Behind the Exhibit : The Process

Welcome back to Behind the Exhibit! If you haven’t read Part I yet, start here.

Archives & Library intern Amie Lalonde 

After planning the content and structure of my exhibit, it was time to start digitizing photographs and textual materials. Over several weeks, I scanned: 303 individual pictures, two albums (that resulted in 480 digital images), 23 documents, and digitized 1 audio file. These 806 digital images came from eleven different archival collections including: the Moore Family fonds, Jim Brewster Family fonds, Pat Brewster fonds, Fred Brewster fonds, Peter and Catharine Whyte and foundation fonds, George Paris fonds, George Vaux X fonds, Helen Wells fonds, and the Banff School District No. 102 fonds.

The digitization of archival photographs serves two main purposes: 

One is increased access to a portion of the vast photographic collection held in the Archives and Library. While only a fraction of the digitized photographs ended up in the digital exhibit, all 783 digital images have been put in the Digital Vault so researchers and the general public will have access and can search and explore. Each image has information (metadata) tied to it. There are three forms of this information. The first, is the information captured by the scanner. This includes the date scanned, the size and resolution of the image. The second type of information is embedded metadata. This consists of the image title, the repository that holds the images — the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in this case — and a link to so that the images can always be traced back to the Whyte Museum. The third type is descriptive metadata which consists of information about the photograph, including anything written on the back. This was added in a program called DBTextWorks and uploaded to our website. Now, the images are accessible to everyone and easily searchable by topic, date, name, or place.

V439/PD-358-031, Moore family fonds, album page.

The second aim of digitization is preservation. While the Archives arranges and stores photographs to ensure maximum preservation, many photographs do not arrive in the archives in the best shape (few people consider that strangers a hundred years in the future may want to look at their family photographs) and any handling by researchers may damage the photographs even further. Even if researchers handle materials with the utmost care, exposure to light, oils from skin, and dust all damage photographs. In the Moore Family fonds, several of the albums created by Edmée Moore were in poor to fair condition. Creating digital copies of these albums and other photographs to be used as surrogates helps preserve them further as researchers can consult the digital images instead of handling the fragile physical objects.


The final stage was to put all the research and digital images together and create the layout and text of the online exhibit. This project was like putting together the pieces of a puzzle and slowly but surely the exhibit took shape. I hope that you find the finished product informative and take as much joy from a peek into the lives of two Banff locals and the Banff community at the turn of the 20th century as I do.

Explore the exhibition by clicking here.

Support the Archives & Library by making a donation today. 

Help us continue to preserve the art and heritage of the Canadian Rockies. 


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