Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas in the Archives

Archival institutions across Canada (and the world) often contain some ephemeral material.  Some of my  favourite types of ephemera are postcards and greeting cards.  Given the approaching holiday, here's a glimpse at holiday themed ephemera.

This item is from the  Kenneth Rowe fonds held by Library and Archives Canada.  This fonds contains a number of scrapbooks and folios with printed material - including the Christmas cards seen to the left. These Canadian Christmas cards are dated
circa 1877-1878.

A Christmas postcard sent to Reg Sherwood by Ada Broderick in 1908.  This postcard is part of the collection held by the Burlington Public Library.  The library's collection is searchable on OurOntario.

A Christmas card from Superior Paul C. O'Connor of the  Society of Jesus of St. Mary's Mission at Akulurak, Alaska to Assistant Director Charles G. Burdick of the Civilian Conservation Corps' Alaska Region, circa December 20, 1938.

Held by the National Archives and Records Administration, and part of the Records of the Forest Service, 1870-2008 group.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Collection Glimpse: The Gardiner Museum

Gardiner Museum
This is the second entry in a series of posts entitled, "Collection Glimpses."  Each post in the series  focuses on a unique collection, innovative repository, or a not well known cultural heritage institution. The first post highlighted the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archive.  

History of the Museum
The Gardiner Museum is Canada's only museum dedicated solely to ceramics and is one of the few museums in the world that focuses exclusively on ceramics.  The Gardiner Museum opened in Toronto in 1884 and was initially dedicated to holding the collection of artifacts held by George and Helen Gardiner.  From 1987 to 1996 the Gardiner Museum was governed by the ROM.  From 1996 to 2004 to Museum underwent considerable growth and the collection grew to include ceramics from around the world.  The Gardiner then closed from 2004 to 2006 to undergo renovation and expansion.  Since reopening the Gardiner has gained exhibition and display space, and a hands-on clay studio space.

 The Collection
 The collection held by the Gardiner Museum contains more than 3000 pieces of ceramics from around the world.  The items in the collection range from ancient pottery to contemporary works of art. A large percentage of this collection has been digitized and made available online.  The browse collections feature is a bit clunky, but the ceramics are sorted by collection type and are well photographed.

The Gardiner Museum also houses the Gail Brooker Ceramic Research Library.  This library contains over 2500 items including auction catalogues, rare books, scrapbooks, periodicals, and special collections.  The collection is searchable online.  However, the collection is non-circulating and must be consulted onsite. 

Educational Programming
The Gardiner offers a variety of clay classes for all ages and skills levels.  All of these classes are run by professional ceramists and are held in a studio setting.  The museum also offers school programs, workshops, and group tours.  The Museum also holds "Id Clinics" where patrons can bring in objects and have them identified by curators.  Additionally, every day at 2pm the museum offers guided tours with the price of admission.

The museum has fairly decent hours and is reasonably priced ($12 for adults and half price admission on Friday evenings).   For anyone interested in the clay medium this is the Canadian institution to turn to - both in terms of research materials and exhibited collections. 

Photo Credit: wvs and  StudioGabe

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Teaching with Historic Places

The December 2011 issue of Public History News contained an article entitled "Teaching Teachers the Power of Place", which focused on the Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) program established by the United States National Park Service.

The TwHP program aims to provide resources for teachers based on the properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  Flexible lesson plans, powerpoints, case study examples, and other media tools have been developed by historians and teachers to provide support for any school looking to examine history, geography, or social studies from a place based perspective.

What benefits does place based instruction have? Rooting history or social studies firmly in a place helps make the topic more relevant.  If possible focusing a lesson on a local site helps students create a stronger connection with their community's past.  The use of historic photographs, artifacts, and documents can make even a far away place seem real and assist in making the past relevant to students.

Overall, the TwHP sounds like a great resource for educators both in and outside of formal education institutions.  Has anyone used a similar resource or been exposed to a Canadian equivalent?

Photo Credit: edebell

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December #builtheritage chat

This month's #builtheritage twitter chat focused on preservation and the holidays.  There was an abundance of good festive promotion ideas,  examples of seasonal events, and

First portion of the chat focused on the question, How can you use the holidays to promote your historic site? Some of the proposed activities included:
  • Displaying old holiday photos on site or on social media
  • Holding seasonally themed events -teas, crafts, tours, etc
  • Holiday snacks! 
  • Holiday theater stage at the heritage site, eg. the Christmas Carol
  • Combine with other local events your activities with other local holiday events
  • For example, the distillery district in Toronto christmas market, draws thousands 
  • Watson's Mill in Ottawa hosted a Christmas Fair and Art Show this past wknd.
  • As a backdrop to other heritage events, or as a venue for private holiday functions
  • Family ornament decorating activities

Second question of the chat, what is the most successful holiday program you have been to/organized at an historic site? Favourites included:

Third segment of the chat dealt with, How can we encourage people to shop locally in historic main streets?
  • Combine moonlight madness with other activities such as skating, caroling, etc.
  • Hold a Christmas festival downtown, and encourage all shops to decorate windows 
  • The main streets are just perfect for decorating - light it up!
  • Provide more parking
  • Ask the community what they want

The chat concluded with a discussion of How do you make sure your holiday activities are as inclusive (and/or multicultural) as possible?
  •  Heritage groups, municipalities should encourage all constituencies to celebrate their holiday traditions.
  • Having personalized items that can be customizable for any holiday
  • The new inclusive is to do lots of niche activities
  • Let the historic places speak for themselves. The best places evolve and change with the times if we let them
There was also some discussion about what topics participants would like to see in the 2012 #builtheritage chats.  Some suggestions included focusing on main street design issues, preservation 2.0, or the integration of youth in heritage groups.

Collection Glimpse: The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Arcvhies

This is the first post in a new series of posts entitled "Collection Glimpses."  Each post in the series will focus on a unique collection, innovative repository, or a not well known cultural heritage institution.

We are family button- Karen Andrews. CLGA
The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA) is located in Toronto, Ontario and was founded in 1979.  CLGA aims to "acquire, preserve, organize, and give public access to information and materials in any medium, by and about LGBT people, primarily produced in or concerning Canada."  Currently CLGA is the second largest LGBT archive in the world.

The CLGA's archival holdings are unique not only in their subject matter but in the inclusion of nontraditional archival material types.  For example, the CLGA has an extensive collection of t-shirts, buttons, matchbooks, erotica, and other material related the the Canadian LGBT community.  The CLGA also has a variety of more traditional archival material including personal and organizational records, photographs, artwork, cartographic material, and audio-visual items.

 In addition to the extensive holdings of the CLGA, the Archives has an rich publication history. Since 1979, the CLGA has published or helped publish 15 works  on Gay and Lesbian heritage and culture.

The current downside of the CLGA is the limited hours the Archive is open to the public.  Recently, this lack of on site availability has been partially compensated by the digitized holdings which can be browsed and searched online.  However, currently only a small percentage of items have been made available online and most researchers are still reliant on the physical holdings of the CLGA.

Despite the limited hours, the CLGA is the best resource for primary source material on the Canadian LGBT heritage.  The grassroots and community based nature of the CLGA is evident in its holdings, collection policies, and outreach.

Photo credit: Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Monday, December 5, 2011

Heritage Gift Giving

Tree of books
It's that time of year where many of us are scrambling to find the perfect gift for a loved one.  Recently, a number of blogs and organizations have been posting gift suggestions for the heritage lovers in your life. Some of my favourite posted so far, include:
  Additionally, any of the heritage aficionados I know would love:
  • A subscription to Canada's History Magazine.  It's a great read for people inside and outside academia interested in Canadian History.
  • An annual membership to a local museum, art gallery, or heritage site. 
  • For the archival minded: a copy of Closed Stacks, Open Shutters. 
 Photo credit: flickr (shawncalhoun)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sharing Archival Photographs in a Digital World

Check out my latest post at the ActiveHistory.ca site.  The post talks about options for cultural heritage organizations looking to share photograph collections online through free or low coast image hosting and image sharing sites.