Photographs from the pre-1962 numeric classification system [graphic material]

  • Record Information – Brief
    Hierarchical level:
    RG53, R1196-14-7-E.
    Type of material:
    Found in:
    Archives / Collections and Fonds
    Item ID number:
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    Context of this record:
  • Series includes:
    7495 lower level description(s)
    View lower level description(s)
    Bilingual equivalent:
    Click here
    Place of creation:
    ca. 120,000 photographs
    Language of material:
    Scope and content:
    This sub-series contains photographic materials from the Still Photography Division and its various subsidiaries and incarnations. The materials cover a broad range of subjects that deal with Canada including industrial development, the Arctic, sporting events, state visits, war-time activities, city landscapes, etc.
    Creator / Provenance:
    Additional name(s):
    Biography/Administrative history:
    In 1941, due to the persistent urging by John Grierson, the government incorporated the Canadian Government Motion Picture Bureau, an agency that has been responsible for promoting tourism and trade through photographs and films, into the National Film Board. The resulting organization became known as the Still Photography Division of the National Film Board. The Still Photography Division's mandate was to promote Canadian unity and subsequently to document the dramatic events of the World War II.

    With the absorption of War Information Board Still Photo Unit in 1943 into its operation as well the operations of the Canadian Government Motion Picture Bureau for production and distribution of still photography, the new NFB Still Photo Division consisted of a production department ¿ with photographers, photo editors and writers (responsible for captions and text accompanying images) on staff ¿ a still photography library and an extensive laboratory/darkroom as well as administration.

    During the war and long thereafter, the Still Photo Division served the Canadian government by not only producing images and captions but also supplying photo printing services and access to its stock library for a variety of federal agencies. As well, the Division served as Canada¿s ¿official photographer¿ by making portraits of foreign dignitaries, carrying out assignments sponsored by various government departments and documenting important state functions including the opening of Parliament and visits by royalty and heads of state. As well, the Division supplied newspapers, magazines and school textbooks with photographs (plus foreign governments). By 1959 the Still Photo Unit boasted the largest photo library in Canada: 130,000 b&w negatives and 10,000 colour transparencies.

    Around 1943 the Division became increasingly interested in photostories. These were layouts of between 4 to 9 photographs with accompanying captions and brief text. They largely focused on the Canadian civilian life during the war and on what Canadians and industry were doing at home to support the military. Prepared solely by the NFB Still Photo Division and reproduced weekly in Canadian and international newspapers, the photostories would remain the Division¿s primary means of disseminating image until 1960s, reaching its zenith in prominence and popularity during the 1950s.

    In 1960 Lorraine Monk became the Executive Producer of the Still Photography Division, and began to organize circulating exhibitions of the National Film Board Still Photo Division collection across Canada. At that time, the Division also began to prepare publications of photography books (Centennial Publications), generally exposing the collection to the general public and emphasizing the artistic nature of photography.

    In 1971 the information (documentary) side of the Still Photo Division was transferred to Information Canada Photothèque. The more artistic side of the collection remained at the NFB Still Photo Division. The Photothèque focused on the more commercial aspect of documentary photography and served as an image bank for Canadian and foreign publications.

    As Information Canada ceases to exist in 1975, the Photothèque operations are transferred back to the National Film Board in 1976. Only this time the Photothèque operated as a separate entity from the Still Photo Division.

    In 1984 the Still Photo Division became Canadian Museum of Canadian Photography, affiliated with the National Gallery of Canada. The Photothèque continued to exist as part of the Department of Supplies and Services. However, by 1990 due to financial restructuring, the Photothèque closed its operations permanently.

    Finding aid:
    Graphic (photo) (Microform) Microfiche facsimiles and subject access copied from the original index cards from the National Film Board Still Photo Division. FA-80 Located in Reference Room, 395 Wellington Street. (90 Open)

    Graphic (photo) (Paper) Vol. 5 (2000791572) Subject Catalogue Still Photo Library ¿ NFB, 1952; Vol. 6 (2000791572) NPC file for numerical index with corresponding NPC numbers; Vol. 7 (2000791572) Catalogue of Still Pictures, Ottawa, 1948; Vol. 23 (2000791582) Canadian Picture Index (1930 ¿ 1961); Vol. 23a (2000791583) La collection de photographies du BCGC (1930 ¿ 1961); Photo Story Layouts; Original photostories and feature releases catalogues located in containers 2000791573 and 2000791574; Technical Operations Branch Annual Reports and Quarterly Fiscal Reports located in container 2000791574; Press release posters located in container 2000791579; Captions for commercials located in container 2000791579. FA-80 Located in at the Gatineau Preservation Centre (90 Open)

    Graphic (photo) (Paper) Technical Operations Branch Annual Reports and Quarterly Fiscal Reports located in container 2000791574; Press release posters located in container 2000791579; Captions for commercials located in container 2000791579; Original slides with corresponding storylines located in container 2000791583; 39 boxes of original envelopes and index cards with images and captions sorted by subject with negative number located in containers 2000855979 to 2000855016; Original index cards and envelopes with images and captions sorted by negative number located in containers 2000856034 to 200085100 and 2000856104 to 2000856111. FA-80 Located at the Gatineau Preservation Centre (90 Open)

    Additional information:
    General Note:
    Accessions dated post-1971, were sent to the National Archives at various times to complete the Still Photography Division photography collection. They came predomintantly from Information Canada Phototheque.
    Custodial history:
    During the corporate restructuring of the Still Photography Division and its merger with Information Canada, a large number of photographs that were deemed unprofitable or irrelevant were transferred from the Photothèque to the National Archives.
    Arrangement note:
    The Still Photography Division materials were divided into numeric series. Between 1945 to 1961 there were about 100,000 items in the first of the numeric series. The number sequence began at 10,000 to accommodate space for any photograph that may potentially be integrated into the numeric series at a later date.

    Former archival reference no.:
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