Ask about us at the HPL’s Locke Branch

Residents of the Kirkendall neighborhood in Hamilton (Canada) can now ask to browse our binder at their local public library branch on Locke street. It contains sample reproductions from our collection, ranging from the 1940s until now. Paper copies of our Contribution Form are also available on site, so families can add their own treasures at will. Locke street is the focal point of this friendly community, with small retail stores, good restaurants, busy cafés, and nearby schools.

We are glad to welcome the Hamilton Public Library in our Collection Partners Program. Other public and school libraries please feel free to inquire.

Locke Branch. Source: Hamilton Public Library.

Here we come, Archeion

A few weeks ago, we joined Archeion, an online service provided by the Archives Association of Ontario. A little over one hundred records, or about a fifth of our collection is now accessible on the platform, and all items will eventually make their way there. For easy access from our website, simply click on Browse the collection from the menu to the right.

For now, three of our fonds are visible on Archeion. Together, they present images from the late 1970s until recently. Our images from earlier decades will be added as we continue entering new records in the system.

Special thanks to Jazmine Aldrich, Archeion Coordinator, for kindly assisting us in this important step forward. Many thanks also to volunteer Michael K. Chow, who helped us identify the best online database solution for us.

Archeion logo. Source: Archives Association of Ontario

Showing up in Mississauga

Meet Lakshaan, who was volunteering for us at the Courtneypark Library in Mississauga this week. He took the time to meet visitors, introduce our mission, and show images from our collection. He will be there again next month on Januray 3rd. After Hamilton and Toronto last summer, we are glad to meet families in Mississauga.

Thanks to Senior Librarian, Fareh Iqbal, for kindly hosting us in their inspiring public space, for this outreach activity.

Lakshaan, volunteer. Source: CDIC-CIDE.
Library lobby and main entrance. Source: City of Mississauga.

World Children’s Day 2022

Every year we like to raise our voice, along with other organizations all over the world, in support of broader awareness of the rights of children. During economic downturns, ecological disasters and military conflicts, children are among the most vulnerable and suffer greatly.

We take this opportunity to introduce you to a group of university researchers who dedicate their efforts to bringing greater protection to children. Their work deserves much respect. The Interdisciplinary Research Laboratory on the Rights of the Child is based at the University of Ottawa. Their essay competition will be of interest to undergraduate and graduate students. They publish a blog in English and in French with inspiring and accessible articles.

Play. By Yvon, c1965. Source: CDIC-CIDE.

November 3rd is WDPD

The World Digital Preservation Day (WDPD) is an awareness campaign that takes place annually on the first Thursday of November. The day marks the significant and growing importance of digital information and celebrates those who have made a commitment to prevent the disappearance of digital documents.

The WDPD is an initiative of the Digital Preservation coalition (DPC), a charitable organization based in York (England), with offices in Glascow (Scottland) and Melbourne (Australia). Their WDPD blog includes articles from all over, including Canada. Of interest is also their categorization of twenty different “digital species” and risk classification for each of them. Among the categories, personal archives are considered critically endangered.

Source: Digital Preservation Coalition, 2 November 2022.

At your fingertips

Did you ever wonder if the way you hold your pen for writing is the most efficient way? This might surprise you, but there are at least four equally efficient ways to hold a pen. This is according to health reviewers Gregory Minnis and Rebecca Joy Stanborough, in a HealthLine article from 2019: A Gripping Tale: How to Hold a Pencil.

In it, dynamic and lateral tripod, and dynamic and lateral quadrupod grips are described as equally practical for writing. Their article includes simple exercises that will help toddlers progress, from a more primitive grip to one just mentioned. It also notably brings up the fact that other holding techniques are suitable for drawing, and that when it comes to drawing, one is well-advised to get creative with grip styles.

If you would like to take an art history tour of hands holding writing devices, have a look at the many examples in Howard Oakley’s Paintings of Writing 1 & 2 on his Eclectic Light Company website.

Proper way to hold a pen. The Popular Educator, Vol. 1., 1888. By John Cassell. Source: Wikimedia, 9 October 2022.

CDIC welcomes new board members

We are pleased to announce that two more dedicated people have joined CDIC’s board of directors.

Uday Kankanala is a Director in Transformation Office at CIBC. He is enthusiastic and self-motivated professional with over twelve years of experience working in Financial Services, Consulting and Telecom Industries. He strongly believes that children are very vital in shaping tomorrow’s world and likes to be part of organizations that, like ours, work towards keeping chilhood a priority. Uday chairs the Data Governance Committee.

Jin Tian completed her Bachelor of Commerce in University of Alberta. She is currently a CPA accountant with corporate and investment finance experience in the pension management industry. Jin has an interest in painting and drawing since she was a child. She knows that people’s drawings reflect their fears, joys and dreams, and let transpire their personalities. Jin now serves as CDIC’s Treasurer.

We welcome both super volunteers with open arms.

Spiderman, by Mathieu, c2002. Source: CDIC-CIDE, 2022.

Message from a bottle

After last week’s blurb about quills, it is hard to resist sharing a few words about vintage ink bottles. Small bottles of ink have been on the market for over two hundred years, and were for the most part made from blown or molded glass, sometimes from metal, or a combination of both. People and museums collect the early ones, and they are fairly easy to find on reselling platforms.

Jane Eastman of Winchester, England is a self-made connoisseur, and demonstrates great appreciation for them. She recklessly seeks and pulls them out of riverbeds, among other treasures. See several beautiful photographs of them, with extra historical background, in her Beach Combing magazine article “My indelible love for ink bottles.” The magazine’s channel has a video of her in action and it is quite an excursion.

As far as museums go, the Charles Dickens Museum has a bottle used by the famous author. Another bottle with a clever design is among the many others at the Corning Museum of Glass, in New York State.

Ink bottle, 1825-1875, AN 2013.4.3. Source: Corning Museum of Glass, 27 August 2022.

If it be your quill

A craft activity is a great way to convey a history lesson. A history lesson should be an opportunity to contemplate what has been long gone, as well as parts of the past that still persists in our time.

If you ever consider making a quill with your child, we suggest that you begin with the word processor in your computer. Have a close look at the many fonts available, and see if you and your child can differentiate the old looking ones from the newer ones. You will be quick to find Old English, Palatino, New Roman, Garamond, and the likes. They are the ones with stylish serifs.

Then, ask the child to gather as many different handwriting devices as possible at home. You might have ballpoint pens, felt pens, pencils, crayons, chalks. You might even have a metal quill. Ask the child to write the alphabet with each and compare the results. If you have one, use a magnifier to have a closer look. Make sure to observe the variations in the thickness of lines, as well as the presence or absence of serifs.

At this point, proceed with your quill making, to find out whether a quill will make writing in old style fonts easier. A good guide to use is one posted by the Rhode Island School of Design, aka RISD Museum on Instructible. You might also like the very detailed one by Liralen Li on this old Flick page, or one of the many videos online.

Whichever way you go about it, there are a few important things to keep in mind. First, hygiene. If you take feathers directly from a farm, make sure to clean, sanitize and dry it thoroughly before you handle them with bare hands or before cutting carefully. Second, safety. For best results, the carving requires a short, sharp blade that gives maximum control. Use more than one feather, because your first attempt might fail, or you might want to try different carvings. Once your quill is ready, get some ink and write for fun, your own secret recipe for a magic potion. Try different kinds of paper, and hang on to the one that best suits your quill.

In the end, take the time with your child to browse books or the web, and see if you can find old style fonts. One fantastic recent book about fonts is The Eternal Letter (MIT Press, 2015) edited by Paul Shaw.

Trimmed and sharpened quill. Photo: RISD Museum. Source: Instructables.com, 19 August 2022.

Go, medievalists!

A couple of years ago in this blog, we introduced Onfim. This thirteenth century child whose drawing on a piece of bark had been discovered by chance, among other archeological findings. Thanks to a growing number of medievalists researchers over the past few years, the images left by medieval children are no longer left to chance.

The advances in child psychology have long helped parents and educators. They now benefit medievalists, and it is great news for children’s drawing conservation. Deborah Ellen Thorpe holds a PhD in Medieval Studies from the University of York (GB). In 2016, her article Young hands, old books: Drawings by children in a fourteen century manuscript, LJS, MS. 361, was published in Cogent Arts and Humanities (Taylor & Francis). In it, she meticulously and convincingly argues that the hands that drew three drawings in the margins of a centuries-old manuscript were those of children. Her observations are strongly supported by the works of several researchers in child psychology and arts education.

Other reputed medievalists, such as Seth Lere (Devotion and Defacement: Reading Children’s Marginalia, University of California Press), and Nicholas Orme (Medieval children, Yale University Press) have been instrumental in nurturing a growing interest in what medieval children have left us.

Drawing by a child in the margin of a 14th Century manuscript. LJS 361, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania Libraries folio 26r. Source: National Library of Medecine, 9 August 2022.
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