British Columbia history, First Nations history, Historical photos, HIV/AIDS, Photos, social history, Stonewall Festival, Vancouver AIDS Memorial, Vancouver arts and culture, Vancouver history, Vancouver Pride Festival, Victoria, Victoria Pride Festival, women's history

Vancouver Gay and Lesbian History Photo Identification

Fantasy and Freedom, Diana Rose does Diana Ross (1990’s).
Reference code: AM1675-S4-F15-: 2018-020.3712

The City of Vancouver Archives is asking for help from the public to identify a thousand images it has received that document the gay, lesbian andLGBTQ2+ history of BC.

The full collection of more than 7000 pictures date from as early as the 1890’s up to 2014 and includes:

  • local theatre
  • comedy
  • dance
  • artists
  • politicians
  • female impersonation
  • Stonewall Festival
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Vancouver Aids Memorial
  • Vancouver Gay and Lesbian Community Centre
  • First Nations
  • Vancouver Pride Festival

If you were in Vancouver and active in the gay and lesbian community back to the 1940s, or know anyone who was, consider going down to this event, next Saturday, Oct 26, 1-5 pm to help identify people and events in the city’s gay and lesbian history. It’ll be at the Sun Gallery, Suite 425- 228 Keefer St

Or visit the City of Vancouver Archives in Vanier Park to access these materials or go to help with their identification project. Might be a good idea to call ahead so that an archivist will be available to help, 604-736-8561.

Archives, Cellulose acetate, Copyright, Historical photos, Historical research, Photo processing, Photos, Preservation, Research, Vancouver history

Update on Don Coltman photo preservation project at the City of Vancouver Archives

Scene at Vancouver Yacht Club, circa 1945
by Don Coltman
Reference code: AM1545-S3-: CVA 586-6176

It’s been many months now since the City of Vancouver Archives has completed its project to digitize more than 5000 photos taken by early Vancouver photographer, Don Coltman that I first wrote about in a post last February.

The Coltman collection offers a rich selection of Vancouver and Lower Mainland scenes from post-WW II and includes such subjects as:

  • B.C. industries and small businesses such as canneries, ports, sawmills, fishing, pulp and paper making and manufacturing
  • Community activities, fashion, businesses, events, sports activities, factories and production
  • Vancouver parks, bridges, beaches, streets, buildings, schools, shipyard and dock
  • Portraiture including weddings, families and local employees.

All photos are in the public domain and have been uploaded to the Archives online database with accompanying descriptions.

Archives, Copyright, Historical documents, Historical research, Library, Photos, Preservation, Research, Writers

Historical Photo research in archives

Many archives are now working to digitize collections of their photos to make access easier for researchers to do preliminary research from their home or office, and to minimize the handling of originals.

To track down digital images, start your research in the appropriate archive for your location or subject (municipal/provincial/federal OR cultural/industrial/artistic), and see if they have a photo database you can search. 

Every database will be slightly different but generally, you can enter date parameters, location, and  photographer information, plus a subject you think will be appropriate to carry out your search.

But not all of these databases are user-friendly so write or phone the archives and ask for step-by-step instuctions or help in using them.

Don’t feel embarrassed or shy about asking for help.

Archivists know that their databases can be challenging to use and are usually more than willing to help you navigate and find something you’re looking for. 

They want you to succeed! 

Bear in mind that the images you see may only be in a thumb-nail version, or they may be bigger, but regardless, your use of them will generally be limited to research purposes only unless and until you’ve made arrangements with the archives that holds the copyright to that photo.

Considerations of fair use, copyright, and costs for various kinds of use including replication in books or used for a commercial purpose such as a poster, t-shirt, mug, or marketing material. 

Administrative records, Archives, Bradford, Historical documents, Historical photos, Historical research, Photos, Records management, Rio de Janeiro

The work and cost of photo preservation

old photos in drawer

The devastating losses at the national museum in Rio De Janeiro in early September reminded me of the sad state of the Bradford archives I visited in the spring, and the high cost of cultural preservation.

In Rio de Janeiro, hundreds of residents stood outside the shell of their national museum, crying and speaking of intense sadness at the loss which has been blamed on funding cuts in recent years that left the institution with few functioning fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.

The science and practice of conserving museum artifacts and archival records requires knowledgeable staff and expensive storage materials and facilities, an expense not well understood or obvious to the public, and so, easily cut from a budget line.

Documents and artifacts deteriorate at a surprising rate when temperature and humidity are not carefully managed, and in most archives, costly devices are installed to control these conditions and are checked and analyzed frequently.

Conservators working in museums and archives, use their extensive scientific training to tease out solutions to problems of deterioration of photos, paper documents, and other items to make repairs and halt the process of deterioration as much as possible.

Most archives also store documents in expensive acid-free folders and boxes to slow down deterioration of documents from acidity emanating from the paper itself and coming from the surrounding environment.

Some archival collections also hold images that exist only in the form of a glass negative, thick and heavy.  And, of course, fragile; requiring costly and specialized storage and handling conditions all their own.

I don’t know enough about the science to go into the details but I have seen the results and you have too, no doubt, in your own collection of old photos where the colour has washed out from age, or have gotten moldy and stuck together from being kept in a humid place.  Or on documents where the ink has faded altogether, making them virtually useless.

 

 

 

 

 

Aerial photos, Archives, Historical documents, Historical photos, Historical research, Photos

Aerial photos – what and where?

aerial view

When I had a business documenting the historical use of sites to identify possible contaminants in the soil or environmentally harmful activities, I always made sure to take a look at the aerial photos in the UBC Department of Geography Information Centre. 

These are a valuable additional resource to use in collaboration with Fire Insurance Maps, Directories, and other historical documents to get as complete a picture as possible of a site in a specific moment in the past. (I’ll be doing a post on Fire Insurance maps later this year – one of my favourite resources!!)

Although GIS and mapping have been able to consolidate an impressive amount of recent and current data into digital maps and documents , tracking down historical information about a specific site at a specific moment in time is not as straight-forward or accessible.

Aerials show a lot of things that aren’t necessarily obvious from other resources – or would take some expensive mapping or time to compare information from a range of historical documents.

But by looking at an aerial photo you can make out things like the topography, vegetation, building footprints, roads, and urban geography of a given place at about a one-decade interval.  Useful, interesting, and fun 🙂

If you’re looking for aerial photos of Vancouver, the UBC Geography Dept has them going back to the 1930s.

The department has also created a page of information and links to aerial photos for other jurisdictions, mostly Canadian and American