If you’re been up to the 4th floor of the library and peered into Special Collections, you may have seen this funny creature sitting in the corner and wondered: “What the heck is that?”
Well, that’s Max, a larger version of the plush Kodak Kolorkins toys, produced by Kodak from 1988 until the later 1990’s. Beginning in 1988, Kodak Canada began giving away the tiny, stuffed promotional toys away in exchange for mailed-in points that customers collected from film and batteries. The promotion was wildly popular, and by the time the first promotion was over, they had given away 225,000 toys and were recognized as runner up in the Council of Sales Promotion Agencies’ first “Awards of Excellent”.
There were three series of Kolorkins, and our friend Max (along with his friends Click, Zoom, Check and Digit) was part of the last series, produced in 1999 as part of Kodak Canada’s centennial.
If you’d like to visit Max, or explore more of our collections, please drop by Special Collections, located on the 4th floor of the library building, or make an appointment by emailing email@example.com.
“The Awards for Excellence.” Adweek’s Marketing Week 12 June 1989: p12+. Academic OneFile. Web. 30 July 2015. URL http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA7694025&v=2.1&u=rpu_main&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=c3942ee28e69dc4ec3ca77e9effae9a0
“Kodak unveils promo series.” Chain Drug Review 17 June 1991: 158. Academic OneFile. Web. 30 July 2015. http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA10958413&v=2.1&u=rpu_main&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=d90584f76f2719b2adfdc837671b8318
“MARCH OF THE KOLORKINS.” Toronto Star, Feb 20, 1989. http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/435873367?accountid=13631.
To round out the month looking back at the creation of the Archives, We have discovered the first Archives report dated June 29, 1971.
It was interesting reading for Archives staff as it answered questions about the collection and how it was filed and stored. It also delves into the beginning of the retention of objects as a way to preserve Ryerson’s history along side the textual and published materials.
To view the report click on the picture below:
We encourage you to stop by Archives and Special Collections and take a walk through Ryerson’s history.
For the month of August, Archives and Special Collections will blog bi-weekly with points of interest from our collections.
This week we look at documents connected to the birth of the Archives at Ryerson.
In 1970 Ryerson Polytechnical Institute invited Professor D. McCormack Smyth to conduct a study of the structure of government at Ryerson. The Smyth Commission Report was published and its 7th recommendation was the creation of an institutional Archives.
On November 11, 1970 Ryerson President Donald Mordell sent out the following memo to all Deans, Chairmen, and Department heads.
On November 17, 1970 Mordell sent the following memo to Jim Peters, a professor in the Department of English:
The Archives was officially established in 1971 as a special new department associated with the Library. Jim Peters was appointed Ryerson’s first Archivist.
To learn more about Ryerson’s History – visit Archives and Special Collections.
Over the past twenty years with the transition into a digital world, the way we collect, view and capture photographs has changed. Gone are the days when each of our snapshots took a physical form and held value in the time and money it took to create it. With digital technology offering high quality images with the use of a cell phone, and the cost of storing those images continuously decreasing, the decision to make and keep an expansive collection takes little deliberation. For those of us who were around to watch the transition from analogue to digital photography formats, we can still remember the days when that push of a button created a real object that held our memories and could be kept as a souvenir for the years to come. So how do we care for and ensure the longevity of our shoe-boxes and albums of prints combined with our hard drive of digital images?
Analogue photographs, whether developed in a drug store or printed in a dark room, are far from permanent. In fact, if your photo collection is anything like mine, the majority of those photographs are probably colour 4×6, Polaroid, or photo paper print. These colour prints are actually at a higher risk of fading than your great grandmother’s old silver gelatin black and white prints. In fact, if you go take a look, they are probably far from the way they looked when you got them already. This is why, if you want those pictures of you as a kid or your wedding day to be around for your grandchildren and great grandchildren, your best option is to re-capture them digitally.
Digitization doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can be time consuming. Deciding to digitize is the first step, but depending on time, technical know-how, digital storage capacity and available equipment, executing your digitization plan can take a variety of forms.
Ideally, for long-term preservation, scanning is the way to go. A good scanner can provide you with high quality images that will allow you to view, print and display your family photos however you choose. Depending on the type of photographs you have (especially if there are negatives or slides in your collection), you may need a scanner capable of transparency scanning. A good scanner goes up in price pretty quickly, but there are other options. For instance, the Toronto Public Library has Digital Design Workstations equipped with Epson scanners that can be reserved for two hours at a time to help get you through that shoebox or two in your closet. Software such as PhotoShop, EPSON Scan in professional mode, or SilverFast will provide you with all the settings you need and usually come with the purchase of a scanner.
Essentially, the settings you will be looking for include things like Document Type, Image Type, Resolution and Image Format. Features such as batch scanning that speed up the process by allowing you to select and scan more than one photograph at a time are also something to look for. Generally, the auto settings of the scanner should work fine, but you will want to ensure a resolution of at least 300 dpi/ppi with 24-bit colour RGB depth and that you are saving in TIFF or JPEG format. Make sure you are working with a clean scanner and have dusted off your photographs to prevent it from appearing in your digital image and avoid timely editing later on.
If you are really concerned about capturing the colours of your photograph as accurately as possible, the FADGI Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials reviews how to scan a photograph for conservation and long-term preservation, and cover topics such as using a colour reference target, preparing your viewing environment, monitor calibration, spatial and signal resolution, colour gamut, colour mode, colour space. Generally, for heritage preservation the recommended pixel array is 4000 pixels along the longest dimension of your photograph. So if you are scanning a 4 x 6 inch print, your spatial resolution should be set to (4000 ppi ÷ 6” =) 600 dpi/ppi.
If a scanner is out of your budget, and your local library doesn’t have scanners for public use, you might want to consider the option of re-capturing your photographs in a digital format. This can also be as simple or complex as you decide to make it.
Just as easily as your cell phone helps you capture everyday moments, it can also help you digitize your family photograph collection. Although there are apps like CamScanner, that can help edit a poorly captured reproduction, use these as a last resort or when time is limited, as they will likely provide you with low quality and slightly distorted images. Whether using your cell phone camera, a digital point-and-shoot, or a professional digital camera, here are some things to think about before creating a digital version by re-photographing that old family photo:
If the size of your original photograph is information you find valuable in its preservation, include a ruler or other measurement scale in your image.
Other information about the photograph, such as geographical location where the image was taken, or the names of its subjects, that you do not want to lose can also be included in the frame of your new image.
Place photograph on a solid grey background, use an easel or copystand if available.
Use a tripod (and a release cord if possible) or other steadying device to prevent blur from occurring in your digital images.
Line up the frame of your digital image with the frame of the photograph.
Try to ensure each corner of the original photograph appears as a right angle in your viewfinder to prevent distorted imaging.
Be aware of light and shadows. Optimally you will want to set up two lights, the same height and distance away and on either side of the photograph to ensure even illumination.
Additional light sources can help prevent shadows caused by curling or frames.
Preserving your family photograph collection doesn’t end with digitization. To ensure that your memories don’t get lost in a sea of desktop files or become an obsolete file format, you will need to maintain and follow a system. Organization is key in the prolonged care of both physical and digital photography collections.
An effective and easy way to start thinking about how to organize your digital images is to picture their file structure like a hierarchical tree:
Choose file names that will make your images easy to search so that they won’t be hard to find when you need them, and save in formats that you know you will be able to access in five years (e.g. JPEG, TIFF). Keep a backup (or two!) on a cloud or an external hard drive, so that if something should happen to your computer and your files are destroyed, you will always have another copy. Set a reminder to update your backup weekly, monthly, or yearly depending on how many pictures you’re taking and if possible, store the backup at a different location.
A rule of thumb is that generally photographs like to be stored in the same environment that people like to be in. A cool, dark place with about 40% relative humidity is ideal, so it is best to avoid storing your prints in a damp basement or humid attic. Also remove any potentially harmful storage materials, such as glassine, which has been a popular material for photo sleeves.
If your prints are in a shoebox you’re on the right track, but ideally it is best to store them in a material less acidic than cardboard to ensure they will not be subject to the harmful results of off-gassing. To prevent any warping it is best to lay them flat, and in case there is any adhesive, try to separate each print with Mylar, acid-free paper, or acid-free tissue. House them in individual sleeves, envelopes or enclosures to protect them from handling and changes in the environment.
Albums can also be a great place to store photographic prints, but you need to be careful that you are using a photo-friendly style of album. Avoid self-adhesive albums! These albums can destroy the image of your photograph and speed up deterioration. If you have some of these already in your collection, you may no longer be able to remove your prints without causing them serious damage, in which case digitization is your best bet for image preservation. If you are creating a new album here are some best practices to follow:
Use photo-corners to attach prints to the pages. This way, only the corners will touch adhesive, and not your prints. Should someone want to remove the print from the album they will be able to do so with little to no damage to the object.
Use acid free paper. This will delay deterioration such as silver mirroring and fading.
Separate the prints so they are not stored facing each other. Some albums are sold with acid free tissue in between the pages that will do this for you. If you are using a binder, you can also do this by inserting each page into a Mylar (Polyester) sleeve.
Avoid writing directly onto your prints. If you have information to include about the subject of an image, inscribe this on the space surrounding your print. Inks can bleed or gradually discolour your images.
Other notes on preserving your family photographs
Negatives and transparencies
If you have negatives interfiled with your prints they can also benefit from re-housing and separate enclosures. Acetate negatives in particular might be something you choose to digitize, as they are prone to vinegar syndrome, a form of deterioration that can only be delayed by freezer storage.
Undeveloped rolls of film
If you have undeveloped rolls of film that you’ve been meaning to process, but haven’t got around to, sooner is better than later. Just like your prints, film is subject to natural deterioration that may have already distorted your undeveloped images. Also, your opportunity to have someone else print them is quickly diminishing as the onset of digital takes its toll on commercial printing businesses.
In celebration of the Wellesley Hospital School of Nursing Alumnae Association’s 100th anniversary, the Archives focuses on the Alumnae Association and its members serving at home and overseas during World War II.
The Wellesley Hospital School of Nursing had graduated twenty-five classes at the time World War II was declared in the Fall of 1939. Like their nursing sisters before them (8 of 10 members of Wellesley’s first class of graduates served overseas in World War I), Wellesley Alumnae continued the tradition with many enlisting to serve in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps., the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the Royal Navy during World War II. They served in hospitals and casualty clearing stations in Africa, Italy, England, and France between 1940 and 1946.
When the Association’s collection was donated to the Toronto Metropolitan University Archives in 2011, included was a scrapbook compiled by Grace Bolton, member of the Alumnae Association’s executive, that spotlights the Association’s activities here at home. In it are pages detailing the Association’s activities which included the mailing of care packages to Nurses serving in the Military and alumnae serving overseas in non-military capacities during World War II.
There are also letters from a variety of aid organizations such as the British Minesweeper’s Auxiliary, Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve Ladies Auxiliary, and the Navy Knitters thanking the Association for their knit and monetary donations. The British Minesweepers Auxiliary supplied the wool for the knitting projects – blue or grey.
These are just some examples of what the Association was doing on the home front. They also hosted fundraisers, and sent money to support schools in England.
The scrapbook also contains letters and airgraphs home from the people the Alumnae Association sent care packages to. The boxes contained everything from cheese, crackers, and chocolate to silk stockings, bobby pins, powder puffs, and sanitary napkins – all items that weren’t readily available in Europe because of the on-going war and rationing. These letters, at times light and fun and at others introspective, give the reader an idea of life serving as a woman and a nurse in the Canadian Military in a theatre of war. Another interesting aspect of the letters is that they are free of censoring. Every piece of mail sent home went through a censor board – leaving some letters marked with black or having had sections cut out.
This letter was written by a Wellesley Alumnus who was living in Ireland. This section of letter touches on the rationing that was taking place in Europe and here at home in Canada.
“The box as soon as ever it arrived – such variety too. We see very little “candy” on account of the sugar rationing. Eggs too are rationed. Bobby pins are very scarce + the new biscuits are all made with the dark flour. So you see your box is really a great treat – on the whole we aren’t a bit to be pidied [sic] for if we don’t get one thing like sugar, we get golden syrup or something to make up.”
She continues in her letter to describe what she has been doing.
“I too have been busy at our First Aid Post here. I am at present running a Home Nursing Class on Monday nights & on Friday nights a first aid class. I am in charge of “The Post” & attend for “exercises” or blitz turn-out.”
This second letter is from a Wellesley Alumnus enlisted with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (R.C.A.M.C.) stationed at #7 Canadian General Hospital in Taplow, England at the time the letter was written. She writes about all the great things sent over in her box including Modess – a brand of sanitary napkins. (RG 946.01.03.01.26)
“Of course, I was tickled to also find Kleenex and Modess in the box. I know they seem like funny gifts but we all have to get them from home.”
She goes on to talk about her leave, taken in Scotland between Christmas and New Year’s.
“We also visited Dunrobin Castle – the home of the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland, half of which they have turned into a convelescent military hospital. It’s beautiful – sits on a hill overlooking the sea – in Sutherland-shire. Dunrobin, by the way, is the castle which Goering said was going to be his summer home after the Germans had conquered England. Some hope eh?”
The third letter is from a Wellesley Alumnus enlisted with the R.C.A.M.C. stationed at #1 Canadian General Hospital in Horsham, England at the time of writing. It is actually an Airgraph – which was a letter that had been photographed, shipped as a negative, and printed out as a photograph and mailed to the recipient. In her airgraph she writes about the package sent and Christmas at the Hospital.
“My dear Grace – You can’t imagine how thrilled I was with that gorgeous box that arrived to-day. I just stood and gazed at it. It was so beautifully wrapped and packed, and all the marvellous things in it. Really you have all put a lot of thought, time and effort into packing these boxes and it is indeed appreciated. But Wellesley was always noted for doing things in a grand way. People are always admiring my identification bracelet. We had a good time in the hospital – a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, even ice cream. The Red Cross ladies brought xmas stockings filled with cigarettes, candies, socks, etc which the boys loved. The Wards were all decorated & each one had a xmas tree. In the afternoon there was a picture show & evening a concert so the lads all went to bed like tired little boys.”
She continues on to describe the hospital’s set up and to complain about the lack of trained orderlies:
“We have quite a nice Hosp. & well equipped, but few orderlies with much training. I asked the Registrar one day why the scores of trained men in Mil. Hosps in Canada…he said that the Hosps wouldn’t release them. Seems were not sent over. A very peculiar attitude to take toward the fighting forces, doesn’t it, for when the time for action comes, it is trained people we shall need. Each ward is a separate hut with 40 beds, but we often have to put in extra beds. 3 stoves provide sufficient heat & we have good floors – battleship linoleum. Each hut has a pantry, 2 bathrooms, 3 toilets, a sluice room (service room in Canada), linen room & an office. The huts are placed opposite each other on either side of a covered runway. The administrative offices, stores, main linen room & main kitchen quarters and the personnel are all located in different parts of the hospital area. There is a huge vegetable garden and quite a nice little flower garden. Two chapels – Prot & R.C…”
The fourth letter, also an airgraph, is from a Nursing Sister enlisted with the R.C.A.M.C. and stationed in a military hospital in Sonderwater, Transvaal, Africa. She thanks the Alumnae for the package and its hard to get items like kleenex and Kotex.
“Dear Miss Bolton: The lovely parcel arrived today and was there a variety in it? The kleenex and kotex both were especially acceptable since they are almost unobtainable here. Also the bobby pins are very scarce. The eats are very acceptable and we are going to start on the cheese tonight. It is my favourite brand.”
She goes on to describe the set up of the hospital where she is serving, and the weather in Africa.
“I have just finished a term of night duty as night supervisor which was a very posh job. The buildings (wards) are all separate so you see there is lots of walking as there are seventeen of them but the weather was simply lovely and I enjoyed it ever so much as I didn’t mind all the walking. We really haven’t had a hot summer here this year. Last year at Durban we came off duty ringing wet and they say it is just as hot this year down there. It was also hot here last year but something must have happened to the weather man and I hope he makes the winter just as mild. We have only had a fair amount of rain too. But you should see the rain here – it isn’t any of that nice mild rain we get at home but deluge type.”
Near the end of her letter she talks about re-signing up and the hopes for the war’s end:
“We signed for service anywhere in the world today so I would get a thrill if I could move to a distant part again and I am concentrating on it to see if it will do any good!!! Some of our first group have gone up north the luckies. I hadn’t intended staying another year at first but after a spell of homesickness at Christmas time I got over the feeling and when the contracts came out I signed as by that time everyone was beginning to think the war would be over this year. So here’s hoping.”
The fifth letter, written on official R.C.A.M.C. letterhead, is from a Nursing Sister stationed at #18 Canadian General Hospital in Cherry Tree, England. She starts her letter by thanking the Alumnae for the box she received.
My dear Grace, Please thank the Wellesley Alumnae for the most beautiful parcel. I received yesterday. I did not think it was possible to get such a varied assortment of good things in Canada now. Stockings, cake, candy, tooth powder and brush, soap, gum and a can of steak and onions which I can hardly wait to open, but am trying to hold off until Xmas. How they can get so much into one box I really don’t know.”
She continues on in her letter to describe how they decorated the wards for Christmas:
“Weather here not at all like Xmas, cold enough but pouring with rain. Our chief occupation at the moment is gathering armsful of holly to decorate the wards and mess of Xmas. The holly is very beautiful and grows like a weed all over this area. It makes a delightful splash of colour in otherwise rather drab wards. I must finish off , it is almost time to draw the black out.”
The sixth letter was written by a Nursing Sister enlisted with the R.C.A.M.C. and stationed with the #10 Canadian General Hospital in Watford, England. She talks about the work in the hospital and mentions a job well done by the staff. (RG 946.01.03.01.16)
“We here in England, really are most comfortable and well fed and except for the convoy we had from Italy our work here has been just about similar to our work in the army at home. We have no claim to any honour or sympathy. I certainly enjoy England & our work throughly.
“One thing I think maybe our staff did well was the efficient manner in which they admitted Italian casualties (200 + some) over 100 stretcher cases. They arrived here after nine p.m. were put to bed, bathed, temp taken, given a hot meal, all seen by medical or surgical officers and all settled by twelve o’clock. All the sisters were on duty till then.”
The seventh letter was sent from by a Nursing Sister enlisted with the R.C.A.M.C. and stationed with the #2 Canadian General Hospital in Bramshott, England. She talks of all the things there are to do and places to go on her days off.
“So far I am enjoying myself immensely. We have been very busy but we have a very nice hospital to work in and all the boys are so good – and lots of fun. We have a day off each week and there are so many interesting places to visit that its quite a problem to make up one’s mind where to go. London is near enough to visit for a day and there again there are a thousand and one things to see and do. There are always good plays & concerts. Lots of movies and all the famous places to see. I have had just one leave so far and spent half in Bristol and half in Devon. Bristol was dreadfully bombed during the Blitz but they all carry on just the same. Devon is very lovely – red soil and fields of heather and rolling hills.”
The eighth letter is sent from a Nursing Sister enlisted with the R.C.A.M.C. and stationed at #4 Casualty Clearing Station in Vasto Italy. She describes her activities since shipping out to Italy.
” I want to thank you and all the members of the Wellesley Alumnae for the very nice box you sent me for Christmas. Whoever was responsible for putting it together deserves a lot of credit as once again you have made it very useful as well as attractive box. Unfortunately our December and January mail had been rerouted and was awaiting us here in Italy when we arrived. But shortly after landing, I was sent in company with five other girls up over here to #4 Casualty Clearing Station to help out.”
The ninth letter is sent from a Nursing Sister enlisted with the R.C.A.M.C at an undisclosed hospital in an undisclosed place in Europe. The letter was written 3 days after D-Day, when Allied forces stormed the Beaches of Normandy.
“This is a bit disjointed, but the mess is crowded and noisy, radio blaring, and so difficult for me to concentrate. The censors will not allow me to tell you what I am doing or where I am, but at a later date I will write you about what has taken place when it’s no longer any secret.”
She continues talking about staying overseas instead of going home (she was injured by shrapnel) and discusses the horrors of war on the land and the people.
“It is a great privilege to be in the thick of things in these days. I often think I was foolish not to come home, when I could have done so quite easily, but I know I should never be quite satisfied to be back, before it is finished at least over here. Life in the country is peaceful and very beautiful this time of year. It is most strange to know that the invasion has begun with all its horrors, heartaches and destruction of humanity and cities and buildings, whilst living here. Soon however we will begin to see the results in some of our grand boys who will be coming back to be patched up by us. They are simply magnificent in the way in which they accept the loss of legs and arms.”
There were no letters written in 1945, but the scrapbook finishes with several letters from 1946 – after the war was complete – from Nurses still located in Military hospitals overseas. This letter was sent from #7 Canadian General Hospital near Bayeux, France.
“I really must apologize for not writing sooner to thank the alumnae for the lovely Christmas parcel which they so very kindly sent me. It’s such a nice feeling to know that, now that the war is over, the people at home haven’t forgotten those of us who are unfortunate enough to sill be on the wrong side or the Atlantic.”
Also included with the donation was a second scrapbook also compiled by Grace Bolton that further documents the Alumnae Associations activities here at home and stories about the Nursing Sisters overseas through newspaper clippings from a variety of newspapers.
A great source for information on the Canadian Medical Services in World War II is the following book:
To view this scrapbook in its entirety or to view other items in the The Wellesley Hospital School of Nursing Alumnae Collection – please contact Archives & Special Collections at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (416) 979-5000 ext. 7027 to make an appointment.
With the first day of summer quickly approaching, the people of Toronto are flocking outdoors to enjoy the many events and activities taking place across the city. And although there are endless ways to take advantage of such a lively time of year, the pages of a Toronto family scrapbook may help to determine how best to enjoy the season.
The following is a list of activities to consider this year, recommended by Torontonians circa 1913:
Enjoy a promenade through Allan Gardens, one of Toronto’s oldest parks founded in 1858. While you’re there you may want to drop into Allan Gardens Conservatory, built in 1910, just a few years before these photographs were taken.
Visit one of North America’s largest fairs, taking place annually at Exhibition Place.
Venture out to the Scarborough Bluffs and explore a unique geological feature of the city’s landscape.
Gather some friends and head to one of Toronto’s many parks and beaches.
The waterfront is at its best this time of year. Venture out on the Toronto Harbour and hop aboard a boat cruise, or take out a canoe. Maybe pay a visit to the Island.
Bike along a trail or through your favourite neighbourhood.
Wander over to your favourite store or market.
Embrace local history and check out how the city has evolved.
If the city has become too overwhelming, maybe it’s time to get away and take a weekend or day trip to the surrounding area.
So long as there are friends and family, there are no shortage of ways to appreciate summer in and around Toronto.
The trend of portraiture rapidly evolved after the birth of the medium of photography. With this new and fascinating technology it became a novelty to have your photograph made and to use it as a symbol of personal identity. Through image content and format, a photograph can tell many things about its subject such as class, position, time period and personal values. With the first internal-combustion engine patented by Karl Benz in 1896, the rise of the automobile commenced and its increasing presence in photography is representative of the role it played in society during that time.
The presence of the automobile in this cabinet card (figure 1), made at a photography studio in Portobello, Scotland, suggests a general excitement for the ever increasing popularity of this new method of transportation. William Lees, a photographer known for his unique and entertaining studio backdrops, captured this family in front of a painted landscape where they are positioned around and inside of a painted studio prop car. Although this may have created an image that seems somewhat comedic to modern day viewers, the inclusion of this horseless carriage, even as a painted cardboard cut-out, speaks to the values and studio practices of the time period.
W. Lees has paid attention to popular recommendations for photography studio backdrops that encouraged photographers to approach the background of their composition with “as much attention as would an artist painting a picture.”[i] For instance, he painted this backdrop with gradation, creating depth complimentary to the presentation of his subjects. However, whether Lees has approached the Leonardo da Vinci level of natural authenticity desired by contemporary Henry Peach Robinson is left open for debate. As stated by the pioneer of combination printing, “be the figures ever so good, their effect may be seriously injured by ineffective support.”[ii] Lees’ use of the car prop also may not reach Robinson’s standards for accuracy, as although Robinson encouraged the photographer to pursue the use studio props outside of conventional columns and curtains, he warned that to do so is a fine art “in which departure from truth becomes absurd.”[iii]
Regardless of the quality found in the studio backdrop and props, W. Lees was working at the request of a customer desiring to be photographed in this specific way. What would have motivated a family to want their professional portrait taken in a makeshift cardboard car placed in front of a landscape backdrop that it does not quite fit into? Through the 1890s and the first decade of the twentieth century, cars were a luxury that only the wealthy could afford to buy and maintain.[iv] They were a symbol of status and more of a plaything than a practical method of transportation. At the same time, they were new and increasingly accessible inventions that were readily gaining popularity in the U.K. throughout the late nineteenth-century. That a Scottish family such as that in figure 1 would have been eager to take part in this cultural experience, or even a makeshift version of it, is not a surprise.
Seen in this tintype (figure 2) is another example of a group choosing to sit within an automobile for their studio portrait. Although the photographer is unknown, the painted backdrop and presence of an actual car suggest the importance for this group to own a photograph documenting themselves within it. Generally, America had adopted the automobile by 1899, but it was still a novelty few were fortunate to own, an estimated 2500 produced in the United States that year for a population of approximately 74.5 million.[v] Perhaps the photographer was a travelling one, as many tintype studios were, and set up their backdrop outdoors allowing the inclusion of a real automobile to be a plausible option. Regardless of how it got there, its presence in this photograph makes a statement to the growing interest in this new machine.
These two portraits (figures 3 and 4), taken in front of the Hollow Tree in Vancouver, B.C., illustrate the role of the automobile and photography in tourism. Between 1900 and 1910 considerable progress was made in North American automobile production and automobiles were surpassing speeds of 25 kilometers per hour. Owning an automobile provided not only an opportunity to show off your wealth, but also an efficient way to travel through the countryside. No longer requiring the long set-up of horse and carriage, groups and families could spontaneously decide to take their car out to see sites and landmarks such as the Stanley Park Hollow Tree.[vi] Here we see the results of when these lucky travellers were met with a strategically placed camera in front of the Western Red Cedar tree, where a photographer was ready to snap a picture and document their visit.
As the introduction of the Kodak Brownie camera in 1900 provided the masses with an easy and inexpensive method of making their own snapshot pictures, professional photographers also found an increased mobility in their practice. Moving towards the 1920s, the increasing commonplace of photography was mirrored by that of the automobile, increasing the likelihood of seeing a car parked in front of your neighbour’s house. Combined, the presence of cars in photographs became more frequent and less formal. Groups and individuals were photographed in their cars at events, at their homes and anywhere else their car could take them (figures 5 and 6).
The phenomenon of including an automobile within portrait photographs is not restricted to the early twentieth century. Cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, RVs and ATVs are still among our most expensive and prized possessions and it is not unusual to desire a picture taken of ourselves with it. However, as technology changes, so too does the appearance of the vehicle we are sitting in (or standing beside), the ease at which we can acquire such an image, and the format in which we capture and display it.
If you have any additional information about these photographs or the automobiles in them, we would love to hear from you!
Special Collections, located on the fourth floor of the Ryerson Library, holds numerous examples of late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century photographs, including cabinet cards, cartes de visite, tintypes, daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, as well as contemporary guidebooks and manuals. To access Special Collections give us a call or send us an email to book an appointment at: email@example.com or 416-979-5000 ext. 4996.
[i] W. Whitehead, “Home-made Backgrounds,” The Photo-American, Vol. 3, no. 3 (January 1892): 70.
[ii] Henry Peach Robinson, Pictorial Effect in Photography Being Hints on Composition and Chiaroscuro for Photographers, (1869. Reprint, Pawlet, Vermont: Helios, 1971): 102.
Roberts, Peter. A Pictorial History of the Automobile. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1977.
Robinson, Henry Peach. Pictorial Effect in Photography Being Hints on Composition and Chiaroscuro for Photographers. 1869. Reprint, Pawlet, Vermont: Helios, 1971.
Thomas, Alan. The Expanding Eye: Photography and the Nineteenth-Century Mind. London: Croom Helm Ltd., 1978.
The Studio. Edited by Jerry Korn. New York: Time-Life Books, 1971.
Vogel, Dr. Hermann. “Filling the Picture. Accessories and Backgrounds.” Handbook of the Practice and Art of Photography. 2nd ed. Translated by unknown. Philidelphia: Benerman & Wilson, 1875.
Whitehead, W. “Home-made Backgrounds.” The Photo-American. Vol. 3, no. 3 (January 1892).
Wilson, Edward L. “Lesson K. Accessories and Light.” Wilson’s Photographics: A Series of Lessons, Accompanied by Notes, On All the Processes Which are Needful in the Art of Photography. New York: Edward L. Wilson, 1881.
Did you know……Iconic Canadian fashion designer Alfred Sung was once an instructor in the Ryerson School of Fashion?
Now one of the most established Canadian fashion designers on the international scene, Sung began his career as a fashion entrepreneur in the 1970s when he opened retail clothing store, Moon, in Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood. In 1979, he and fellow fashion entrepreneurs, Joseph and Saul Mimran, established the Monaco Group Inc. and began designing and distributing ready-to-wear clothing to fashion retailers throughout North America under the Alfred Sung label. Five years later, the group opened a series of free-standing retail stores under the now-well-known name Club Monaco.
In 1986, Sung signed on with Ryerson for a one-year term to teach Apparel IV, a fourth-year course in tailoring and sportswear design. The course was meant to give students practical experience creating a comprehensive collection and to teach burgeoning designers the business side of the industry. Sung knew this side all too well: the year he joined Ryerson, his company had just branched out into sportswear with Sung Sport, was launching its first perfume line, and was the first Canadian designer brand to be traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
As described in The Ryersonian, Sung agreed to take on the teaching post because he wanted to give back to an industry that had been so kind to him. He even donated his salary to the School, creating two scholarships in Apparel Management and Design, each equal to a year’s tuition . His hiring kicked off the School of Fashion’s practice of recruiting leading contemporary fashion designers to teach Ryerson students. This hiring trend, not yet common in Canadian fashion programs at the time Sung signed on, continues to benefit students in the School today.
In the age of social media there are many ways for news to be communicated. Faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the general public can find out what is going on around campus through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and many other sources. How did Ryerson get the word out there before the internet and smart phones – let’s take a look.
Ryerson has had various departments and offices responsible for getting the official news out to the community and the public. The Office of Information Services, the Department of Community Relations, the Office of University Advancement, and now University Relations were/are responsible to spreading the official word of Ryerson.
What’s Happening around Ryerson
What’s Happening around Ryerson (1971-1977) was published once a week as an events calendar by the Department of Information Services. It was replaced by On Campus this Week (1977-1986). The Office of University Advancement published Campus News (2004-2009) which was emailed out to the Ryerson Community announcing individual events, campus notes, and other related information. This was discontinued in 2009 with the creation of Ryerson Today. The Office of University Advancement, and now the Department of Communications, Government, and Community Engagement periodically send out news releases about significant Ryerson occurrences and events.
The FORUM newsletter
The FORUM was a newsletter of information and opinion first published by the Department of Information Services September 12, 1977. The FORUM continued to be published by the Department of Community Relations, and the Office of University Advancement changing styles and formats. It went to a digital only format in 2006 and continued on until 2009 when it too was replaced by Ryerson Today.
The Ryerson Rambler
The Ryerson Rambler (RG 151.01) was first published in June of 1962, was Ryerson’s alumni magazine. It was published initially by the Students’ Union. According to then Ryerson Principal Howard Kerr, “It is hoped in time that the Ryerson Alumni Association will be sufficiently strong to assume the responsibility involved in the financing of this project…”. It would appear that the Alumni Association took over publication in 1967. The Rambler continued publication until 1972, when it was replaced by Technikos as a source of information for Ryerson Alumni.
Technikos and Ryerson Review
Technikos the news magazine for Ryerson Polytechnical Institute was first published in the Spring of 1971 by the Department of Information Services and according to then Ryerson President “it would be mailed to the home address of each undergraduate…Copies will also be sent to potential employers…high schools, colleges, universities, and Ryerson alumni…”. It was published twice yearly until Summer 1977 when, according to the Ryerson Rambler, “…the costs have caught up with us and a quality magazine like Technikos cannot be produced economically enough to enable us to send it to you regularly…” so publication was cut down to one magazine per year sent out during the summer months. In 1978 the name was changed to The Ryerson Review. Its last publication was Summer 1980.
The Rambler redux
The Rambler returned in February of 1978 when the cost of producing Technikos became economically unfeasible. It was published 3 times per year. In 1994, the winter issue of the magazine was discontinued – replaced by What’s On, a newspaper-style newsletter.In 1997 they discontinued What’s On and started publishing the winter edition of the magazine again.
With the spring 1997 edition the name changed to RyersonMagazine (RG 395.07.02)and began publishing only twice a year. In 2001, it changed its name to Toronto Metropolitan University, the magazine – reflecting the name change of the University from Ryerson Polytechnic University to Toronto Metropolitan University. It changed its name again in 2002 to Alumni Magazine, with a final name change in 2011 to Toronto Metropolitan University Magazine.
On the student side of the School, Ryerson has had student created publications since its inception in 1948.
The School of Journalism began publishing a newspaper called the The Ryersonian (RG 95.05) in 1948. The first paper was published in December of that year. Starting in January of 1949 until April of 1951, the paper was published on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. In the 1951-1952 school year the paper began being published on a daily basis. It continued this way for many years, until they began publishing Tuesday – Friday, and then only on Wednesdays and Fridays. During the 1993-1994 school year it started its present schedule of weekly publication on Wednesdays. The paper is also available online at www.ryersonian.ca/.
Ryerson Daily News
In June of 1949, the School of Graphic Arts, and the Journalism program started printing Ryerson Daily News. It was a one page leaflet with Canadian and International news stories.
The Little Daily
It was replaced in September 1950 by The Little Daily. A one page information leaflet with news about Ryerson.
The Little Weekly
Starting in 1950 they also published the Little Weekly, a larger format newspaper style publication. Both the Daily and the Weekly ended publication in January of 1951.
The Blue, The White, and the Gold
To replace The Little Weekly, Journalism students started printing three different small newspapers on three different days – The Blue (RG 95.31) on Tuesdays, The White (RG 95.28) on Wednesdays, and The Gold (RG 95.30) on Thursdays. They were produced between February and April of that year. In March and April of 1951 Journalism also printed The Blue Review (RG 95.33).
The Campus Week and TY-PI
The Campus Week also was created to replace the Little Weekly. First printed February 3, 1951, it was written and edited by Journalism students and printed by the the School of Graphic Arts. It had a four page format – mirroring that of The Ryersonian. It does not appear that this continued to be published in the 1951-1952 school year. There was an independent publication created in 1951 called “TY-PI”, created by first year students in the Graphic Arts and Journalism programs.
In 1967 the Eyeopener Newspaper (RG 146.1) – at first called the Eyeopener Magazine took its name from the Calgary Eye Opener, newspaper published by Bob Edwards 1902-1922. It was created because, as its first editor Tom Thorne stated, many students felt that the Ryersonian was not representative of all of Ryerson’s students. Published on Tuesdays by the Students’ Administrative Council on a weekly basis, it was a member of the Canadian University Press. During the 1968-1969 school year it began being publishing on Thursdays and starting in September 1990 it changed to its current schedule of publication on Wednesdays. The Eyeopener is available online at theeyeopener.com.
All of these publications contain valuable information about the life and times of Ryerson and its students, staff, and faculty. They have been an invaluable resource for many research projects.
They are available for viewing in Archives & Special Collections. Please call (416) 979-5000 ext. 7027 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment.
For those who can’t get enough of Gatsby fashion, RULA Special Collections recently acquired a small donation of 1910s- and 20s-era stylebooks from American clothiers Hart, Schaffner & Marx and The House of Kuppenheimer.
The companies date back to the late nineteenth-century. Hart, Schaffner & Marx began operations as Harry Hart & Bro. in 1872, when brothers Harry and Max Hart opened a small men’s clothing outlet in Chicago. By 1887, the company had undergone two name changes and a series of new partnership agreements but settled on the name Hart, Schaffner & Marx. It was soon the largest manufacturer of men’s clothing in America, selling nearly $1 million worth of clothing annually.
The company’s rival, The House of Kuppenheimer, was also based in Chicago. Established by Bernard Kuppenheimer in 1876, the company reached sales of $1 million per year by the 1880s. By the 1910s, it employed nearly 2000 workers.
The companies specialized in tailored clothing for men, young men, and boys and distributed their catalogs through the retailers that sold their products. These catalogs capitalized on the allure of the wealthy American elite as the companies hired well-known illustrators to create images that associated the brands with the fulfillment of the American dream. Taglines referring to “prep school boys” and “stylish business men” accompanied images of young men and women hunting, horseback riding, attending lavish banquets and performing other activities associated with America’s burgeoning leisure class.
Yet, much like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic literary portrait of the era, the catalogs also reveal the tensions underlying the pursuit of this elusive lifestyle. Indeed, the catalogs’ subjects are, like Gatsby himself, often as remarkable for their gaiety as for their unshakeable ennui. Meanwhile, the catalogs’ recurring concern with ‘rightness’ and ‘correctness’ betrays the intense pressures of conformity that governed the American upper classes.
Despite the catalogs’ glamourous subject matter, their emphasis on value and economy additionally reveals a target consumer more likely to pinch pennies and aspire to upward social mobility than to enjoy the breeze from an already-purchased yacht. In their most disconcerting form, the images flatly expose the American dream as a reality accessible to only a precious few in terms of race and gender.
The catalogs thus stand as a rich resource not only for those interested in the history of fashion, graphic design, or advertising, but also for anyone exploring race, class, and gender politics in America in the 1910s and 20s. Stop by Ryerson Special Collections on the 4th floor of the library to see these small but powerful documents of American history (call numbers: TT620.K87 1916-1921 ; TT620.H36 1911-1925) and to peruse other resources related to the history of fashion in North America, Europe and elsewhere.