Archives & Research Collections

Valour at Vimy

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Filed under Library News:  Mills Archives & Research Collections

The Preservation Unit recently treated an exceptionally large panoramic photograph (91 inches!) taken the day after Canadian forces captured Vimy Ridge in France. The image was shot from the highest point of the ridge "Hill 145" and overlooks the plains towards Lens and Rouvroy which were still in German hands. This photograph is part of the World War I fonds.


A Monarchist's Poetical Treasure Trove

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John Masefield (1878-1967), Poet Laureate of Great Britain from 1930 until his death, was only 22 when he wrote those memorable lines from "Sea Fever": "I must go down to the seas again, / to the lonely sea and the sky, / And all I ask is a tall ship / and a star to steer her by...." The lines are so famous that they are quoted by Dr. McCoy in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. McCoy forgets Masefield’s name, but Mr. Spock with his Vulcan intelligence has no trouble identifying the poem’s author.


Canada: A Colony of Wood and Water

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A truly fascinating book that has been recently restored by the Preservation Department is entitled The Illustrated Exhibitor (Res. Coll. T 690.B1.I6).


In Search of the Nile

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The nineteenth century was an age of empire and exploration. The public’s obsession with the discovery and mastery of nature led explorers on expeditions to far-flung places–to find the Northwest Passage and the North and South Poles and to uncover the secrets of dark, unknown continents. One such adventure concerned the Nile, the largest river in Africa whose source had been impenetrable since the early futile attempts by the Greeks and the Romans.


Bertrand Russell Pamphleteer

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A pamphleteer writes and distributes pamphlets or little publications for social or political purposes. In his long life Bertrand Russell, the philosopher, Nobel Prize winner, and ardent social reformer, was certainly a great pamphleteer. During the Wimbledon bye election campaign in 1907, for example, when Russell stood for parliament and advocated women's suffrage, he issued a pamphlet entitled To the electors of the Wimbledon Division of Surrey. A leaflet that Russell wrote anonymously in 1916 under the auspices of the No-Conscription Fellowship, Two years' hard labour for refusing to disobey the dictates of conscience (known as the Everett leaflet), was distributed in thousands of copies throughout England and led to his prosecution. In old age Russell became the master pamphleteer, writing statements about many causes, such as the proliferation of nuclear weapons, civil disobedience, political prisoners, and the Vietnam War. Like so many publications of this kind, Russell's pamphlets are ephemeral and often very difficult to locate.

We are pleased to announce that Wade Wyckoff and a team of able cataloguers have now described Russell's pamphlets. They are accessible bibliographically on the Library's online catalogue. For purposes of identification, a note-Bertrand Russell Pamphlet Collection-has been added to each record.


Exhibit: Reading Experiences: Memorable Books Chosen by the Library Staff

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We are pleased to announce a new exhibition entitled - Reading Experiences: Memorable Books Chosen by the Library Staff. In preparation for this exhibition, we sent out an e-mail to the Library staff. We told them that this exhibition would be a personal selection of memorable books. "Why are they memorable?," we asked. They are memorable because they have made a personal impact on us in some way. The books have changed our lives or given us a fresh perspective. Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel, Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Jeremy Fisher, Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, Margaret Laurence's The Diviners.... In many cases the books are accompanied by letters and manuscripts. You will be intrigued to read the comments of each Library staff member -- why the particular book bored, shocked, or delighted the reader. The exhibition can be viewed virtually. However, we think that you'll want to look at the exhibition itself in all its fascinating aspects. The exhibition will be on display in Archives and Research Collections until May 25th. Explore and enjoy!!


It Began with the Beatles: The Poetry of John B. Lee

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With over 40 books and literally hundreds of poems published in hundreds of journals worldwide, John B. Lee has quietly earned himself the reputation of being one of Canada's most prolific and widely published poets. Obtaining an MA from the University of Western Ontario, Lee taught high-school English and Drama for a number of years before devoting himself to the life of a full-time poet. His own poems range thematically from personal remembrances of life growing up on a farm in Highgate, Ontario to dramatic recreations of the colonial process and experience in nineteenth-century Upper Canada. For his work, he has earned numerous prestigious national awards and recently received a life appointment as Poet Laureate of Brantford, Ontario, his home for many years. The recent acquision of Lee's archives include a number of Beatles' collector cards, reflecting the importance of the band which first prompted a teen-aged Lee to begin writing poetry in the late 1960s.

See also: Brantford Expositor article: Ode to frustration; City's poet laureate getting global recognition, but not in hometown


First Digitization Project Underway

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Filed under Library News:  Mills Archives & Research Collections Events Maps, Data, GIS Web Resources

McMaster University Library has launched its first digitization project in an effort to provide more remote and universal web access to unique resources in our collection. Our first project is the digitization of 425 military maps and 480 air photos from our World War I collection.

McMaster has an uncommonly rich collection of detailed, topographic maps known as trench maps . As well as delineating trenches, these maps show the locations of many positions of military importance such as machine gun nests, trench mortars, artillery and enemy head quarters to name a few. Most date from the years 1917 and 1918 and cover the Canadian sector of the Front in France and Belgium. The maps are also a lasting record of the myriad stages of evolution in mapping that occurred during the war as a result of advances in survey techniques, aerial photography and photogrammetry.

Digitization will finally allow researchers from around the world to view, pan and zoom images to a level of detail surpassing that which can be seen in person without the aid of a magnifying glass.

The index to the maps in our collection is already available here.


Russell Crowe Connection to the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

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Russell Crowe, before he became famous in the title role of The Gladiator in Ancient Rome, played an Aussie sent to Canada to train as a bomber pilot in the Canadian movie For the Moment. That moment of history is also captured here in Archives and Research Collections, in the photograph album of Flight Officer H.C. Hass, which depicts one of the more than a hundred training facilities which were set up across the country. These centres trained not only Australians, but also the British, New Zealanders and European allies – as well as Canadians of course – as pilots, wireless operators, air gunners, and navigators. Hass was stationed at Air Observer School #8, Ancienne Lorette, Quebec in 1942-1943. Historian J. L. Granatstein has gone so far as to call this plan "the major Canadian military contribution to the Allied War effort".


Celebrating Student Research - World War I Songs in Archives and Research Collections.

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On Monday January 29, at a session hosted by the Office of the Vice-President, Research & International Affairs, students who had received Undergraduate Student Research Awards in 2006 showed off the results of their labours. Among the engrossing displays was one by Arts and Science student Adriana Brook, who was given one of the prestigious awards last summer to work on the World War I song sheets housed in Archives and Research Collections. Adriana listed, transcribed and photographed all 80 of the songs and, since she is also a talented pianist, she actually recorded a selection of them. Under the supervision of Kathy Garay, Adriana prepared a detailed analysis of the songs, exploring their significance within the wider Canadian cultural context of the war. A description of these songs, along with the sound files and images is now available. We are most grateful to Adriana for her meticulous and scholarly work, and look forward to sharing this valuable material with visitors to the website.


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