New in the public domain 2016

On January 1st, the copyright expired for some of our holdings: they are now in the public domain in Canada. Digital materials are no longer restricted to being viewed only at the Archives, but are available online to all. Here’s a quick look at some of the digital objects that have become easier to view and re-use.

8 clowns in a group pose

Publicity photo of Polack Bros. Circus 1965 clowns. Reference code AM281-S8-: CVA 180-6027.

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Happy Holidays

The Archives will be closed from noon December 24 to 9am Monday, January 4.

Cover of Christmas menu for Hotel Vancouver, 1891

Cover of Christmas menu for Hotel Vancouver, 1891

 

Inside pages of Christmas menu, Hotel Vancouver, 1891

Inside pages of Christmas menu, Hotel Vancouver, 1891

This 1891 Christmas menu from the first Hotel Vancouver (the current one is the third) is in AM108, the Oppenheimer family fonds. It is part of a file called Scrapbook: New Year’s Christmas Greetings.

Merging Time: A Modern Perspective

The popular photography exhibit, Merging Time, is now showing at the City of Vancouver Archives gallery. This year’s collection features 13 new “now-and-then” interpretations of images from the Archives holdings.

A member of the public views the Merging Time: A Modern Perspective photography exhibit. Photo credit: Christine Hagemoen.

A member of the public views the Merging Time: A Modern Perspective photography exhibit. Photo credit: Christine Hagemoen.

Every fall, the Archives features new works created by students in Langara College’s Photo-Imaging Program. Students are assigned to visit the Archives to find photographs with unique elements defining the past, such as fashion, transportation, advertising, and storefront signage. Then, with a DSLR camera, they return to the original location of the archival photograph to shoot a modern-day version. The students merge a digital version of the archival photograph with the modern-day replication to produce a composite of the past and present. This year’s selections date from the 1900s to the 1950s, and feature the West End, Gastown, Chinatown, downtown Vancouver, UBC and Mount Pleasant.

Archival photograph selected by Courtney Naesgaard for the Merging Time exhibit. Street traffic at Pender Street and Richards Street, 1946. Reference code: AM1545-S3-: CVA 586-4225.

Archival photograph selected by Courtney Naesgaard for the Merging Time exhibit. Street traffic at Pender Street and Richards Street, 1946. Reference code: AM1545-S3-: CVA 586-4225.

The main challenge the students face is figuring out where and how each photograph was taken. Sometimes the original photograph may have been taken with the camera in the middle of the road or where a new building now stands. Determining the focal length and angle of the shot further complicates the process of matching the current-day image with the original perspective. This is where the techniques taught in the course come into play. Using Photoshop, the students adjust the perspective of their modern-day image to match the framing and composition of the original archival photograph.

Digital composite by Courtney Naesgaard, 1946/2015. Street traffic at Pender Street and Richards Street, incorporating Archives image AM1545-S3-: CVA 586-4225.

Digital composite by Courtney Naesgaard, 1946/2015. Street traffic at Pender Street and Richards Street, incorporating Archives image AM1545-S3-: CVA 586-4225.

Once the perspective is matched, students block, mask, blend and merge the past and present elements into a single photograph. The result is a seamless digital composite where the two eras converge and are presented simultaneously.

Archival photograph selected by Amberlee Pang for the Merging Time exhibit. Hotel Balmoral, Hastings Street, c. 1926. Reference code: AM54-S4-: Hot N35.

Archival photograph selected by Amberlee Pang for the Merging Time exhibit. Hotel Balmoral, Hastings Street, c. 1926. Reference code: AM54-S4-: Hot N35.

This returning photography show is the Archives’ most popular exhibit, and we are always thrilled to see how artists apply their creative skills to the digitized material in our holdings.

Digital composite by Amberlee Pang, c.1926/2015. Hotel Balmoral, Hastings Street, incorporating Archives image AM54-S4-: Hot N35.

Digital composite by Amberlee Pang, c.1926/2015. Hotel Balmoral, Hastings Street, incorporating Archives image AM54-S4-: Hot N35.

Merging Time: A Modern Perspective will be on display at the Archives until the end of January, 2016. Please visit during our regular hours: Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM.

For those who are unable to attend the gallery in person, you can view the Merging Time exhibit in this Langara College flickr album.

The 2015 Vancity Theatre Screenings are now on YouTube

We had another successful run showcasing our moving image series at the Vancity Theatre this past November. Every year, we are thrilled to see the enormous interest our screenings generate. We are aware that due to sellouts, the theatre must turn away many hopeful theatre goers. To accommodate as many people as possible, each year we will continue to hold multiple screenings, and rerun previous years’ screenings. You can also view all past shows on our YouTube channel, including this year’s Vancouver – A Distant Mirror and Reflecting the City (Redux). Please note that online content will not include pre-screening projected snipes and presentations, or any commentary or music accompaniment. For more information about the most recent screenings, please visit our previous post.

We hope to see you at our 2016 show!

Listed below are the four sections of Vancouver – A Distant Mirror, and the individual archival films featured. Continue reading

Giving the gift of history

It’s that time of year again, the season of giving. Stuck for holiday gift ideas? Why not give the gift of local history? How about creating your own artwork using historical photographs of Vancouver? Sound intriguing? Then read on for a step-by-step guide to downloading hi-res photos from our online database.

The City of Vancouver Archives has approximately 80,000 high-resolution photographs that are available for download from our online database. They are either Public Domain or City of Vancouver copyrighted images, which means that you are free to download and use them for anything your heart desires. The creative possibilities are endless, so let’s get started.

  1. First, navigate to the City of Vancouver online database – searcharchives.vancouver.ca
Search Archives main page. Select "Advanced search" at top of page.

1. Search Archives main page. Select “Advanced search” at top of page.

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The Archives at Vancity Theatre – A Distant Mirror & Reflecting the City

The Archives returns to the Vancity Theatre this November with Vancouver – A Distant Mirror. Over the summer, we worked with local historian and artist Michael Kluckner to program this year’s archival screening. This year’s roster will premiere newly digitized films not yet available in our online database. We will be showing home movies, and industrial and promotional films from the 1920s to 1960s that focus on the city’s landmarks, transportation, industry and domestic spheres. Here is the trailer for this year’s screening.

As with previous screenings, this showing will feature two live elements. Continue reading

Friends of the Vancouver Archives Photographic Cold Storage Facility

We have a specialized, custom-built freezer to provide the highest standard of care for the storage of our photographic materials. It was the first institutional freezer built to the specifications researched by the Smithsonian Institution and it was officially opened by Mayor Philip Owen on February 20, 2002.

Mayor Owen being offered scissors

Mayor Owen is offered scissors to cut the ribbon on the freezer in 2002.

Why a Freezer?

Some types of photographic materials are unstable and cold storage will prolong their useful lives. Storage at freezer temperatures will prolong their lives the longest.

Without cold storage, cellulose acetate negatives wrinkle and become brittle 
as they give off acetic acid (vinegar). Continue reading

Putting the Goad’s 1912 Plan into Open Historical Map

We’ve had great response to making Goad’s 1912 Fire Insurance map available as a Vanmap layer and as downloadable open data. We received a request to make it available in a different type of service so that the information can be used a variety of ways. As a result of all the feedback, we plan to contribute the information through Open Historical Map and the Province of British Columbia’s innovative BC Developers’ Exchange is collaborating with us to help make it happen.BCDev-home

 

BC DEVELOPERS’ EXCHANGE

The BC Developers’ Exchange is an experiment to find ways that help the public and private tech sectors innovate and collaborate. They are helping share code created by BC’s public sector and collaborating with vendors to make that code better. The Exchange is also supporting the sharing and re-use of other digital resources. Continue reading

More improvements to our online search

We’ve recently updated our online search to add a few new features.Date-range-location

DATE SEARCH

In response to your suggestions, we sponsored development of an improved date search. It’s in Advanced Search, on the left sidebar. Continue reading

Map repaired with a blank ballot

This year, we received funding from the B.C. History Digitization Program to digitize more maps and plans from our holdings. The maps need conservation work done to them before they can be digitized. Here’s an example of a map that had an unusual old repair.

Back of map, close-up showing old repair.

Back of map, close-up showing old repair. Item No. LEG1153.367

This is one sheet from a set of Point Grey sectional maps from the 1920s. The map is 2.8m long, printed on cloth and has several tears at one end. A very long time ago, probably in 1929 or soon after, someone repaired it with cheesecloth, paper and glue, and later with adhesive tape.

The repair paper caught my eye. Once it was removed, I took a closer look. It was made of blank ballots!

Patch material from back of map.

Patch material from back of map.

The questions on the ballot identified it as the second page of the money ballot from May 15, 1929, which we have as part of the City of Vancouver Record of Elections.

Second page of money ballot from May 15, 1929. Reference code COV-S37-- .

Second page of money ballot from May 15, 1929. Reference code COV-S37– Container 87-G-1 vol. 2.

Today’s equivalent of the money ballot is the capital plan borrowing questions section of the modern ballot.

Since the original map was created by the Municipality of Point Grey, and the repair pages are 1929 City of Vancouver ballot papers,  it seems likely that the maps were received during the process of amalgamating Point Grey and Vancouver (along with South Vancouver) in 1929. The repair was probably made by someone in the City of Vancouver who needed to use the map. Amalgamation included coordinating the street grid and street naming.

The map was repaired and the torn end now looks like this:

Front of map after treatment, detail of one end.

Front of map after treatment, detail of one end.