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Ryerson Archives and Special Collections is open for appointments Monday to Thursday from 10-4. See our Hours page for more information or make an appointment .

Feature of the week : Making an Exhibition, Finding the Library’s Next Top Model

This week’s feature is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the FACES exhibition in Special Collections, which ran from December 1, 2010 – January 21, 2011. (You can still see the display through to January 31st when the next scheduled change happens, but the contest is over and the names of all the Famous Faces have been revealed!)

Setting the stage
Take one Image Arts student working in Special Collections as an Exhibitions Assistant through the Summer Work Study program and ask her to re-imagine a contest timed for the winter break…

2009/10 Holiday Photo Contest announcement
2009/10 Holiday Photo Contest announcement : Past winter contests have asked for users to contribute holiday-themed photos

This student decides that a guessing game would be fun, but how do we personalize it for Ryerson? A call goes out to our staff for help!

Library staff recruitment ad : not what you’d typically see

Following through
We had 4 volunteer models from our happy group: a Librarian, two Library Technicians and an Administrative Assistant. We couldn’t have asked for a better mix!

Now that we had our volunteers, we looked for some inspiration (think you can guess the staff members we were picturing?):

Our Exhibitions Assistant narrows down the results to two options and edits the photos:

Making it Happen
Working with another student in the Library employed by the Work Study program, our Exhibitions Assistant and Graphic Design Assistant come up with a look for the contest form online using the final poster girl:

Final poster for the contest

Voilà, a successful competition was born! Thanks to Exhibitions Assistant Elaine Chan-Dow and Graphic Designer Alicia Russano (who also came up with the look for our new website). And thanks to our volunteer models!

FACES contest closes, winners will be notified by email

Thanks to all who participated in our holiday quiz for 2010/11! Two lucky winners will receive emails notifying them of their prizes: Grand Prize $50 bookstore gift certificate for correctly identifying the famous faces OR a Second Prize $25 Starbucks gift card for guessing the Bonus Face correctly.

Want to see how you did on the quiz? Check out the answers below or on the 4th floor of the Library, in the Special Collections display cases (to see the accompanying portraits).

Faces exhibition advertisement, contest closed and answers revealed

1. Marian Anderson, 1897-1993 Singer, performer, diplomat, trailblazer

“Marian Anderson Award: Marian Anderson Bio,” 2005.

2. Eugène Atget, 1857-1927 Actor, Photographer, Documentarian

“Eugene Atget / Biography & Images.” http://www.atgetphotography.com/The-Photographers/Eugene-Atget.html

3. Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865 President, Orator, Egalitarian

“Abraham Lincoln | The White House.” 

4. Audrey Hepburn, 1929-1993 Actress, Dancer, Humanitarian

“Audrey Hepburn’s Children’s Fund – The Real Audrey.” 

5. Winston Spencer Churchill, 1874-1965 Prime Minister, Soldier, Strategist

“Why study Winston Churchill?” 

6. Vladimir Ilʹich Lenin, 1870-1924 Rebel, Communist, Exigent Leader

Ryerson Library Catalogue resources

7. Elizabeth II, Queen of Great Britain, 1926-  Queen, Patron, Animal lover

“Her Majesty the Queen,” 2010/11. 

8. Georgia O’Keeffe, 1887-1986 Painter, Model, Modernist

“O’Keeffe Museum > Her Life,” 2008.

9. Mahátma Gándhí,  1869-1948 Spiritual Leader, Reformer, Pacifist

“National Gandhi Museum,” 2011.

10. St. Nicholas, ?- 343 Bishop, Saint, Icon

“St. Nicholas Centre: Discovering the Truth about Santa Claus,” 2002-2010. 

BONUS: Cecile Farnum, Communications Librarian
Subject Liaison: Gerontology, Occupational and Public Health, Philosophy

Feature of the Week: The Oakham House Dogs

Remember the film “The Incredible Journey”? Much like the fabled animals in that movie, our featured archive items have been on quite the voyage.

Oakham House dogs (RG 114.38)

Designed by architect William Thomas to hitch horses in front of his residence, which he named Oakham House, these two handsome canines guarded the home until Thomas’ death in 1860.  In 1899, the house, along with the dogs, was sold to the Society for Working Boys; a home for disadvantaged youth in Toronto.  When Ryerson University purchased the building in 1958, the dogs, originally located at the building’s Church Street entrance, were no longer there.  They had been removed to the new location of the Boys Home.  When Ryerson retrieved the dogs in 1982, the Toronto Historical Board wanted the pair to be mounted in their historical place in the front of the house.  In the interest of protecting them from vandalism, however, they were placed inside the house.  Since 2010, the Ryerson Library Archives has had the pleasure of their company.  Drop by and pay them a visit if you’re on the third floor of the library!

Feature of the week : American Burlesque

Welcome to the first in a series of blogs highlighting interesting and unique objects we come across in the Ryerson University Archives & Special Collections. There’s a lot of amazing objects in our stacks, and here are just a few….

AMERICAN BURLESQUE PHOTOGRAPHS IN SPECIAL COLLECTIONS.

Special Collections number : 2008.001.1637

The Lorne Shields Historical Photograph Collection was donated to Special Collections in 2007 and includes many albums, professional portraits and amateur snaps as well as an interesting series of Cigarette Cards and Cabinet Cards featuring popular American Burlesque performers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Not the famous Gypsy Rose Lee, but just as sassy! Special Collections number : 2008.001.1650

In America, Burlesque began as a bawdy form of theatrical entertainment, popular from the 1870s to the 1920s, that borrowed from the British Music Hall format of combining comic skits and musical performances, but evolved into a risqué variety show focusing on dirty jokes and (most familiar) sexy women.  As it was considered unseemly at the time for “decent” women to perform in the theatre, even the most serious of female thespians could find a home performing in the suggestive, and often ill-reputed Burlesque shows where the performers were mainly female and the audience was mainly working class.

These actresses could gain quite a following from the general public however, and their comings and goings (and divorces and affairs) were often reported in the daily papers.  Seeing the potential gain, Cigarette cards and collectible photographs featuring the women in seductive poses (is that an exposed ankle? Gasp!) were produced by enterprising photographers.

Special Collections number: 2008.001.1634

Following are some of the stars of the bygone days of Burlesque found in the Lorne Shields Historical Photograph Collection. To see more, check out the Special Collections Flickr account (see right) or visit us on the Library’s 4th floor.

For more information on Burlesque and the American theatre, check out these book resources in the Library:

“No legs, no jokes, no chance” : a history of the American musical theater / Sheldon Patinkin. http://catalogue.library.ryerson.ca/record=b1817103~S0

A chronology of American musical theater / Richard C. Norton. http://catalogue.library.ryerson.ca/record=b1695595~S0

The American musical : history and development / Peter H. Riddle. http://catalogue.library.ryerson.ca/record=b1672071~S0

Welcome to the new Archives & Special Collections site!

Allow us to introduce ourselves…

You are looking at the new blog space for the Ryerson University Archives, located on the 3rd floor of the Ryerson Library building, and the Library’s Special Collections, located one floor up on the 4th – now happily combined online as Archives & Special Collections. This is your one-stop shop for browsing the history of the university and campus, including past student newspapers, speeches, manuscripts, correspondence and many, many photographs, as well as the cultural artifacts collected to support courses at Ryerson, including the Kodak Canada Archives, Canadian Architect Image Collection, Leniniana and Historical Photography Collections. Each month, we’ll feature an item or two from one of these collections, post information about displays and contests, and keep you updated on our progress launching a new database on this website. (We’ll work on that whole on-different-floors-thing next.)

Check back here regularly for updates on exhibits on the Library’s 4th floor, movie night and special lecture announcements, contests and more! Welcome again to your Archives & Special Collections.