Nineteenth-century Canadian Photographically Illustrated Books


This digital collection provides references and digital images of photographs found in nineteenth-century Canadian photographically illustrated books in public collections in Canada. It was created by Beth Knazook in fulfillment of the requirements of the PhD programme in Art and Visual Culture at Western University. The collection continues to grow and records may be updated as new information becomes available.

The database is organized into Collections (Books) and two types of Items (Photographs) and (Creators). You can browse any of these categories using the top-level navigation menu anywhere on the site.

Book records provide details about the publication in which photographs appear, such as creator, date, publisher, and place of publication. Photographers may be identified as contributors at this level of description if they are also named in the text or their photographs are consistently found across all copies of the book. A description is provided as well as subject headings to facilitate searching based on the topic of the book and its context in the digital collection. An external link to a digitized copy of the full text is included where available, as well as cross-links to related publication collection records within the resource (i.e., those books which were produced by the same author or photographer).

Additional information about specific book copies represented in the collection is included in the metadata field ‘Has Format.’ Here you will find details such as the location of the book copy in a library, a link to the original bibliographic record for that book copy (if available), the name of the photographer (if it differs between book copies), the number and type of photographs found in that copy, as well as the names and biographical details of previous owners. Each book is assigned a code that performs a search on the tags assigned to the individual photograph item records attributed to the book copy, and that code is recorded in the item metadata as well.

Photograph records give information about individual photographs found in publications. It records the title of the image (usually transcribed directly from the source publication), name of the photographer, the name (and link, where available) to the original catalogue record at the institution that holds the book copy, rights information for the image, the photographic process, and a unique identifier for this collection. Additional metadata fields provide a link back to the book record, keyword tags for cross-linking within the collection, and a suggested citation.

Some records also display information about related images external to the collection using the ‘Is Version Of’ field. This is reserved mainly for instances where the photograph is a reproduction of an earlier painting or print by another artist. Where possible, links are provided to examples of the original artworks. 

A feature of the Photograph record is the 'Related items' section at the bottom of the record. Here you will find variants or alternates of the same views. In this way, repetition and differences between images across books and book titles is easily found through the item records.

It was decided to give photographers, authors, publishers, printers and owners associated with these books record pages as well, so that it would be easier to see at a glance all publications associated with a particular individual. The metadata for Creator records gives the name (in the title field) with a link to the person’s Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) record (where available). Relations to books are described based on roles, either Author of, Photographer for,Publisher for, or, in the case of readers who left their signatures in books, Owned a copy of. Tags for searching as well as a citation for the metadata record are also provided.