Archives Awareness Week 4-8 April 2011

To celebrate Archives Awareness Week, held the first week of April, the archives installed a small exhibit outlining the values and uses of archives, including a number of publications that have used the Clara Thomas Archives own holdings for their research.

We also co-hosted an information booth at the Scott Library with our colleagues from the Archives of Ontario from Monday to Thursday.  We met many students who were in the midst of archival research as part of their undergraduate and graduate degrees.

To mark Archives Awareness Week, here are 100 facts about the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections!

(thanks to the Port Hope Archives @PHArchives for the idea!)

1. We are named after Prof. Clara Thomas, professor emerita of York University, and one of the first female faculty members hired at York University.

2. We currently have 595 archival fonds, most of which are available to the public.

3.The Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections also holds the administrative records of the university, as well as the records of student organizations and faculties.

4.There are four full-time employees of the archives, three archivists and one archives assistant.  You can find our contact information here.

5. We're open five days a week, Monday through Friday, fro 10:00 am to 4:30pm.

6. Some of the oldest items in our Special Collections are leaves from incunabula from the late fifteenth century.

7. We also acquire many contemporary publications relating to the visual arts, design, dance, performance and avant-garde publications.

8. Special Collections doesn't always mean rare and obscure!  We have a small collection of trade and deluxe editions of contemporary graphic novels.

9.We also a collection of original drawings and cartoons by Canadian cartoonist Ben Wicks.

10. We hold the records of writer Margaret Laurence, celebrated Canadian author of such novels as "The Stone Angel", "The Fire Dwellers" and 'The Diviners".

11. There are two archives located at York University: the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections and the Archives of Ontario.

12. We don't just have the records of people, we have community organizational records as well.  Check out the records of multicultural festival Desh Pardesh, which focused on underrepresented and marginalized voices within the South Asian diasporic community.

13. The papers of author Rohinton Mistry are held at York University, including manuscripts to his novels "A Fine Balance", "Such a Long Journey" and "Family Matters".

14. We hold the photographic collection of the Toronto Telegram (1876-1971), which consists of approx. 1.4 million photographic negatives, prints and transparencies.

15. A small percentage of the photographs from the Telegram have been digitized.  They can be found in York University's Digital Repository, YorkSpace.

16. Researchers can acquire historical photographs from the Toronto Telegram for publishing from the archives for a fee.

17. We have an extensive collection of Canadian printed ephemera, including political pamphlets, advertisements, public service bulletins, immigration adverts and much more. The CPC (Canadian Pamphlet Collection) is frequently used by students looking for primary sources printed during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

18. Jean Augustine was the first African Canadian woman elected to the Parliament of Canada and subsequently the first black woman in a federal Cabinet and we have her papers!

19. James Tenney (1934-2006), an influential composer and musical theorist who was active in the field of electronic and computer music has deposited his records at York.

20.  Allan Novak has donated his research material and audiovisual elements to the docu-comedy "Loving Spoonfuls", which features Canadian grandmothers from various ethnic, cultural and vocational backgrounds cooking in their own homes.

21. Joyce Wieland was an experimental film maker and artist. Her work challenged and bridged boundaries among avant-garde film factions of her time.

22. Susan Swan is a retired York faculty member and author of such books as "The Wives of Bath" and "What Casanova Told Me", a novel which features an archivist as the protagonist!

23. Rhombus Media Inc. is a Canadian production company founded by three York graduates. As leaders in art film in Canada, they are best known for The Red Violin, 32 short films about Glenn Gould and The Saddest Music In The World.

24. Stevie Cameron is a celebrated Canadian investigative journalist.  Her research notes, taped interviews and correspondence are available to researchers who sign an access and use agreement and get permission from the donor.

25. Rick Salutin is a journalist and writer, erstwhile trade union organizer and Harold Innis fan.  You can commune with his papers at York.

26. Tessera is a Canadian journal of feminist theory founded in 1981 by Barbara Godard, Daphne Marlatt, Kathy Mezei and Gail Scott. We hold the administrative records for the journal, including editing, production and publishing of the Tessera journal including submissions, manuscripts, drafts and proofs, correspondence, advertising files, and financial records.

27. Barbara Godard (1941-2010) was an influential feminist, translator and theorist in Canada. Her records are deposited at the archives and her personal research library have recently been donated to the special collections. and

28. In 2008 the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections won the Archives Association of Ontario's 2008 Institutional Award.

29. Priscila Uppal is a York professor and published poet.  Her poems, correspondence and manuscripts are available in the archives reading room.

30. Patricia Fleisher was a photographer and art critic in Toronto.  Her records were recently donated to the archives by her family.

31.One of our most recent additions to our Special Collections is the Wyndham Lewis Collection, donated by local antiquarian book dealer Hugh Anson-Cartwright. It is a comprehensive collection of the Vorticist artist's published works, including a small collection of correspondence from his wife. and

32. Edith Sitwell was a contemporary of Wyndham Lewis and one of her most famous portraits was painted by him.   We have a collection of her manuscripts.

33. Sacheverill Sitwell was Edith's youngest brother and a poet.  Strangely enough, we have a collection of his manuscripts as well.

34. Great serendipity!  We also have a collection of manuscripts of the other Sitwell sibling, Osbert.

35. In 2009, the archives acquired the records of comedy troupe the Royal Canadian Air Farce.  This substantial donation is still being processed, but once available, will be a rich source of material on twentieth century Canadian history, politics, comedy and culture!

36. Need to study something funny now?  Why not check out the papers of honorary member of the Air Farce, comedian Dave Broadfoot?  Broadfoot's archives contain speeches, comedy routines and correspondence.

37. The archives occasionally acquires artifacts in addition to archival material.  For example, we have the original red violin from The Rhombus Media-produced Red Violin.

38. Gail Singer is a writer and film maker whose work traces turbulent social movements of the twentieth century with compassion, irony and wit.

39. Centre for Experimental Art and Communication was created in Toronto in 1975 by the Kensington Arts Association, an avant-garde artists collective. We are the custodians of over 12 metres of textual and photographic material related to the collectives administration and artistic output.

40. Music Gallery is a musician-run forum in Toronto for the performance of electronic music, multimedia productions, dance, contemporary jazz and world music.Their archives includes sound recordings from 1978-1993 of improvised jam sessions and concerts hosted by the Music Gallery.

41. The Obsidian Theatre Company is the leading black theatre companies in Canada, perhaps best known for its production of "The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God".

42. Sometimes a researcher has to dig deeper to find the records they're searching for.  For example, there is original footage of performances by the National Ballet found in the Rhombus Media fonds.

43. Lee Lorch is a retired York professor of mathematics and a tireless activist on behalf of academic freedom, civil rights and women's rights. His papers are a great source for anyone studying the civil rights era in the American South.

44. Karen Connelly has written novels and travel literature set in Thailand and Burma, but you'll have to write a request to travel through her archives.

45. David Wurfel is a political scientist specializing in agrarian reform policies and NGOs operating in South East Asia.  His research on the Philippines, Japan, and Vietnam includes political pamphlets from 1987 Philippine election campaign.

46. Toronto Dance Theatre is one of Canada's leading companies of modern dance.  We are the repository of their administrative and creative records.

47. The annual Kent Haworth Playwriting Contest at Stong College runs every year and features a $750 prize.  The contest solicits one-act plays from current undergraduate students at York, which have been inspired by something specific
in York's archival collection, whether a name, a letter, an event, a photograph or an item.

48. Looking for a link to the past?  Try a letter!  Here is an exhibit of war correspondence between members of the Lennox Family of Toronto.

49. Lady Victoria Welby (1837–1912) was a self-educated philosopher who corresponded with the leading British thinkers of her day. We have over 5 metres of her research notes, manuscripts, and extensive correspondence.

50. The Yolton Collection features rare books ranging from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, collected and donated by John W. Yolton (1921-2005), professor of Philosophy at York University from 1963-1978. The collection focuses on early editions by or connected to Scottish philosopher John Locke, the subject of Yolton’s doctoral thesis.

51. The Gibson Collection was established at the Clara Thomas Archives in 1994 when Robert Chalmers Gibson, after almost fifty years of of collecting rare books and manuscripts, donated his Canadiana collection to York University. The collection is particularly strong in early Canadiana, particularly travel narratives and geographic treatises.

52. Need help getting to the archives to do your research?  Consider applying for the Kent Haworth Research Fund!

53. The Mountain Fund to Help Save the Boat People was founded in 1979 in response to the plight of the Vietnamese refugees, which helped sponsored hundreds of Vietnamese refugees in the 1980's and assisted them in integrating into Canadian society quickly. We hold organizational records of the organization.

54. Av Isaacs is the proprietor of The Isaacs Gallery, a central hub for Toronto's art scene in the twentieth century.  His business records are superb sources on the professional careers of such artists Dennis Burton, Michael Snow, Graham Coughtry, Gordon Rayner, Jack Chambers, Joyce Wieland, Mark Prent, John Meredith, William Kurelek, Robert Markle and Gathie Falk.

55. Linda McQuaig is a journalist who has published on the political economy of Canada including The wealthy banker's wife : the assault on equality in Canada and It's the crude, dude : war, big oil and the fight for the planet'.

56. Theresa Burke is a documentary film maker, researcher and producer known for her work on CBC's "The Fifth Estate".

57.  Our latest donation consists of 57 documents created and received by the Collector of Customs for the Port of Toronto, from 1803 to 1862. These records should be available to the public in the near future.

58. Ted Aplin, "The Angel of Belsen" helped organize a system using the Armed Forces Postal System to put liberated internees of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp in contact with their families and friends, and collected goods from Canadian families for distribution at the camp.

59. Michael Posluns is a journalist and researcher who has worked with the Assembly of First Nations, the Native Indian Brotherhood, the Dene Nation and other bodies. His archives feature sound recordings of interviews with First Nations elders

60. William Wicken is a researcher and expert witness in projects and legal cases involving Mi'kmaq treaties and their rights to hunt, fish, and trade.   His archival fonds features correspondence and recordings and field recordings of First Nations community members.

61. Knowlton Nash was the face of CBC news throughout the later half of the twentieth century.  During his youth he was a foreign correspondent in Washington, D.C., covering the Vietnam War and the Kennedy assassination.  He even interviewed Che Guevara in the cane fields of Cuba.

62. Allan Fleming is known as the godfather of Canadian design.  Check out his original design files for such companies as CN, Ontario Hydro and the University of Toronto Press.

63. Rob Forsyth was a Canadian script-writer whose archives include research notes and historical photographs about John Williamson, founder of the Williamson David Diamond Mine in Mwadui, Tanganyika (now Tanzania).

64. Leo Panitch is a renowned political economist, Marxist theorist and editor of the Socialist Register . Not surprisingly, his records reflect his interest in Canadian and British labour history.

65.Lloyd Mackenzie was a frustrated writer, historian, and playwright.  His diaries, written from his adolescence in 1930s to his death in 2008, chronicle the daily life of a gay man in Toronto.

66. The Ruth Dworin Collection of lesbian fiction includes pulp paperbacks

67. Didi Khayatt Collection of lesbian literature covers the later half of the twentieth century, including a significant collection of 1990s 'zines that developed out of the riot grrrl scene.

68. Allan Grossman was a Progressive Conservative MMP for the Toronto riding of St. Andrew-St. Patrick.  His political papers were donated in the 1980s and access restrictions were lifted in 2010.

69. Jack Granatstein has written extensively on Canadian history, politics and the military.

70. Ray Ellenwood was a translator of such Quebecois authors as Jacques Ferron, Claude Gauvreau and Marie-Claire Blais.

71. Suzanne Dubeau, assistant head of the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections is currently part of the editorial board of Archivaria.  Her first issue will be issue no. 71.

72. Sometimes finding archival materials by topic can be difficult.  Here's a link to our finding aid for materials relating to women's studies.

73. The university archivist, Michael Moir, is band leader of the local pipe band Scarborough Pipes and Drums, R.C.L., Br. 73.

74. We have the extensive archives of the Mariposa Folk Foundation, which operates the Mariposa Folk Festival.  Selections from the archives have been digitized and made available through the support of the ACDP (Archives Community Digitization Program).

75. John N. Smith is a Canadian director known for his work in feature films such as Dangerous Minds, The Boys of St. Vincent, Prairie Giant : The Tommy Douglas Story, The Englishman's Boy and Love & Savagery. Smith has a long history of defending free speech and artists' rights.

76. Sometimes it takes a while for materials to end up in the archives. Vicki Ryckman found a package of letters in an old barn in Prince Edward County where she grew up and donated them to the archives in 2008.  The letters trace the WWI correspondence of the Shore family, whose son Charles had lied about his age and signed up with Commonwealth troops. Several of these letters have been digitized and are available online. and

77. Robert Casto was a poet and English professor at York.  His archives include unpublished poems and manuscripts.

78. bill bisset is a Canadian poet and his extensive archive reflects his creative life as "free agent, writer and painter unencumbered by any academic constraints".

79. James and Margaret Beveridge were a film-making couple who produced numerous documentary films for the NFB about Canada from 1940-1979.

80. Joseph Starobin was a York professor of political science who focused on American radicalism and European socialism. As an editor of The Daily Worker he travelled to Eastern Europe and China before he left the party in 1956.

81. Artists using archives : archives using artists.  Check out how York fine art instructor Nina Levitt was inspired by archival materials!

82. P.J. Dwyer is a dancer, choreographer, writer and founder of Dance Oremus Danse. His records include video and audio recordings of interviews and dance performances.

83. Norman Campbell was a composer, director and producer with the CBC, perhaps best known for composing the music for Anne of Green Gables: the musical.

84. Jerome Ch'en a professor of York's history department donated a small collection of statements of delegates to the Geneva Conference in 1954.

85. Seth Feldman is a professor at York as well as a writer and broadcaster.  His archives include scripts of his contributions to the CBC radio series Ideas.

86. Danny Grossman is another Canadian dancer and choreographer.  His recordings include material relating to Paul Taylor Dance Company as well as the founding of the Danny Grossman Dance Company.

87. Naomi Black's archives contain extensive research material regarding her work on Virginia Woolf.

88. John Kastner, a documentary filmmaker, includes research and production files for his 2000 documentary Chickens are People Too.

89. Marilou MacPhedran is a legal activist who has worked on behalf of women's rights, the rights of the mentally ill and more recently against patient abuse.  Her records include her efforts to have women included in the new Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1981. and

90.Varpu Lindström is a historian who has focused on the experience of Finnish Immigrants in Canada.  Her records include family and organizational records given to her by Finnish Canadians across Canada.

91. Part of Varpu Lindström's fonds includes the Pertti Kaski photograph collection, which features Finnish families from Northern Quebec from the early twentieth century.

92. Prior to his tenure at York, Harry S. Crowe had been dismissed from United College in 1958. The dispute gained prominence as an example of the tenuous state of academic tenure in Canadian universities and proved to be instrumental in establishing the CAUT as an effective voice for the rights of university teachers.

93. James Laxer is a political economist who has written a memoir about his childhood, Red Diaper Baby: A Boyhood in the Age of McCarthyism.

94. Mary Young Leckie and Keith Ross Leckie are screenwriters and producers who have been involved in such productions as Where the Spirit Lives, Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion and the short-lived hockey soap opera, M.V.P. and

95. Ernesto Vinci was a teacher and singer who emigrated to Canada from Italy in 1939.  His archives include materials about his professional career as a singer as well as family correspondence with his Jewish relatives attempting to escape Germany during WWII.

96. Sam and Manya Lipshitz were Canadian Jewish activists of Polish extraction.  Their love letters in Yiddish were translated and summarized by one of our student assistant's grandmother, Faigel Rosenberg.

97. Dorothy Stepler preserved the WWI correspondence of her brother Stephen who was serving in France and who fought as part of the 67th Varsity Battery. Several of the letters have been digitized and are available online. and

98. We've recently acquired records from the Portuguese community in Toronto.  Check out issues of the Portuguese-language newspaper Comunidade and historical photographs in our digital repository YorkSpace!

99. Everyone loves a pair of white gloves!  Check out our "Night to Remember the '60s" white gloves event held last year!

100. There are hundreds of MRPs, MA and PhD thesis topics (not to mention Post-Doc projects) waiting to be discovered in the archives!


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