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  • Brock collections from World Wars help Niagara remember

    This article written by Jocelyn Titone, Marketing and Communications Officer, was originally published in The Brock News.

    As Remembrance Day approaches, Brock University’s archival collections bring history to the forefront.

    The Brock University Library’s Archives and Special Collections houses some of the most unique and valuable records representing all aspects of Niagara’s history, including a wide range of historical items related to the First and Second World Wars.

    David Sharron, Head of Archives and Special Collections, said although each collection is significant in its own way, the records that cover the World Wars and other modern conflicts evoke a different reaction.

    “There is an immediate reverence for both the individuals who fought the battles and those who supported the war effort from home,” he said. “These records remind us of a time when people and organizations made sacrifices and pitched in to do their part. It was difficult and often tragic, but as a community, Niagara made it through.”

    Collection highlights include a letter from a father serving oversees to his young daughter; a trench helmet and rucksack used in the First World War; documents on the City of St. Catharines’ war preparations and measures; photographs of fundraising parades to support the war; oral histories from the Niagara Mennonite community; and postcards from a military training camp in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

    Sharron said with some of the wars happening so long ago, many of the people who experienced them are no longer alive to share their story.

    “Their history and voices held in these records help us remember,” he said. “It’s why we preserve them and make them available.”

    While many of the collections are digitized and available online for anyone to access, including the records Sharron curated below, there are millions of documents and artifacts housed in the physical archives.

    “The online collections are just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “There is always more to the story; a fuller history unfolds as you sift through a box of documents or flip through books from that era.”

    Brock University’s Archives and Special Collections is open to the Niagara community as well as Brock students and researchers. The public is invited to access the physical collections on the 10th floor of the James A. Gibson Library in Brock University’s Arthur Schmon Tower Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Writing ahead of a visit to archives@brocku.ca is recommended in case a class is occupying the space or the reading room is full. Vaccination and mask protocols are in effect.

    Digitized records related to the World Wars

    Arthur Albert Schmon
    Arthur Albert Schmon, one of Brock University’s founders and the Schmon Tower’s namesake, fought for the United States Army during the First World War before coming to live in St. Catharines.

    Laura de Turcynowicz (nee Blackwell)
    Laura de Turcynowicz was a famous opera singer from St. Catharines who married a Polish Count and was living in Poland when the First World War began. The Prussian Army occupied her home for several months before she escaped to the U.S. She wrote a book about her ordeal and raised money for the suffering people of Poland. In 1918, de Turcynowicz was instrumental in promoting the training and education of young American women of Polish descent to help with war relief efforts in Poland. The group became known as the Polish Grey Samaritans.

    Percy Carruthers Band
    Percy Carruthers Band was a decorated First World War soldier who earned the Military Cross with two bars and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm. He was also the former caretaker of the Brock Library’s Woodruff and Post Office collections. Among other records in this collection are letters from his sweetheart Margaret Woodruff from St. Catharines, photographs, military documents, a trench helmet and rucksack from the First World War, and medals he received for courage and determination.

    Samuel DeVeaux Woodruff
    The Woodruff family of St. Catharines came to Canada from the U.S. in 1795. They were an integral part of the Village of St. Davids and played an active role in the battles fought in Upper Canada. Samuel DeVeaux Woodruff was killed in action during the First World War as a member of the 116th unit of the Queen’s Battalion of the Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regiment).

    Niagara Camp
    Niagara Camp was a military training camp in Niagara-on-the-Lake that was used as a summer training grounds for infantry, cavalry and artillery. Postcards of Niagara Camp were common. This collection features postcards from the early years of the First World War.

    Orville James (Jimmy) Manson
    Orville James (Jimmy) Manson was an amateur photographer from Niagara who brought his camera with him while serving for the Canadian Navy during the Second World War.

    Mennonites of Niagara
    Oral history interviews of members of the Mennonite community who came to Niagara from Europe after the upheavals of the First and Second World Wars.

    Interesting parts included in large, digitized collections:

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    Categories: Archives, Main

  • Exploring nearly two centuries of photography

    This month’s display in the Learning Commons cabinets features aspects of early photography and contemporary analogue and experimental image making. With the use of images from Brock’s Archives and Special Collections and vintage cameras from the Department of Visual Arts, the display offers a glimpse into early photographic processes from the 19th century and early 20th century.

    The camera originates from an ancient device known as the camera obscura (meaning “dark room”). Light traveling through a small pinhole into a darkened room will project the image on the other side of the hole, upside down – seriously, give it a try! The earliest record is found in the work of Mozi, a Chinese philosopher (470 – 390 BCE). This simple technique is the foundation for all pre-digital photography.

    The arrangement of photographs in the display may seem to present the development of photography as a steady linear progression of advancements with one building on the previous, however this is not the case at all. There were many inventors and entrepreneurs in the 19th century working in different locations who each had a goal of permanently fixing an image made with a camera. The early experiments were costly and time consuming. For example, the first known photograph by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (1765–1833) in 1827 took several days of exposure in the sun for an image to render permanently. In 1839, Louis Daguerre (1787 – 1851) was the first to share his chemical formula of affixing an image permanently, though it too was costly (using a sheet of copper coated with silver), it only took minutes for it to render an image. An example of a “daguerreotype,” which he named after himself, is on display in the cabinet. As beautiful as these photographs were, it is important to note that these images were one-of-a-kind and not reproducible.

    At the same time, Henry Fox Talbot (1800 – 1877), an English inventor and entrepreneur, was also experimenting with chemical processes though he was focused on reducing the exposure time and creating an image that could be reproduced. In 1840, he found a way that met both requirements in what he called a “calotype” (from the Greek kalos, meaning beautiful). Not only did it take mere seconds for the image to render, Talbot’s use of paper on which to apply his chemical formulation made this a cheap and widely available option. This is the basis on which Talbot would create the negative-positive process whereby multiple copies of a single photograph could be made. This remains the basis of all most analogue photography today.

    By the end of the 19th century, George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, created easy-to-use portable cameras, making photography more accessible. Thus began the era of the amateur photographer. A few of Kodak’s early cameras are on display in the Learning Commons cabinets alongside other 20th century analogue cameras.

    The photograph (which means drawing with light) is created by applying a light sensitive emulsion to a surface (e.g., paper, glass etc.) that changes when exposed to light. Today there is a resurgence in these early photographic techniques as well as interest in new experimental methods of image creation. The hallway cabinets display examples of a variety of analogue methods of image creation with the aid of photosensitive emulsions. Among the methods are the anthotype which use plant-based dyes, lumen prints using silver gelatin coated paper, and the cyanotype, another 19th century discovery, using a mixture of ferric ammonium citrate or ferric ammonium oxalate, and potassium ferricyanide.

    Stop by when you have a moment to check it out.

    Many thanks to Archivist David Sharron for loaning some of the amazing photographs from Brock Archives and Special Collections for the display, Professor Amy Friend from Department of Visual Arts for the loan of cameras and to Dr. Linda Steer also from the Department of Visual Arts for lending her expertise in the history of early photography for the creation of this exhibit. Finally, thank you to my collaborator Charity Blaine for being willing to play and learn together!

     

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    Categories: Learning Commons, Main

  • It’s contest time!

    The Brock University Digital Scholarship Lab is hosting their annual data visualization contest for Brock students this month.

    Students can choose from one of four datasets provided on the content website. Visualizations will be judged on comprehension, insight, and aesthetics, and the winning entry will be chosen on December 1st.

    For more details, view the contest website.

    Categories: Digital Scholarship Lab, Main, MDGL

  • Contribute to a delicious data visualization

    GIS Day events return in-person this year after a two-year hiatus. In addition to quizzes, learning and laughter, a key part of the annual tradition at Brock is a GIS Day cake.

    Submit one of your map creations (in JPEG format) to Sharon Janzen, Map Library Associate and Geospatial Data Coordinator, for a chance to have it featured on this year’s cake.

    Contribute your JPEG to sjanzen@brocku.ca by November 9, 2022.

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    Categories: Main, MDGL

  • Employment opportunity: Collections Coordinator

    Brock University Library invites applications for the full-time position of Collections Coordinator. The incumbent will provide support to the Library’s Collections Services department by maintaining the library catalogue and collections, as well as gathering statistics to assist with the ongoing evaluation of resources. This role also has a front-desk service component which involves in-depth research support at our Ask Us desk.

    Learn more about this exciting opportunity and apply by Thursday, November 3 at 12:01am.

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  • Join our team as Data Services Librarian

    Brock University Library invites applications for the full-time probationary position of Data Services Librarian from qualified candidates who will thrive in a dynamic, fluid and team-oriented environment.

    Reporting to the Head of the Research Lifecyle department, the successful candidate will provide a full range of data services and help support services offered in the Map, Data & GIS Library (MDGL).

    Learn more about this exciting opportunity and apply by November 28 at 12:01 am.

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  • A day of reflection

    On September 30, we recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. On this national day of reflection, we remember and mourn for the children and for the generations of Indigenous people hurt by the residential school system. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a direct response to Call to Action 80, which called for a federal statutory day of commemoration.  

    We also recognize Orange Shirt Day, held on this day to bring awareness to the history of residential schools and their negative effects on children’s self-esteem and well-being. Orange Shirt Day was first observed in 2013 at St. Joseph Mission in Williams Lake, British Columbia, where, in 1973, Phyllis (Jack) Webstad had her new orange shirt taken away on her first day of residential school. She never saw the shirt again. We wear orange to show our commitment to recognizing and remembering the approximately 150,000 children forced to attend residential schools, where many experienced shame, deprivation, and abuse, as well as more than 6,000 students who did not survive. 

    Learn more about the impact of residential schools by exploring a selection of books, ebooks and streaming video. 

    In acknowledgement of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we are screening 11 NFB short films by Indigenous film makers in Library Classroom B. Everyone is welcome to drop in at any time during the hours of 9am and 6pm to watch, listen, learn and reflect.  

    We also encourage you to write a review for any of the films you see on the NFB website. This action is inspired by a #Next150 Challenge to engage with Indigenous cinema and continue our learning. 

    List of films (with thanks to the National Film Board) 

    Nunavut Animation Lab: I Am But a Little Woman
    Gyu Oh 2010 | 4 min 

    Inspired by an Inuit poem first assigned to paper in 1927, this animated short evokes the beauty and power of nature, as well as the bond between mother and daughter. As her daughter looks on, an Inuit woman creates a wall hanging filled with images of the spectacular Arctic landscape and traditional Inuit objects and iconography. Soon the boundaries between art and reality begin to dissolve.

    Stories from Our Land 1.5: Tide
    Ericka Chemko 2012 | 4 min 

    This beautiful short film captures the majesty of ice sculpted by wind and water. By using time-lapse imagery, Iqaluit filmmaker Ericka Chemko reveals the dynamic intertidal dance of water and ice in the Arctic. 

    Stories Are in Our Bones
    Janine Windolph 2019 | 11 min 

    In this layered short film, filmmaker Janine Windolph takes her young sons fishing with their kokum (grandmother), a residential school survivor who retains a deep knowledge and memory of the land. The act of reconnecting with their homeland is a cultural and familial healing journey for the boys, who are growing up in the city. It’s also a powerful form of resistance for the women. 

    Waseteg
    Phyllis Grant 2010 | 6 min 

    Waseteg is the story of a young Mi’kmaq girl whose name means “the light from the dawn.” Sadly, her mother dies while giving birth and, though her father works very hard to provide for his family, Waseteg is surrounded by the bitterness and loneliness felt by her sisters. 

    As a young girl, Waseteg looks for solace in nature, and dreams of the stories she’s heard in the village – including one about Walqwan, the mysterious boy living across the river. Eventually, with the gentle care of the boy’s grandmother, Waseteg succeeds in finding Walqwan, discovering the Spirit Path, and restoring love to her family. 

    A short story about dreams, courage, identity, creation and embracing our Elders, Wasetegshowcases Phyllis Grant’s signature style of bold lines, bright colours and simple movements. The film is beautifully narrated by legendary filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin. 

    Vistas: Dancers of the Grass
    Melanie Jackson 2009 | 2 min 

    This short film presents a stunning display of a stop-motion animation as it vividly depicts the majesty of the hoop dance, a tradition symbolizing the unity of all nations. 

    Stories from Our Land 1.5: Inngiruti – The Thing that Sings!
    Nyla Innuksuk 2012 | 5 min 

    This short documentary filmed in Pangnirtung features 2 elders reminiscing about the dances held in their community 50 years ago. One of the elders is master accordion player Simeonie Keenainak, and soon he’s making toe-tapping music with his instrument. In this celebration of the pleasures of music and dance, Keenainak plays for the enjoyment of friends, family, and the community at large. 

    To Wake Up the Nakota Language
    Louise BigEagle 2017 | 6 min 

    “When you don’t know your language or your culture, you don’t know who you are,” says 69-year-old Armand McArthur, one of the last fluent Nakota speakers in Pheasant Rump First Nation, Treaty 4 territory, in southern Saskatchewan. Through the wisdom of his words, Armand is committed to revitalizing his language and culture for his community and future generations.  

    The Mountain of SGaana
    Christopher Auchter 2017 | 10 min 

    In The Mountain of SGaana, Haida filmmaker Christopher Auchter spins a magical tale of a young man who is stolen away to the spirit world, and the young woman who rescues him. The film brilliantly combines traditional animation with formal elements of Haida art, and is based on a story inspired by a old Haida fable. 

    Breaths
    Nyla Innuksuk 2016 | 4 min 

    In this evocative short documentary, Inuk singer-songwriter and humanitarian Susan Aglukark weaves together stories of artistry, family, and belonging as she explores the complex cultural shifts of the last 50 years of Inuit life. Turning her lens on the turbulence of colonial transition, director Nyla Innuksuk examines the forces that shaped Aglukark’s voice and how that voice is now being translated for a new generation of Inuit artists. 

    Produced by the National Film Board of Canada in co-operation with the National Arts Centre and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Foundation on the occasion of the 2016 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. 

    Shaman
    Echo Henoche 2017 | 5 min 

    This animated short tells the story of a ferocious polar bear turned to stone by an Inuk shaman. The tale is based on emerging filmmaker Echo Henoche’s favourite legend, as told to her by her grandfather in her home community of Nain, Nunatsiavut, on Labrador’s North Coast. Hand-drawn and painted by Henoche in a style all her own, Shaman is the first collaboration between the Labrador artist and the NFB.  

    Stories from Our Land 1.5: If You Want to Get Married… You Have to Learn How to Build an Igloo!
    Allen Auksaq 2011 | 5 min 

    In the spirit of the 1949 NFB classic How to Build an Igloo, this short film records Dean Ittuksarjuat as he constructs the traditional Inuit home. From the first cut of the snow knife, to the carving of the entrance after the last block of snow has been placed on the roof, this is an inside-and-out look at the entire fascinating process. 

     

     

     

     

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  • The Wellness Book Club returns with an in-person option this October

    Registration for the Autumn Wellness Book Club is now open.  Reading fiction has so many benefits for emotional wellbeing, from reducing stress to better sleep!  This term, we will be reading Delia Owens’ 2021 novel Where the Crawdads Sing.   

    Described by the New York Times Book Review as “a painfully beautiful first novel that is at once a murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative and a celebration of nature,” the book was also a feature film this past summer.   

    The Book Club will be hosted by Liaison Librarian, Justine Cotton, who is passionate about sharing the positive impact of reading and discussing books.  You can contact her with any questions at jcotton@brocku.ca  

    Meetings will be held in-person in October (with an option to meet virtually, if preferred).  As a part of the Club, members may choose to participate in a research study on the benefits of reading “for fun” on stress levels in university students. 

    Sign up at: bit.ly/autumnbookclub22 

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  • Omni: the power of collaboration

    Thanks to the Library’s partnership in Omni, Brock students, faculty, and staff have access to over 25.3 million books from 18 universities in Ontario.

    Fanny Dolansky, Brock professor in the Department of Classics and Archaeology, shared “I really couldn’t do my research or teaching without the support of the library and having more access to print (as well as digital) resources and efficient, reliable access, makes a huge difference! Omni and other changes at the library have revolutionized student and faculty research.”

    Over the past twelve months, Brock researchers used Omni to borrow approximately 2,000 books! In the same period, Brock Library loaned out over 1,700 books to researchers at other Omni institutions.

    To request an item in Omni, login to your library account and perform a search. Omni searches across all 18 partners for that item and when it finds an available copy, you’ll be able to place a request. You can request to pick up the book at Brock or your choice of partner library. You will be notified when your book is ready for pickup and you will enjoy the same 120-day loan period.

    Search Omni to find resources that support your coursework, as well as featured collections on a variety of themes.

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  • Experience community, join the public library

    We love libraries! All kinds. So we are delighted to announce on-campus visits by staff from the St. Catharines and Thorold Public Libraries.

    Getting a card is easy, and free. Fill in a form, present some ID, and then you’ll be all set to borrow video games, join book clubs, experience adult craft nights, and more. Online resources such as popular magazines, audio books, streaming videos and music are also available, and offer the perfect complement to our more scholarly collections.

    Who: St. Catharines Public Library
    Where: Matheson Learning Commons (Library main floor)
    When: Tuesday, September 20, 12-4 pm.

    Who: Thorold Public Library
    Where:
    Matheson Learning Commons (Library main floor)
    When:
     Thursday, September 22, 1:30-3:30. 

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