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Making Historical Photographs Accessible Online

March 25, 2015 | Canadiana Staff | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

The Toronto Public Library Digital Archive is a rich source of Toronto history. From the time an item in the collection is selected for digitization to when it is available in the Toronto Public Library Digital Archive, it undergoes an in-depth process to ensure it is accessible to everyone searching the Digital Archive. As a student at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Information, I had the opportunity to be part of the initial steps in this process while working on a project for the North York Central Library Canadiana Department. The objective of the project was to create metadata records for a collection of historical photographs that were recently donated to the library by the North York Historical Society (NYHS).

If you’re not familiar with the concept of metadata it is broadly defined as data about data. In this project metadata was any details about a photograph gathered from a NYHS database and NYHS scrapbooks: date, description, size, format, spatial location and subject headings. The metadata is attached to each photograph on Digital Archive. These metadata records are also what leads to the discovery of a photograph when you search the Digital Archive.

In working with a historical photographic collection there are challenges in gathering descriptive information. For example, in trying to determine the subject(s) of a photograph I had to look closely at them and think creatively. This is where my role in the process got interesting.    

While many photographs in the NYHS photograph collection showcase important landmarks in North York like Gibson House and the Golden Lion Hotel, images of uncommon historical scenes posed an interesting challenge. When creating these metadata records it was important to consider which subjects headings would make scenes like plane crashes and children playing on a farm findable for anyone searching the Digital Archive. 

Golden Lion Hotel when residence of Rev. Pickett
Golden Lion Hotel when residence of Rev. Pickett

 
Plane that came down during WW1
Plane that came down during WW1
 

Arlington Tomlinson holding Freddie Wicks on a pig
Arlington Tomlinson holding Freddie Wicks on a pig 

Another challenge was photographs in NYHS collection that had too little or incomplete information and required outside research. The collection includes a photograph of the Weston Foundry and Machine Shop, but no date or location information about it. When I came across this photo, I needed to fill in these gaps with further research in the Canadiana Department. With the help of the Canadiana Department staff, I finally found this information in a Directory of North York from the 1920’s. This type of additional research ensures complete metadata records for NYHS photographs that can be searched to find photographs in the Digital Archive.


Weston Foundry and Machine Shop
Weston Foundry and Machine Shop

Working through the challenges of creating good metadata records is an initial step in the process, but all together this digitization project will help make the collection of the Canadiana Department more accessible to you. While working on this project I also learned about the many historical materials already available through the Digital Archive. Even more, there are lots of easy ways to access these materials like the interactive Toronto Neighbourhoods map, to which the NYHS photograph collection will be added. The North York Central Library Canadiana Department has a great collection of North York history to be discovered online and in the library.

Toronto Local History Collections in Toronto Public Library

March 2, 2015 | Barbara Myrvold | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Toronto local history collections are provided in more than 30 branches of the Toronto Public Library. The collections include materials of historical significance about a specific geographic area. This could be the Toronto neighbourhood(s) served by the local branch library; an historic community, such as an annexed municipality; or the City of Toronto as a whole.

The collections are intended to serve students working on projects from elementary school to college and university, and adult independent learners, including newcomers, long-time residents and visitors, interested in learning more about a community.  The collections are also good starting places for local historians and genealogists, heritage groups and other professionals needing local information for their avocations or jobs.

Local history collections vary significantly in size, ranging from occupying a few shelves or file drawers to being housed in separate rooms, but generally they:

  • Cover a wide range of subjects.
  • Include a variety of formats, often books, vertical files, community newspapers, pictures and maps. 
  • Are for in-library reference use. Circulating copies of many books also are available in Toronto Public Library collections. 
  • Emphasize secondary sources and copies of rare, original materials. 
  • Include some items that are not listed in the library’s online catalog.

In some branch local history collections, new items are not being added to collections of vertical files, pictures and maps, which may have been superseded by electronic databases and digital archives.

Map of Neighbourhood Historical Resources
Browse or search by neighbourhood for books, pictures and maps

Consult our Map of Neighbourhood Historical Resources for additional local history materials in Toronto Public Library’s collections and links to websites selected by Library staff. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Branch Local History Collections

Annette Street Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Junction, High Park (north of Bloor Street)
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Community newspapers, Pictures, Maps
Use: Reference   

Beaches Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Beach, Upper Beach, Danforth (Main Street area)
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Community newspapers, Pictures
Use: Reference  
 
Bloor/Gladstone Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Brockton (north section), Dovercourt, Dufferin Grove-Bickford Park
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Community newspapers, Pictures, Maps
Use: Reference. Duplicate copies of some books circulate
 
Cedarbrae District Branch Scarborough Historical Collection
Neighbourhoods: Former City of Scarborough and its neighbourhoods - Agincourt, Bendale, Birch Cliff, Clairlea-Golden Mile, Cliffside-Cliffcrest, Guildwood, Dorset Park, Highland Creek, Knob Hill, L'Amoreaux, Malvern, Maryvale, Milliken, Oakridge, Port Union-West Rouge, Rouge, Scarborough Junction, Scarborough Village, Upper Rouge, West Hill, Wexford, Woburn.
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Community newspapers, Pictures, Maps, Microforms
Use: Reference

Deer Park Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Deer Park, Rosedale/Moore Park (north of the CP line)
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Community newspapers, Pictures, Maps
Use: Reference.  Duplicate copies of some books circulate.

Don Mills Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Don Mills
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Maps, Ephemera
Use: Reference

Dufferin/St. Clair Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Earlscourt, Wychwood–Hillcrest (northwest section), Oakwood-Vaughan (southwest section)
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Pictures, Maps, Community newspapers
Use: Reference

Forest Hill Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Forest Hill
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Community newspapers
Use: Reference

Gerrard/Ashdale Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Leslieville, Upper Beach (Gerrard and Coxwell area of both neighbourhoods)
Formats: Books, Vertical files (inactive; PDF), Newspapers, Pictures, Maps
Use: Reference

Guildwood Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Guildwood
Formats: Books, Community newsletters
Use: Reference

High Park Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: High Park, Parkdale (Roncesvalles area and High Park – the park itself)
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Community newspapers, Ephemera
Use: Reference

Leaside Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Leaside, Thorncliffe Park
Formats: Books, Community newspapers, newsletters and magazines, Pictures, Maps, Artifacts, Archival records (Leaside Public Library), Ephemera (scrapbooks)
Use: Reference

Lillian H. Smith Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Kensington-Grange, Palmerston-Sussex Ulster (Harbord Village)
Formats: Books, Vertical files (inactive; PDF), Community newspapers, newsletters and magazines, Pictures, Maps
Use: Reference

Long Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Long Branch
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Community newspapers, Pictures, Maps, Archival records (Long Branch Public Library)  
Use: Reference

Maria Shchuka Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Former City of York and its neighbourhoods: Lambton, Mount Dennis, Silverthorn, Weston
Formats: Books, Vertical files, Community newspapers, Ephemera (Scrapbooks), Archival records (York Public Library)
Use: Reference

North York Central Library. Canadiana Department. North York History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Former City of North York and its neighbourhoods - Amesbury Park, Armour Heights, Bayview Village, Bridle Path-Sunnybrook, Don Mills, Don Valley Village, Downsview, Elia-Branson, Emery, Fairbank, Flemingdon Park, Henry Farm, Hillcrest Village, Humber Summit, Lansing, Lawrence Manor, Maple Leaf, Newtonbrook, Pleasant View, Weston, Willowdale, York Mills, York University-Black Creek  
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Ephemera (including pamphlets, posters and postcards), Community newspapers, Pictures, Maps, Microforms, Artifacts, Archival records (e.g., North York Historical Society, North York Public Library)
Use: Reference
Finding aids (in branch): Electronic databases for Maps, Photographs, North York History, North York Public Library Archives, North York Newspapers. North York Scrapbooks Index; Archival Holdings List.  Research Guide to North York History Resources

Northern District Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: North Toronto
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Ephemera, Community newspapers, Pictures, Maps
Use: Reference

Palmerston Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Annex, Palmerston-Sussex Ulster, Seaton Village
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Community newspapers, Pictures
Use: Reference  

Parkdale Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Parkdale, Brockton (south section), Exhibition, Sunnyside
Formats: Books, Vertical files (inactive PDF), Community newspapers, Pictures, Maps
Use: Reference
Finding aids (in branch): Card index

Parliament Street Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Cabbagetown, St. James Town, Regent Park
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Community newspapers, Pictures, Maps
Use: Reference; duplicate copies of some books for circulation

Queen/Saulter Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Riverdale, Leslieville (Queen-Broadview area)
Formats: Books, Vertical files, Community newspapers, Pictures
Use: Reference

Richview Branch Etobicoke History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Former City of Etobicoke and its neighbourhoods - Alderwood, Eatonville, Eringate Humber Bay, Humber Valley Village, Islington, Kingsway, Long Branch, Mimico, New Toronto, Rexdale, Richview, Sunnylea, Thistletown and Weston
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Ephemera (e.g., Tweedsmuir history scrapbooks), Community newspapers, newsletters and magazines; Pictures, Maps (PDF), Artifacts, Archival records (e.g., Etobicoke Public Library, Richview Women’s Institute) Microforms, Oral histories
Use: Reference
Finding aids (in branch): Subject card index to Etobicoke newspapers, 1950-present

Riverdale Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Riverdale, Danforth (west of Pape Avenue), Leslieville, Port Lands
Formats: Books; Vertical files (PDF), Ephemera, Community newspapers, newsletters and magazines, Pictures, Maps
Use: Reference; duplicate copies of some books circulate.
Finding aids (in branch): Subject card index, 1880s-1970s

Runnymede Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Bloor West Village (including Baby Point, Runnymede), High Park (including Roncesvalles), Junction, Sunnyside, Swansea
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Community newspapers, Pictures, Maps
Use: Reference; duplicate copies of some books circulate

S. Walter Stewart Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: East York
Formats: Books, Ephemera, Pictures, Maps
Use: Reference

Sanderson Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Kensington-Grange (west of Spadina Avenue); Palmerston-Sussex Ulster (south of Harbord Street); King-Spadina, Trinity Bellwoods (east of Ossington Avenue);
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Ephemera, Community newspapers, Pictures
Use: Reference

St. Lawrence Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Financial District (east of Yonge Street), St. Lawrence
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Community newspapers
Use: Reference; some books circulate

Swansea Memorial Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Swansea
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Pictures, Maps
Use: Reference; some books circulate

Toronto Reference Library.  Humanities and Social Sciences Department. Local History and Genealogy Collection
Neighbourhoods: City of Toronto and its neighbourhoods (along with many other geographic areas)
Formats:  Books (including copies of Toronto city directories (1833-1998) and telephone directories); Vertical files (Donald Jones' "Historical Toronto" articles, Toronto Star, 1973-1991; Toronto buildings - both inactive); Maps (including copies of Toronto fire insurance plans); Microforms (including Biographical scrapbooks, Toronto scrapbooks and Toronto Public Library scrapbooks); Ephemera (including The A. Norman Sands Collection of Local History)   
Use: Reference
Finding aids (in library): Card file indexes to biographies and Toronto buildings vertical files. Published Index to Donald Jones Toronto Star articles; Index to biographical scrapbooks; Index to Toronto scrapbooks. Electronic subject headings for A. Norman Sands Collection of Local History York (County) - Toronto section

Toronto Reference Library. Humanities and Social Sciences Department. Toronto Collection (PDF)
Neighbourhoods: City of Toronto and its neighbourhoods
Formats: Books, Vertical files (closed in 2010), Community newspapers (mostly on microfilm), Maps, Microforms, Archival records (e.g., City of Toronto Council minutes), Ephemera (e.g., election campaign literature).
Use: Reference

Weston Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Weston
Formats: Books, Pictures, Maps, Archival records (Weston Public Library and its predecessor and successor libraries), Ephemera
Use: Reference; duplicates of some books circulate
Finding aids: Pages of Weston History 100 Years and Beyond

Wychwood Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Wychwood-Hillcrest, Oakwood-Vaughan (southeast area), Cedarvale (south area)
Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Pictures, Archival records (Bracondale Public Library), Ephemera
Use: Reference

Yorkville Branch Local History Collection
Neighbourhoods: Yorkville, Rosedale-Moore Park (south of CP line, west of Mount Pleasant Road) Formats: Books, Vertical files (PDF), Pictures, Maps
Use: Reference

Guide to City Directories of Toronto: Decoding Abbreviations

March 1, 2015 | Canadiana Staff | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

This updated guide was originally posted in 2011.

This guide provides explanations of many abbreviations for personal names, occupations and other words used in 19th-century Toronto city directories. 

1896 Toronto City Directory-sample

A 
ab  above
acct  accountant
adv  advertisement
ag implts agricultural implements
agt  agent
al  alley
Albt  Albert
Alex  Alexander
app  apprentice
appr  appraiser
arch/archt architect
Archd  Archibald
assce  assurance
assn  association
asst  assistant
attdt  attendant
av/ave  avenue


b  boards
barr  barrister
bdg  boarding
bdg h  boarding house
bds  boards
Benj  Benjamin
bet  between
bg  building
bgemn  baggageman
bkbndr  bookbinder
bkkpr/bkpr bookkeeper
bkr  baker
bkslr  bookseller
bld/bldg building
bldr  builder
blksmith blacksmith
br  branch
brklyr  bricklayer
brkmn  brakeman
brmkr  boiler maker
btchr  butcher
btlr  bottler


c  corner
c h  custom house
cabt mkr cabinet maker
Can  Canadian
carp/carpr carpenter
carr  carriage
cash  cashier
Chas  Charles
chauf  chauffeur
chkr  checker
clk  clerk
clnr  cleaner
Co  company
col  colored
coll  collector
com  commission
com mer  commission merchant
comp  compositor
comr/commr commissioner
cond/condr conductor
confr/conftr confectioner
contr  contractor
cor  corner
Corp  corporation
cres  crescent
ct  court
ctr  cutter


d gds  dry goods
Danl  Daniel
dept  department
depy  deputy
dlr  dealer
do  same place or same street
dom  domestic
Dom  Dominion
drftsmn  draftsman
drsmkr  dressmaker
dsgnr  designer


e  east
e s  east side
Edwd  Edward
elect  electrician
electro  electrotyper
elev oper elevator operator
Eliz  Elizabeth
emp  employee
eng/engr engineer
engr  engraver
est  estate
examr  examiner
exp  express


fcy  fancy
fnshr  finisher
Frdk  Frederick
ft  foot of
ft  foot
furn  furniture
furng  furnishing


GTR  Grand Trunk Railway
GWR  Great Western Railway
gard/gdnr gardener
gds  goods
genl  general
Geo  George
geol  geological
gro  grocer
gts furngs gents' furnishings


h  house
h  householder [general owner]
hdwre  hardware
Hert  Herbert
hlpr  helper
hsekpr  housekeeper


imp  importer
implts  implements
ins  insurance
insp  inspector
insts  instruments
Intl  international

J & K 
Jas  James
jwlr  jeweller
kpr  keeper


l/la  lane
lab  labourer
landrs  laundress
lino  linotype
litho  lithographer
lndry  laundry
ltd  limited


mach hd  machine hand
mach/macht machinist
mar  market
Margt  Margaret
mech  mechanic
mer  merchant
mfg, mfr, mfy manufacturing -urer -ory
mgr  manager
mkr  maker
mkt  market
Mkt gdnr market gardener
mldr  moulder
mlnr  milliner
mlstr  maltster
mng dir  managing director
mntr  mounter
moto  mortorman
mssr  messenger
mus  musical
mus tchr music teacher


n  north
n  near
n e  northeast
n s  northsouth
n s   north side
n w  north west
NR  Northern Railway
NRC   Northern Railway Company
nr  near


off  office
Ont  Ontario
op/opp  opposite
opr  operator


pc  police constable
Parlt  Parliament
pat med  patent medicines
pckr  packer
ped/pdlr peddler
photo/photr photographer
phy  physician
pl  place
plmbr  plumber
plshr  polisher
plstr  plasterer
pntr  painter
pntr  painter
pr  proprietor
pres  president
prin  principal
prntr  printer
prof  professor
prop  proprietor
provns/provs provisions
prsfdr  pressfeeder
prsr  presser
publr  publisher


r/res  resides [not owner]
r  rear
rd  road
Regd  Reginald
rep  representative
repr  repairer
rest  restaurant
ret  retail
Richd  Richard
Robt  Robert


s  south
s e   side entrance
s s  south side
Saml  Samuel
sch tchr school teacher
sdlr  saddler
se  southeast
sec  secretary
sec hd goods second hand goods
sew mach sewing machine
shpr  shipper
slsldy  saleslady
slsmn  salesman
smtrs  seamstress
soc  society
sol  solicitor
sq  square
Stand  Standard
statr  stationer
staty  stationery
stenog  stenographer
stero  stereotyper
stkpr  stock keeper
stmftr  steamfitter
stn  station
stu/studt student
suprvsr  supervisor
supt  superintendent
surg  surgeon
sw  southwest


tchr  teacher
tel  telepraph
tel opr  telephone operator
telph  telephone
ter  terrace
Thos  Thomas
tlr  tailor
tlrs  tailoress
tmstr  teamster
tnsmth  tinsmith
Tor  Toronto
trans  transportation
trav  traveller
treas  treasurer
trk drvr truck driver
twp  township

U & V 
uphol  upholsterer
v pres  vice president
vet  veterinary
vet sur  veterinary surgeon


w  widow of
w  west
w s  west side
wd wkr  wood worker
wh/whol  wholesale
w'hse  warehouseman
wid  widow
wks  works
Wm  William
wrehsemn warehouseman
wtr  waiter
wtrs  waitress

Find Your Way to Local History and Genealogy at Toronto Public Library

February 1, 2012 | Canadiana Staff | Comments (5) Facebook Twitter More...

Find-Your-Way logo

Toronto Public Library (TPL) has just launched “Find Your Way to Local History and Genealogy” on the home page of the Library’s website or at tpl.ca/history-genealogy.
Our goal is to provide users with a  quick and easy experience to research local history and genealogy, raise awareness of our online and in-library resources, and offer research assistance.

The new site connects web visitors to a wide range of digital content and library resources, including:

  • alerts about new and recently received local history and genealogy books
  • research help with online research guides and links to contact library staff for assistance
  • a Local History and Genealogy blog written by specialist librarians highlighting Library resources and programs
  • announcements of Library programs and classes on history and genealogy
  • links to pertinent online databases such as Toronto Star - Pages of the Past, Ancestry Library Edition and our own Digital Archive

Local History

This section highlights TPL’s rich collections about the history of Toronto and other Ontario communities.

The Toronto section features:

  • a customized map to discover resources about more than 100 Toronto neighbourhoods: links to catalogue records for books and other resources, to digitized pictures, maps and other items on the Digital Archive, as well as to recommended websites
  • additional pages on Toronto city directories, buildings and architecture and geography and maps
Broadview Ave. and Gerrard St., Riverdale

 Broadview Avenue and Gerrard Street, Toronto. Valentine & Sons Publishing Co.
Ltd., c.1910 (Toronto Reference Library Postcard Collection)

Genealogy

This section also features Toronto and Ontario cities and towns, and has additional pages for genealogical research on Canada and other provinces, other countries and on ethnicity and cultures.

Tcd_1899-r-1049small

  Detail from Toronto City Directory 1899. Might Directories, 1898.
  Click on image to see digitized directory.

City directories are a favourite tool for genealogists and local historians.  Find Your Way links to digitized Toronto city directories from 1833 to 1922, as well as to directories for other Ontario places.

A growing selection of research guides on specific genealogical topics leads family history researchers to relevant resources, both online and in Toronto Reference Library and North York Central Library. Research guide topics include:

  • Genealogy on the Web
  • French Canadian and Acadian Genealogy
  • British and Irish Genealogy
  • Birth, Marriage and Death Records
  • Ontario Genealogy
  • Jewish Genealogy

The Find Your Way Team includes subject experts from across the Library system. Future plans for the site include adding more research guides, blog posts, recommended websites and links to more digitized Canadian content via the Digital Archive.

Discover the history of your family, your Toronto neighbourhood, or places in Ontario and across Canada.

Research online or at Toronto Reference Library and North York Central Library.

Learn about exciting programs and events.