly, the most familiar butterfly in Canada.
A Clipper Butterfly on green turf in the display.

Feature of the Week: The Titanic underwater

In 2005, Ryerson Library Special Collections received a substantial donation of audiovisual material from Dr. Joe MacInnis.  For 30 years, the Canadian physician and explorer has studied the human effects of working deep underwater and has organized dives in the Great Lakes, the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Arctic Ocean.

In addition to being a medical consultant to the US Navy, contributing to the development of Canada’s first ocean’s policy, working with the construction team on the world’s first undersea polar station (the Sub-Igloo) and leading the team that discovered the HMS Breadalbane and filmed the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, MacInnis helped lead the filming of history’s most famous shipwreck, the Titanic.

MacInnis made two dives to the bow and stern of the Titanic between 1985 and 1991, and was co-leader of the two million dollar project to film the ship in IMAX format.  In 2005, he joined James Cameron on a dive that produced a 90 minute live broadcast from some of the last unseen rooms of the ship.

The donated collection includes; 804 videocassettes, 144 sound recordings, 11 motion pictures, and 3 video reels.  As the centennial anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic approaches, Special Collections has been working on digitizing and cataloguing the collection to preserve the many hours of original raw footage, and newscasts about the pioneering dives.

To view some of the digitized files, make an appointment at Special Collections by sending an email to: asc@ryerson.ca. For more information on MacInnis, check out these library sources:

MacInnis, Joe, 1937- Title Breathing underwater : the quest to live in the sea / Joe MacInnis. Publisher Toronto : Viking Canada, c2004.

MacInnis, Joe, 1937- Title Fitzgerald’s storm : the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald / Joseph MacInnis. Publisher Toronto : Macmillan Canada, c1997.

Sources:

Still images from: “Titanic d edit left #2 [unedited]” Invisible Media, c. 1991 MacInnis Audiovisual Collection, Toronto Metropolitan University Library Special Collections.

Dr. Joe MacInnis: Physician, explorer, motivational speaker and author. Dr. Joe McInnis, n.d. http://www.drjmacinnis.com/. 17 Mar. 2011.