Visitors look onto Freedom Square, an open-air extension of Convocation Mall. Image from the SFU Archives. Learning and Instructional Development Centre fonds, F-18-1-1-0-2, IMC65022. Sept 1965.


Early SFU Photos Tell a Story That Frames Our World

January 29, 2016

By Michelle Curran

In 2015 Instagram reached 400 million monthly users, 75% of them coming from outside the U.S. And with smartphone ownership continuing to rise in Canada, we can anticipate more image capturing capabilities being incorporated into these smart devices and providing access to places and things we don't normally get to see.

Photographs capture emotions, tell stories, stimulate our senses, and help narrow the gap between the present and the past. Many of these links can be found in the Archives.

The SFU Archives houses thousands of processed and unprocessed photographic records that date back to the mid-1800s (e.g. albumen photos of Simon Fraser’s family). Photographic records acquired by the Archives exist in many different formats, including contact sheets, negatives, slides, and prints. They belong to different collections and archival groupings (fonds). The originals are stored in a climate-controlled environment. Some are University records and others come from private donors and organizations.

"The SFU Archives houses thousands of processed and unprocessed photographic records that date back to the mid-1800s"

The Learning and Instructional Development Centre (LIDC) fonds (F-18) is one example of University records that spans 3.2 metres of photographic material — that’s just counting the records that have been processed.

Series F-18-1 includes photographic materials depicting people, programs and the physical environment at SFU. Subjects include SFU's architectural competition and design, interior and exterior architecture, opening ceremonies, presidential installations, students, faculty, and staff. In addition to contact sheets, the series includes previously unnumbered photographic negatives and prints that cover a wide variety of subjects; slides of the Art, Science and Technology Fair, Discovery Fair and SFU Convocation Ceremonies; and prints of SFU's architecture.

Many of the early photos from the 1960s were taken by the Creative Services Group, which was established as a program of the Library in 1968, pre-dating the LIDC. In 1981, the Creative Services Group was renamed the Instructional Media Centre. After more restructuring and name changes, the group evolved into Creative Studio, which offers marketing support services and design services under the University Communications umbrella.

With special care and funding, the SFU Archives has been able to acquire, preserve, process, describe, and now digitize a selection of these photographs for SFU’s 50th Anniversary. So take a fond look back at SFU’s early years, and find your personal connection with the images.

Link to digitized records in SFU AtoM

In Sub-series F-18-1-3 - Prints

F-18-1-3-0-4 - Opening Ceremonies (black and white prints)
F-18-1-3-0-5 - Opening Ceremonies (colour prints)

In Sub-series F-18-1-4 - Contact sheets and negatives
F-18-1-4-1 - 1963 IMC images
F-18-1-4-2 - 1965 IMC images

To identify fonds/collections with photographic materials:

  1. Click anywhere within the Search field at the top of the SFU AtoM web interface.
  2. Then click Advanced search.
  3. Narrow down your search results by entering a search term. (optional)
  4. Then in the Search filters area, click the arrow in the General material designation field to expand the menu options, and select Photographic material.
  5. Click Search to display results.