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Archives A to Z 2022 Week 2

We’re joining the Archives of Ontario in their #ArchivesAtoZ month-long campaign. The aim is to increase the public’s awareness of archives and their collections. We’ll be sharing four blog posts throughout the month showcasing items from our collections and demystifying archival concepts related to each letter of the alphabet.

  • April 4: A to F
  • April 11: G to M
  • April 18: N to S
  • April 25: T to Z

Graphic Materials

According to the Canadian Council of Archives graphic materials are “…are defined as documents in the form of pictures, photographs, drawings, watercolours, prints, and other forms of two-dimensional pictorial representations.” This definition includes a diverse range of materials and processes that often make up the bulk of an Archives or Special Collections holdings. While conducting research last year – we came across these amazing hand painted and hand drawn theatrical posters created by students to advertise Ryerson Opera Workshop productions. The Ryerson Opera Workshop, or ROW, was established in 1951 by Jack McAllister, at the time faculty in the English Department and would later be one on the founding faculty in the School of Performance. The workshop was an institute-wide, student endeavour from production crew to cast members.

Hot Docs

The Hot Docs Fonds includes physical and digital material produced for the annual Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. Digital copies of the programs from 1994 to 2001 festivals can be viewed on our database by clicking on the program’s cover images. We’re looking forward to this year’s festival, which begin on April 28th !

Imaging

Imaging, also known as digital imaging, reformatting, scanning or digitizing, refers to creating an electronic representation of an analogue object. The are several standards for imaging cultural heritage material, such as the Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) and the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN).

We generally use a flatbed scanner for graphic material, and an overhead copy stand for large prints and 3-D objects. We also digitize audiovisual formats such as VHS tapes and audio-cassettes, since they tend to deteriorate quickly and the playback equipment required for reformatting is becoming less readily available (a tape deck or a VCR for instance.)

We often get asked why libraries and archives can’t digitize all of our collections for online access! The Peel Art Gallery Museum + Archive has a blog post with great answers to this question, but it generally is tied to the amount of resources required for mass digitization (staff time, technical equipment, digital storage, copyright clearance, etc.) Take a look at what we’ve digitized so far through our online database!

An example of imaging using a copy stand. We use colour bars to identify the scale of the object and to have reference for tone and colour balancing.

Jorgenson Hall Model

The Jorgenson Hall/Podium/Library Building architectural model is one of three campus building models in our collections (the other two being Pitman Hall and the RAC). This one was created by Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden Architects Engineers and shows the three buildings plus the west side of Kerr Hall which attaches to the complex via footbridges at either end.

Keyword Searching

Keyword searching can be hit and miss when it comes to looking for archival records – especially if you are starting your research in an internet search engine. Every search comes back with hundreds of thousands of returns – so how do you improve your chances of finding what you are looking for?

Having a plan of action that includes an initial list of keywords is a good way to start. When thinking of what keywords you want to use there are several things to keep in mind:

  • 1) The age of the records you are looking for and the time period of their creation – terminology is ever evolving and you may find your search returns include offensive and outdated terminology that is no longer in use, but would have been at the time of the records creation
  • 2) Word spelling – countries may spell words differently so include all the potential spellings of your keywords when you are searching.
  • 3) Alternate/previous names – this is especially important if you are researching a geographic location – has it always been called what it is named now?

Finally – consider adding some of these terms to the end of your keywords: papers, photographs, collections, exhibition, primary source, archives, special collections, library, museum, curriculum. Any or all of these terms may help narrow down your search and help you find what you are looking for. Robin M. Katz’s “How to Google for Primary Sources” has some other suggestions to help you with your search.

Word cloud of search terms

Lorne Shields

Lorne Shields has been an avid collector of bicycles and bicycle ephemera since 1967. His passion for bicycles led him to collect photographs on the subject as well as books, magazines, and bicycle memorabilia.

Shields donated his collection of photographs unrelated to bicycles to Special Collections in 2008. This includes studio portraits and carte-de-visites as well as landscape and industrial imagery from the Victorian era to the 1960s. The collection also comprises many vernacular photographic albums, good examples of glass and metal photographic processes including cased daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes. Explore our database for more information on the Lorne Shields Historical Photograph Collection.

2008.001.1872 – [Portrait of three women]

Miniature Cameras

 Did you know we have several miniature and sub-miniature cameras in the collection? These mini photo devices are designed to take photographs on film sized smaller than 135 format (24mm x 36mm). The Minolta-16 camera seen below takes 10×14 mm exposures on 16 mm film.

Miniature cameras gained a reputation as “spy” cameras, and while some of the higher quality ones (including the Minox) were used by government agencies, most were simply for amateur use.

Next week we’ll highlight items and archival concepts for the letters N to S!

“These are a few of our favourite things…” – The Expo Watch Camera

The staff in Archives and Special Collections bring you some of our favourite things. Objects and photographs from the collections that hold a special place in our hearts. Each week will highlight a different item, along with an explanation of why it stands out.

With such an amazing collection of materials – sometimes it is hard to pick just one…

This week’s post is Curatorial Specialist Olivia Wong’s choice:

Expo Watch Camera (2005.006.06.02)

Some of my favourite objects in the collection are specialized film and photography equipment. The Expo Watch Camera is part of our selection of detective or disguise cameras. As the name suggests, this novelty camera is the shape and size of a pocket watch. It uses a miniature daylight film cartridge that can hold up to twenty-five 16 x 22 mm exposures. The camera has a detachable external viewfinder, and the exposures are captured through the watch’s winding stem (the knob serves as a lens cap!)

This nifty gadget was manufactured by the Expo Camera Company in New York City between the early 1900s until 1939. An advertisement for the camera in a 1917 Photoplay Magazine stated: “Photography made a pleasure instead of a burden. You can carry the EXPO about in your pocket, and take a picture without any one being the wiser.” To see the full ad, click here

To learn more about the Expo Watch Camera, click here

To see what else is in the Heritage Camera Collection, click here

Photojournalism: Tools of the Trade

New Exhibition: Special Collections display cases, 4th floor of the Ryerson Library the Ryerson Library building.

Photojournalism: Tools of the Trade

In recognition of the grand opening of the Ryerson Image Centre, Special Collections has put together a small exhibition featuring images of journalists from the Black Star collection with their cameras of choice and a selection of similar cameras from the Historical Camera Collection.

Drop by the 4th floor of the Ryerson Library to see the exhibition.

GRAFLEX CAMERAS

Developed and produced in the United states, the Graflex camera was favoured by photojournalists since it’s introduction in 1910.  This version from the 1940’s uses 4” x 5” sheet film (mounted in a film holder in the back of the camera) and the flash attachment used 1-time use flash bulbs.  The strong flash gave photographs the telltale high contrast look of news and paparazzi photographs from the 40’s and 50’s.  Dorothea Lange used a similar Graflex model (series D) to shoot iconic images for the Farm Securities Association from 1935-1939.

TWIN LENS REFLEX CAMERAS

Rolleicord Model 1 manufacutred 1934-1936

Twin-lens reflex cameras use two lenses, one to view and focus through (above) and one to take the photograph (below).  A 45° mirror sends the image from the viewing lens to a piece of glass (called ground glass) for focusing.  The photographer looked down through the camera, which was usually at waist level.  These cameras used medium format, or 120, film. Rolleiflex, introduced in 1929 and used a square format (it was difficult to photograph with the camera placed on its side).

BRASSAï & THE MEDIUM FORMAT

Woightlander Brilliant, manufactured in 1937.

Hungarian photojournalist George Brassaï began his career with a Voigtlander camera and continued to photograph with the Rolleiflex, long after many of his contemporaries began using the more convenient 35mm models.  He did not like the square film format, however, and cropped most of his images.

LEICA 35mm CAMERAS

Leica Camera
Leica iif camera, produced between 1953 and 1955. (2007.005.7.009)

Produced in Germany by Leica Camera AG, the Leica Camera popularized the 35 mm format and is considered to be responsible for the beginning of modern photojournalism.  The camera used standard cinema film, and it’s small size made it ideal for photographing fast paced, and often dangerous, news events.

HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON AND THE LEICA

French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), often referred to as the father of photojournalism, began using the 35mm format in 1931, when he purchased a Leica camera, much like the one displayed here.  Cartier-Bresson photographed often for Life Magazine, travelling to places like Russia and China,

Cartier-Bresson described his style as the Decisive Moment:

“it is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression.”

35mm CAMERAS

Mamiya MSX 500, manufactured c. 1975: 2011.018.273
Nikkormat EL, manufactured between 1972-1976

This became the most popular film and camera format, both among professionals and amateurs.  Sturdy and multifunctional, with interchangeable lenses, these cameras found their way into civil wars, riots, and natural disasters around the necks of daring photojournalists.  Once exposed, the film was wound conveniently back into light-tight metal canisters that would protect the film until it could be developed.

CHARLES MOORE

American Civil Rights photographer Charles Moore is most known for his photographs of the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham Alabama in 1964.   His powerful images of the struggle for civil rights were published in the book “Powerful Days”. Photographs like these helped raise awareness of the need for a Civil Rights act in America.

For more information or to see more from the Toronto Metropolitan University Library Special Collections, email asc@ryerson.ca or call 416-979-5000 ext. 4996.

For more information on the Ryerson Image Centre or the Black Star Collection, please visit their website at http://www.ryerson.ca/ric/ or cal 416-979-5164.

The Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection at Toronto Metropolitan University

The Heritage Camera Collection more than doubled in size this past January thanks to the generous donation of approximately 500 cameras and pieces of camera equipment from Wilfrid Laurier University. The collection improves the holdings in European and Japanese manufacturers, and provides a greater selection for research in early camera designs.

1920s studio camera from the Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection
“Mouse trap” camera developed by William Henry Fox Talbot, ca. 1834 (replica made 2006) from the Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection (2005.006.01.01)
Watch Camera from the Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection (2005.006.06.02)
Polaroid Land camera, Automatic 110A from the Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection (2005.003.2.17.03)
Crystar camera (2005.006.08.64) next to Pony 135 for size comparison. The Crystar measures only 3.5 x 5.5 x 3 cm. From the Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection.

Kodak in the News for the last time?

In a shocking but not completely unforeseen announcement last week, the Kodak corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States.

Happier were the good ol’ days of film production / 1937 advertisement from the Kodak Canada Corporate Archives & Heritage Collection advertising ledgers

As little as a decade ago, the future for Kodak still seemed bright. Company literature produced in the 1990s confirmed Kodak Canada’s optimism that digital photographers would continue to look to Kodak for leadership and innovation in image-taking technologies. The move to digital would be slow and considered, with Kodak confident that the right product was better than any product.

Kodak Photo CDs were marketed to professionals as well as amateur photographers for digital image storage / 1993 photograph of Digital Imaging showroom from the Kodak Canada Corporate Archives & Heritage Collection

Was this transition too slow? Is Kodak still the master camera-maker it once was? Ryerson Professor Robert Burley and Curatorial Specialist Beth Knazook speculate on the unfortunate circumstances that have left Kodak in its current position.

Matt Galloway speaks with Robert Burley on CBC’s Metro Morning radio show (Thursday, Jan 19 2012): http://www.cbc.ca/metromorning/episodes/2012/01/19/unthinkable/

CBC reporter Havard Gould interviews Robert Burley and Beth Knazook for The National (Thursday, Jan 19 2012): http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/TV_Shows/The_National/1233408557/ID=2188640879