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A guide to accessing archival materials at ECU and online. Includes information on key archival concepts, online archives resources and archival citations.

Online Archival Resources

Generally there are two ways to access archival materials - online and in-person, or a combination of the two. A majority of archival materials are not digitized, or born-digital, therefore many archives require in person visits to view materials. This can be an incredibly rich and unique research experience. It can also be challenging to visit archives that aren't local, have limited hours, or inaccessible spaces or research areas. That being said, there is a large amount of digitized archival material that can be accessed online and can provide an extremely meaningful research experience.

Additionally, many archives offer online finding aids or descriptions of the archival materials that are available and reviewing these materials in advance can give the researcher a better sense of what kinds of records can be requested. Many archives also have reference archivists who can be reached via phone or email to provide research assistance. If there are materials of interest that are not digital and in-person research is not possible, some archives offer photocopying or scanning services (often for a fee).

Below you will find a small selection of online archival databases that offer digital objects and online descriptions. This list is by no means exhaustive and focuses on art + design, local and national archival resources.

Artist-Run Centre and Gallery Archives (Vancouver)

Vancouver Art Gallery Archives

"The Archives contain the official records of the Gallery since its founding in 1931 and the personal papers of some British Columbia artists and writers, including painter and educator B.C. Binning. Research in the Archives is by appointment."

Belkin Art Gallery Archives

"The Belkin Gallery’s archival holdings are a resource for exhibitions, teaching and learning, and scholarly research. The archives include the papers of artists, art historians, and collectors, and contain materials in a wide range of media such as textual records, photographic and other visual records, sound and moving image records (including audio and video tape and film), and objects. The materials are especially related to contemporary art since the 1960s, with a strong thematic focus on concrete poetry, mail art, performance art, social art history, and cultural history."

grunt gallery Archives

"grunt gallery was founded in 1984 on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations (Vancouver, Canada) and is one of the region’s most established artist run centres. The gallery offers exhibitions, special projects and public programming with a focus on practices and perspectives that have, since the beginning, questioned established values in contemporary art production." grunt gallery has digitized materials from the LIVE Biennial of Performance Art available here.

VIVO Media Arts Centre - Christa Dahl Media Library & Archive

"The Crista Dahl Media Library & Archive (CDMLA) is situated on the Unceded Coast Salish Territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.  VIVO Media Arts Centre houses a significant repository of videotapes by artists and independent producers. Spanning 60 years of production, its 8000 media works reflect the complexity of video art history."

Western Front Media Archives

"The Western Front Media Archive is a collection of over 1600 audio and videotapes, consisting of audio recordings and single channel video art, documentation of literary readings, artist talks, performance art, and music concerts.

Much of the material in the archive was created at the Western Front as part of various programming streams including the Media Artist in Residence program, New Music, Exhibitions and Performance Art."

Ruins in Process: Vancouver Art in the Sixties

"Ruins In Process is a research archive and educational resource that brings together still and moving images, ephemera, essays and interviews to explore the diverse artistic practices of Vancouver art in the 1960s and early 1970s."

Community Archives (Vancouver)

Archives of Lesbian and Oral Testimony (ALOT)

"The Archives of Lesbian Oral Testimony was founded in 2010. We digitize and make available online oral histories and testimony of same-sex and same-gender attracted women, inclusive of Two Spirit, queer, bisexual, and lesbian women, transmen, and others. The archives and the web site is supported by and operates out of Simon Fraser University Library's Special Collections and Rare Books. ."

UBCIC (Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs) Library & Archives

"The archival records of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs are housed in the Resource Centre. These consist of the historical documents, publications, maps, posters, images, documentary films, and audio and video recordings created and received by the UBCIC since its inception in 1969. We are currently in the process of organizing these materials and creating finding aids to make them more accessible to researchers. "

National Arts + Culture Archives

The ArQuives (Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archives)

"The ArQuives is one of the largest independent LGBTQ2+ archives in the world and the only archive in Canada with a mandate to collect at a national level. Founded out of The Body Politic newspaper collection in 1973, its mandate is to safeguard the LGBTQ2+ history of Canada. The archives formally incorporated in 1980 and following a legal challenge was granted charitable status in 1981. Today, The ArQuives preserves a wide range of material including personal and organizational papers, books, monographs, photographs, moving images, sound recordings, periodicals, artifacts (like buttons, board games, t-shirts, and banners), and other reference material."

National Gallery of Canada Archives

"The Archives of the National Gallery of Canada maintains the Gallery’s own archival records. These include records of the Board of Trustees, exhibition files, correspondence with artists, war art records, loan records, and building records. The Archives also acquires and maintains fonds of personal and corporate papers that relate to the National Gallery of Canada, its history, collections, exhibitions, personalities and facilities."

Government and University Archives (Vancouver and B.C.)

B.C. Archives

"The BC Archives is the archives of the Government of British Columbia and provides research access to records of enduring value to the province for both the provincial government and public researchers."

City of Vancouver Archives

"The City of Vancouver Archives preserves a variety of municipal government and private sector records that document our city's heritage."

City of Burnaby Archives

"The City of Burnaby Archives officially opened in 2001 and is located in the McGill Branch Library. It operates as the official repository for all inactive civic records of permanent administrative, legal, fiscal, historical, evidential and informational value to the City of Burnaby. The Burnaby Archives houses records dating back to Burnaby's incorporation in 1892. Records include a variety of sources including documents, photographs and maps."

Simon Fraser University Archives and Special Collections

"SFU AtoM (Access to Memory) is a collaborative venture of SFU Archives and SFU Library's Special Collections and Rare Books. SFU AtoM provides a single interface for searching the archival holdings of both repositories. The database contains descriptions of records existing in many media and formats; where digital copies are available, they are accessible directly from the description."

BCIT Archives and Special Collections

"Searching the BCIT Archives and Special Collections holdings online will provide access to digitized photographs, full-text searchable BCIT staff and student newsletters, audio-video materials, finding aids of our holdings and other content. "

Memory BC (access to archival repositories across BC)

"The portal provides a searchable database of the materials available at nearly 200 archival repositories throughout the province of British Columbia."

Museum of Anthropology Library & Archives

"The Library contains an excellent selection of published research materials that complement the museum’s object collection, with particularly strong holdings about museology, archaeology, Northwest Coast material culture and world ceramics and textiles. The Archives acquires, preserves and makes accessible records generated by MOA as well as relevant records from private individuals. No materials in the Library and Archives can be borrowed but most can be reproduced and many can now be accessed online."

UBC Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) and Okanagan Special Collections (OSC)

"RBSC strives to document the economic, political, cultural, labour, and literary history of British Columbia and Canada. OSC strives to offer access to materials created in and about the Okanagan-Similkameen, Columbia-Shuswap, and the Kootenays. This database contains finding aids for RBSC’s more than 700 archival fonds and collections, and OSC’s growing collection."       604-844-3840        520 East 1st Avenue, Vancouver, BC