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Lawren Harris: The Idea of North with Andrew Hunter

April 28, 2016 | Brent | Comments (0)

Andrew Hunter, the Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, will discuss the upcoming exhibition of iconic Canadian painter Lawren Harris. The event will take place on Thursday June 2, from 1-2 PM in the Hinton Learning Theatre of the Toronto Reference Library.
The exhibition "The Idea of North" will open at the Art Gallery of Ontario on July 1. Harris is one of the country's best loved artists, creator of stark iconic images of the Canadian Arctic. 

The show has garnered a lot of additional interest because of the involvement of Steve Martin, film star and well known art lover. He became a passionate advocate of Harris' work when he first saw it in an auction catalogue and thought "That’s the greatest Rockwell Kent I’ve ever seen!"

That's an easy mistake to make because until recently Harris was little known in the United States. "The Idea of North" has
introduced the famous Canadian's work to American audiences at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. There's a great interview about the show in Border Crossings.
                The Idea of North   Journey  
         Contrasts      AtmaBuddhiManas
                    PaintersProgress   The Beginning of Vision

As an author, critic and curator,  Andrew Hunter is the author of over thirty one titles. Some of his earliest work contrasted the history of Canadian landscape painting with the growth of Canadian industry or the multiple fictions associated with "cottage country." He has curated shows at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the University of Waterloo and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. More recently he’s presented Into the Woods with Tom Thomson and a major Alex Colville retrospective, both at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

                Colville   Schaefer

       Thomson   Dialogue 


Lawren Harris: The Idea of North with Andrew Hunter
1 PM Thursday, June 2 2016
Hinton Learning Theatre
Toronto Reference Library








Prince Dies Unexpectedly - RIP

April 21, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (2)

The news came out today that Prince, musician, singer and performer extraordinaire, has unexpectedly died at the age of 57.    

Below is a sample of material Toronto Public Library can offer at this time.

Prince by Matt Thorne


I would die 4 you Why Prince became an icon by Toure      Prince  inside the music and the masks by Ronin Ro

This is one of Prince's newest albums. If you saw him recently on Saturday Night Live, you would recognize the glasses. We have a wide range of his music and albums available on CD and also as e-music through Hoopla!


3121 (CD) by Prince  Musicology (CD) by Prince

There are several sheet music collections featuring the music of Prince. 

Ultimate (Sheet Music) by Prince    The very best of Prince (sheet music)

There are even some of his performances live on DVD:    

Prince live at Las Vegas (DVD)   Prince Purple Rain (DVD)

And then there is 21 Nights by Prince with photographer Randee St Nicholas. This multimedia volume explores one tour through photography, lyrics, poetry and text.

21 Nights Prince - book and CD photography poetry music and lyrics






Sustainable Fashion and Earth Month: How to be Chic and Green on Our Fragile Planet

April 3, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (6)

April is Earth Month and a chance to mindfully pause and consider the environment and the impact humanity and we personally have on our planet. Toronto Public Library is honouring this with "Our Fragile Planet" displays in branches, many free programs and booklists of recommended readings.

With spring in the air and post Easter (did you get a new coat or hat?) my mind turns to clothes, the role of the eco-fashion movement and the increased awareness of sustainable fashion today. Think about how many millions of people are employed within the global clothing and fashion worlds: farmers of cotton or hemp, miners processing metal, factory workers in manufacturing making cloth, zippers, buttons and jewellery, the sweat shops sewing, clothing designers, fashion show organizers, magazine publishers, advertising firms, photographers etc. Think of what's involved in selling clothes: the retailers, the sales clerks, the mall builders and plastic bag manufacturers.  

I'm exhausted just thinking about it.  

The Sustainable Fashion Handbook by Sandy Black

Also, think about the business of fashion, the environmental impact of cheap clothing and human cost on those who make it. Remember the 1130 dead in the Dhaka garment factory, the 72 workers in a slipper factory in the Philippines who died in 2015 or the Tazreen Fashions garment factory fire outside Dhaka that killed 112 workers. Consider the infamous 1911 tragedy of 146 garment workers (again mainly women) who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City.

Flesh & blood so cheap the Triangle fire and its legacy by Albert Marrin

The song of the shirt the high price of cheap garments from Blackburn to Bangladesh  Triangle The Fire That Changed America by David von Drehle


Ask yourself, does the search for fashionable clothing make us constantly buy new items? Does cheap and almost disposable clothing encourage over consumption? Consider is the cloth we're wearing grown in such a way that it's sustainable and has minimal impact on the environment. Are we buying from local designers with product made locally to reduce the carbon footprint?

  Overdressed  the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion by Elizabeth Cline   Fixing fashion  rethinking the way we make, market and buy our clothes by Michael Lavergne

When Goodwill suddenly closed did you ask yourself these questions:

  • where will I take my old clothes and stuff?
  • where will I buy my "new to me" clothes?
  • where is all that stuff going now?

I'm reminded of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis in their catchy song Thrift Shop "I wear your granddad's clothes....I look incredible" and their indictment of the $50 t-shirt.


   The dirty side of the garment industry fast fashion and its negative impact on environment and society    Stitched up  the anti-capitalist book of fashion  by Tansy Hoskins


The good news is that the eco-fashion and sustainable fashion movements are gaining wider awareness and some acceptance. It's hard to challenge a capitalist industrial complex .... but you can nudge it a different direction.

    Sustainable fashion past, present, and future by Jennifer Hill  Eco fashion by Sass Brown

The fashion manifesto  the guide for the style-savvy by Sophia Hedstrom


You may want to consider upcycling clothes and the broader upcycle trend:

  Upcyclist Reclaimed and Remade Furniture, Lighting and Interiors by Antonia Edwards  


I am reminded that Gandhi knew the real value of homespun undyed cloth as a protest against British imperialism and imported cloth, part of the Swadeshi movement:

Clothing Gandhi's Nation Homespun and Modern India Annotated edition by Lisa Trivedi

  Empire of cotton a global history by Sven Beckert  Big Cotton How a Humble Fiber Created Fortunes, Wrecked Civilizations, and Put America on the Map by Stephen Yafa


For lovely textile design and broader sustainability these may be of interest: 

Sustainable fashion and textiles design journeys by Kate Fletcher


Textile visionaries innovation and sustainability in textile design


And, of course, fashion is only part of the sustainability movement:

Cradle to Cradle Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough 

Make sure to check out (borrow and read too!) the recommended Our Fragile Planet reading list on the environment.  See some of our branch displays below as well. 

Morningside Branch Toronto Public Library Our Fragile Planet display 2016


Humberwood Branch Toronto Public Library Our Fragile Planet display 2016

Pondering "What Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?" with Vintage Easter Postcards

March 23, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (3)

There are hundreds of vintage postcards celebrating Easter in the Toronto Reference Library postcard collection arranged thematically in 25 sub-categories (see the complete list of subjects in this pdf.)

Happy Easter vintage postcard by P.F. Volland publisher Chicago, copyright 1912 # 2525 mailed 1913

"Happy Easter" P.F. Volland publisher Chicago, copyright 1912 # 2525 (mailed 1913)

Easter is a deeply important religious holiday, possibly more so in the past. Christ's crucifixion and resurrection is the most significant celebration in the Christian calendar.  And Toronto, in the 1910-1920 era, was predominantly a Christian town and so it's little wonder Easter postcards are among the largest and most varied holiday themed collections we own. Along with religiously themed cards, there are many more playful ones that use imagery we would find familiar today.


Vintage Easter Postcard

"A Happy Easter" is published by the Rotograph Co of New York City. It is a real photo postcard (RPPC) done on bromide paper and mailed in April 1912 (copyright date 1907, part of a series B 1650).  For another example of Rotograph RPPC, see the sullen rabbit postcard in our Digital Archive and also at the end of this blog post.


Vintage Easter Postcard


Vintage Easter Postcard   Vintage Easter Postcard

"Joyeuses Pâques" (Happy Easter in French) is another RPPC card in the Parisian Moreau and Kivatizky series 1801. It was mailed in 1907 to Sister Marie St. Blandin and sold at EP Lacombe on Ste Catherine Est Montreal.

The chick(en) makes a good show in the Easter postcard collection:

  Vintage Easter Postcard     Vintage Easter Postcard

But, at the same time, the egg is no slouch:

  Vintage Easter Postcard


But the chick is not satisfied with being second fiddle to the egg and so with some rather splendidly creative anthropomorphism, the chicken transforms into a variety of human-inspired aspects and aspirations:

1908 vintage Easter Greetings postcard with automobile

In 1908, this "Easter Greetings" automobile postcard was mailed from Brooklyn, New York to "Master M. Mitchell, 55 Wolfrey Ave., Toronto". At that time, this car would have been both very expensive and the latest thing. I like how sporting the chicks are with their fur coat and car blanket and the slightly arrogant expression, compared to the poorer chick who is on foot with a basket of eggs. Modern Easter chicks drive sports cars and don't deliver eggs the old-fashioned way.

  Vintage Easter Postcard   Vintage Easter Postcard

You have to admire the well-dressed chick in top hat, frock coat, walking stick and flower in the lapel in the "Easter Greeting" card on the left mailed in 1915. His rather bohemian artistic friend on the right is from 1911. You'll notice the pre-WW I era card is a bit more sophisticated graphically and the coloured background is a deep intense hue. Most pre-WW 1 cards were printed in Germany (especially Saxony). Although the white card is also printed in Germany, the extra-wide white background indicates a more cheaply produced card -- ink was expensive. During the war, and afterwards, postcards were more often printed in the USA with less sophisticated technology and with less expensive inks.

Vintage Easter Postcard

Speaking of technology, this 1911 "Easter Greeting" International Art Publishing Company postcard (again printed in Germany) shows chicks going up into a Zeppelin which at the time would have still been a relatively new technology -- especially for the American and Canadian market. This card was mailed from Grand Rapids to Miss Eusebia Benson, 380 Dufferin Avenue, London, Ontario.

Easter Joy attend you is an undivided back 1907 postcard.

"Easter Joy attend you" is an undivided back 1907 card. It was mailed to Miss Evelyn Rugg, 448 Parliament Street.  It includes a message on the front: "My dear Evelyn, will meet you in same place, same time as before -- Artie B." The postcard was the text/ Snapchat of 1907. This charming card was also produced by the International Art Publishing Co.

Chicks though, are not the only thing that comes from eggs, as can be seen below.  

  A Happy Easter vintage postcard showing baby hatching from red Easter egg and bunny watching circa 1910 and made in Germany.

This "Happy Easter" postcard features a graphically beautiful and charming design of a rabbit looking at a baby hatching from an red egg. It was never mailed, and was printed in Germany circa 1910 era and is lightly embossed. 

  Vintage Easter Postcard

We're fortunate to have a pair of these unusual postcards featuring semi-nude bathing beauties and differently coloured backgrounds. They were part of a series of four or maybe six cards.  Risqué, they were printed in Germany on especially thick paper. The one with green background was mailed from New York in April 1909 to Mr Wm. Mitchell, 55 Wolfrey Ave, Toronto.  The one in red was never mailed. There's no indication that the two cards came from the same source.

Vintage Easter Postcard

The idea of beautiful women and girls coming out of eggs seems to have been a common motif as seen below.  The woman with the Gibson-era hair and hat was mailed in 1910 to Dr Egil T. Olsen, corner of Armitage Ave and Humboldt Blvd, Chicago.  The young lady in the green hat carrying pussy willow branches, a spring symbol, was mailed about the same time and is published by the International Art Print Company

Vintage Easter Postcard    Vintage Easter Postcard

The purple beauty, "A Happy Easter" below, is what's known as an undivided back (pre-1907) and has a Toronto postmark from April 14, 1906. Only the address would be written on the blank back -- any writing would go on the front. There is a handwritten "from Winston" in the centre of the egg. It was mailed to Miss Evelyn Rugg at 448 Parliament Street, Toronto.  We own many cards from the Rugg family (see the yellow chick postcard at the top of this post for another of Evelyn's cards from 1912). This is a foiled front and embossed card -- it would have been expensive to produce at the time and is done on extremely thick paper almost like cardboard.

  Vintage Easter Postcard

"With Best Easter Wishes" is a slightly disturbing postcard with a surprisingly avant-garde graphic punch. It also has an undivided back and a postal mark for 1907. It was mailed in Toronto to "Master Herbet K. Rugg, 448 Parliament Street, City". You can see the outlines in the corners of the indentations where it must have been kept in an postcard album -- likely the Rugg family (both Evelyn and Herbert) protected their postcards in an album that at some point was donated to Toronto Public Library which explains the prevalence of their cards in the collection.

  Vintage Easter Postcard

When I talked with my co-worker Peggy about this blog post, she quite seriously said 'well, the egg came first from a couple of slightly diverse DNA-endowed chicken-like birds.' Peggy's very smart. If you want to read about the science of this, please see this Wikipedia entry and this article from Popular Science.

I leave you with "Loving Easter Wishes" .... frolicking chicks and eggs together. 

Vintage Easter Postcard

Easter has always been a special holiday for me, as my family is Greek Orthodox and there are many religious and food traditions that happen at this time. Along with fasting for the 40 days of Lent (no animal products!), there was also colouring eggs. The most memorable thing was mass on Saturday night with candles lit at midnight to represent the resurrection, followed by singing "Christos Anesti" / "Χριστός ἀνέστη!" / "Christ is Risen!" I fondly remember being with my parents at church service annually. My father was named Anastasios, a version of the word 'risen', so Easter was also his name day -- another important type of holiday among Greek Orthodox people. Bog da prosti (God rest his soul).

A happy Easter

International Women's Day: Celebrating Some Powerful Political Women

March 8, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (1)

On March 8th, International Women's Day, why not read a biography or better yet, an autobiography, of one of the following influential groundbreaking political women?

Our neighbours to the south are in the midst of a presidential election campaign which may well see Hillary Clinton become the first female president of the United States.  Kathleen Wynne, Ontario's first female and lesbian premier, just gave a sold out talk at the Toronto Reference Library (watch our website for the upcoming video).  Two important Canadian provinces currently have female premiers, Christy Clark in British Columbia and Rachel Notley in Alberta, and Pauline Marois was the premier of Quebec.  

My personal idiosyncratic choice reflects how deeply moved I am reading the autobiography of Angela Davis -- black woman, civil rights advocate, communist, academic, prison abolitionist and reluctant Black Panther. Davis' book has gotten me thinking about other powerful female political leaders. 

Angela Davis-- an autobiography



Indira Gandhi was India's first female Prime Minister 1966-1977 and 1980-1984. She was assassinated in 1984.

Indira The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi




Golda Meir was Israel's first, and only, female president from 1969 to 1974.  We have her autobiography Mayn lebn, in Yiddish as well as English.

My Life by Golda Meir




Margaret Thatcher, was the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1975 to 1990 and commonly known as the Iron Lady.

The Downing Street Years by Margaret Thatcher




Corazon (Cory) Aquino was the widow of Benito Aquino and the first female Prime Minister of the Philippines from 1986 to 1992.  We also have a book of anecdotes about her in Tagalog: Cory: sa aking pagkakilala.

Corazon Aquino  the story of a revolution 

Benazir Bhutto was the first female President of Pakistan from 1988-1990 and 1993-1996. She was the first woman to become head of government of a Muslim nation. She was assassinated in 2007.

 Daughter of the East An Autobiography by Benazir Bhutto    Reconciliation Islam, democracy, and the West by Benazir Bhutto    



Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese pro-democracy political leader who was under house arrest for more than 15 years.  She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

        The Voice of Hope - Aung San Suu Kyi conversations with Alan Clements  Letters from Burma Aung San Suu Kyi



Lastly, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, known as the Iron Lady of Africa (see Margaret Thatcher above for the original Iron Lady) is the first female President of Liberia, since 2006 the first elected female head of state in Africa. Sirleaf was jointly awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen. 

This child will be great memoir of a remarkable life by Africa's first woman president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf




1914 German poster celebrating International Women's Day

Free Talks in Celebration of Shakespeare400

March 1, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (0)

In 2016 the Arts Department of the Toronto Reference Library is continuing its tradition of free Shakespeare public talks in the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon.  The three talks are hosted by Dr. Jane Freeman and are presented in partnership with Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

Support from the Friends of the Library-South Chapter is gratefully acknowledged.

Toronto Public Library is offering an impressive range of free programs to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death in 1616.  These will include talks, performances, movie showings and other interesting events at many of our branches throughout the city. 

Shakespeare400 is a worldwide event worth participating in.


Macbeth: So Foul and Fair

Professor Jeremy Lopez on prophecy, murder and spectacle in Macbeth, and the dramatic legacy of Scotland's most treacherous King.

Tue Mar 08, 2016, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm, Toronto Reference Library Bram & Bluma Appel Salon.  It's very easy to book two free tickets at this site. 

Please see the (pdf) downloadable bibliography about Macbeth, including speaker's suggestions.    

Macbeth (Arden Shakespeare)


Not Strictly Shakespeare: The Hypochondriac

Dr. Philippa Sheppard on the farce, irony and medical quackery of Molière's imaginary invalid.

Tue Mar 15, 2016, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm, Toronto Reference Library Bram & Bluma Appel Salon.  It's very easy to book two free tickets at this site.

Please see the (pdf) downloadable bibliography about Molière's Hypochondriac, including speaker's suggestions. 

Molière's The Hypochondriac (or the Imaginary Invalid) and other plays


As You Like It: All the World's a Stage

Professor Alexander Leggatt on the gender-bending Elizabethan comedy of As You Like It.

Tue Mar 22, 2016, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm, Toronto Reference Library Bram & Bluma Appel Salon. It's very easy to book two free tickets at this site.

Please see the (pdf) downloadable bibliography for As You Like It, including speaker's suggestions. 

As You Like It,  the Arden Shakespeare edition.

Batter Up!

March 1, 2016 | Beau | Comments (1)

The excitement that gripped Toronto during the Blue Jays' run through the Major League Baseball playoffs seems like a long time ago now. Maybe not as far back as Toronto's history with the game, which goes all the way back to the 1850s, but still...if you're a baseball fan, you're probably tired of the seventh-inning stretch otherwise known as "winter."                    

                                                                                                                                           University of Toronto baseball team                                                                                                                               Roselawn Girls Baseball Team

Photos: (top) The University of Toronto Varsity Baseball Club, 1887. (bottom) The Roselawn Girls Baseball Team, circa 1925. Source: Baldwin Collection of Canadiana, Toronto Reference Library 

The good news is that today is the first day of spring training, which means a brand new season is rounding third and headed for home! The weather outside doesn't really bring to mind lazy summer afternoons spent lounging in the bleachers, but why not sit down with a few of the latest baseball books available at Toronto Public Library while you're waiting for the Jays to kick off their 2016 season?

The Betrayal: The 1919 World Series And The Birth Of Modern Baseball

The Betrayal

Almost a century later, it's still one of the biggest scandals in sports history; eight Chicago White Sox players, including all-time great Shoeless Joe Jackson, conspired to throw the 1919 World Series in return for $20,000 from gamblers allegedly associated with organized crime. In 1988, this story was also told in a film named Eight Men Out.

A game of their own: voices of contemporary women in baseball

A Game Of Their Own

Jennifer Ring's chronicle of the often forgotten history of women in baseball centres on members of Team USA who competed in the fourth Women's Baseball World Cup in 2010. Their diverse backgrounds, retold in a series of oral histories, are a testament to the enduring appeal of baseball across different racial, economic and cultural lines.

Mashi: the unfulfilled baseball dreams of Masanori Murakami, the first Japanese Major Leaguer


Everyone (justifiably) knows Jackie Robinson's name, but do you know who the first Japanese player in the major leagues was? In 1964, the San Francisco Giants called Masanori Murakami up from the minor leagues in the middle of a pennant race. When his curve ball proved capable of dominating American hitters, they attempted to sign him for a contract in 1965, but a Japanese team still owned his contract and Murakami was caught between his homeland and his dreams of playing in America. The resulting dispute escalated into an international incident which would prevent any other Japanese players from playing in the US for 30 years.

The grind: inside baseball's endless season

The Grind

Major League Baseball's 162-game season is by far the longest of the most popular North American pro sports (and that's not even counting spring training or the playoffs), and Barry Svrluga's inside look at the Washington Nationals' 2014 season will give you a new perspective on the toll it takes on the players, their families and the large but invisible supporting cast required to keep a professional baseball team running smoothly.

The game: inside the secret world of major league baseball's power brokers

The Game

Of course, what you see on the playing field is just half the story. The Game tells the story of the behind-the-scenes economic machinations which helped turn America's National Pastime into a multi-billion dollar industry complete with political deal-making and constant battles for power between the players and the owners.

Speaking of the Black Panthers ...... Beyoncé Ain't No Angela Davis

February 25, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (4)

For Black History Month, why not read a Black Panther autobiography?

Segue alert ..... I will admit I watched Super Bowl 50 mainly for Lady Gaga's singing and the half time show. In the United States about 112 million people watched the game and 72% of U.S. homes with televisions in use were tuned into the Super Bowl 50 telecast

During the half time show when Beyoncé et al came out in black berets I had a momentary Monica Lewinsky flashback. Later in social media, when Black Panther allusions started, I thought she's not really anything like the Black Panthers. She hasn't been to jail, she hasn't had to go underground, she's a very wealthy and powerful entertainment figure who is not personally oppressed and not involved in revolutionary socialism. And while I'm sorry to be glib, Beyoncé's hair is certainly not natural and both hairstyle and fashion were important visual, political and symbolic elements to the Black Panther Party and Black Power movements. Simply wearing a beret, having backup dancers with afros, and wearing crossed bands of bullets (more like Michael Jackson than a revolutionary) does not make a Black Panther. I will say though, some folks did feel Beyoncé's performance and song spoke to the Black Lives Matter protests and the condition of black Americans today.

If you want to know about the real Black Panthers please read on.

Black Panthers Vanguard of the Revolution  DVD see here for copies you can place on hold.

I think it's respectful to let the Black Panthers speak for themselves as much as possible. We're fortunate they've written extensively in their own voices. And, in an interesting intersection of Black Civil Rights and the Women's Movement of the 1960s/70s, there were many women who played leading roles and had powerful voices. 

Reflections unheard : Black women in civil rights DVD. See here for copies you can place on hold. If you're interested in more online information about the Black Panthers, the more militant side of the 1960s Civil Rights movement, you may enjoy the following sites:

          Huey P. Newton prelude to revolution DVD         The two nations of Black America  DVD

In terms of women's voices I would direct you to Angela Y. Davis:

The Angela Y. Davis reader    Angela Davis-- an autobiography

Davis had an exceptional life on the run, on trial and in jail and settled into academia but Assata Shakur has an equally lively life experience ultimately ending up living in exile in Cuba. You may also be interested in the autobiographies of Elaine Brown and Safiya Bukhari who were also involved in the Black Panther Party.

              Assata An Autobiography     Autobiography as activism  three Black women of the Sixties Angela Davis, Assata Shakur (a.k.a. JoAnne Chesimard), and Elaine Brown


In terms of the male leadership's autobiographical writings, sample this:

  A Lonely Rage - The Autobiography of Bobby Seale   My People Are Rising Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain

  Will you die with me  my life and the Black Panther Party      Writing on the Wall Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Huey P. Newton was one of the founders, key leadership figures and prolific author: 

  To die for the people  the writings of Huey P. Newton        Huey spirit of the Panther        The Huey P. Newton reader The first comprehensive collection of writings by the Black Panther Party founder and revolutionary icon of the black liberation era, The Huey P. Newton Reader combines now-classic texts ranging in topic from the formation of the Black Panthers, African Americans and armed self-defense, Eldridge Cleaver’s controversial expulsion from the Party, FBI infiltration of civil rights groups, the Vietnam War, and the burgeoning feminist movement with never-before-published writings from the Black Panther Party archives and Newton’s private collection, including articles on President Nixon, prison martyr George Jackson, Pan-Africanism, affirmative action, and the author’s only written account of his political exile in Cuba in the mid-1970s. Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Geronimo Pratt all came to international prominence through Newton’s groundbreaking political activism. Additionally, Newton served as the Party’s chief intellectual engine, conversing with world leaders such as Yasser Arafat, Chinese Premier Chou Enlai, and Mozambique President Samora Moises Machel among others.      

Eldridge Cleaver and Stokely Carmichael are other well known figures associated with the Black Panthers and the Black Power movement:

Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver     Target zero  a life in writing by Eldridge Cleaver

Ready for revolution  the life and struggles of Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture)     The Black power mixtape 1967-1975 DVD

And aesthetics weren't just aesthetics in the Black Panther Party:

Listen, Whitey! The Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975
Noted music producer and scholar Pat Thomas spent five years in Oakland, California, researching Listen, Whitey! While befriending members of the Black Panther Party, Thomas discovered rare recordings of speeches, interviews and music by noted activists Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Elaine Brown, The Lumpen and many others that form the framework of this definitive retrospective. Listen, Whitey! also chronicles the forgotten history of Motown Records. Contents: Musicians as revolutionaries, revolutionaries as pop culture icons -- Iconic images; The Black power salute, berets and a wicker chair -- The movement, Motown and popular music.


Black Panther  the revolutionary art of Emory Douglas. The first book to show the provocative posters and groundbreaking graphics of the Black Panther Party. The Black Panther Party for Self Defense, formed in the aftermath of the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, sounded a defiant cry for an end to the institutionalized subjugation of African Americans. The Black Panther newspaper was founded to articulate the party’s message, and artist Emory Douglas became the paper’s art director and later the party’s minister of culture. Douglas’s artistic talents and experience proved a powerful combination: his striking collages of photographs and his own drawings combined to create some of the era’s most iconic images. This landmark book brings together a remarkable lineup of party insiders who detail the crafting of the party’s visual identity.

For more general coverage of the Black Panthers these may be interesting:

  Framing the Black Panthers  the spectacular rise of a Black power icon   Howard L. Bingham's Black Panthers, 1968.  For over three decades, The Black Panthers Speak has represented the most important single source of original material on the Black Panther Party.

 Black Panthers for beginners   The Black panther  intercommunal news service   Black against empire  the history and politics of the Black Panther Party


The Black Panther Party even had their own recommended reading book list:

Black Panther Party Book List.






Snapshots in History: February 20: Remembering A. J. Casson and the Group of Seven

February 20, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)





(Credit: Library and Archives Canada - Canadian Victory Loan drive poster. A. J. Casson won first prize with this poster in the 1941 Victory Bond contest conducted to find suitable illustrations for the 1st Victory Loan campaign in Canada during the Second World War. Source URL: – Artist: Alfred Joseph Casson; Copyright expired. Crown Copyright. Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1983-30-585.)

On February 20 and beyond, take a moment to remember a Torontonian commercial artist and painter named Alfred Joseph “A. J.” Casson (Born: May 17, 1898 in Toronto, Ontario; Died: February 20, 1992 in Toronto, Ontario) who joined the Group of Seven in 1926 as a replacement for Francis (“Frank” or “Franz”) Johnston. Casson spent time as a youth in Guelph and Hamilton where he commenced a lifelong commitment to commercial art; in 1919, he worked at Rouse & Mann Ltd. as an assistant designer to Franklin Carmichael. Beginning as a printmaker and painter in water colours, Casson began to exhibit oil paintings in 1922, primarily landscapes from Muskoka and Haliburton. (For example, view the National Gallery of Canada website to view Summer Landscape (1925), painted at Paugh Lake in southern Algonquin Park.) Exploring rural Ontario with his automobile enabled A.J. Casson to paint small towns which became a favourite theme, employing a tendency toward simplification and focusing upon the essential elements as recommended by Lawren Harris. Casson joined the printing firm Sampson Matthews (that specialized in screen printing) in 1926 and served as chief designer for many years before retiring in 1957 to paint full-time.

After the Group of Seven disbanded in 1932, Casson co-founded the Canadian Group of Painters in 1933 that included several members of the Group of Seven amongst its collective of 28 painters. Casson gave back to the arts community by supporting other artists and charitable bodies and by serving as president of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (1948-1952), president of the Ontario Society of Artists (1941-1944), and as a board member of Art Gallery of Toronto (now Art Gallery of Ontario) (1955-1959). After he died in 1992 at the age of 94, Casson was buried upon the grounds of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario along with other Group of Seven members.

Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:

A.J. Casson: an artist's life / Christopher E. Jackson, 1998. 

This book was published by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection to accompany the exhibition entitled “A.J. Casson: an artist's life”, organized and circulated by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection from November 1998 to November 1999.

Sunday morning with Cass: conversations with A.J. Casson / Ted Herriott and Alfred Joseph Casson, 1993.

Read the interviews conducted by Ted Herriott with Canadian painter A.J. Casson.

The Bard of rural Ontario A.J. Casson [1 videocassette] / Harvey Kirck; Sketches of our town (Television Program). 

Join journalist Harvey Kirck interviewing A.J. Casson who discusses his experiences visiting and painting rural Ontario for more than 50 years.

My favourite watercolours, 1919 to 1957 / A.J. Casson; foreword by Paul Duval, 1982.

Find out which of his own watercolours from the 1919-1957 time period that A.J. Casson liked best.

Click here for additional copies.

A. J. Casson, his life & works: a tribute / Paul Duval, 1980. 

Consider this biography of A.J. Casson and a review of his art work by Paul Duval.

Snapshots in History: February 19: Remembering Celia Franca & the National Ballet of Canada

February 19, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)






On February 19 and beyond, take a moment to remember British-born Celia Franca (1921-2007) (aka Celia Franks), who almost single-handedly launched the National Ballet of Canada in 1951 by sheer determination and served as its artistic director for 24 years. Previously, Celia Franca studied dance at the Guildhall School of Music and the Royal Academy of Dance in the United Kingdom. She was recognized as one of the outstanding dramatic ballerinas at age 20 in the Sadler’s Wells (later Royal) Ballet company based in the London borough of Islington. In 1947, Celia Franca joined the Metropolitan Ballet as a ballet mistress and soloist. Additionally, she began choreographing ballets for television for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). In 1950, Canadian ballet enthusiasts asked Celia Franca to start a Canadian classical ballet company which she accomplished within 10 months while working as a file clerk at an Eaton’s department store. Hence, the National Ballet of Canada opened on November 12, 1951. Franca’s imaginative vision was often constrained by the desire and need to please audiences with conservative ballet tastes.

Celia Franca and Nancy Elizabeth “Betty” Oliphant co-founded the National Ballet School of Canada in 1959, combining the elements of a mainstream education with a focus on ballet dancing. Franca retired from the National Ballet of Canada and moved to Ottawa, serving on the board of the Canada Council for the Arts. Celia Franca's awards included membership in the Order of Canada (member, 1967; companion, 1985), the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award (1994), the Molson Prize (1974) and the Canadian Council of the Arts Diplôme d'honneur 1986.

Consider the following titles from Toronto Public Library collections:


The pursuit of perfection a life of Celia Franca

Book - Also available in eBook format.

Read the review from Maclean’s magazine.


The sleeping beauty



Power to rise the story of the National Ballet of Canada




The library's blog devoted to the discovery of diverse artistic, music and cultural works in the library and Toronto.