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Archives A to Z 2022 Week 4

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 and collections from our holdings or 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

Theatre Programs

Did you know we have more than 2700 theatre programs in our collection, including 638 published by Toronto companies between 1959 and 2012? Some of the programs have the original ticket stubs and paper inserts from the attended performance. Here are a few examples from local theatres & acting groups:

Uniforms

We are lucky enough to be home to a large selection of textiles/clothing – everything from nylons to rally caps. A large part of these collections are uniforms of different types. We have school uniforms, athletic uniforms, nursing uniforms, and even old mascot costumes in uniform. Here is just a sample of what we have.

Vinegar Syndrome

Vinegar Syndrome – this is something that most Archives and Special Collections have to deal with especially those that house large collections of film and photography. Acetate film bases were first introduced in the early 1900s as an alternative to the highly combustible nitrate film and was in use between the 1930s and the 1990s.

One of the major preservation concerns with acetate film, both in motion picture and still photography, is vinegar syndrome. As the film base starts to degrade (usually caused by levels of high temperature and humidity) there is a build up of acetic acid (the vinegar smell!). As the syndrome progresses the film begins to suffer from shrinkage, embrittlement, and buckling of the gelatin emulsion eventually making the film unplayable and the photographs illegible.

The Northeast Document Conservation Centre has information on the identification and care of film negatives . The Glenbow Library and Archives has information on Vinegar Syndrome and Acetate motion picture film

William Notman

Willian Notman immigrated to Montreal from Scotland in 1856 and founded what would become an internationally known photography studio. Notman photographed mostly prominent politicians and notable families but he was also well known across local athletic clubs and social groups.

He became known for his large composite group portraits and innovative portraiture techniques.  The composites were made by assembling multiple individual portraits through a collage. Notman also hired artists to paint realistic backdrops for his portraits in order to re-create outdoor settings in his studio.

His photography business expanded quickly and by 1872 Notman had 26 studios across North America. The company was renamed William Notman & Son in 1882 when his eldest son William McFarlane Notman, became a partner.

X-Rays

x-ray image of a hand

This image is copy of the x-ray Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen took of his wife’s hand in 1895. Kodak reproduced the image in 1970 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Rontgen’s discovery of x-ray imaging. This copy was made using their KODAK RP/D X-OMAT Radiograph Duplicating Film.

Yellow Book

The Yellow Book is a Victorian magazine that published 13 quarterly editions between 1894 and 1897. The book’s bright yellow cover was a nod to the illicit French fiction novels of this era. The Yellow Book distinguished itself from other fin-du-siècle magazines through its division of literary and art content (treating each as standalone piece) and its avant-garde and lavish aesthetic (minimalist layouts and spacious margins). This magazine didn’t include advertisements and focused on the book itself being a piece of art rather than a vessel for information. Aubrey Beardsley was the magazine’s first art editor. The magazine published several of his extravagant Japanese-woodcut inspired black ink illustrations (as seen on the book cover below).

The Centre for Digital Humanities has a website dedicated to the time period, which became known as the Yellow Nineties. Issues of The Yellow Book have been digitized and can be viewed online.

Zebras

The Men’s soccer team in the early days of the School were called the Zebras for their bright gold and blue jerseys. The team debuted in 1951. They were intermediate champs in 1956-1957 and Intermediate Ontario-Quebec Conference Champions in 1958-1959. In 1964 they switched to the Ontario Intercollegiate Athletic Association and in 1965 changed to a bright orange/yellow jersey from the striped jersey that gave them their name. The Zebras continued under that name until the 1973-1974 school year when they became Rams.

We hope you have enjoyed our Archives A to Z blog post series. Explore the hashtag #ArchivesAtoZ to see what other repositories have shared online!

Archives A to Z 2022 Week 3

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 and collections from our holdings or 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

Names on Campus

Have you wondered about names around campus? Let’s take a peek at two individuals connected with two campus buildings.

Jorgenson Hall was named after Fred Jorgenson, who, in 1966, took over as principal from retiring and founding principal, Howard H. Kerr. An extensive campus expansion being planned included the construction of a consolidating administrative building. Ten days before the turning of the sod, Jorgenson announced his unexpected resignation, effective July 1969, due to family illness. The building received its name in his honour. Jorgenson Hall officially opened in late 1971.

Fun facts about Fred Jorgenson :

  • Highly unusual at the time, he asked faculty to call him by his first name.
  • His title changed from principal to president in 1967.
  • The family pet was a monkey named George.
  • Believing in a tight-knit community, he went to a hospital to confer a diploma on a graduating, ill student.
  • The student body referred to him as “Uncle Fred”.
  • He worked diligently for Ryerson’s authority to grant degrees (first degree granted 1971).
  • He sent Christmas greetings to the Ryerson community every year into the 1980s.
  • Fred Jorgenson died at 93 in June 2016.
Fred Jorgenson with George, 1966

Oakham House, the original structure facing Church Street, was designed and named by its architect, William Thomas. Born in 1799 to Welsh parents in England, Thomas arrived in Canada in 1844. Little is known of the Thomas family life in Toronto other than he was married to Martha and had 10 children, three of whom died young, aged 2 months, 14 and 17 years, and two others who joined him in business. He was prolific in his building designs in both England and Ontario.

Besides Oakham House, Thomas is noted for :

Sadly, many of his buildings have been destroyed or only the façade remains, such as :

Original Order

One of the two fundamental principles used when arranging Archival records. The idea behind this principle is that it is not just the records and the information within them that is important. It is the context in which the records were originally used and organized that is equally important – adding to the history of those records. Once the records have been donated to an Archive, the records’ organization will be maintained and no other order will be imposed (alphabetical, numerical, chronological).

That being said – if there is NO obvious original order – an Archives will arrange the materials in a way that makes the most sense in relation to the nature of the records.

Box of slides – no organization and no obvious sign of original order

Polaroid

Our Polaroid collection has over 200 instant cameras! The collection was donated by a former Polaroid employee and includes some unique publications, camera manuals and promotional material from the company. The Polaroid Corporation was a leader in instant cameras and film, but the company’s initial research focus was on polarizers. The company developed polarized lenses and filters for various uses, which led to the creation of instant photography in 1947.

A purple polaroid camera stacked on top of a box of polaroid film and a box with a Polaroid remote control
2018.10.01.05.93 – Polaroid Impulse Camera (in Burgundy!)

Questions?

Questions about Archives? Not sure what is a Special Collection?

We’re here to help answer those questions and support patrons navigate the world of archival research! If you want to know more about what collections are available at Archives & Special Collections (or A&SC) and how to search them, a great place to start is our Research Guide.

Some of the most common questions we get are:

  • Do I have to wear gloves?

In most cases you don’t! The use of white cotton gloves are a common misconceptions in libraries and archives (see this fun blog by the Smithsonian on the topic!) Cotton gloves can actually damage material by getting caught on the edge of an object or a torn piece of paper. We prefer that researchers arrive with clean hands before handling the material. The only instance when gloves need to be used is when handling prints or negatives that are not in protective housing.

  • Can I copy or take photos of the material?

Yes, you are welcome to take reference photos of the material for research or private study during an appointment. There are some cases when it is not possible, if there are privacy concerns for instance, but our staff will let you know beforehand.

  • Can I check out this book?

Unfortunately not. We love patrons to use our collections, but items in Archives & Special Collections must be kept in our reading room. Books and records in our holdings can be unique, fragile or may require special handling. We don’t want to limit access to our collections, but by keeping them in the reading room we can ensure that future generations will have access to them!

Robert MacIntosh Collection

The Robert Macintosh City of Toronto Book Collection contains historical and contemporary publications on the history of Toronto. Macintosh donated this collection to Special Collections in 2013 (he is also the author of one of the books titled Earliest Toronto). The collection includes 141 books on the history of Toronto, featuring tourist guides and souvenirs about the city from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

You can see the full list of books from this collection in the library catalogue.

Storage

Storage can mean two things – What we re-house the materials in and where we store them once they have been re-housed.

One of the last steps in preparing new donations for entry in our collections is re-housing them. When records and objects are delivered to us they are usually in their original file folders, boxes, and housing that, in the long run, can be harmful to the materials. For example, file folders may be replaced with acid free folders and placed in special archival boxes that help protect the records and prolong their life. Photographs are often placed in neutral see-through sleeves that enable the photographs to be seen, but protect the print from the damage that handling can cause. Because of the varied make up of most Archives and Special Collections, there is a wide variety of materials, cases, and boxes that are available for re-housing from a small case to house a coin to an 8ft long box made to house gowns and dresses. The Canadian Conservation Institute has published “CCI Notes” – guides for the care, handling, and storage of a wide variety of materials – you can access them at Canadian Conservation Notes

Storage also means the shelving and room(s) where the collections are stored. The one universal truth across Archives and Special Collections is that, with collections constantly expanding, there never seems to be enough room! Storage can range from a small closet to a state of the art climate controlled vault. At our Archives and Special Collections we are lucky enough to have compact storage – which greatly increased our storage footprint.

Next week, in our final April post, we’ll highlight items and archival concepts for the letters T to Z!

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!

War Efforts at Kodak Heights

Kodak is most likely known for its photography related wart efforts, such as their advertisements encouraging citizens to send images to soldiers or the Vest Pocket camera sold as “The Soldier’s Kodak.”1 Nevertheless, they were also supporting wartime demands through employee initiatives and by shifting their manufacturing plants at Kodak Heights in Toronto.

A Kodak advertisement titled "Send Him Snapshots Every Week" with a soldier holding photographs
2005.001.03.2.001.10 1944 Kodak Advertisement

A group of employees organized the Kodak War Efforts Club to send packages overseas with sweets, knitted goods and magazines. In addition, they partnered with the Red Cross to host a weekly Kodak Blood Clinic and rewarded employees with badges for recurring donations.2

Kodak War Efforts Club featured in the May 1945 edition of KODAK magazine

In 1941, Kodak Heights was approached by the Department of Munitions and Supply to manufacture compasses. They had previously built tools and parts for combat airplanes, but this was their first venture in producing instruments for the armed forces.3 As seen in many sectors, women stepped into manufacturing positions during the war, and Kodak was no different in finding new roles for women to support the production of compasses.

  • Black and white image of a women inspecting with a magnifying glass a piece for a compass
  • Black and white image of a group of women in an assembly line building parts for compasses
  • Black and white images of a women using an industrial machine
  • Black and white images of a pile of boxes with compass material

In their internal employee publication, the company celebrated this endeavour and shared positive feedback received from the U.S. War Department as well as their own employees who were redeployed in the war fronts and recognized the C.K.C engraving (Canadian Kodak Company) on a compass.4

Kodak Heights even exhibited images of the compass in the Employee Building cafeteria to promote the initiative among staff. These images may have remained on the walls as a memory of their war efforts, because by fall of 1945 Kodak had already pivoted back to its regular production of cameras and photographic material.

Two Kodak compasses on a white background
2005.001.06.03.327 Kodak Mark III Compass

Kodak had several internal magazines which provide incredible first hand accounts of the day to day life at the company. Running from 1936 to 1955, “KODAK: A Magazine for Kodak Employees” was a bimonthly internal publication designed to communicate the activities of Canadian Kodak and its employees. For more information on war efforts at Kodak Heights, explore the publications in our database or on the Internet Archive for online versions.

  1. Roger, Andrew C. ‘Amateur Photography by Soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force’. Archivaria, vol. 26, no. January, 1988, pp. 163–68.
  2. ‘Kodak Meets the Wartime Challenge (Part 1)’. KODAK: A Magazine for Kodak Employees, vol. 1, no. 3, Apr. 1945, pp. 1–2.
  3. ‘Kodak Meets the Wartime Challenge (Part 2)’. KODAK: A Magazine for Kodak Employees, vol. 1, no. 4, May 1945, pp. 1–3.
  4. Ibid.

Archives A to Z: Part 4

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 and collections from our holdings or archival concepts related to each letter of the alphabet.

  • March 1: A to F
  • March 8: G to M
  • March 15: N to S
  • March 22: T to Z

Truth and Reconciliation

In its final report in 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada called on museums, archives and educational institutions, among other groups, to respond to 94 Calls to Action. These calls provide a path for Canadians and institutions to begin to “redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation.”

Although our holdings do not have extensive material that can supports these Calls to Action, the team at Archives & Special Collections has compiled a list of internal and external resources related to Egerton Ryerson, Residential Schools and Indigenous Peoples. Toronto Metropolitan University’s Aboriginal Educational Council has also created a document focused on Egerton Ryerson, the Residential School System and Truth and Reconciliation with detailed sources on the topic.

University Status

Opened in 1948 as the Ryerson Institute of Technology, Ryerson has been granting degrees for 49 years – the first of which were handed out on May 26, 1972 to graduates in Interior Design, Business Management, and Geodetic Sciences. Nineteen years later, almost to the day, on May 27, 1991 the Ryerson Board of Governors and Academic Council (Senate) gave their support to the proposal the the school seek full university status. Two years later on June 1, 1993 the dream was realized when Ryerson Polytechnic University was recognized by Royal Assent. The oversized letter and the T-shirt in this picture are housed in Archives and Special Collections (RG 122.12)

Photograph of Terry Grier stands beside the oversized letter announcing Ryerson’s full University Status (RG 76.14.723). Click on the photo above to read the announcements published in the University’s Forum Newsletter.

View-Masters

The Bass Stereoscopic Photography Collection has 162 pieces of stereo viewing equipment, including 44 View-Masters. These stereoscopic viewers first appeared at the 1939 New York World Fair. View-Masters, a name trademarked by Sawyer’s Inc, use circular “reels” with seven stereoscopic images made from 16mm Kodachrome transparencies. Unlike the original wooden stereoscope viewers, View-Masters are usually made of plastic or metal.

Our collection has a variety of different types of viewers, such as the GAF Talking View-Master, which incorporated an audio record that synchronized sound with the stereoscopic slides. The Big Bird camera-shaped 3D viewer, a staff favourite, has a built-in reel of 7 diametrical, 16 mm colour transparencies of Sesame Street characters teaching the alphabet.

World War II

Did you know Toronto Metropolitan University had a connection to World War II? The original building on campus Ryerson Hall, whose façade is the entrance to the Ryerson Athletic Centre in the Kerr Hall Quad, housed both the Royal Canadian Air Force Initial Training School No. 6 and the Dominion-Provincial War Emergency Training Program between 1941-1945. To learn more about the Royal Canadian Air Force’s training facilities visit their web page At the end of World War II, the building would house the Training and Re-establishment Institute (TRIT), a place for veterans to learn a trade. TRIT ran between 1945-1948, and Ryerson Institute of Technology, which opened in September 1948,  evolved out of that organization – offering the same courses in the first couple of years of our existence. Take a look at RG 58 Vocational Training Schools and Training and Re-establisment Institutes, F 183 James A. Moore fonds and F 858 Michael Zabinsky fonds to see more records we have related to the Training and Re-establishment Institute.

Interior view of the Electronics Department of the Training and Re-establishment Institute (RG 58.18)

XV Winter Olympic Ceremony

The Paddy Sampson Fonds consists of textual records and audiovisual material related to television shows and specials intended for broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC). Sampson joined the CBC as a stage hand in 1952, and later became a producer and director for the broadcaster. Some of the notable programs he worked on include “Program X” and the renowned hour long 1966 music special, “The Blues”. The Fonds also contains research material related to Sampson’s independent productions, such as the 1988 opening and closing ceremonies for the XV Winter Olympics in Calgary.

Young Readers

Special Collections’ book holdings include the Children’s Literature Archive. The collection was established through the Centre for Digital Humanities in 2009 and was transferred to Special Collections in 2017. It contains over 2200 books published between 1701 and 1940 and continues to grow. Its particular strengths are adventure stories, fairy tales, and Canadiana, but also includes strong holdings in poetry, picture books, and pedagogical works such as science texts and primers, along with biographies of notable authors and other scholarly studies. Explore the collection through the Centre for Digital Humanities’ exhibition website or through the Library catalogue.

3 book covers from the Children's Literature Archive
3 book covers from the Children’s Literature Archive

Zeiss Ikon

Our Heritage Camera Collection has over 677 pieces of photographic equipment, including several cameras by the company Zeiss Ikon. Zeiss was initially an optical workshop in Germany during the mid-1800s, and started building camera lenses in the 1890s. Zeiss Ikon was created in 1926 by the merger of four camera manufacturers: Contessa-Nettel, Ernemann, Goerz and Ica. The newly founded partnership combined thousands of cameras patents held by the individual companies. Explore the Zeiss website for more information on the history of the camera company.

We hope you have enjoyed our Archives A to Z blog post series. Explore the hashtag #ArchivesAtoZ to see what other repositories have shared online!

Archives A to Z: Part 3

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 and collections from our holdings or archival concepts related to each letter of the alphabet.

  • March 1: A to F
  • March 8: G to M
  • March 15: N to S
  • March 22: T to Z

News on campus

For the past 73 years, Toronto Metropolitan University Media and Ryerson Student Media outlets have been telling the University’s stories, and stories about the larger community to which the school belongs. Before the age of social media and online streaming – Ryerson got its stories out there in printed newspapers, newsletters, and magazines. Archives and Special Collections houses the archives for many of the campus media publications including Ryerson’s student newspapers – The Ryersonian and The Eyeopener, and University publications like the Forum Newsletter and Ryerson Magazine. We also have a robust collection of publications created by different student groups, faculties, and programs. You can read more about Ryerson’s news publications in the blog “All the news that’s fit to print

First edition of the Forum Newsletter (RG 4.10). It was published in hard copy between 1975 – 2005 and in an online format between 2006-2009 when it was replaced by Ryerson Today

Octagonal Houses of Maine

Archive and Special Collections houses a wide selection Artists books in its stacks. The smallest of these is “The Octagonal Houses of Maine” by Carol-Lynn Rössel Waugh and illustrated by Patrick H. Higgins. It measures just 2 cm by 2.5 cm, but the text and images are fully legible.

Peter Di Gangi Papers

The Peter Di Gangi Papers contain records on historical, legal and cultural research related to Indigenous governance in Canada. Di Gangi has been working with Indigenous communities across Canada for ever 35 years and has worked extensively with Anishnaabe communities on the North Shore of Lake Huron and Manitoulin Island, and with the Algonquin communities of the Ottawa Valley. The collection includes published and unpublished materials, created by Di Gangi and his research firm Sicani Research & Advisory Services, such as policy papers on Indigenous laws, government reports and statistics and research documents prepared for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and Assembly of First Nations.

Image of a paper report by Peter Di Gangi titled "AFN - Aboriginal Strategic Initiative: Comprehensive Research Proposal Jurisdiction"
2018.008.006.008 – Assembly of First Nations Aboriginal Strategic Initiative Research Report

Quadrangle

Hidden from view in the Centre of Ryerson’s campus is the Kerr Hall Quadrangle or Quad. Surrounded on four sides by Howard Kerr Hall, the quadrangle is a welcome green space on campus, and a favourite lunch and relaxation spot for the Ryerson students and staff. When originally constructed, the quad was home to campus parking around the perimeter with a fountain in the centre. Spring graduates would convocate through the door of the Toronto Normal School building facade. Now the quad features the Ryerson Athletic Centre below its grass covered centre and is bordered by gardens and mature trees. The photograph of convocation is just one of thousands of photographs that we house in Archives and Special Collections that show the evolution of the Quad and Ryerson’s campus as a whole.

Convocation, circa 1979, in the Kerr Hall Quadrangle (RG 76.06.01)

Ram

Ram or the Rams is the name of Toronto Metropolitan University’s Varsity Athletic teams. Our textile collection contains numerous hockey, volleyball, soccer, and basketball uniforms that were donated to us as the materials and cuts of the uniforms changed over the years. We also have a programs, photographs, team rosters, and a wide variety of other memorabilia tied to Ryerson’s 73 year history of Athletics and Recreation. Want to know more? Read our blog “Ryerson 7025 – Athletics and Intramurals“.

Variety of Rams Athletics memorabilia on display during Alumni Weekend, 2013

Stereographs

Stereographs, also known as stereocards or stereoscopic photographs, are an early form of 3D photographs. The two almost identical images mounted on a rectangular card or piece of glass create the illusion of a three-dimensional photograph when used with a stereoscope viewer (see our next post under V for more information on the viewing devices). Our Bass Stereoscopic Photography Collection contains approximatively 8000 stereoscopic photographs depicting various geographic locations, activities and people. Stereographs were created in the early 1850s, and gained popularity when a stereoscopic viewer was displayed at the London International Exhibition (Crystal Palace) in 1851. A decade later, stereocards were mass-produced and widely distributed by publishers and amateur photographers. They were often sold as boxsets on a certain topic, for entertainment or educational purposes, or as a souvenir while visiting a tourist destination.

Image of a stereograph (two similar images side by side on a rectangular card stock) with Yosemite Valley
2018.09.04.07.35 – Underwood & Underwood (Yosemite Valley, 1902)

Next week, in our final March post, we’ll highlight items and archival concepts for the letters T to Z!

Archives A to Z: Part 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.

  • March 1: A to F
  • March 8: G to M
  • March 15: N to S
  • March 22: T to Z

Green Roof

Ryerson’s first unofficial green roof was created over the Ryerson Athletic Centre (RAC), which opened in 1987. The RAC was constructed underneath the Kerr Hall Quadrangle, it’s roof covered by just 15 cm of top soil, sodded over and trees planted around the perimeter. Ryerson’s first official green roof was constructed a top the George Vari Engineering and Computer Centre in 2004. To learn more about Ryerson’s Green Roof initiatives read more here – How the Ryerson Community is shaping Urban Culture.

Forum newsletter (RG 122.04) Click on the photograph to read the whole story.

How-to

Archives and Special Collections staff embarked on a project this past year to create a series of “how-to” videos. The project was initiated in response to our move to online research help and working from home. The videos are a digital version of what we would normally relate in person to our researchers. You can view the videos, including “Searching the Ryerson Archives and Special Collections Database“, “Archives 101: How Archival Records are Organized and Why“, and “Archives 101: Archival Records Descriptions and what to look for when you research“, on the Ryerson Library Youtube channel. Staff is currently working on more videos to add to this collection.

Opening shot from Introduction to Archives and Special Collections video – click on the image to watch the whole video, Olivia Wong, 2020

Instruments

The Toronto Metropolitan University Archives was founded in 1971 with the idea that it could also reflect the polytechnic roots of the school and the “hands-on” emphasis of the school’s curriculum at the time – a kind of hybrid Archives and Museum of Technology. A large percentage of our early donations were objects as opposed to the traditional textual and photographic nature of Archival materials. As a result we have a wide selection instruments and equipment in the collection that were used by Ryerson students in early Science and Technology (Engineering) courses.

Microscope with case and instruction manual (RG 0.04.11)

Jorgenson Hall

Jorgenson Hall, named for Ryerson’s first President Fred Jorgenson (1966-1969), was completed in 1971. The 14 story tower anchors the north end of a building complex, which includes the Podium Building and the Library building, on the west side of Nelson Mandela Walk. The brutalist building was designed by WZMH Architects and constructed by EllisDon Corporation. The photograph is one of thousands that are housed in Archives and Special Collections that document the evolution of the campus. We also have the architectural model of the building complex in our collections.

Construction of Jorgenson Hall (RG 122.10.98)

Kodak

The Kodak Canada Corporate Archives and Heritage Collection was the first collection acquired by Special Collections in 2005 and continues to be our most researched material. It includes extensive documentation of Kodak Heights, the 25 acres of farmland near Weston Road and Eglinton Avenue where the company established a photographic film manufacturing and camera assembly plant. Kodak purchased the land in 1912, and by 1925 there were over 900 employees working in seven buildings at Kodak Heights. To learn more about the Kodak collection see our various blogs on the history of Kodak in Toronto, insights into the corporate culture, women in Kodak advertising, Blackface in the Kodak archive and the early days of Kodak.

Black and white photograph of two women sitting at desks processing 8mm film (ca. 1955)
2005.001.06.03.304 –  Women processing 8mm film (ca. 1955)

Lenin

Special Collections’ holdings include the Leniniana Collection, which consists of more than 800 items featuring the image of Vladimir Ilych Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union. The collection includes pins, sculptures, books, posters, postcards, 35mm film, as well as two sets of nesting or Matryoshkas dolls. The collection was assembled by Dr. Ron Vastokas between 1989 and 2003 in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Vilnius and Kaliningrad.

Painted wooden nesting or Matrioshkas dolls of Russian Communist leaders. Mikhail Gorbachev is the first and largest doll, inside which in succession are the leaders: Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. Five dolls in total.
2008.005.11.005 – Set of Matryoshkas painted with Soviet political figures

Magic Lanterns

Developed in the 17th century following the creation of the camera obscura, magic lanterns are the earliest form of slide projects. These optical devices used candles, oil and later limestone as a light source to project glass slides onto screens. This large biunial (or double lens) mahogany and brass magic lantern has two optical systems which allows for transition effects between slides. There are a wide range of magic lanterns models, from small toy lanterns for children, to large projectors for theatrical presentations or educational lectures. Explore our database to see the wide variety of magic lantern projectors and slides in our holdings.

A wooden Biunial Magic Lantern projector in front of a white background
2017.017.01.004 Biunial Magic Lantern

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

Archives A to Z: Part 1

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 holdings and demystifying archival concepts related to each letter of the alphabet.

  • March 1: A to F
  • March 8: G to M
  • March 15: N to S
  • March 22: T to Z

Archives & Special Collections

The Ryerson Archives was founded in 1971 on a recommendation by the Smyth Commission on Ryerson Polytechnical Institute’s governance and organization. Its mandate is to preserve and makes accessible the records essential to the understanding of the University’s purposes and operation or having other historical or archival value. Special Collections was founded in 2005 with the donation of the Kodak Canada Corporate Archives and Heritage Collection. Its purpose is to support the learning and teaching needs and facilitate the scholarly, research and creative activities of the Ryerson community by acquiring and preserving photography, film and cultural history objects. The two came together in 2012 and moved to a shared space in 2017. Open to the public, we provide research help for the Ryerson Community and beyond. We also offer a variety of different educational experiences for staff and students at Ryerson. Learn more about us here.

5 students working in the Archives & Special Collections reading room
Ryerson Archives & Special Collections Reading Room located in Room 404 of the Ryerson Library

Button Collection

Ryerson’s button collection houses hundreds of buttons from all different departments, events, and campus groups. The buttons are stored together, but belong to different record groups in the repository. Here is a small sampling:

An overhead image of about 20 colourful buttons with Ryerson logos and slogans
Toronto Metropolitan University Archive’s Button Collection houses buttons of all shapes and sizes. You can see our smallest and largest ones in this image.

Comic Books

The Canadian Whites Comic Book Collection consists of 181 comic books, produced in Canada, mainly during World War II, after the War Exchange Conservation Act (WECA), on December 2, 1940 classified American comics as “luxury goods” and limited their importation. These comics are generally referred to as the “Canadian Whites” due to the fact that the illustrations were black and white, except for the covers.

Triumph Comics comic book cover
An online version of the comic book is available: Triumph Comics No. 12

Dogs of Oakham House

The Oakham House dogs, Archives and Special Collections official mascots, were donated to the Archives in 2010. They originally graced the front entrance to Oakham House, a former private home built by Architect William Thomas. Upon their arrival to Archives and Special Collections, a university wide name the dogs contest was held. The pups were named “Daisy” for Ryerson’s first computer and “RISIS” for the Ryerson created “Ryerson Integrated Student Records System”. They currently stand watch over our reading room and greet visitors from their spot in front of our reference help desk.

Two cast iron dog sculptures
The Oakham House dog sculptures are made from cast iron and weigh about 100 lbs each.

Eaton’s Centre

Our holdings include several images of the Eaton’s Centre as part of the Canadian Architect Magazine Fonds. This collection contains thousands of negatives and photographs taken for the publication. The magazine reviewed and documented both public and private structures, including churches, homes, businesses, airports, government offices and public spaces. The subjects of the photographs are generally modern Canadian structures, but images of some International sites and early 20th century Canadian buildings can be found in the collection as well.

Fraggle Rock

The Robert Hackborn Fonds contains extensive documentation of the creative processes for Jim Henson’s television show Fraggle Rock, including on-set images, sketches of set designs and correspondence. Robert Hackborn was a Canadian set designer and art director. He started working at the CBC in 1955 as a scenic paint artist and later progressed to the Set Design Department where he would produce versatile special visual effects incorporated in years of Canadian film and television programming.

Next week we’ll highlight items and archival concepts for the letters G to M!

Leninism as Political Religion: Soviet Iconography and the Deification of Lenin

Commanding People

Lenin and Jesus speaking and gesturing to their crowds of followers from up above.

Left: V. I. Lenin Proclaims Soviet Power. 2008.005.07.006. Leniniana Collection, Toronto Metropolitan University Archives & Special Collections. Right: A 19th-century painting depicting the Sermon on the Mount by Carl Heinrich Bloch via Wikipedia. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABloch-SermonOnTheMount.jpg

In many ways, living in the USSR was quite unlike what we experience in present day Canada.  Because of the stark contrast in the portrayal and treatment of political leaders between our cultures, researchers do not have to be familiar with Soviet history to identify unmistakable differences.

Banner Baby

An infant Lenin was the face of the Little Octobrists, the Soviet children’s league. Similarly, Baby Jesus is often depicted in Christian art. This Lenin banner resembles those common in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the dominant religion of the areas encompassing the former Soviet Union. The Lenin image makes use of the familiar Eastern Christian halo design, as depicted in the Byzantine-style icons being carried in the procession.

Left: Little Octobrists small banner. 2008.005.01.013. Leniniana Collection, Toronto Metropolitan University Archives & Special Collections. Centre: Baby Jesus 04 by Waiting For The Word via Flickr. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC-By-SA). Right: A cross Procession in Novosibirsk, Russia. By Testus (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.

In Canada, it is not commonplace to find flags, banners, note cards, statues or paintings created and showcased in devotion to our Prime Minister.  Conversely, Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin was featured on these sorts of materials and more, achieving a venerable status throughout the Soviet Union and beyond.  This is easily seen in Toronto Metropolitan University’s Leniniana Collection, which consists of more than 800 items featuring the image of Lenin. A messianic Lenin effectively filled the void brought about by the USSR’s violent suppression of organized religion:

Certain symbolic forms probably recalled religious icons. The extensive use of the colour red, the distorted perspective (Lenin is far larger than the sun, the globe, and the worker and peasant on either side), the composition (Lenin flanked by the worker and peasant, just as Christ was sometimes flanked by two apostles), and the circular frame that surrounds Lenin (Christ was often situated in an oval frame) must have been familiar to Russians accustomed to the conventions of religious icons. (Bonnell, 1999, p. 146)

Tower of BabelLenin

The towers of Lenin and Babel.

Left: Lenin: Posters, Portraits, Leaflets 1917-1924. 2008.005.07.049. Leniniana Collection, Toronto Metropolitan University Archives & Special Collections. Right: The Confusion of Tongues by Gustave Doré via Wikimedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AConfusion_of_Tongues.png

By applying Lenin’s likeness, the colour red and Communist slogans and imagery such as stars, hammers and sickles onto a wide range of materials, Lenin and his party became omnipresent – like a god.  When they replaced the paranormal God with themselves, Soviets made their party into an alternative to Christian theocratic rule (Riegel, 2005).  The fact that Lenin was not supernatural was irrelevant: Leninism became the political religion of the state.

Confession

Lenin tells followers to let the party know everything, much like religious confession.

Left: More light, let the party know everything… 2008.005.07.004. Leniniana Collection, Toronto Metropolitan University Archives & Special Collections. Right: Traditional confessional by I, Dontworry [GFDL http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html ), CC-BY-SA-3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASt.leonhard-ffm-beichtstuhl001.jpg

Despite the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the propagated deification of Lenin continues to fascinate scholars and non-academics alike.  Much like saints of Christianity, Lenin’s corpse lies in a sacred mausoleum.  This site remains popular among tourists and researchers continue to seek to learn more about this infamous figure of revolution.

They Live

A lapel pin reads, “Lenin lives.” The banner next to it proclaims the same about Jesus.

Left: Mounted object with various lapel pins of Lenin. 2008.005.06.005. Leniniana Collection, Toronto Metropolitan University Archives & Special Collections. Right: Jesus Lives – Signage And Posters In Dublin by William Murphy via Flickr. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC-By-SA). https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomatique/4674198019/

To discover the Leniniana Collection at Toronto Metropolitan University’s Special Collections, please make an appointment between 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.  Contact us at asc@ryerson.ca or at 416-979-5000 ext 4996.  We are located on the fourth floor in the library in room LIB 492.

Above Crowd

Lenin and Jesus: both in the clouds, above the people.

Left: V. I. Lenin on a Podium. 2008.005.07.011. Leniniana Collection, Toronto Metropolitan University Archives & Special Collections. Right: Jesus’ ascension to heaven, as depicted by John Singleton Copley via Wikimedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AJesus_ascending_to_heaven.jpg

To read more about Leninism as a political religion, refer to the works cited.  Both sources are available through the Toronto Metropolitan University Library.

Lenin God is with us.ipg

The Lenin lapel pin reads, “Lenin is always with us. Kaliningrad.” The shirt reads, “We are Russian! God is with us!” Leninists appropriated this common religious saying.

Left: Mounted object with various lapel pins of Lenin. 2008.005.06.005. Leniniana Collection, Toronto Metropolitan University Archives & Special Collections. Right:Мы русские-с нами БОГ by ФестивальБратья via Wikipedia. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0, 2.5, 2.0 и 1.0.

Works Cited

Bonnell, V. E. (1999). Iconography of power: Soviet political posters under Lenin and Stalin. Retrieved from http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=acls;idno=heb05220

Riegel, K. (2005). Marxism‐Leninism as a political religion. Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, 6(1). http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/14690760500099788