Distinguished Canadian author Austin Clarke passed away over the weekend. McMaster University Library’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections is home to the author's extensive archives which, in addition to drafts, correspondence and photographs, also includes the manuscript for Clarke's Giller Prize-winning novel The Polished Hoe.
“We were saddened to hear of the loss of this great talent,” says Vivian Lewis, University Librarian who says the Library enjoyed a relationship with Clark that spanned more than three decades. “His work expressed a perspective that added much to Canadian literature. We hope that his remarkable archive, of which McMaster is the proud custodian, will help to preserve his legacy and continue to be used by future generations of students, scholars and aspiring authors as a source of learning and inspiration.
Born in Barbados on July 26, 1934, Clarke immigrated to Canada with his family in 1956. His interest in writing began early in life, and in the 1960s his short stories began to be published in Canadian and other periodicals.
Clarke's stories and novels are primarily centred around the plight of the immigrant West Indian in Canada, although his first two novels, The Survivors of the Crossing and Amongst Thistles and Thorns, take place in Barbados.
Clarke’s archive which contains material from between 1949-2013, consists of a number of manuscripts including a version of The Polished Hoe with the author’s hand-written revisions, manuscripts of his short stories, plays and poetry as well as a large number of tape recordings of interviews and programmes he recorded as a correspondent for the CBC, including a 1963 interview with Malcolm X.
In addition to wining the 2002 Scotia Bank Giller Prize for his novel The Polished Hoe, which also won the Trillium and Commonwealth prizes, Clarke was the inaugural recipient of The Rogers Communications Writers' Trust Fiction Prize for his semi-autobiographical novel The Origin of Waves, published in 1997.
McMaster is also home to the archives of Canadian literary talents Farley Mowat, Margaret Laurence, Pierre Berton, Matt Cohen, Sylvia Fraser and Peter C. Newman, as well as Canadian publishers McClelland and Stewart, Key Porter Books, Macmillan Canada and Clarke Irwin.
McMaster Alumnus and actor/comedian Martin Short (left) appears with a classmate in a series of sketches created for psychology course, ‘Personality and Psychopathology, Psychology 1A6.’ The footage, from 1978, is one of a number of McMaster videos and films that have recently been made public as part of a new digitization project funded by the Class of 1950.
From the pomp and circumstance of convocation ceremonies in the 1930s to a short film produced and directed by celebrated McMaster alumnus Ivan Reitman, a new video digitization project is taking vintage McMaster films and making them publicly accessible for the first time online.
Thanks to a gift from the Class of 1950, McMaster’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, has digitized a number of films and videos that have been in storage for decades.
The films, shot between 1930 to 1980, capture a number of key events and prominent figures in the University’s past including the opening and dedication ceremonies held after McMaster relocated to Hamilton in 1930 and footage of George Gilmour and Harry Thode, both of whom served as McMaster’s President and Vice-Chancellor in the 1950s and 60s.
The films also capture student life over the decades and feature some hidden gems including a series of skits created for a psychology lecture and performed by McMaster alumus and actor/comedian Martin Short, as well as Orientation, a short film produced and directed in 1968 by McMaster alumnus, Ivan Reitman and the McMaster Film Board. The film. According to Reitman, the film was the forerunner to his comedy classic, Animal House.
“These films are snapshots of McMaster’s history,” says Wade Wyckoff, Associate University Librarian, Collections. “This is about making that history accessible to a much larger audience and making sure that these films are preserved.”
Wyckoff says that so far, roughly a third of the collection has been digitized, adding that more videos will be digitized in the near future.
“This gift leaves a wonderful legacy,” says Wyckoff. “It ensures that this important archive will be available not just to current students, staff, faculty and alumni, but to the McMaster community for generations to come.”
Long-time supporters of McMaster University Library, the Class of 1950 have provided funding for a number of Library technology projects over the years– most notably the McMaster University Library Gateway Project in 2002. This project resulted in a redesign of the Library’s website, making easier for users to access the Library’s diverse array of electronic resources at that time.
Filed under Library News: Events
Dr. Goldie Morgentaler will be at McMaster on June 9 to speak about her mother, writer Chava Rosenfarb’s three- volume novel, The Tree of Life, based on her experiences as a prisoner in the Lodz ghetto. Rosenfarb was one of the great Yiddish writers of the second half of the 20th century, and a survivor of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. Called one of the seminal works of Holocaust literature, The Tree of Life is not widely known because it was originally published in Yiddish, and was not available in English until 2006.
Morgentaler is Professor of English at the University of Lethbridge.
When: Thursday, June 9, 2016, 4:30 p.m.
Where: Great Hall of the University Club (located in Alumni Memorial Hall), McMaster University
World-renowned concert pianist and former Associate Professor in McMaster’s School of the Arts, Valerie Tryon performed at Convocation Hall during an event celebrating the donation of her archives to McMaster University Library’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections.
That was how world-renowned concert pianist, Valerie Tryon was described at a recent concert hosted by McMaster University Library which paid tribute to her life and work.
“Valerie is a consummate musician in almost every form,” says internationally recognized conductor Boris Brott who spoke at the event. “She plays with such perfection, that I think that’s why the word ‘incomparable’ is truly the right word to describe her.”
The event, held in Convocation Hall, featured performances by Tryon and celebrated the donation of her personal archives to McMaster University Library’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections.
“The collection is quite extraordinary in importance,” says McMaster University Librarian Vivian Lewis, “While it is not physically large, it helps to tell the story of one of Canada’s great musical figures. It tells the story of a woman, British by birth, who travels the world to perform and record, but who considers Hamilton and McMaster her home. We are grateful to have been entrusted with the documents and artefacts that capture the life’s work of this remarkable talent.
The archive, in large part assembled by Alan Walker, Professor Emeritus in McMaster's School of the Arts from scrapbooks kept by her father, consists of a range of materials collected between 1941 and 2012 including newspaper clippings, reviews, photographs, concert programs, and other artefacts that document her prolific and celebrated career.
For many years, Tryon served as both Artist-in-Residence and an associate professor in McMaster's School of the Arts. She was awarded a Honourary doctorate upon her retirement and since then, has continued to teach, record and play at concerts and recitals around the world.
“To be here at McMaster, the place that I’ve known for so many years is really quite wonderful,” says Tryon. “I started my whole Canadian ‘visit’ here in the 1970s and I’ve played in this hall so many times that I know the names on all the portraits. McMaster really feels like home to me. It seems absolutely right that this is the place that my archives should go to.”
McMaster is home to the archives of a number of prominent musicians including Bruce Cockburn, Ian Thomas, Jackie Washington, Boris Brott, Alan Walker, Morely Calvert, and Louise Bennett Coverley (Miss Lou).
Dean of Humanities, Ken Cruikshank, who also spoke at the event, says it’s important to continue to build these archives.
“It’s these special collections– these things that people can come and see and feel and touch– that are really important,” says Cruikshank. “Having collections like this one are extremely important to our students and our researchers and this collection adds remarkably to that.”
The youngest student to be admitted to the The Royal Academy, Tryon is a Juno Award winner, a Hamilton Gallery of Distinction inductee and also holds the Harriet Cohen Award for Distinguished Services to Music, and the Franz Liszt Medal from the Hungarian Ministry of Culture for her life-long commitment to, and promotion of, Liszt’s music.
Watch video of Valerie Tryon performing "On the Wings of Song," composed by Felix Mendelssohn and arranged by Franz Lizst.
The above painting by Kristina Durka, Riley Vanderzee, Tess Visser and Maria Simmons was the winner of the Innis Library Art Competition, one of two art student competitions recently hosted by the McMaster University Library.
It's an art student's dream to have their work displayed and recognized. This dream became a reality for five Studio Art students, the winners of two recent art competitions hosted by the McMaster University Library.
Open to students enrolled in ART 3D03 – Practical Issues, and organized in partnership with McMaster’s School of the Arts, the competitions provided an opportunity for students to apply what they’ve learned and for the winners to have their work displayed in Mills and Innis libraries.
The Mills Learning Commons competition was funded by the MSU through the Student Life Enhancement Fund, part of a number of improvements to the Learning Commons funded by grant. The Innis Library competition was held in celebration of its 40th anniversary and was funded by McMaster University Library. The prize for each competition was $1000.
Judy Major-Girardin, Associate Professor of Art and the coordinator of the competitions says this kind of practical experience is valuable for students.
“The library art competitions provides an opportunity for students to prepare a professional proposal that includes a cover letter, artist statement, concept statement, C.V., bio, visuals and creative packaging,” says Major-Girardin. “This learning activity is transferable to many situations and employment opportunities in the arts.”
The winner of the Mills Library Commons competition was Stephanie Grant. The winners of the Innis Library competition were Kristina Durka, Riley Vanderzee, Tess Visser and Maria Simmons who submitted a joint proposal in keeping with the competition’s theme of collaboration.
“Our piece portrays the theme through the imagery and through the way in which it was constructed,” says Durka. “The theme of the piece is the union of the areas surrounding McMaster University and features Downtown Hamilton, Westdale, and Cootes Paradise through an abstracted landscape.”
A number of student art pieces are featured throughout McMaster’s libraries, including works from previous art competitions, self-portraits in the staircase of Mills Library and pieces displayed in the Lyons New Media Centre.
“The studio art program is grateful for the ongoing support of the library,” says Major-Girardin. “We hope that the art collection accumulating there will enrich the library experience for students, staff and faculty at McMaster for many years to come.”
View all the student artwork on display in McMaster University Library:
A memorial service for former University Librarian Graham R. Hill will be held tonight at 7:00 pm in the Great Hall of the University Club. Hill, who was the University Librarian from 1979 until his retirement in 2005, passed away on April 13. He also served as president of the University Club for many years.
Hill received a B.A. from the University of Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1968, an M.A. from the University of Lancaster in 1969, and an M.L.S. from the University of Western Ontario in 1970. He came to McMaster in January 1971.
During his tenure, Hill oversaw tremendous changes in the University Library, from the advent of the computer age to unprecedented growth of the campus in the 1980s and 1990s and the digital revolution in collections. Asked upon his retirement about his proudest achievement, Hill referenced the major expansion and renovation of Mills Memorial Library in the early 1990s, which significantly increased collections and study space.
In 1998, Hill was named as the first winner of the CARL (Canadian Association of Research Libraries) Award for Distinguished Service to Research Librarianship, recognizing, in particular, his longstanding commitment in the areas of copyright reform and education. He served on the CARL Board of Directors from 1981-1987 (President from 1985-1987), and was Chair of the CARL Standing Committee on Copyright. Hill was also an active member of the Association of Research Libraries. He served as a Governor at Hillfield-Strathallan College from 1981-1993, and Chairman of the Board from 1989-1991.
McMaster’s current University Librarian, Vivian Lewis, recognized the indelible contributions Hill made to libraries on campus and across Canada. “I had the great honour of working with Graham for many years prior to his retirement. He was an inspired leader and a trusted colleague who will be missed by the library community.”
Filed under Library News: Mills
December 9th, 1961: Renowned peace activist Bertrand Russell addressing a crowd in Trafalgar Square on behalf of the Committee of 100, a leading British anti-war group. This photo is just one of the many items on display as part of the Perspectives on Peace exhibit in the William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections.
Did you know the peace symbol, now a globally recognized icon, was first created in the 1950s as the symbol of the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, a movement in which internationally renowned peace advocate Bertrand Russell was deeply involved?
The Perspectives on Peace exhibit, on display until the end of April in McMaster’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections located in Mills Library, features materials from this campaign and other selections from Russell’s vast archives, as well as materials from many other notable peace activists.
Part of the campus-wide Perspectives of Peace campaign, the exhibit showcases a variety of items from influential peacemakers of the 20th and 21st centuries including musicians, writers, activists and performers, providing a unique look at the evolution of peace movements and human rights.
The exhibit includes selections from:
The Bertrand Russell Archive: The most complete collection of Russell materials in the world, the archive contains photographs, manuscripts, medals, and other personal items belonging to Russell, one of the most influential social thinkers and peace activists of his time. The exhibit includes material on Russell’s opposition to nuclear weapons and the Vietnam War, including the Russell-Einstein manifesto, photographs of the first use of the peace symbol, and letters from Albert Einstein andboxing legend Muhammad Ali, as well as a Christmas card from John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
The Vera Brittain Archive: Consisting of nearly 300 boxes, this archive contains diaries, manuscripts, lectures, books and many other materials documenting Vera Brittain’s remarkable life as a peace activist. Brittain first witnessed the horrors of war while serving as a Voluntary Aid Detachment Nurse in the First World War, losing both her brother and her fiancé in the conflict. The exhibit features Brittain’s diary in which she details her tragic personal losses and also contains a manuscript of Testament of Youth, Brittain’s best-selling memoir that captured the impact of the war on her generation.
The Perspectives on Peace exhibit also features a number of other materials including; letters describing the WWI Christmas truce of 1915 from the Gerald Blake archive, lyrics of songs about human rights from the Bruce Cockburn archive, and handwritten poems and letters by McMaster alumnus and acclaimed poet Bernard Trotter that describe the plight of soldiers in World War One.
Filed under Library News: Alerts
This year you will once again have lots of options when it comes to late night studying during exams.
Thode Library will be open 24/7 from April 8th to April27th. The Reactor Café will be open April 11th-26th from 10am to 10pm. Don't forget there is an ATM to Thode so you will have easy access to cash for use at the café and the vending machines.
The lower level of Thode is the Quietest Study Area in the building. In addition there is a small Silent Study room on the lower level.
Mills Library moves to extended hours next week – the main library will be open 8am to 10:45pm, 7 days per week.
The Mills Learning Commons (2nd floor) is open 24/7, effective immediately, until April 27th. Make sure you give the new vending machines by the washrooms on the 2nd floor a try! Cold drinks (pop, water, juice, energy drinks), hot drinks (including latte's and cappuccino's), snacks (some healthy ones too) and the 1st Red Bull vending machine in Canada!
The entire 6th floor of Mills is designated as a Silent Study Area and we will do our best to patrol this area. Feel free to send an email to email@example.com or use theonline form if students in the area are not respecting the Silent Study guidelines (no talking, no socializing, no cell phones, no music). A large area on the 4th floor is designated as a Quiet Study Area. During exams, all seating areas on the upper floors (3rd – 5th) are considered Quiet Study Areas and will be signed as such.
Innis will also move to extended hours next week – Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 2:45am / Friday 8:30am to 10:45pm /Saturday 10:30am to 5:45 pm / Sunday 1pm to 7:45pm.
You will find more information on the various study spaces available in our libraries here.
All libraries have bookable Group Study Rooms. Please remember that these are to be used by groups of 2 or more, and cannot be booked for more than 2 consecutive hours by one group. The library reserves the right to remove bookings which do not follow these guidelines. Food and beverage vending machines in all libraries will be stocked daily during exams.
Good luck on your exams!
Filed under Library News: Mills
‘Without conservation, the history in these books could be lost, we need to preserve them for future generations,’ says McMaster Preservation Technician Audrie Schell who restored the 545 year-old Book of Hours.
Five centuries ago, the Book of Hours, now held by the William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, was a cherished possession, an integral part of daily life in the Middle Ages.
As the years passed however, this once treasured book succumbed to a slow decay, its spine disintegrating, the fine artwork that adorned its pages flaking away little by little, another piece of history nearly lost forever.
It took more than eight months, but thanks to modern restoration techniques and skilful artistry, this medieval gem now looks as it did when its original owner first held it 545 years ago.
“A book of hours is a piece of art,” says Audrie Schell, Preservation Technician in the Division who restored this unique text in McMaster’s Preservation Lab. “Books of hours were commissioned works, so this is a one-of-a-kind item, an historical artefact that belonged to a specific person over 500 years ago, it’s very special.”
Books of hours, commonly used throughout the Middle Ages, were devotional texts containing cycles of psalms, prayers, hymns, readings and images of medieval Christianity that served as a daily guide to help the faithful lead pious lives and find salvation.
Over the centuries, McMaster’s book of hours had become badly damaged. Its pages, made of animal skin, or ‘vellum,’ had been exposed to moisture, forming waves and wrinkles, which caused the pigment to crack and the artwork to begin to flake away.
Schell began the painstaking restoration process by using a specialized humidity chamber and suction table that enabled her to gently stretch and flatten each vellum page individually. Then, using a fine brush, she applied a consolidant to re-adhere the flaking pigments, and hand-bound the pages, placing them in a leather cover.
The result is a stunning, one-of-a-kind work of art that now looks as vibrant as it did in the 15 century.
“We all need to have roots whether we’re conscious of it or not, and we need to know our history,” says Schell. “Without conservation, the history in these books could be lost, we need to preserve them for future generations.”
To view the Book of Hours, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment.
Read this and other articles featured in the latest issue of the McMaster Library News.