Brandon University welcomes Sun archives

New home for ‘vital resource’


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Thanks for the memories, says Brandon University, which has received tens of thousands of historical photos from The Brandon Sun that will now be housed and preserved in the school’s archives and eventually made available to the public.

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Thanks for the memories, says Brandon University, which has received tens of thousands of historical photos from The Brandon Sun that will now be housed and preserved in the school’s archives and eventually made available to the public.

University archivist Christy Henry said the arrival of the images from the Sun has been met with excitement at their new home at the university within the S.J. McKee Archives.

“What better way to preserve the history of a community than the photos of its local paper,” Henry told the Sun Thursday. “They are a vital resource for the visual history of the region.”

McKee Archives has received more than 50,000 photographs and negatives spanning decades, captured across southwest Manitoba from the 1970s to the early 2000s. The university said the photo collection may be the largest ever brought in by the McKee Archives, and certainly the largest collection of photographic negatives it has ever received.

The need to preserve and protect those images was brought about by the Sun’s move earlier this year from its former building on the 500 block of Rosser Avenue to The Town Centre. The gift of images to the archive comes as the Sun marks its 140th year.

The newspaper will retain its own archive of digital photographs snapped in more recent decades, but the gift to the McKee Archives consists of negatives from the newspaper’s vaults that otherwise weren’t being put to good use, said Sun editor Matt Goerzen.

“The Brandon Sun has been fortunate to be at the forefront of daily news and events coverage in western Manitoba over the last 140 years, providing a written record of our community on a daily basis,” Goerzen said. “On such an important anniversary, we have the honour of further preserving a great portion of our photographic legacy, and still further, to have it opened up to the wider public through the McKee Archives at Brandon University.”

A sample of the historical photos is currently on display at the university in the Gathering Space of John E. Robins Library for Homecoming weekend, which takes place Thursday through Sunday.

Henry said the Sun photos complements the school’s existing collections, such as the photographic negatives in the CKX fonds. The images from the former TV station cover 1955 to 1970, Henry said, while the Sun collection covers 1970 to 2000.

“It’s a very nice continuation of that visual history for the region,” Henry said.

Eventually, the Sun negatives will be scanned and made available on the archive’s website. Henry said she receives 600 to 700 requests for information each year, which she refers to archive materials, and that excludes those who browse the website. Requests come from a wide range of people and groups such as academics, museums, local businesses, and people in the community who are writing their own histories.

Before they can be posted online, however, Henry faces the “daunting” task of reviewing the 50,000 images and paring them down to a collection that is useful and relevant, sorting the images into proper archival enclosures and giving them a number so they can be located when needed, describing each image and giving it a proper date, and finally linking digital scans to descriptions for the website.

Henry is currently the only staff member to do this work, so images will gradually become available to the public. But the whole process of making all the images available online may take 15 to 20 years.

Once that task is done, however, the Sun images should double the archive’s existing image collection of about 30,000.

So far, Henry has looked through a small sample of the new arrivals but has already made some interesting discoveries, such as an envelope of images from Brandon’s celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 and photos of buildings she’d previously only heard about like Fort Brandon.

“If you’re sort of a history geek, especially about the city and the region, it’s a pretty amazing collection.”


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