Vancouver Pride and the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives photo identification project

Pride season is in full swing in the city, including here at the City of Vancouver Archives! As a community partner for this year’s Pride, we have had an exciting month of sharing our LGBTQ2+ holdings at events and through new initiatives. 

First, thanks to support from the Vancouver Pride Society, we had a booth at East Side Pride on June 22nd. There, we shared just some of the 5,400 digitized photographs in the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives (BCGLA) collection, as well as information on our other LGBTQ2+ holdings. We loved meeting and hearing stories from the many community members who visited us!

Group gathered around East Side Pride Booth on June 22. Photo by Heather Gordon

We were also thrilled with the initial results of our photo identification initiative, which we launched at East Side Pride. The identification of people in photographs is an important part of completing the historical record, and has been the focus of many archives projects. Library and Archives Canada’s Project Naming, for instance, has had immense success since the early 2000s in identifying Indigenous people in archival photographs. Here at the City of Vancouver Archives, we’re reaching out to members of the LGBTQ2+ community for help in identifying people in the BCGLA collection. Of the more than 5,400 images that have been digitized, over 1,000 depict people who are currently unidentified. Identifying them will help to strengthen the collection, deepen knowledge and understanding of LGBTQ2+ history in this province, and ensure that community members’ voices and stories are heard and preserved for the future.

Continue reading

BC Gay and Lesbian Archives photographs now online!

Thanks to funding from the National Heritage Digitization Strategy (NHDS), we are happy to announce that over 5,400 photographs from the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives (BCGLA) collection are now available online in time for Pride.

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

The BCGLA Photograph series contains about 7,500 photographs. There are a few photographs that date from as early as the 1890’s and continue until 2014. The photographs are arranged under file titles that reflect their subject matter.  Ron Dutton, who collected and maintained the collection for decades before donating it to the Archives, provided access to the photographs through this arrangement and we have maintained his order. The file titles include:  theatre, comedy, performance arts, dance, writers, artists, musicians, portraits, politicians, female impersonation, Stonewall Festival, HIV/AIDS, the Vancouver AIDS Memorial, political activism, Gay Games III, nightclubs, Vancouver Lesbian Connection, Vancouver Gay and Lesbian Community Centre, Vancouver Prime Timers, youth groups, leather community, First Nations, sports, Hiking Club, businesses, LGBTQ2+ community organizations, Vancouver Pride Festival and the Victoria Pride Festival.

Continue reading

A summer of Pride with the City of Vancouver Archives

The Archives is very excited to be a community partner for Pride this year, and would like to thank the Vancouver Pride Society who has invited us to several events throughout the summer! First up, we will be at East Side Pride at Grandview Park from 11am to 6pm on Saturday June 22. There, we will be sharing some records and other materials from the LGBTQ2+ community’s past. We look forward to meeting the community outside the Archives’ walls and talking more about our holdings.

Dyke pride march, Feb. 22, 1992. Reference Code: AM1675-S4-F23-: 2018-020.4593

Our booth will have a selection of photos from past events, protests, and demonstrations, many of which took place in East Vancouver in the 1980s and 1990s. These demonstrations of solidarity, visibility, and strength were critical for the LGBTQ2+ community, and laid the foundations for present and future celebrations and resistance. We acquire LGBTQ2+ materials to preserve these stories for future generations, and ensure that BC and Vancouver queer histories are remembered and understood. Our presence at East Side Pride is part of our goal to make these records accessible to the public. Continue reading

Paralympic Torch Relay photographs now available

We are pleased to announce that we have added another large set of VANOC photographs to our online database, this time from the Paralympic Torch Relay (PTR). VANOC photographers captured over 12,000 images of the PTR, and this series is the “selected photographs” – i.e., the few images chosen by VANOC, from the thousands taken, for its own promotional uses or distribution to its partners and sponsors.

Executive Director and CEO of the Four Host First Nations Tewanee Joseph lights the Paralympic cauldron for the first time in Vancouver, BC. Reference code: AM1550-S10-F60-:

The PTR visited twelve communities over ten days between March 3-12, 2010: Continue reading

Tetris in the Vault: Using storage space efficiently

As we noted in a previous post, after more than four decades of service, the James Skitt Matthews building in Vanier Park has reached its full capacity and we are preparing to move to a larger space where we can continue to serve the public for many years to come. Part of this preparation involves inventorying the holdings and housing or rehousing them as needed to ensure they can safely travel. One challenging side effect of this work is that when records are housed in sturdy, supportive containers, they take up more room. That’s a problem when the vault is already full. The solution is kind of like playing Tetris. This post gives you an idea of how we play the game, every day.

Retro Tetris. Retrieved from https://www.freepik.com/premium-vector/brick-retro-tetris-game_3786227.htm

Our oversize bound volumes that do not fit into a standard archival quality storage box are stored unboxed, side by side on open shelves. When these volumes are housed in sturdy new storage boxes, the space they occupy almost doubles! To maximize the use of our space we try to consolidate volumes depending on their type and size. Once we decide which types of boxes are best suited for the specific volumes, and how many will be used, we often find ourselves reorganizing the volumes and shelving itself in order to optimize the box distribution, often at a new location. Continue reading

Over 1,000 City Planning Library reports now available!

The Archives is very pleased to announce that the Planning Department’s former reference library material is now available to researchers in the Archives’ Reading Room.

An artistic presentation of a proposed redevelopment of the central downtown waterfront: Page 35 of Vancouver central waterfront (National Harbours Board, 1977)

The series consists of almost 1,200 items, including a set of Information Binders created by the department containing clippings, reports, pamphlets, etc. organised by topic or neighbourhood.

All areas related to planning are included in the series. The best documented subjects (as you would expect) relate to City-specific responsibilities: transportation planning, zoning and land use planning, building and urban design guidelines, urban renewal/redevelopment, and housing. Continue reading

The Henry Mole Diaries: Chronicling a pioneer, farmer and councillor

Nothing beats a good set of diaries for getting a flavour of how people lived in the past. In 2017 the Archives received the diaries of Henry Mole, a Vancouver settler in what is now Kerrisdale, who regularly chronicled his days from 1872 to 1914. There are 35 volumes, each averaging about 50 pages.

A selection of the Henry Mole diaries. Photo by Chak Yung

Mole, who lived from 1839 to 1923, was a successful farmer as well as, from 1894 to 1903, a councillor for the Municipality of South Vancouver. South Vancouver was established in 1892 and comprised all of current-day Vancouver south of 16th Avenue (up until 1908 when the Corporation of Point Grey was created south of 16th and west of Cambie). It amalgamated with the City of Vancouver in 1929. Continue reading

Property tax assessment maps now available

With a nod to international Records and Information Management Month, we’re pleased to announce an addition to the always-popular tax assessment records: the Assessment Division’s Property tax assessment map series is now available to researchers.

The maps appear to have been used to document information that was used by Assessment Division staff to calculate assessed property value for tax purposes. The maps consist of copies of sectional plans created by the City’s Engineering Department, which have been pasted onto board backing for strength.

The condition of the maps indicates they were heavily used by staff, and the maps contain multiple years’ worth of data.

Assessment map no. 117 – Alexandra Street to Matthews Avenue to Arbutus Street to 29th Avenue. Reference code: COV-S711: LEG2282.192. Photo: Sharon Walz

The maps are heavily annotated with property-by-property information, including:

Lot square footage information: Continue reading

Paul Yee photographs and audio recordings now available

A few years ago we were delighted to receive the personal papers of author and historian Paul Yee. Yee is one of the founders of the Pender Guy Radio Collective and the author of numerous books for children as well as Saltwater City: An Illustrated History of the Chinese in Vancouver. His records were made available for research in 2014, and, thanks to funding from the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives in 2017 and 2018, we were able to digitize all the photographs in the Paul Yee fonds and now have them available online.

Exterior of Wing Hing Dry Goods, unit block East Pender, April 1981. Reference code: AM1523-S6-F72-: 2008-010.0490

The photographs in the fonds total about 3,700. Many of them come from Yee’s family and his own work, however some were given to Yee from families during interviews and research and Yee kept them as part of his records. About half the photographs form a single photograph series, while the rest are mixed with textual records in files throughout the fonds. Continue reading

BC Gay and Lesbian Archives Posters Now Available Online!

We are very pleased to announce that all 1,936 posters in the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives (BCGLA) collection are now available online, thanks to funding from the National Heritage Digitization Strategy (NHDS). The B.C. Gay and Lesbian Archives Audiovisual and Graphic Material Digitization Project was chosen as one of 21 national projects that received funding from the NHDS late last year. This funding, made possible thanks to the generous support of a private donor, allows cultural heritage institutions and organizations to digitize and make accessible Canadian documentary heritage materials. The Archives received $71,388 to digitize, describe and provide online access to almost 2,000 posters, 5,400 photographs, and over 200 video and audio recordings from the BCGLA dating back as far as the 1940s.

Celebration ’90 poster, 1990. Reference code: AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.1394

THE POSTERS

The digitization project began by re-housing, describing and digitizing the posters series. With a grand total of 1,936 posters, the collection represents a broad range of events and is an interesting example of the history of graphic design in Vancouver. Continue reading