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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…” – 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

2020 Alumni Weekend – Welcome to Archives & Special Collections Virtual Open House

This year we open our doors for a virtual visit.  We sincerely miss seeing all you alumni and your guests during this COVID-19 crisis.  We miss hearing your stories about your days at Ryerson and sharing with you, in person, what we have in our collections.  We sincerely hope you are keeping well.

Let’s begin with walking through the doors of the not-so-distant past, into the former Ryerson Archives Reading Room on the 3rd floor of Ryerson University Library…

The Archives Reading Room as it looked in 2011 on the 3rd floor, Library.
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2013 Alumni Weekend, as arranged by my colleague, 3rd floor Archives.
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Peter working at the 2013 Alumni Weekend dressed as a 1993 grad, greeting visitors.
And on the right, Peter, undressed.
For more insight into Peter‘s life, see the Feature blog,  Who is this man in the Archives?
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The Library stacks, 1970s, on display for 2013 Alumni Weekend.
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2013 Alumni Weekend.  Sports featured here (L-R)
Intramural sports, Judo, Soccer, Men’s Basketball, Golf, Downhill Skiing, Football, Women’s Basketball
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Perhaps some of you were taught Politics by Jack Layton in the 1970s.
This 2014 display honours him.
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In 2017, after having merged with Special Collections, the 4th floor became our new home…

Our presence is boldly announced. We’re located directly across from the elevators.
You can also see our three-section display case.
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Upon walking through the doors, you’ll enter our Reading Room.
Check out this short blog about The Oakham House Dogs, seen in the foreground.
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Looking to the left as you walk in.  The blond wood cabinet is the last
card catalogue shelving unit remaining in the Library.
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A comfy reading area where you can peruse the shelves,
enjoy the few yearbooks and every issue of The Ryersonian and The Eyeopener.
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2019 Alumni Weekend
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Eggy made an appearance at the 2019 Open House, at least as his former self (2004-2011) – except
for the 1990s sports jersey.  Celebrating Eggy blog post takes a look at Eggy’s past.
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1950s and ’60 apparel.
Woman’s blazer. And, a tam, a variety of beanies, a top hat, and a recent rams hat for those emulating Eggy.
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A sampling of our button collection.
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Model of the original Ryerson building, Ryerson Hall, showing the building as it was in 1852
when it was built as Canada’s first Normal School (teachers’ college).
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Look!  A miniature Ryerson student!
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It’s time now for a few artefacts from Special Collections…

A 19th C Magic Lantern, a kind of early slide show with glass images projected through a lens.
The source of light for projection was an oil lamp inside the lantern “belly”, thus, the
chimney at the top.  All said, a dangerous proposition. 
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These wonderful 19th C tintypes are examples of a photographic process creating a positive image directly on a small lacquered-covered piece of metal.  They were inexpensive and very popular.  Often mounted in small cases, as seen on the left, which opens to a velvet interior with a tiny, elaborate frame.  The image inside has been meticulously hand painted.
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3D imagery is sampled here : A late 19th C / early 20th C stereoscope (left)…to this 1970s Talking View-Master!
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And finally, WWII Canadian comic books featuring Canadian heroes…

Called Canadian Whites due to the white paper within the very colourful covers.
Here, under Triumph Comics, is Nelvana of the Northern Lights.
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And Crash Carson, under the WOW banner, shoots down a Nazi plane.
See more information in our online database.

We hope you enjoyed your first Archives & Special Collections Virtual Open House!  “Stay Safe.”

First Edition Photobook Award, 2019 Award Winners

The Photography Studies program at Ryerson University together with Ryerson University Library is pleased to announce the 2019 recipients of the First Edition Photobook Awards

Book Award Recipients

About the Award

The Ryerson Library First Edition Photobook Award was instituted in 2015 by Library Special Collections Curatorial Specialist Alison Skyrme and Image Arts Instructor Christopher Manson to honor 3rd-year photography students who have made exceptional achievements in photobook production. It provides an incentive for them to achieve early recognition that will have a lasting legacy in our collection. As part of MPS507 – The Photographic Book, a 3rd-year Image Arts course that teaches students design and composition principles, students conceive of and produce their own photobook based on their own photography.

Each year, the Library purchases the top books in the class. This  years judges were Image Arts Instructor Ryan Walker, Image Arts Associate Professor Alex Alter and Special Collections Librarian Alison Skyrme. They were judged at the annual exhibition of the books at the end of the fall semester, and the winners announced at the exhibition opening. For evaluation, particular attention was paid to design, sequencing, and integration of images and text. The award will be officially given at the next awards night, the following fall semester.

Previous Award Recipients

The following 2018 award winners were presented with a certificate during the Image Arts Awards Night in November 2019: Clea Christakos-Gee, Raelene Giffin, Rafaela Conde, Lisa McElroy, Heather Rattray, Kalen Huxhan, and Hayley Wilsdon

Click here to see a complete list of Book Award Winners in the Library’s catalogue.

For more information contact Special Collections Librarian Alison Skyrme.

 

Remembrance Day and Ryerson University

Remembrance Day from Archives and Special Collections

Veterans marching past Ryerson Hall during Remembrance Day ceremony in 1953.

In 1948, three years after the end of World War II, Ryerson was created as the Ryerson Institute of Technology. During this post war period, memories of the conflict were still vivid for many students and staff members, and Remembrance Day therefore held a marked significance for the community.  The observations included a march past of veterans and a service held in front of Ryerson Hall officiated by Principal Howard Kerr, as seen in the photograph above. Today, what remains of Ryerson Hall is the façade and entry to the RAC (the “facade”).

During the war years, in both the U.S. and Canada, Kodak often incorporated typical scenes from the soldier’s life and the “home front”, to advertise the innovative products Kodak made as part of the war effort. The photographic images below are from Special Collections’ Kodak Canada collection.

2005_001_03_2_001_9_143_watermark
“Home folks – home things – are always uppermost in his mind. Natural, isn’t it, that he should want snapshots…that bring [home] to him as true as life!” Canadian Kodak Co., Limited, Toronto, Ontario.
2005_001_03_2_001_10_010_watermark
Canadian Kodak Co., Limited, Toronto, Ontario. The Monetary Times, January,1944
2005_001_03_2_001_10_025_watermark
U.S. Navy Photographs using Kodacolor Aero Reversal Films. The Monetary Times, August, 1944

First Edition Photobook Award, 2018 Award Winners

The Photography Studies program at Ryerson University together with Ryerson University Library & Archives is pleased to announce the 2018 recipients of the First Edition Photobook Award:

Book Award Recipients

After Grapefruit, Clea Christakos-Gee
Untitled, Raelene Giffin
In Nocte, Rafaela Conde
In the Water, Lisa McElroy
9869518588, Heather Rattray
Home and Glory, Kalen Huxhan
It’s Good Once You Get There, Hayley Wilsdon

Honourable mentions:

Surface Study, Shaw Quan
Less than 5%, Taya Hampartzoomian
In and of Itself, Lauren Armstrong
Come over sometimes and Other Messages Received and Sent, Leyla Godfrey

After Grapefruit, by Clea Christakos-Gee.
Untitled, by Raelene Giffin.
In Nocte, by Rafaele Conde.
Into the Water, by Lisa McElroy
9869518588, by Heather Rattray 
Home and Glory, by Kalen Huxhan.
It’s Good Once You Get There, by Hayley Wilsdon.

About the Award

As part of MPS507, a 3rd year Ryerson University Image Arts class in The Photographic Book, students conceive of, and create their own photobook. This is, in part, related to work that has been completed in the co-requisite class, MPS506 – Photographic Production. These are both required courses for the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Image Arts) Photography Studies Option. Each year, the Library purchases the top photobooks in the class from the creator, as judged by the Special Collections Librarian, Alison Skyrme, and a special invited guest panel (this year Professor Don Snyder, Instructor and Artist Robyn Cumming, and Assistant Professor Dr. Karla McManus). The books are judged at the First Edition Photobook Show – an exhibition of the photobooks at the end of the semester. For evaluation, particular attention is paid to design, sequencing, and integration of images and text. The library catalogues each book, and houses them in the Special Collections department, where they will be available for students and researchers. An exhibition will be held in November to highlight the 2018 winners.

History

The First Edition Photobook Award was established in 2015 by Image Arts instructor Christopher Manson and the Ryerson Library to honour 3rd-year photography students who have made exceptional achievements in photobook production. It provides an incentive for students to achieve the early recognition that will have a lasting legacy in the Library collection.

Previous Award Recipients

The following 2017 award winners were presented with a certificate during the Image Arts Awards Night, November 2017: Adrian Walton-Cordeiro, Ailene Devries, Fehn Foss, Julia Garnet, Feline Gerhardt, Warren Rynkun.

For more information contact: Alison Skyrme.

This year’s books, as well as winners from past years, will be on display in the Hallway exhibition cabinets in front of Archives and Special Collections between November 19, 2019 and January 15, 2019.

2018 Panel

This year we were fortunate to have a judges panel that included Professor Don Snyder, Instructor Robyn Cumming, and Dr. Karla McManus.

Robyn Cumming is a Toronto-based artist and educator. Prior to Ryerson she taught at OCADU and in the Art and Art History Program at U of T/Sheridan. Her current work focuses on representation and accumulation with a recent emphasis on historical images gleaned from Ebay. Robyn was long listed for the 2014 Aimia Photography Prize and is represented by Erin Stump Projects in Toronto. She has a BFA (Honours) from Ryerson University and an MFA from York University.
Karla McManus is an art historian who specializes in the study of photography and the environmental imaginary. Her writing and research focuses on how historic and contemporary concerns, from wildlife conservation, to environmental disasters, to anxiety about the future, are visualized photographically. She received her PhD from Concordia University in 2015 and was a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow in Art History and Art Conservation at Queen’s University from 2015-2017.
Don Snyder has an extensive background in photographic history and curation. Before joining the Ryerson faculty, he held an appointment as Curator of Photography at the Addison Gallery of American Art, where he originated the museum’s photography exhibition program. At Ryerson, he established the Image Arts (IMA) Gallery at 80 Spadina Avenue, and was instrumental in the founding of Function, the School’s annual publication of student work, essays and interviews. He has taught in the York-Ryerson Communication and Culture program, and in Ryerson’s graduate programs in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management as well as the Documentary Media MFA program. Particular interests are critical directions in photography and documentary practice during the past decade.

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.

A Window in Time – 1899

What is that date on the window?

The Archives and Special Collections (A&SC) windows feature a series of seemingly random numbers worked into the window’s graphic pattern. The numbers are actually dates, chosen by A&SC staff, that are significant to the City of Toronto, Ryerson University, and Archives and Special Collections. Over the course of the next year our blog will feature some of the window dates and explain their significance.

1899

Canadian Kodak Co., Ltd. Headquarters (1899-1901), 41 Colborne Street, Toronto (2005.001.3.259)

In 1899, after successfully operating on the American market for over a decade, George Eastman dispatched Kodak employee John G. Palmer to Toronto to determine the viability of establishing a subsidiary in Canada. Palmer discovered a robust market for photographic products and, on November 8, 1899, Canadian Kodak Co., Limited was incorporated under the Ontario Company’s act. The nascent company established headquarters in downtown Toronto, embarking on a relationship with the city that would last more than a century and would constitute the heart of the company’s manufacturing operations in Canada.

For more information on Kodak Canada, please read our earlier blog – “Kodak in Toronto