Scientific Instruments as “a History with, of, and Through Things”*

Cathode contents 5The “Reading Artifacts: Summer Institute in Material Culture Research” at the Canada Science and Technology Museum is another symptom of the growing trend in history and philosophy of science studies to include scientific artifacts as a resource for historical investigation and argumentation. In Leviathan and the Air Pump, Shapin and Schaffer argued scientific instruments are integral to the making of the scientific life. The history of medicine is rife with works discussing how instruments played a significant role in changing the diagnostic acumen of doctors and revolutionizing concepts of disease.  A special issue of Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science (2007, vol. 38, no.2) even discussed how objects and images can construct three-dimensional understandings of the scientific past. Continue reading

Colborne Street Breakdown II: Demolition and Community History

By Karen Dearlove, Executive Director of the Canadian Industrial Heritage Centre

Historic Colborne StreetFive city councilors and the Mayor of Brantford have been pursuing the demolition of forty-one heritage buildings on the south side of Colborne Street in Brantford.  Colborne Street is the historic downtown of Brantford and by many accounts this stretch of buildings represents the longest stretch of pre-Confederation buildings remaining Canada.  Yet for years Brantford’s downtown has suffered, as downtowns have across Canada, from the retreat to suburbs and box store retail outlets.  Continue reading

The possibilities of digital media and print publication

Parr book coverThe use of new digital media in conjunction with conventional print publication is one of the many important contributions that Joy Parr’s recent Sensing Changes: Technologies, Environments, and the Everyday, 1953-2003 (2010, UBC Press) makes to our understanding of the past.  The book examines how Canadians living in environments affected by megaprojects built after the Second World War responded to rapid environmental, technological, and social change through the use of six case studies.  Parr argues that our senses – not only sight and hearing but also touch, taste, and smell – are essential to how we understand the world around us.

But how can the conventional printed book, which privileges the sense of sight in the form of black text printed on a white page, facilitate an argument that urges us to reconsider the importance of humans’ varied senses? Continue reading

Active History Announcements: June 13-19

      No Comments on Active History Announcements: June 13-19

AH_LOGO_WEB

The following upcoming events may be of interest to our readers (click on ‘continue reading’ below for full descriptions):

1) Job Posting: NiCHE project co-ordinator.

2) Approaching the Past: A series connecting people teaching history – Ruth Sandwell keynote speaker – June 16

3) Psychiatric Survivor Archives, Toronto (PSAT) Fourth Annual General Meeting: NEW LOCATION – July 3

4) Digest of this week’s blog posts

If you have something to announce to the Active History community please contact info (at) activehistory.ca. Continue reading

Approaching the Past: A Series Connecting People Teaching History

On Wednesday, June 16th graduate students in History and Education, academic historians, history teachers, and public history professionals will gather at Black Creek Pioneer Village for an evening of discussion around the theme of “teaching history by doing history.”

The event is part of a new series called Approaching the Past: A Series Connecting People Teaching History, sponsored by The History Education Network/Histoire et Éducation en Réseau and Active History, and conducted with support from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and Toronto Culture.

The idea behind the series is to bring together educators working in middle and high schools, universities, and museums to discuss teaching history in a variety of contexts. Through workshops on diverse themes related to history education, the series aims to create and strengthen ties between historians, history teachers, and public history professionals across the Greater Toronto Area.  Workshops offer the opportunity to connect with colleagues, meet people teaching history in unique and engaging ways, and be challenged to teach history in ways that connect more deeply with our students. Continue reading

What the Copyright Modernization Act Means for Historians

Sean Kheraj

Last week the federal government tabled its long anticipated copyright reform legislation for first reading in the House of Commons. The Copyright Modernization Act or Bill C-32 attempts to overhaul many of the out-dated provisions of Canada’s copyright law that have fallen far behind major technological changes of the last thirty years. For instance, under the proposed legislation, it would now be legal for Canadians to rip a CD to an iPod. Unfortunately, as we give a sarcastic slow-clap for this long overdue “reform” to legalize what has been common (and soon to be obsolete) consumer behaviour for nearly a generation, the canonization of digital locks overrides all of the new fair dealing rights in the bill. And this may be a huge problem for history researchers and educators.

Read the full story here on the Knowledge Mobilization blog.

Active History Announcements June 5 – 12

      No Comments on Active History Announcements June 5 – 12

AH_LOGO_WEBThe following upcoming events may be of interest to our readers (click on ‘continue reading’ below for full descriptions):

1) Job Posting: NiCHE project co-ordinator.

2) Active History news from the CHA.

3) Canadian Industrial Heritage Centre (CIHC): Afternoon of History and Heritage in Brantford – June 12th

4) Approaching the Past: A series connecting people teaching history – Ruth Sandwell keynote speaker – June 16

5) Psychiatric Survivor Archives, Toronto (PSAT) Fourth Annual General Meeting – July 3

6) Digest of this week’s blog posts

If you have something to announce to the Active History community please contact info (at) activehistory.ca. Continue reading

NiCHE looking for an Active Historian

      No Comments on NiCHE looking for an Active Historian

Canada Geese, by KeithIt’s not every day you see a job posting for an Active Historian, but that’s just what the Network in Canadian History & Environment (NiCHE) is looking for.

NiCHE is an international network of people interested in the study of Canada’s environmental history / historical geography. They are currently looking to fill a 2 year position: “Project Coordinator” to help manage the day-to-day operation of the network and to facilitate projects that engage a wide audience with Canadian environmental history.

The full job description can be found on the University of Western Ontario human resources page. Questions about the position can be sent to the NiCHE director, Dr. Alan MacEachern (amaceach@uwo.ca).

Like I said, it’s not every day you see a job posting for an Active Historian. Today is a special day.

Deadline to apply is June 24, 2010.

How Useful is the Library of Congress’ Twitter Archive?

Library of Congress' Twitter Archive

On Wednesday 14 April, the United States of America’s Library of Congress (LOC) announced a deal with the popular social networking service, Twitter, to archive all public messages on the site right down to the first “tweet” from @jack (Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder) on 21 March 2006, at 3:50 PM.

Response to the news can generally be described as positive and set “Library of Congress” as a top trend for the remainder of the week. Considering that the site has evolved into one of the most efficient means of spreading information (even by Internet standards) such enthusiasm is understandable. Continue reading

Tormorden Fantasy

      No Comments on Tormorden Fantasy

Toronto, known to some as The Big Smoke, has world class horrible traffic and at least a fair smattering of all your basic urban ills. The city that knows no hockey also has some unexpected lesser-known natural and historic charms. To begin with, the Toronto Islands get less attention than they deserve. Enough said. Stay away. Continue reading