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Toronto Metropolitan University Archives & Special Collections is open Monday to Thursday from 9am - 4pm, and Friday by appointment. See our Hours page for more information or make an appointment .

Feature from the collection: Canadian Kodak Suggestion Book

The Kodak Corporate Archives and Heritage Collection, acquired by Ryerson Library in 2005, includes many insights into the unique corporate culture of Eastman Kodak and its affiliates. One of these is a group of employee suggestion books, used by the company to record suggestions submitted by employees from 1915-1959.

Ledger sized book with columns of suggestions along with employee name, date and money awarded.
Employee Suggestion Book. 1915-1954 (accession number 2005.

Along with the suggestions and the name of the employee responsible, is a record of the amount of money awarded for suggestions that were implemented. The highest award during this time was in 1923, to W. Coldwell for suggesting a change the Japanning process on box camera components, as well as adding a safety feature to punch presses in the factory.

Detail of Employee Suggestion Book, showing a $500 award. 1915-1954 (accession number 2005.
Detail of Employee Suggestion Book, showing a $500 award. 1915-1954 (accession number 2005.

Kodak Canada valued employee input quite highly; the $500.00 bonus awarded to Coldwell in 1923 would be worth about $6,900.00 today.

If you would like to view these artifacts in person or do other research in our collections, make an appointment or drop by the 4th floor of the library building. To search our collection online, check out our newly launched collections database.

What is that THING in Special Collections?

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?”

Large yellow plush Kolorkin in the Special Collection stacks
Max, the Kodak Kolorkin (Special Collections, 2005.001.04.058 )

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.

5 small plush toys (yellow, black, blue, green and red) in a cardboard box that reads "Caution this box contains living color"
Group of small Kodak Kolorkin, in original box (Special Collections, 2005.001.04.057 )

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


“The Awards for Excellence.” Adweek’s Marketing Week 12 June 1989: p12+. Academic OneFile. Web. 30 July 2015. URL

“Kodak unveils promo series.” Chain Drug Review 17 June 1991: 158. Academic OneFile. Web. 30 July 2015.

“MARCH OF THE KOLORKINS.” Toronto Star, Feb 20, 1989.

Did you know – Collections beyond our walls

Did you know that the collections in the Ryerson Archives & Special Collections sometimes are shown outside the University? Ryerson Associate Professor Marco Polo and Chair of Architectural Science Colin Ripley have curated a wonderful exhibition titled “Architecture and National Identity: The Centennial Projects 50 Years On” on view at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, PEI.

Catalogue cover for the exhibition Architecture & National Identity

On view until January 11, 2015, the exhibition examines a range of public architectural projects created throughout Canada to commemorate the Centennial of Confederation in 1967. Several photographs from the Canadian Architect Magazine Image Collection, held in Special Collections, are featured in the exhibition and the accompanying catalogue, available at the Toronto Metropolitan University Library.

The History of RyePride exhibition

RyePride History Exhibit

An Equity Service Group of the Ryerson Student’s Union, RyePride has been raising awareness LGBTQ rights and promoting inclusivity on campus for nearly 40 years! The group offers advocacy, education and an annual memorial bursary named for Christopher Skinner.


In anticipation of World Pride 2014, coming to Toronto this June, Ryerson Library and Archives has put together a display using items from RULA and the The ArQuives – Canada’s LBGTQ2+ Archives –  to highlight just some of the campaigns and events they’ve spearheaded since their beginnings in 1977. Drop by Special Collections on the 4th floor of the library and learn more about the history of RyePride at Toronto Metropolitan University.

Visit the RyePride website or contact them for more information on the programs and services they offer:  Have a look at the RyePride Timeline for more information on the groups history. 

Souvenir of Toronto: Announcing the Robert MacIntosh Collection on the History of Toronto

Toronto Metropolitan University Library and Archives is pleased to announce the donation of the Robert MacIntosh Collection on the History of Toronto to the Special Collections department.

A few of the souvenir booklets in the collection, featuring photographs of the major sites to see in the city.  These early keepsakes often included views of Casa Loma, the Canada Life Assurance Company building, the CNE, and Sunnyside pool.

The collection of 141 books was carefully curated by collector, author, and longtime Toronto resident, Robert M. MacIntosh. Ranging in date from 1807 – 1988, topics include historical accounts, biographies of notable Torontonians (including John Toronto himself, Bishop Strachan), tourist keepsakes through the years, maps, centennial publications, and TTC brochures.  

An economist by trade, MacIntosh authored “Different Drummers, Banking and Politics in Canada” in 1992 before focusing his research on the early history and formation of the City of Toronto and publishing “Earliest Toronto” in 2006.

Browse all books in the collection.

Books from the MacIntosh collection focused on significant individuals in Toronto history. Bishop John Strachan (often called “John Toronto”), was a staunch Tory, the city’s first Anglican bishop in 1839, and superintendent of schools.  An ideological rival to many of Strachan’s views, Jesse Ketchum was a representative in the 10th Parliament of the then Upper Canada. A writer and artist, Elizabeth Simcoe was the wife of Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant Governor John Simcoe and her diary is an important account of life in early York (Toronto).
Some of the volumes that detail the history of specific streets in the City of Toronto.  Yonge Street, the major artery through Toronto and once the longest street in the world, began construction in 1793 to link the new capitol of Upper Canada to Lake Simcoe.  Jarvis street, now home to the only reversible lane in Toronto, was once one of the most affluent areas of the city.  Taking it’s name from the original 1818 manor belonging to Dr. William Baldwin, Spadina now houses Toronto’s Chinatown, one of the largest in North America.

To view this or any of our other collections, give us a call and make an appointment: 416-979-5000 ext. 4996. Or email us at

Some examples of celebratory publications and reports in the MacIntosh Collection.

The Kodak Girl: Women in Kodak Advertising

Take a Kodak With You
The iconic Kodak girl, in her blue and white stripped dress, became synonymous with Kodak products. From the Kodak Corporate Archive and Heritage Collection at Toronto Metropolitan University Library and Archives.

It’s an image that is familiar to many: the fashionable, romantic woman, on a wind swept beach cradling her Kodak camera.  Bearing a striking resemblance to the Gibson Girl, this representation of an independent women at the dawn of the progressive era was part of a savvy marketing strategy by Kodak that came to be known as the “Kodak Girl” (Jacob, 2011).

At this time, Kodak had begun to produce roll film, cheaper, more portable cameras, and a system that allowed film to be sent back to the company (and later your local drug store) for development.  With the need for the amateur to have a darkroom and complicated and expensive chemicals and equipment was eliminated, photography was now accessible to everyone.

And Kodak knew who they should advertise to.  Around the turn of the last century, women were becoming more self-sufficient and began to enjoy more freedom, engaging more often in work outside the home and past times (Nordstrom, 2012).  From beach vacations to snowy winter outings to tennis matches, the modern woman was fun-loving and independent.  She now felt free to go out and explore the world – and she was taking her Kodak camera with her!

Covers of Kodak catalogues from 1915 and 1918, from the Toronto Metropolitan University Library and Archives. Accession number: 2005.
Covers of Kodak catalogues from 1912, from the Toronto Metropolitan University Library and Archives. Accession number: 2005.003

But this was not the only image of the Kodak girl; Kodak also understood, and as Dr. Kamal Munir points out helped spread, the notion that if women also wanted to be responsible mothers and wives, they would ensure that all the key moments were duly captured (2012). Women were seen as the memory keepers of the family.  It was their duty to make sure that the precious moments of her children’s lives were captured.  Birthdays, first steps, holidays, graduations – all needed to be recorded and saved for posterity, and it was up to women to make sure that happened.  This marketing strategy proved very lucrative for the company, and theme continued in their ads for many years.

"Keep Christmas with a Kodak!" 1922 advertisements from the Canadian Kodak Corporate Archive and Heritage Collection, Toronto Metropolitan University Library and Archives, accession number 2005.001.1.1.
“Keep Christmas with a Kodak!” 1922 advertisements from the Canadian Kodak Corporate Archive and Heritage Collection, Toronto Metropolitan University Library and Archives, accession number 2005.001.1.1
"The snapshots you want tomorrow, you must take today!" 1939 advertisements from the Canadian Kodak Corporate Archive and Heritage Collection, Toronto Metropolitan University Library and Archives, accession number 2005.001.1.7
“The snapshots you want tomorrow, you must take today!” 1939 advertisements from the Canadian Kodak Corporate Archive and Heritage Collection, Toronto Metropolitan University Library and Archives, accession number 2005.001.1.7

Over time, the Kodak Girl fell out of favour.  While she was still around in film and camera advertising, her job was no longer to sell women on the idea of photography.  From the mid 20th century, she was more likely to be seen in a bathing suit, often in the form of a life-sized cut out, reminding customers to re-stock their film supply before the summer holidays.

“She’s a Girl Watcher’s Dream!” Ads from 1952 and 1964 Kodak dealer circulars, showcasing the kinds of in-store display items available to help summer film sales. From the Toronto Metropolitan University Library and Archives, Accession number: 2005.001.6.
An in-store cardboard ad for Kodak Film, [ca. 1985]. From the Kodak Canada Corporate Archive and Heritage Collection, accession number, 2005.
An in-store cardboard ad for Kodak Film, [ca. 1985]. From the Kodak Canada Corporate Archive and Heritage Collection, accession number, 2005.

The later Kodak girls likely did not have the same impact on female customers.  Some suggest that Kodak’s neglect of advertising strategies directed specifically at women in their later marketing campaigns for digital cameras may have meant ignoring a significant portion of their potential market – possibly adding to the decline that the company has experienced since the digital boom (Munir, 2012). 

For more information on the history of the Kodak company in Canada, or to browse some of the cameras and equipment they produced over its nearly 125-year history, visit the Special Collections department on the 4th floor of the Toronto Metropolitan University Library and Archives.  Call us at 416-979-5000 ext. 4996 or send us an email:

For more Kodak Girls, visit the Martha Cooper Collection website.


Gautrand, Jean-Claude. (1983). Publicites Kodak: 1910-1939. Paris: Contrejour. Get it at Ryerson

Jacob, John P. (Ed.). (2012). Kodak Girl : From the Martha Cooper Collection. Germany: Steidl. Get it at Ryerson

Munir, Dr. Kamal. (2012). The Demise of Kodak : Five Reasons. The Wall Street Journal.  Retrieved from

Nordstrom, Dr. Alison. (2012). Lovely, Smart, Modern: Women with Cameras in a Changing World. In Jacob, John P. (Ed.), Kodak Girl: From the Martha Cooper Collection (65-70). Germany: Steidl.

West, Nancy Martha. (2010). Kodak and the Lens of Nostalgia. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.  Get it at Ryerson

Mystery Images Found Around the Library…

For the past few years at the Toronto Metropolitan University Library, mysterious photographs have been showing up in random library books. These photographs are housed in small paper envelopes that refer to them as “supplementary image plates” and label them “Property of V.I. Fonds”. Each envelope of ‘supplementary plates’ has ended up in a library book with a  theme similar to the subject of the pictures within it. Only recently has the library solved the mystery of where these envelopes have been coming from.

A  yellow envelope reading "Property of V.I. Fonds" TR790 .T35 1993 - Travel Photography. Supplementary image plates on temporary loan to Take Better Travel Photos/
An example of the V.I. Fonds envelopes found in books around the Library

It turns out that the planted photographs are the result of a project assigned by Image Arts Professor Vid Ingelevics to his Documentary Media MFA students for the course “Databases, Archives and the Virtual Experience of Art.” For the project, students were presented with an archive of 100 images on CD and asked to create a system to classify them. Past student Mark Laurie, who graduated from the program in 2010, chose to rely on the Dewey Decimal System and Library of Congress Subject headings to help categorize the disparate images.

The title of the project – “Supplementary plates: The V.I. Fonds distribution project” – describes Laurie’s decision for classifying the images through placing them into library books. Each individual photograph remains connected to the others in archival fashion by fonds, acknowledging the original source and organization of the images, in a group of 100 from Vid Ingelevics.

The artist printed the images as photographs, and divided them into library books because “without knowledge of the images’ provenances and the archival motivations behind their co-mingling, [Laurie] realized that by merely organizing them into batches, [he] could not hope to restore their meaning or significance.” Assigning each image, or small group of similar images, a Library of Congress Subject heading, Laurie searched the Ryerson Library catalogue and chose books with identical subject headings to place the photographs in. He used the Dewey Decimal and the Library of Congress Subject heading to complete the classification of his images, and placed them into books indicating that they were “on loan” from the V.I. Fonds to that book, adding to the Ryerson Library’s collection of images on that subject.

For example, Edward Ruschca’s book Twentysix Gasoline Stations was found with an envelope that reads:

NA6370 .R8 1967 – Service stations.
Supplementary image plate(s) on temporary loan to Twentysix gasoline stations. ( [s.l. ]: Cunningham, 1967).
[Fig. 1] A typical gasoline station in the United States.
\Loan expires October 31 2008 – if overdue, please inform Loan Administrator:

The envelop contained the photo of the gasoline station in the United States.

Photograph showing the book Twentysix Gasoline Stations by Edward Ruscha, along with the envelop and photograph placed inside as part of the V.I. Fonds project.

NA6370 .R8 1967 – Service stations.
Supplementary image plate(s) on temporary loan to Twentysix gasoline stations. ( [s.l. ]: Cunningham, 1967).
[Fig. 1] A typical gasoline station in the United States.
\Loan expires October 31 2008 – if overdue, please inform Loan Administrator:

The envelop contained the photo of the gasoline station in the United States.

Other images that have been found include 7 photographs of people in the act of taking photographs in the book “Taking Better Travel Photos”, and a photograph of a group of friends dining together in the book “Dining Customs Around the World, with Occasional Recipes.”

Kodak how to book for taking travel photos, seen with the inserts from the V.I. Fonds.
V.I. Fonds inserted photographs

The Ryerson Library is still on the lookout for more of these envelopes, so far only 28 out of 54 envelopes have been found. If you are interested in seeing those that have already been found, they are being held on the fourth floor of the library in Special Collections.  You can help us with this mystery! If you happen to find one of the V.I. Fond envelopes, please bring it to the attention of library staff, so that we might add it to our collection.

Also hidden on our shelves…

Staff at the Toronto Metropolitan University Library and Archives have also been surprised to find new titles added to our shelves throughout the past year. Donations to the library including books titled: “My Erotic Life: Richard “Dick” Nixon”; “Why Are Babies So Ugly?” by Oprah Winfrey; “Circus of Desire” by Penelope Brimshaw; and “Puppies for Africa” by Jeffrey Sachs were found, anonymously donated, throughout the library.

Photograph of fake book covers created by the Marxist Nudist Taxidermy Club. Titles include Circus of Desire by Penelope Brimshaw, My Erotic Life by Richard "Dick" Nixon and Why are Babies so Ugly by Oprah Winfrey
Examples of books donated to libraries around Toronto by the Marxist Nudist Taxidermy Club.

With a little research, Ryerson Library staff was able to find the culprits and credit the donations to The Marxist Nudist Taxidermy Club of Toronto. The MNT club celebrated April fools day last year (2012) by making some library visits.  The Ryerson library was one of only five libraries in Toronto to which the club kindly donated books that can’t be found anywhere else.  The library is still on alert for the two missing titles from the MNT Books Project collection…

– Cassandra Rowbotham, June 2013

Links and further information

For information about Ryerson Library Special Collections:

For more information about the Toronto Metropolitan University graduate program in Documentary Media:

More information about Mark Laurie’s project can be found here:

More information about The Marxist Nudist Taxidermy Club can be found 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.


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.


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).


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 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.


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.”


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.


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 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 or cal 416-979-5164.

Feature of the Week: Communist Leader Nesting Dolls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


DeLaine, Linda. “Matryoshka – Soul of Russia.” Russian Life. N.p. 2007. . 20 April, 2011.

Feature of the Week: The Titanic underwater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Dr. Joe MacInnis: Physician, explorer, motivational speaker and author. Dr. Joe McInnis, n.d. 17 Mar. 2011.