On a weekly basis Archives and Special Collections gets asked the question “What do you have stored in all those boxes”. In answer to this query, we introduce our “Thinking Inside the Box” exhibit and blog series. The series aims to showcase what we have stored away on shelves and in boxes out of the public eye. “Thinking Inside the Box – Photography” is the first in this series.
Ryerson Library’s Special Collections was founded in 2005 with the donation of the Kodak Canada Corporate Archive and Heritage Collection. Since this time, donations of photography and film-related materials have grown Special Collections exponentially, making up a major part of its holdings. Books, periodicals, photography and developing equipment are just some of the items we house. The camera collection boasts almost 800 cameras ranging in dates from the late 1860s to the early 2000s and include examples of miniature, instamatic, panoramic, and enlarging models.
The exhibit in the Archives and Special Collections reading room features some of this large collection of materials. The exhibits showcase a variety of cameras including: miniature; novelty; movie; flash; Polaroid; twin lens; and varied format. The exhibit also features other camera and developing equipment. The following images showcase a few of the artifacts on display
As we begin a new year and semester at Ryerson, I would like to share highlights from the collections by looking at films I inspected in 2017. I started working at Archives & Special Collections in July 2017 as an Audiovisual Assistant with the goal to survey their moving image assets for preservation and digitization initiatives. It has been an incredible experience digging through the vault, and I would like to share some of my discoveries by using the reference images I took while inspecting the films.
The Archives have several promotional films that examine the history of Ryerson and the programs offered since the university’s inception. What’s an Expert explores the Secretarial Science program, which was available at Ryerson between 1952 and 1985.
Ryerson Is, another promotional title, presents brief vignettes on Ryerson’s academic programs.
I found several hidden gems as part of the Paddy Sampson Fonds in Special Collections. The films in this collection include raw and edited footage from musical television programs that Sampson produced for the CBC in the 1960s and 1970s. One of my favorites is Belafonte at the O’Keefe, a show featuring Harry Belafonte accompanied by the Greek singer Nana Mouskouri and the Folk-blues duo Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.
The collection also holds a Duke Ellington variety special with a beautiful animated introduction, as well as raw footage from a television program on Buffy Ste-Marie.
One of my favorite parts of the Sampson films is that we have kinescope copies (black and white film recordings of television broadcasts) since these reels include the advertisement breaks during the shows!
Recently, I have been looking into Ryerson’s past, and learning about the Ryerson Media Centre (now called the Digital Media Projects) through films they produced in the 1970s. An untitled reel featured media and radio staff members showing off their equipment and facilities.
Have you ever wondered what people watched at home and in theaters before Netflix and the invention of cinema? This exhibition hopes to demystify one aspect of pre-cinematic technology: magic lantern projectors. These early optical devices used oil or gas light sources to project glass slide images onto a screen. Some say magic lanterns are the precursors to Powerpoint presentations!
The first report of the construction of a magic lantern is generally considered to be referring to the Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens in 1659. It was inspired by precedent optical inventions such as the camera obscura (which was a room containing a pinhole that a scene was projected through onto the opposite wall), and magic shadow shows which used puppets and hands to recount stories.
By the eighteenth-century, the magic lantern was “openly displayed” for public events by traveling lanternists in public venues. Several showmen used the lanterns to produce horror shows, popularly known as “Phantasmagoria” shows. These presentations projected ghostly images onto smoke screens to create the effect of conjuring evil spirits.
Initially lanterns were illuminated by candlelight or oil lamps, but this did not produce enough light to project a clear image from afar. Lanternists began to use limestone in the early 1800s, as they could successfully be used for projection in large theaters. Limelight is produced through the combustion of hydrogen and oxygen directed at a piece of lime (calcium oxide). This method was quite complex and potentially hazardous, since at the time putting gas under pressure was achieved by sandwiching rubber bags filled with gas between two pieces of wood.
By the mid 1800s, a huge variety of magic lanterns became available to the professional and home market. On display in the exhibit, we have lanterns with varying functions, from a decorative circular lantern meant to be placed above an oil lamp at home, to a large biunial (or double lens) lantern that could be used in large halls for theatrical presentation or educational lectures.
Slides also varied in their typology, becoming more detailed and elaborate with each new iteration. Initially they were rectangular strips of glass with hand painted imagery and a mahogany wood border. When separate wooden slide carriers were developed, the wooden border attached to the wood slides themselves was removed from the design. Then, the illustrations featured on the glass portion went from being hand-painted to mechanically produced, and by the mid 1800s photographic slides came into production as well.
Magic lantern projection also demonstrates the aspiration to present not only static, but moving images to an audience. Lanternists would use panoramic slides, which when passed in front of the projector’s lens would create the illusion of movement. This quickly progressed into animated images which came about with creation of ingenious mechanical slides. This included rack-and-pinion slides where glass discs were rotated using a handle (and which were often astrologically themed), lever slides, or single pulley slides which used a rope pulley system.
Items on display are part of a recent donation of magic lantern projectors and slides from John Tysall. Stop by the Archives and Special Collections Department on the 4th floor of the Ryerson Library to see the new exhibit located in the display case by the 4th floor reading room doors. The exhibition is designed and curated by Jocelyn Oprzedek and Olivia Wong.
The Wellesley Hospital School of Nursing Alumnae Association fonds came to the Ryerson Archives and Special Collections in 2011. In it are several notebooks filled with course notes, and practical knowledge for the student nurse.
One of the notebooks dates to the 1920’s and belonged to Wellesley School of Nursing class of 1925 graduate Elsie Kathleen Jones. Elsie K. returned to The Wellesley in 1928 and became the Director of Nursing in 1937, the role she held until her retirement in 1964.
In the notebook there are notations regarding everything from making a proper hospital bed and caring for the sheets, to recognizing and treating a hemorrhage in a patient. The following are some excerpts from the notebook.
To Make a Closed Bed
Loosen all the covers, removing one article at a time. Fold and place on a chair
Brush mattress well and turn from end to end
Place mattress protector on mattress
Put on lower sheet, wide hem at top, tucking in nine (9”) at top of mattress drawing tightly and turning straight corners.
Place the draw rubber, pulling on tightly, so there are no wrinkles
Place draw sheet, folding about 1/3 under at the top and tucking in tightly on each side
Place top sheet with the hem wrong side up, first coming to top of bed. Tuck in at the foot and make straight corners
Place blanket about 9” from top of the bed. Tuck in at the foot and make straight corners.
Then fold top sheet over the blanket and tuck in on both sides
Place the spread, reaching to the top of the bed, making straight corner at the bottom.
Place two pillows in bed. See that the pillows are well on the corners of the slips. Fold and place with closed end toward the door
The notebook also included instructions on how to make an “Ether” or surgical bed. The following are instructions for making up a surgical tray:
Surgical dressing tray
Six packages of absorbent wipes
Two large and two small dressings
One package of sterile towels
Set of instruments (forceps, scissors, probe)
Antiseptic powder (Borace or Bismuth Formic Iodide)
Bandages 2” x 3”
Sterile doctor’s gloves
Sterile bowl or basin of warm boracic solution
The nurses were also responsible to pre-treating the bedding if stained before sending them out to be washed:
Blood stains are soaked in cold water, then washed with soap and tepid water. For tea, coffee, and fruit stains use boiling water. If stains are still very persistent, use a solution of oxalic acid and rinse well afterwards in cold water.
Cocoa or anything containing milk use cold water
Grease stains, use hot water and soap or benzene
Iron Rust – spread over boiling water cover with salt and lemon juice, place in sun, if possible, and rinse thoroughly before sending to laundry
Ink stains – cover with salt and lemon juice and rinse thoroughly
Iodine – use ammonia or alcohol
When it came to treating their patients there were basic instructions such as recognizing sings of and type of fevers and proper care of thermometers:
Care of thermometer
Keep thermometer in bichloride of mercury solution 1-1000. Wash in cold water and dry before giving to patient
Types of Fever
Continuous fever which remains high with slight variations
Remittent, which remain above normal with considerable variations between highest and lowest temperature
Intermittent – alternately rises to high fever and falls to or below normal
The notebook also has a number of recipes for poultices, enemas, purgatives, and various medical solutions used by nurses to treat a variety of medical conditions. The Linseed poultice was used for treating chest congestion and pneumonia:
Is made from linseed or ground flax seed meal. It is most effectual because it can be used at higher temperatures with blistering, as the linseed contains considerable oil.
For a small poultice, use about 2/3 cup of linseed to 1 cup boiling water. Add the linseed slowly to the boiling water, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula. Turn the gas low and just let come to a boil. Remove from gas and beat vigorously. Spread the linseed about 3/4” thick on poultice gauze leaving a good margin for folding in. Carry to the patient between heated plates. Have ready oiled muslin flannel protector binder and pins
*Note – Linseed poultice must be hot, light and smooth.
To view the notebook in its entirety or look through other items in this fonds – please contact the Ryerson Archives at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the Archives longest artifacts (when fully extended it reaches 18 feet), this model slide rule was donated by the Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science Department. It was used for demonstration purposes in the classroom. It served as a useful visual aide by instructors who would need to explain concepts on the chalk board to a classroom of students. The students could then follow along with their respective slide rules.
The slide rule was developed in the 17th century and was used for calculations in science and engineering before the advent of the pocket calculator.
Donald Mordell, Ryerson’s President from 1970-1974, also donated his personal slide rule and case. He was a distinguished international engineer and academic.
To see this artifact, and all the others on display in the reading room, drop by the Archives.
2015 marked the 10 year anniversary of Special Collections at the Ryerson University Library and Archives. It seems like a good time time to have a look back at where we came from, and where we are headed.
The Special Collections department at the Ryerson University Library was founded in 2005, with the acquisition of the Kodak Canada Corporate Archives and Heritage Collection after the Mount Dennis campus shut down. The collection includes the history of the company in Toronto since it’s arrival in 1900, and the contents of Kodak Museum that had recently opened at the Mount Dennis campus.
At that time, Special Collections occupied a small storage space on the 7th floor of the library, big enough for the two PPCM students working on the collection, but with no public research space.
By 2006, we’d moved to a larger space, and our collections had grown to include book collections, acquiring the Michael Mitchell collection and the Nicholas and Marilyn Graver collections. Students were able to visit the collection, and internships were created to process the large collections.
Though safe and secure, the new space was difficult to access by researchers. This was solved in 2008, when a more permanent, accessible space was completed on the 4th floor of the library. The new space featured more storage, exhibition and display space, as well as a research area and student work station. A modest exhibition program was instituted, and researchers gained an accessible reading room to explore the growing collections. These included the Leniniana propaganda collection, the Lorne Shields Historical Photography Collection. We also integrated the library’s existing rare book collection, and the acquisition of the Canadian Architect Magazine collection was underway.
The future of Special Collections at Ryerson looks bright and includes an expansion of our space, and integrating with the Archives department, which will allow more accessibility to our researchers and more space for our collections. We will continue to grow our collection, in line with our revised mandate to support teaching and research at Ryerson University.
Help us celebrate! Drop by to see a small selection of items from our most popular collections, now on display on the 4th floor of the Ryerson Library. For more information or to view the collections call or email to make an appointment.
Location: 4th Floor, Ryerson Library, LIB404
Hours: Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm Phone: 416-979-5000 ext. 7027 Email: email@example.com
This thin artist’s book allegedly contains ten duotones of forbidden images. However, what the reader will see when browsing this book is a stiff book with five silver coloured pages. That’s because Boltanski has coated each image in a scratch-card like opaque substance. So, the only way to view the hidden images is to physically scratch off the surface of each page. In this way, the artist is making a statement about the responsibility of viewing images of disaster, forcing the reader to make a decision – either peek and look, or stare and wonder at what lies beneath the surface.
Sol LeWitt was one of the artists spearheading the Conceptual movement in the 1960s. While he was most well-known for his painting, drawing and sculpture works, LeWitt also published multiple photographic artist’s books. This odd little book contains a photographic narrative of two roosters fighting. With a simple layout and premise, this book of photographs light-heartedly hints at dance and performance. Because the whole event is not completely recorded, LeWitt’s book suggests multiple readings and multiple endings.
See by Marcia Resnick contains 34 black and white portraits. Each portrait shows the subject in the center of the frame in front of various landscapes. However, instead of looking at the camera, each subject has their back to us. This simple little book from 1975 can actually be read as a deeper exploration of looking and being look at, of seeing and being seen.
It won’t take long for you to read this book cover-to-cover, and it’s definitely one you’ll want to peruse again! At first, this artist’s book seems a bit underwhelming – each of its pages are completely identical with small coloured squares on each side of a black page. However, everything changes once the reader realizes it is actually a flipbook – and not a conventional flipbook either. Instead of creating an illusion of movement on the pages, this book creates a three-dimensional illusion. When this clever little book is flipped though, a rainbow appears in the space between the pages!
This book is a great example of the type of unconventional book that was published by conceptual artists in the 1970s. The book contains black and white photographs, each of the artist hiding in plain sight. Part-performance, part-photography, the work Escher creates in this book shows the landscape and artist as merged, and can be seen to the reader as a sort of grown-up version of Where’s Waldo.
This collection of imagesfirmly resides outside of the traditional form of artist’s book. Instead of bound pages, this work consists of 78 individual tarot cards. The deck from 1975 is the first known photographic tarot deck, and is one of the most collectible tarot card decks in the world. Using herself, as well as family and friends as models, the artist created the multicoloured photographic cards over the span of 5 years. A lot of skill and technique went into each image. There was no Photoshop at the time, so Nettles used darkroom tricks to create special effects in the images – collaged photographs, multi-layered images and hand-drawn symbols are some of the processes she employed.
This curious book is by far the smallest in the collection – in fact it measures just 2 centimeters by 2.5 centimeters! The book chronicles the history of the eight-sided homes in the state of Maine. The author appears to have also written multiple books on the subject of teddy bears, and is a self-proclaimed “teddy bear artist”. In addition to being the smallest book in our collection, we consider it to be one of the oddest little gems in the stacks!
This rare and fragile artist’s book is one of the most iconic to come out of the 1970s. For Every Building on the Sunset Strip, the artist mounted a motorized camera to the back of a truck, photographing every building he passed. Ruscha then created a bound accordion-style book from one continuous folding strip that extends approximately 25 feet. Though now the book might make us think of Google Street View, the book revealed at the time a new form of topographical map-making study. Ruscha is known for spearheading a new genre of artist’s book, favouring a cheap and conceptual approach over the typical livre d’artiste of the day. Ryerson’s Special Collections is also home to various other original seminal Ruscha books, including Business Cards, Royal Road Test and Crackers.
Contact us to come have a look at these odd and outstanding artist’s books!
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.
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.
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 or newly launched collections database.
If you’re been up to the 4th floor of the library and peered into Special Collections, you may have seen this funny creature sitting in the corner and wondered: “What the heck is that?”
Well, that’s Max, a larger version of the plush Kodak Kolorkins toys, produced by Kodak from 1988 until the later 1990’s. Beginning in 1988, Kodak Canada began giving away the tiny, stuffed promotional toys away in exchange for mailed-in points that customers collected from film and batteries. The promotion was wildly popular, and by the time the first promotion was over, they had given away 225,000 toys and were recognized as runner up in the Council of Sales Promotion Agencies’ first “Awards of Excellent”.
There were three series of Kolorkins, and our friend Max (along with his friends Click, Zoom, Check and Digit) was part of the last series, produced in 1999 as part of Kodak Canada’s centennial.
If you’d like to visit Max, or explore more of our collections, please drop by Special Collections, located on the 4th floor of the library building, or make an appointment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Awards for Excellence.” Adweek’s Marketing Week 12 June 1989: p12+. Academic OneFile. Web. 30 July 2015. URL http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA7694025&v=2.1&u=rpu_main&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=c3942ee28e69dc4ec3ca77e9effae9a0
“Kodak unveils promo series.” Chain Drug Review 17 June 1991: 158. Academic OneFile. Web. 30 July 2015. http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA10958413&v=2.1&u=rpu_main&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=d90584f76f2719b2adfdc837671b8318
“MARCH OF THE KOLORKINS.” Toronto Star, Feb 20, 1989. http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/435873367?accountid=13631.
With the first day of summer quickly approaching, the people of Toronto are flocking outdoors to enjoy the many events and activities taking place across the city. And although there are endless ways to take advantage of such a lively time of year, the pages of a Toronto family scrapbook may help to determine how best to enjoy the season.
The following is a list of activities to consider this year, recommended by Torontonians circa 1913:
Enjoy a promenade through Allan Gardens, one of Toronto’s oldest parks founded in 1858. While you’re there you may want to drop into Allan Gardens Conservatory, built in 1910, just a few years before these photographs were taken.
Visit one of North America’s largest fairs, taking place annually at Exhibition Place.
Venture out to the Scarborough Bluffs and explore a unique geological feature of the city’s landscape.
Gather some friends and head to one of Toronto’s many parks and beaches.
The waterfront is at its best this time of year. Venture out on the Toronto Harbour and hop aboard a boat cruise, or take out a canoe. Maybe pay a visit to the Island.
Bike along a trail or through your favourite neighbourhood.
Wander over to your favourite store or market.
Embrace local history and check out how the city has evolved.
If the city has become too overwhelming, maybe it’s time to get away and take a weekend or day trip to the surrounding area.
So long as there are friends and family, there are no shortage of ways to appreciate summer in and around Toronto.
This blog features items from the Historical Collection, the Robert MacIntosh Collection on the History of Toronto, and the Rare Books Collection held at Ryerson’s Special Collections on the 4th floor of the library. Drop in and see what else these collections have to offer. Call 416-979-5000 ext. 4996 or email email@example.com to make an appointment.