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Re-contextualizing a visual history of Canada : the division of the National Film Board of Canada's Still Photography Division collection

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posted on 24.05.2021, 17:06 by Valérie Boileau-Matteau
This thesis examines the collection of photographs produced by the National Film Board of Canada's Still Photography Division between the years 1941 and 1984. As originally conceived, the Still Photography Division produced images of Canada and Canadians for promotional use by government departments and as stock images for magazines and newspapers. The collection was divided, initially in 1971, later in 1975, and finally in 1984. Photographs made before 1962 are housed at Library and Archives of Canada, those made after that date are in the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, founded in 1985. The thesis is organized into two major parts. The first provides a brief history of the National Film Board of Canada's Still Photography Division, describing its mandate, purposes, and evolution. The second compares the use and presentation of the Still Photography Division material at Library and Archives of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography in six areas: 1. Physical organizaation of the collections; 2. Physical housing of both prints and negatives in the collections; 3. Intellectual organization and access to the collections; 4. Public access to the collections; 5. Published information on the collections; 6. Public exhibitions and display. This comparison allows one to see how the distinctive purposes, procedures, and practices of an archive and an art museum have been applied to the physical arrangement and intellectual organization of this collection of 'documentary' photographs, thereby revealing and highlighting the fundamental differences between these two types of cultural institutions in Canada.





Master of Arts


Photographic Preservation and Collections Management

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type


Thesis Advisor

Marta Braun David Harris