February 2011 Newsletter: Canadiana.org


1. Canadiana.org celebrates Black History Month!

February is Black History Month, a time to learn, honour, and celebrate the achievements of black men and women throughout history. Since the first documented black person arrived in Canada in the early 1600s, black Canadians have been making unique and valuable contributions to the development of our nation. Canadiana.org invites Canadians to browse its rich and distinctive collections to discover rare images, text, and other material related to the history of black Canadians. Visit our website to find out more: www.canadiana.ca

2. Canadiana Discovery Portal featured in the media

On January 16, 2011, The Canadian Press published a feature article about the Canadiana Discovery Portal. The article, written by Stephanie Levitz, is entitled, “Google-like search site connects 60 million pages of Canadian history”. The article reads, “An ambitious new search engine has been launched by an alliance of digital heritage advocates designed to allow one-stop searching for centuries of Canadian history”. It goes on to say, “The Canadiana.org portal isn't meant just for academics. Genealogists can peek in and see where their family names may pop up in local newspapers. Artists can seek inspiration from old images or sound, whether they live in Montreal or Morocco.”
The article was republished by several other newspapers including the Globe and Mail and Winnipeg Free Press and has garnered further media attention for the Portal. Macleans.ca, for example, has written a follow up piece saying, “The recently launched Canadiana Discovery Portal—a searchable collection of various historical archives—is a treasure trove of old photographs, speeches and documents from prime ministers and governments past.” And, in addition to several radio interviews, Ron Walker, Executive Director of Canadiana.org, was interviewed live on air by CTV News.
The public response to all the media attention has been overwhelming. Online comments have been very positive and include things like, "Cool. Just 20min on the site and I learned more about the history of my hometown than 18 years growing up in it ever taught me." and “Excellent! Now this is what the Internet should be about.” As well, traffic to the Canadiana Discovery Portal on the days following the article increased over 100 fold. Several weeks on, and the daily visits remain significantly higher than before the original article was published.

3. Canadiana Discovery Portal launches new search interface

In early February, Canadiana launched a new search interface for the Canadiana Discovery Portal that will contribute to a better overall search experience. The interface allows users to limit search results according to language, media, date, and contributing organization, as well as sort by date and relevance. In addition, search results are now sorted and grouped by document rather than individual page, enabling users to more easily understand the context for search results.

4. Canadiana. org unveils its new website

In November 2010, Canadiana.org launched a new and improved website. The website has better functionality and directs users to the two major services offered by Canadiana.org: The Canadiana Discovery Portal and Early Canadiana Online. The website also includes a prominent community component which enables users to engage more directly with Canadiana.org services and projects. There is a blog feature, and the website makes use of popular real-time communication tools such as Twitter. In the near future, there will also be a “Save A Page" element that will allow readers to submit titles of books they would like to be scanned and made available through Early Canadiana Online.

5. New digital photos from the National Gallery of Canada available through the Canadiana Discovery Portal

The Canadiana Discovery Portal continues to add new and interesting content to its database. Most recently, the National Gallery of Canada has contributed a collection of digital photo albums of Canadian cities, mostly taken in the early 20th century. This is just the first of several digital collections that the National Gallery intends to make available through the Portal. You can view this collection, by searching the term “albums” in the Canadiana Discovery Portal  and choosing the National Gallery of Canada as the contributor.
Other recent additions to the Portal are a collection of over 5000 photos and postcards from the Calgary Public Library and an historic newspaper collection from Manitobia with issues going back to the early 20th century.

6. Early Canadiana Online adds more digitized periodicals to its collection

Canadiana.org continues to progress steadily with the Early Canadian Periodicals digitization project. Most recently, 920 issues (14,500 pages) of the journal Le monde illustré were added to the collection. This illustrated magazine includes many, often striking, works by well-known Quebec artists and photographers.
About 40% of the Early Canadiana Online (ECO) collection is freely available to the public. Newly added to the open access section is the The Maritime Medical News. If you think that the history of medicine is boring, think again! A quick browse through this journal finds topics such as eugenics, the uses and abuses of cocaine, euthanasia, menopause, treatment of mental disorders, medical ethics and beef tea. Even the advertisements are interesting to read.

The full text contents of the The Maritime Medical News available through ECO has been made more accessible to researchers, thanks to a detailed index that has just been created by the Kellogg Health Sciences Library at Dalhousie University in Halifax.  The Index is an excellent research tool and congratulations to all involved!