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Fine art and Archive

Hi, I am Alice, a second year student majoring in Fine Art studio practice. It may seem strange to see a student of Fine Art who is willing to apply to the position of the Special Collections & Archives Project Assistant, which it is not so Fine Art related. Even my colleagues here have admitted that this job is sometimes not so creative, in the sense that, sometimes, people do paperwork and scan negatives. However, I feel differently since I became a part of this community. It is a treasure box full of surprises for me as a Fine Art student. It is unlimited inspiration.

Meet the Waterloo Digital Library

Cover of Engineering Building promotional booklet

Just over two years ago I started in a newly created position as Digital Archivist. It took some time to figure out where my expertise would be best directed, but one task that was clear from the start was that Special Collections & Archives needed a way to selectively share our digitized primary resources.

Readers, I’m delighted to share that we have a solution to that problem and its name is the Waterloo Digital Library (WDL).

Horror & Occult Classics

With Halloween coming up soon, I found it fitting for my first blog post as the new Special Collections & Archives Co-op student to follow a theme of the supernatural. When I first started working here in the Rare Book Room, I quickly realized that there would be all sorts of random topics covered in the vast collection we have down here on the first floor of the Dana Porter Library. Luckily, there are plenty of books and magazines that fit perfectly within the themes of Halloween.

Portia White's debut

“First you dream, then you lace up your boots.”

Sounds like good advice, don’t you think?

Romance & Hospitals

Another special (and sort of unusual) collection that the archives holds is Hospital Romances. This collection consists of short picture romances, each one with different characters and plot twists, all occurring in the same setting: the hospital. The main focus is specifically on the nurses, and their complex and romantic relationships with the doctors.

The Return of Euclid

For the past year, our 1570 first English translation of Euclid’s Elements of Geography has been getting some much-needed TLC from Jennifer Robertson at Book and Paper Conservation Services.  One of the highlights of our collection, this edition is an important work in both the transmission of Euclidean geometry and the history of print.

An Arab past

Everyone is interested in reading about their country’s past or coming across some old photographs of how their city looked like back in the day. For me, anything I find that relates to my country (I’m Lebanese) or to any country in the Arab region makes me feel proud of my cultural background. When I started working in the Special Collections & Archives department, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to search for any material on Arab history. And luckily, I did.

De-framed World War 1 Photograph

I have been on a kick lately de-framing and cataloguing materials that were donated to us in non-archival friendly frames. One of the recent items I have had the pleasure of describing is this incredible panoramic photograph of the Western Ontario Regiment training at Carling Heights in London, Ontario on August 1, 1918. The photograph is 143 cm (4 feet 8 inches long) and shows members of the regiment engaging in various callisthenic looking training exercises.

Murder in the Archives (pt. 2/2)

Murder and Magic

I know that I said I prefer real murder stories to fictional ones, but all rules have exceptions. My exception is fantasy. So, when I was scrolling through our catalogue for “murder”, I couldn’t help but stop at Murder and Magic by Randall Garrett (call number: F12827).

Murder in the Archives (pt. 1/2)

The Case of Valentine Shortis

Back in November, I began reading The Complete Tales of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, and although I’m not the biggest fan, it came in handy with this. No, it didn’t inspire me to write about everyone’s favourite cocaine addict, but it did remind me that when it comes to murder stories, I much prefer nonfiction to fiction, which prompted me to look for other murder-related books in our catalogue. This led me to a book called The Case of Valentine Shortis: A True Story of Crime and Politics in Canada by Martin Friedland (call number: G9256).

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