It’s a winning combination: Archival items covering more than 100 years, and the latest in digital access.
That’s the story at the Galt Museum and Archives, home to more than 20,000 historic objects and more than 900,000 archival documents and photos. And now, they’ve available online anywhere in the world.
“We preserve historical documents, photos, maps and other records related to Lethbridge and area,” says archivist Andrew Chernevych.
“What’s equally important is we want these treasures to be seen and used by people.”
Using the latest in software and scanning equipment, the Galt is making that happen.
“Our archives is not just for academic researchers: it’s also for journalists doing a story on Lethbridge’s past, for kids preparing a heritage fair project, for people looking for vintage prints for home décor and so much more,” he says
“The new online database makes it so easy to find exactly what our patrons are looking for.”
Often, he says, people are looking for photos from the city’s early days.
“People really like images of our downtown, 100 years ago,” Chernevych says.
Well-known buildings, like the Marquis Hotel or Central School, are also in demand.
Of course, the Canadian Pacific Railway and its famous viaduct are the subject of frequent photo print requests as well.
What makes some of the images particularly interesting, he adds, is that they were taken from a low-flying aircraft. So the streetscapes and buildings are seen from an angle — not directly overhead like many of today’s computer shots.
The Galt also receives many requests for prints of photos published in The Herald’s ongoing “Flashback” series, he says.
In response, the archivist says, staff can usually send clients a high-resolution image within 24 hours, online. Or if they want a print, they may be able to pick it up the next day.
The cost is nominal, Chernevych adds — $12 for an 8 by 10 inch photo, less for smaller images.
But many Lethbridge businesses ask for larger prints, he adds, some of them mural size.
“It makes sense, especially for businesses that have a long history in the area.”
But the archives have much more than photos, he points out. Many requests involve family histories, as people work on genealogical projects.
“We get many requests from the United Kingdom and Germany.”
What’s created interest in Germany, he explains, is the fact that about 4,000 of the 12,000 German military officers who became prisoners of war in Lethbridge, returned here and became citizens in the years following the ceasefire.
But the Galt has historic objects as well, not just images. Do you want to see the press kit for a movie opening at the Paramount Theatre in 1960?
Or examine an iron and steel silent film projector built in 1906? The new public collections database makes it easier for people to locate important or interesting items as well.
“We make a special effort to research the history of the objects that we accept into our collections,” says Kevin MacLean, collections technician at the Galt.
“We conduct oral history interviews with our donors about their relationship to the objects they are donating to us. Visitors who look at the database will find extensive historical information for many of the artifacts.”
Staff and dedicated volunteers are continuously scanning and photographing items that have been donated to the Galt, they report.
Then they’re added to the database, recording the provenance of the items, their size and condition, as well as the historical relevance of the items to the museum’s collection and to the history of the region.
The Galt’s new database can be found at or
Source: Herald