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Effective March 17th, the Ryerson Archives and Special Collections will be closed until further notice. See our update for more information.

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

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

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

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

Expo Watch Camera (2005.006.06.02)

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

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

To learn more about the Expo Watch Camera, click here

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

“These are a few of our favourite things…” – Jack Layton Library

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

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

This post is Archival Technician Cathy McMaster’s choice:

“The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan, a religious allegory, first published in 1678. This edition was published ca. 1900 (F 404.2.733)

I chose this wonderful little book, the story of which is the oldest religious allegory in English literature still in print. This edition is over 100 years old, in good condition, and with a personal inscription to “Lily” from her teacher, “N.M. Robb” (no date). But, it is what I discovered between pages 144 and 145 that makes this book much more special – a pressed four-leaf clover. Who found this rare plant? Jack Layton perhaps? Or, if it was Lily (or even N.M. Robb) who placed it in the book, that little plant is old. Not only a wondrous find back in the day, but also amazing it is still in this book, possibly for 120 years.  Good luck or no, it was a special find for that person and for me.

An elusive four leaf clover
  • To see other book titles in the Jack Layton library – click here
  • To see what else is in the Jack Layton fonds – click here

“These are a few of our favourite things…” – Motion Slides

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

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

This post is Special Collections Librarian Alison Skyrme’s choice:

In 2017, Special Collections received a generous donation of magic lantern slide projectors and slides from collector John Tysall. Magic Lantern Slides were projected in private homes, educational institutions, and public forums, and covered topics from amusing anecdotes, moral tales, world tours, and scientific or other educational topics. In addition to foretelling later 35mm slides and, eventually, digital presentation tools such as PowerPoint and Google Slides, the format of 19th century magic lantern slides were also a precursor to motion pictures. Motion was incorporated into magic lantern presentations in a variety of ways, including multiple lens projectors, movable hand-held projectors, and individual slides with moveable, hand painted scenes. A variety of techniques were used to create movement, including a glass overlay with selective blackout that was moved to conceal and reveal portions of the drawing to give the impression of movement (these were called slip slides). Other mechanical techniques included levers, pulleys, and rackwork. These motion slides are some of my favorite items in the collection because of their ingenuity and whimsy.

To learn more about the John Tysall collection – click here

“These are a few of our favourite things…” – Fraggle Rock

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

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

This post is Archivist Curtis Sassur’s choice:

Photograph taken on set during the filming of the television series “Fraggle Rock” (2012.005.02.86)

I love this photo because I was a big fan of the show Fraggle Rock as a kid, but also because this image, like many others within the Hackborn Fonds, highlights Robert Hackborn’s casually keen photographic eye. At first glance, it seems like the shot could be a still from the show, but then the subtle production elements at the bottom of the image tease a little notion of the creative process entailed in producing a principally puppet-powered program such as this.

  • To see what other photographs are in this series – click here
  • To see what else is in the Robert Hackborn fonds – click here

“These are a few of our favourite things…” – Birth of a Campus

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

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

This post is Archival Technician Rosalynn MacKenzie’s choice:

Excavation of the north end of the property, ca.1961

This is one of hundreds of photographs taken by late Ryerson Professor Charles Roy Horney. They are especially poignant as they document the “birth” of Ryerson’s campus with the construction of Kerr Hall and the demolition of the old Normal School buildings. Ryerson started out essentially as an experiment, but by the 1960’s it was really coming into its own and the construction of Kerr Hall represents this to me.

I picked this specific photograph because it shows how Kerr Hall was constructed. This shows the end of Unit I (which runs along Church Street from the corner of Gould to the corner of Gerrard) and the excavation for the Unit II.

  • To see a listing of the other photographs in this file – click here
  • To see what else is in the C. Roy Horney fonds – click here

Thinking inside the box: Photography

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

The exhibit runs until October 31, 2019.

2017 Year in Review: Films in the Collection

Happy 2018!

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.

What’s an Expert? (1976).

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 (1970).

Ryerson Is, another promotional title, presents brief vignettes on Ryerson’s academic programs.

Nana Mouskouri in Belafonte at the O’Keefe (1965).
Opening title for the CBC special featuring Duke Ellington. The show was produced and directed by Sampson (1964).

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.

Shot from the Buffy Ste-Marie CBC Special (1980).

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.

Kraft Miracle Whip advertisement from the Sampson films.

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!

Ryerson Media Centre staff film (1972).

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.

Ryerson Media Centre staff film (1972).
Ryerson Media Centre staff film (1972).
The Film/Paper Story by the Eastman Kodak Company (1980).

The Kodak Canada Corporate Archive and Heritage Collection has several great instructional films, including one on the process of making photographic paper and film stocks.

Opening of a film by the Eastman Kodak Company (1980).
Ryerson Media Centre film on the construction of the new library resource centre (1971)

Our biggest milestone for 2017: A&SC moved into a new space on the 4th floor of the library!

Stop by to visit the reading room and learn more about films in the collection! We even have a 16 mm circulating film collection for faculty and instructor use.

See you in the new year!

New Exhibition: Projecting Magic

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.

Lampascope Boule magic lantern, meant to be placed above an oil lamp.

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.

Magic Lantern Slide by the German manufacturer Ernest Plank, with their trademark initials E.P.

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.

Practical Nursing – nursing notes from The Wellesley Hospital School of Nursing Alumnae Association fonds

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.

Elsie K. Jones student notebook (RG 946.03.12.02)

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

  1. Six packages of absorbent wipes
  2. Two large and two small dressings
  3. One package of sterile towels
  4. Set of instruments (forceps, scissors, probe)
  5. Adhesive straps
  6. Adhesive tape
  7. Antiseptic powder (Borace or Bismuth Formic Iodide)
  8. Bandages 2” x 3”
  9. Bandage scissors
  10. Curved basin
  11. Sterile doctor’s gloves
  12. Sterile bowl or basin of warm boracic solution
  13. Packing

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

Keep thermometer in bichloride of mercury solution 1-1000. Wash in cold water and dry before giving to patient

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:

Linseed Poultice

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.

Preparation

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 Ryerson Archives and Special Collections at asc@ryerson.ca

Feature from the Collections: The Model Slide Rule

The Model Slide Rule, hung on display at the Ryerson Archives
The Model Slide Rule (RG 221.10)

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.

Donald Mordell's slide rule and case. (Artifact 563, shelf 642)
Donald Mordell’s slide rule and case. (F 422.42)