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

More 2010 Olympic Torch Relay Photographs Available

We have added another 4,830 torch-relay images to the VANOC records already available on our AtoM site. These images belong to series AM1550-S08: Olympic Torch Relay – highlight photographs. The images were selected by VANOC from hundreds (sometimes thousands) of images captured each day from the photographers assigned to cover the relay. The selected images were sent to the torch relay sponsors: Coca-Cola, Royal Bank of Canada, and Government of Canada for the respective sponsors to use for their own purposes.

Lighting Ceremony in Olympia. Check out the highly flammable cellulose nitrate film being used for firelighter in the torch. Reference code (file): AM1550-S08-3-F000-:

The images in the newly released series show more diverse scenes than the torchbearer series published by the Archives last fall (AM1550-S07). While VANOC’s intent for the previous series was to document each person that participated in the relay as a torchbearer, the newly released series features images showing the torch lighting ceremony in Olympia, Greece, crowds gathered to watch the relay, special events held during the day, shots of landmarks along the route, and other scenes that capture the spirit of the relay. Continue reading

Winter Wander 2019

At the beginning of February the Archives, Museum of Vancouver, HR MacMillian Space Centre, Vancouver Maritime Museum, Vancouver Academy of Music, and Bard on the Beach hosted the 8th annual Winter Wander. For those who haven’t yet been, it is a fun day filled with activities, performances, and a chance to visit the cultural sites that call Vanier Park home.

Winter Wander gives the Archives an opportunity to show off a selection of our favourite records to visitors who might not otherwise walk through our doors during regular operating hours to conduct research. This year, in addition to our ever-popular first Council minute book, contract for a Chinese opera singer, and prisoners’ record book, we displayed a handful of posters from the recently donated BC Gay and Lesbian Archives fonds, the illustrated panoramic view of the City of Vancouver originally published as a supplement in the Daily World newspaper in 1898, and drawings of unbuilt Vancouver, including that of a stadium that had it been built in the 1930s would be sitting where the Archives is currently located. Continue reading

Don Coltman photographs now available

This is the second and final post on the 2018 Steffens-Colmer Studios and Don Coltman Company Photographs Digitization Project, funded by the British Columbia History Digitization Program.

With thanks to funding from the British Columbia History Digitization Program we are pleased to announce that we have recently completed a project to digitize 5,300 photographs by commercial photographer Don Coltman.  The photographs are all in the public domain and have been uploaded to the Archives online database with accompanying descriptions and are available to be downloaded, re-printed and used! They join the ~5,000 Coltman photographs previously digitized.

Scenes at Kitsilano Beach and Yacht Club (1945). Reference code: AM1545-S3-: CVA 586-6176

Don Coltman was born Alfred Donald Coltman in 1898 in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, England. He arrived in Canada in 1904 with his mother Ada, father Alfred Birbek and brother Rex. The family lived and worked around Lethbridge, Alberta. Coltman briefly worked for Canadian Pacific Railway in Lethbridge until 1916 when he joined the Canadian Battalion and was sent to France. During the war, he was buried alive, and then dug out and returned to England with a badly crushed foot. He refused to allow the doctors to amputate his leg; he was left with some damage but maintained the use of his leg for the rest of his life. Continue reading

iPRES International Conference on Digital Preservation 2018

Last fall I was able to attend iPRES, the International Conference on Digital Preservation. This was the 15th time the conference has been held, and the first time it has been in North America since 2015. The 2018 conference was held in Boston from Sept. 12-16, 2018. Previously it was held in Kyoto;  the 2019 conference will be in Amsterdam.

Plenary Keynote speaker Eve Blau” Photo credit: Martha Stewart. (some rights reserved: CC BY-SA 2.0)

The conference brought together 421 attendees from thirty-two countries, including scientists, archivists, librarians, and other professionals from disciplines that have an interest in preserving digital information over long time spans. The interdisciplinary approach of iPRES is valuable in digital preservation. Digital preservation is not a problem unique to archives. An interdisciplinary approach lets smaller communities, such as archives, to find out more about how larger communities, often with better resources and larger research budgets, are addressing problems of a similar nature. Continue reading