Guides make cultural archives accessible
Aerial photographs of SFU, taped interviews with B.C. dance pioneers, correspondence with authors Margaret Atwood, Northrop Frye and Timothy Findley.
Those are just some of the gems you’ll find in CREATIVE British Columbia: a Guide to Arts and Culture Resources in the SFU Archives, the latest in a series of guides the SFU Archives has compiled to help make its collection more accessible.
Archival collections are organized by provenance—where they originated from—rather than by subject, which can make it difficult to search and retrieve information,” says archivist Paul Hebbard.
So over the past several years, the Archives’ four staffers have been developing research guides to the holdings based on popular research topics.
“We have approximately a kilometre of textual and multi-media holdings equalling millions of individual records,” says Hebbard, “but we’re only able to produce aggregate descriptions of these items. There’s just too much stuff to describe each and every record.”
The Creative guide highlights individuals and organizations that have contributed to the arts and cultural life of B.C. whose records are preserved in the university’s archival holdings.
It’s divided into six broad subject areas: Media and Communications; Visual Arts and Architecture; Performing Arts; Historical, Literary and Humanistic Societies; Museums; and Literary Arts.
“We tried to look for information buried in our holdings that you wouldn’t immediately think are related to arts and culture,” says Hebbard.
For example, in the records of biological sciences professor Mark Winston they found records detailing his consulting work with film and television production companies such as reviewing scripts and “bee wrangling” on sets.
And they found personal correspondence from a number of famous Canadian novelists among the records of the late SFU English professor Peter Buitenhuis.
“The guide is designed to help connect researchers with records of interest by mapping the theme of arts and culture to the records in our holdings.”
To view PDFs of any of the Archives guides visit: http://at.sfu.ca/vNOjdc