Through the Revolving Door: The Fisher Library Blog

IA Book of the Week: A Popular Handbook of the Ornithology
Date posted: Tue January 19, 2021

Each week, the Fisher Library highlights an item from one of its many digitized collections available to anyone for free on the Internet Archive. This week, Rachael continues the theme of springtime creatures by looking at an ornithology handbook from our Canadiana Collection.

Last week, we took a look at a book celebrating the remarkability of common insects. This week, we will be... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Remarkable Insects
Date posted: Mon January 11, 2021

Each week the Fisher Library highlights an item from one of its many collections on the Internet Archive, which is open to anyone to explore. This week, Rachael takes a look at a book featuring some creepy crawly friends from our Biodiversity Collection.

With the holidays well behind us as we enter the long month of January, we can all agree that Spring will be a welcome visitor.... Read more

IA Book of the Week: The Delineator
Date posted: Wed January 6, 2021

Each week, the Fisher Library highlights an item from one of its many digitized collections available on the Internet Archive. To kick off the new year, Rachael takes a look at an interesting item from our Canadiana Collection.

As we say farewell to 2020 and welcome in a new year, you might be thinking of a list of goals you want to accomplish. Perhaps you want to learn some new... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Free Trade House Almanac
Date posted: Fri December 18, 2020

Every week, the Fisher Library highlights an item from its vast holdings on the Internet Archive. For the final IA Book of the Week post of 2020, Rachael takes a look at an almanac from our Canadiana Collection.

As 2020 comes to a close, much to the delight of many, it seemed only appropriate to feature an almanac to close out the year. An almanac is an annual compilation book that... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Eaton's Christmas Book
Date posted: Tue December 8, 2020

Every week, the Fisher Library highlights an item from one of its many digitized collections held on the Internet Archive. This week, Rachael takes a look into an Eaton’s Christmas catalogue to help kick off the holiday season.

For some the holidays begin with the first snowfall of December and for others it is when the calendar turns over to the start of November. One thing that... Read more

Celebrating the holiday season and the Fisher treasures digitally
Date posted: Tue December 1, 2020

Back in 1992, when I was a student in Belgium, I spent Christmas in Salzburg, Austria. It was one of the most perfectly disorienting holidays I had ever experienced. I distinctly remember going to a concert on the afternoon of Christmas Eve in the Mirabell Palace as the snow fell softly around us. The music was beautiful beyond description as the choir sang anthems and carols to the accompaniment of a small orchestra. There were selections... Read more

IA Book of the Week: The Book of Beasts, for Young Persons
Date posted: Mon November 30, 2020

Every Monday, the Fisher Library highlights an item from one of its many digitized collections on the Internet Archive. This week, Rachael takes a look at a short children's book from our chapbook collection.

Anyone who spends any amount of time with young children is likely familiar with the enormous genre that is children’s books. Whimsical stories and colourful illustrations... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Dr. Chase's Recipes
Date posted: Mon November 23, 2020

Every week, the Fisher library highlights an item from one of its many collections available on the Internet Archive. This week, Rachael takes a look at an interesting book from our Canadiana Collection.

This week, as Toronto and surrounding areas enter a second lockdown you may find yourself without certain pantry or household items and not wanting to venture out to pick them up... Read more

Recreating our exhibitions online
Date posted: Thu November 19, 2020

There is a sad feeling when exhibitions at Fisher are taken down after their usual three-month run to make room for the next one. That said, the current year notwithstanding, our cases are never empty for long. The exhibitions themselves also live on in the often elaborate accompanying catalogues, which become reference works in their own right. When the library was forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we shifted much of our focus to... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Monsters of the Sea
Date posted: Mon November 16, 2020

Each Monday, The Fisher Library highlights an item from one of its many collections available for all to explore on the Internet Archive. This week, Rachael explores an intriguing item from our biodiversity collection.

When one is asked to imagine “biodiversity,” monsters and legendary beasts do not often come to mind. “Monsters of the Sea, Legendary and Authentic” is a stunning... Read more

Doing Our Bit: Remembrance Day 2020
Date posted: Tue November 10, 2020

Every November 11th, we pause and remember the sacrifice of those who fought and died in defence of this country. This year we acknowledge the 106th anniversary of the onset of the First World War (1914-1918).  Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in-person Remembrance Day ceremonies have been cancelled and our usual routines of purchasing and wearing poppies and pausing with family and co-workers in remembrance have been... Read more

IA Book of the Week: National Memorial Album
Date posted: Mon November 9, 2020

Each week, the Fisher Library presents an item from one of its many collections housed on the Internet Archive, which is open to anyone to explore. In honour of Remembrance Day, this week Rachael examines a memorial album from the First World War from our Canadiana collection.

The National Memorial Album of Canadian heroes was published in 1919 in Toronto by the National Progress... Read more

IA Book of the Week: History of Canada
Date posted: Mon November 2, 2020

Every week the Fisher Library highlights a book from its digitized collections on the Internet Archive, which is open to anyone and great to explore. This week, Rachael takes a look at an item from our Canadiana Collection.

“History of Canada from The Time of its Discovery till The Union Year 1840-41” is a 572 page translated account by Andrew Bell. The original, in French, was written by F.X. Garneau and was titled, “L’Historie Du... Read more

IA Book of the Week: True Fortune Teller
Date posted: Mon October 26, 2020

Each week the Fisher Library highlights a book from its many collections available to anyone on the Internet Archive. This week, Rachael takes a look at an item from our chapbook collection.

With only a few days left until Halloween it’s time to dive into another spooky chapbook by Joseph Crawhall. Earlier in the month we highlighted one of his works on sleight-of-hand tricks and... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Birds
Date posted: Mon October 19, 2020

Every Monday, the Fisher Library highlights a book from one of its many collections on the Internet Archive. This week, Rachael takes a look at a beautiful item from the Biodiversity Collection.

In 1842, “Birds” was published by the Religious Tract Society of London. The 172 page book contains many lovely vignettes, illustrations, poems, and a lot of insightful information on our... Read more

IA Book of the Week: The Practical Home Physician and Encyclopedia of Medicine
Date posted: Tue October 13, 2020

Each week, the Fisher Library highlights an item from its collections on the Internet Archive, which are open to anyone to explore. This week Rachael takes a look at a medical encyclopedia from the Canadiana Collection.

The Practical Home Physician and Encyclopedia of Medicine was published in 1884 and is a whopping 1214 pages of vital information on the management of diseases of... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Magic Oracle
Date posted: Mon October 5, 2020

Each week, the Fisher Library highlights a piece from its digitized collection on the Internet Archive. This week, Rachael kicks off spooky season by taking a look at an item from our Chapbook Collection.

It only seems appropriate now that it is October that we take a look at the chapbook titled “Magic Oracle; or Conjuror’s Guide; containing the whole art of legerdemain, the best... Read more

IA Book of the Week - Woman: Maiden, Wife, and Mother
Date posted: Mon September 28, 2020

Each Monday, the Fisher Library presents a piece from its collection on the Internet Archive, which is open to anyone to explore. This week, Rachael takes a look at a book from the Canadiana Collection.

In an 1898 piece on the status of women, the Countess of Aberdeen called for the world to recognize the worth of women as partners of men and for them to work together in the same... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Beauty in Common Things
Date posted: Mon September 21, 2020

Every Monday the Fisher highlights its holdings on the Internet Archive. This week Rachael presents a lovely piece from the Biodiversity Collection.

“I’ve watch’d you now a full half-hour
Self-poised upon that yellow flower;
and, little butterfly! Indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless! Not frozen seas
More motionless! And then
What joy awaits you when the breeze
Hath found out... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Guidebook & Atlas of Muskoka and Parry Sound
Date posted: Mon September 14, 2020

Every Monday, the Fisher Library highlights its holdings on the Internet Archive. This week, Rachael takes a look at cottage country.

If you have ever been to Muskoka then you can surely attest to its natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and its endless number of tourist attractions. Muskoka’s current tourism guidebook describes the region as “Ontario’s playground for over a century.” Muskoka has long been equated with the idea of... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Canadian Family Cookbook
Date posted: Mon September 7, 2020

Every Monday (even holiday Mondays) the Fisher Library highlights its holdings on the Internet Archive, which are free to access and great to explore. This week, Rachael takes a look at some classic Canadian cooking.

Over the past few months in quarantine, many of us have had to take on added responsibilities such as working from home or being a full-time teacher to our kids, or both at the same time. As many restaurants are still... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Men's Wear Review
Date posted: Mon August 31, 2020

Every week we dive into our holdings on the Internet Archive, which are free to access and great to explore. This week, Samantha will be taking a look at the fascinating history of menswear in Canada. 

With autumn... Read more

New Lecture: Illustration and the Book
Date posted: Wed August 26, 2020

If you are at all like me, chances are that your earliest childhood memories of reading are as intimately associated with book illustrations as they are with the stories themselves. I vividly remember being both terrified and inexplicably drawn to the picture of the ‘Sea Witch’ found in a copy of Andersen’s Fairy Tales, published in London in 1925, that had once belonged to my mother. The illustrator was a Scottish painter named... Read more

Metadata Enhancement for Chinese Language Visual Materials at the Fisher Library: a Cooperative Project
Date posted: Wed August 19, 2020

A joint project between staff at the Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library and the Thomas Fisher Rare book L... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Scrap-book
Date posted: Mon August 17, 2020

Every Monday we take a look at a specific object from the collection of Fisher items available for free on the Internet Archive. This week, Samantha takes a look at a book of comedy and jokes published in 1850, and what it can tell us about British culture at the time.

There is nothing like a so-bad-it’s-good joke to lift the spirits. Call them... Read more

New Flickr Set: Alexander Scott Carter Book Plates
Date posted: Thu August 13, 2020

In 2015, the Fisher purchased a large collection of drawings and sketches by Alexander Scott Carter (1881-1968), documenting over eighty projects designed by him from 1920 to 1960, including bookplates that Carter designed for Toronto patrons. Most people have noticed bookplates in volumes owned by libraries or other institutions: they’re labels pasted, usually inside a book’s upper cover, to indicate ownership. Almost as long as books have... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Anne of Green Gables
Date posted: Mon August 10, 2020

Every Monday we take a close look at one of the thousands of Fisher items available, for free, on the Internet Archive. This week Samantha takes a look at a true Canadian classic: Anne of Green Gables.

... Read more
Manuscript album of twentieth-century photographs of Rio de Janeiro now available to explore through digital collections
Date posted: Thu August 6, 2020

Over 100 twentieth-century photographs of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil mounted in this manuscript album (MSS 04075) housed at the Fisher Library, have recently been digitized and made available in our latest Flickr album. The manuscript album is bound in wooden covers, with pictorial marquetry of Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara Bay depicted... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Pitman's Shorthand Instructor
Date posted: Fri July 31, 2020

Every Monday (even holiday Mondays!) we like to feature a text from the Fisher's extensive holdings on the Internet Archive. This week, Samantha takes a look at Pitman shorthand, a surprisingly popular method for making writing that much faster.

As we enter what feels like week one thousand of quarantine measures, you may be getting bored. Perhaps... Read more

19th Century Broadside Ballads
Date posted: Fri July 31, 2020

We're fortunate at the Fisher that for many years we have been able to draw upon the student talent of the university's iSchool. In fact, many of the full-time staff that currently work at the Fisher started out as student employees, and we've seen many others who have come through our workroom move on and establish careers at other institutions. It's always sad, however, when we have to say goodbye to one of our students. Megan Fox, who... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Cycling!
Date posted: Mon July 27, 2020

Every Monday we take a dive into the Fisher's holdings on the Internet Archive, all of which are available for free access. This week, Samantha takes a look at a book all about a favourite Torontonian activity: cycling.

If you take a walk through any major Canadian city, you are sure to encounter a good number of bicycles. For every bicycle there... Read more

The Diaries of Caroline Louisa Lock
Date posted: Wed July 22, 2020

Each year the library puts out an issue of The Halcyon: The Newsletter of the Friends of The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library (the most recent issue was released a couple of weeks ago) dedicated to items and collections purchased by the library in... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Giulietta e Romeo
Date posted: Sun July 19, 2020

Every Monday we feature an Internet Archive Book of the Week, which highlights an item from the ~25,000 Fisher items that are freely available on the Internet Archive. This week, Samantha Summers takes a look at Italian libretti and the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet.

Have you ever been to a ballet and not been entirely sure what is taking place... Read more

Birds of a Feather: Watercolour Birds with Original Feathers Glazed on (c. 1866)
Date posted: Wed July 15, 2020

A flock of watercolour-painted hummingbirds, roosters, grouse, pheasants and various waterfowl can be found in this discrete untitled manuscript album, housed at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library (call no. MSS 01024). The album contains 42 watercolour portraits, each painted on a small card and mounted two... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Death Warrant
Date posted: Tue July 14, 2020

Every Monday, we feature an Internet Archive Book of the Week, which will highlight an item from the 25,000 or so Fisher items that are freely available on the Internet Archive. This week, Samantha Summers takes a look at the Victorian era's fascination with death and darkness. 

Have you ever heard the term “penny dreadful”? Penny dreadfuls are... Read more

What the History of Vaccine Development Can Tell Us About the Search for a Coronavirus Vaccine
Date posted: Thu July 9, 2020

Nearly three months into the global COVID-19 crisis, epidemiologists and medical researchers continue to debate when a successful coronavirus vaccine might be developed and to what extent it will help quell the pandemic. Of concern are the several factors that are as yet unknown, including how long the virus incubates, exactly how contagious it is, and, importantly, whether or not being exposed to the virus creates permanent immunity. Oxford... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Hamilton: the electric city
Date posted: Mon July 6, 2020

Every Monday, we feature an Internet Archive Book of the Week, which will highlight an item from the 25,000 or so Fisher items that are freely available on the Internet Archive. This week, Samantha Summers takes a look at the city of Hamilton. 

It is an ill-kept secret that many Torontonians are fleeing the city for Hamilton, choosing to move to... Read more

The Arc towards Justice: Literary Censorship and the Canadian Experience
Date posted: Fri June 26, 2020

The last few weeks, our constant companions have not only been virus and contagion but protest as well. Around the world, people have been expressing their indignation openly and freely in reaction to the injustices they have seen committed, particularly against members of the black and indigenous communities. In so doing, they are exercising one of the most fundamental of their democratic rights, that of freedom of expression, both in person... Read more

The Famous 41
Date posted: Fri June 26, 2020

On 17 November 1901, police raided a crossdressing ball in Mexico City and arrested a group of 41 men, half of whom were dressed as women. The initial reports of el Baile de los 41 quickly introduced Mexican readers of the time to the "sordid" lives of homosexuals, and instantly sparked the first major social and political scandal to openly confront the subject of homosexuality in modern Latin America. The men were publicly... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Tycho Brache’s Supernova
Date posted: Mon June 22, 2020

Every Monday, we feature an Internet Archive Book of the Week, which will highlight an item from the 25,000 or so Fisher items that are freely available on the Internet Archive. This week, Megan Fox looks up toward the sky. 

The Fisher has wonderfully rich collections on the history of science, and some of the stars of these holdings have been digitized and are now... Read more

A glimpse into Eastern European history through Lord Byron’s poem Mazeppa
Date posted: Thu June 18, 2020

In 1819, a prominent English poet of the Romantic period Lord George Byron (1788-1824) wrote a narrative poem about a Ukrainian historical figure Ivan Mazepa (1639-1709), who was little known to Western Europeans at the time. Over the course of the nineteenth century, Byron’s poem Mazeppaof which the Fisher library holds the ... Read more

IA Book of the Week: The Toronto Sunday World
Date posted: Mon June 15, 2020

Every Monday, we feature an Internet Archive Book of the Week, which will highlight an item from the 25,000 or so Fisher items that are freely available on the Internet Archive. This week, Samantha Summers picks up a Toronto newspaper from over 100 years ago.

The Toronto World, which was published daily between 1820 and 1921, was a famous Toronto newspaper. By... Read more

The Two Plagues of Procopius
Date posted: Fri June 12, 2020

The infamous outbreak of plague known as the Black Death, which swept through Europe from 1347 to 1351, was just the first in a series of such outbreaks that lasted until the 19th century. Taken together, this series is known as the second plague pandemic. But if this was the second, what was the first?

The first plague pandemic began nearly a thousand years before the second with the Plague of Justinian, which struck in 541-549. It is... Read more

IA Book of the Week: Central Italy and Rome: Handbook for Travellers
Date posted: Mon June 8, 2020

Every Monday, we feature an Internet Archive Book of the Week, which will highlight an item from the 25,000 or so Fisher items that are freely available on the Internet Archive. This week, Samantha Summers takes us to Italy

Having spent a few weeks in quarantine and largely confined to our homes, it is only natural that we might become preoccupied with thoughts of... Read more

The Legend, the Virgin, and the Censor: An English Reformation Mystery
Date posted: Fri June 5, 2020

Towards the end of the last century, during the few brief years that I spent teaching high school history, nothing heralded the long-awaited coming of summer vacation for me more than the annual erasing of the textbooks. On one glorious June day every year, students would sit in my class, pencil and ink erasers in hand, going page by page, removing (as far as possible) any annotations that they had made before returning the books to me... Read more

IA Book of the Week: The Poetry of Flowers and Flowers of Poetry
Date posted: Mon June 1, 2020

As a new month begins, it seems a good time to begin  a new feature on the Fisher Blog: An Internet Archive Book of the Week, which will highlight a book from the 25,000 or so Fisher items that are freely available on the Internet Archive. Our first, researched and written by one of the Fisher's TALInt students, Samantha Summers, looks at a book and a topic that is... Read more

Torah Manuscripts and Early Printings at the Fisher Library
Date posted: Wed May 27, 2020

At the end of this week, Jews around the world will be celebrating the holiday of Shavuot (Pentecost; literally: “weeks”). While in the Hebrew Bible Shavuot is primarily an agricultural holiday, marking the wheat harvest, Jewish tradition has come to identify its date (6 Sivan) as the day on which the Torah (the Pentateuch) was given to the Israelites on Mount Sinai (a date that is not specified in the Bible). Consequently, this holiday has... Read more

Stumbling Across “Scribling”
Date posted: Wed May 20, 2020

Going over some of the catalogue records in our general collections in preparation for the switch to a different library platform is an experience not entirely unlike walking through the stacks. While I can’t see the volumes themselves, going through the catalogue by call number, rather than title or subject as we are wont to do, offers a rough equivalent to the shelves beneath the Fisher’s reading room. Record by record, rather than volume... Read more

French Manuscripts at the Fisher (and a Little Springtime Cheer)
Date posted: Thu May 14, 2020

The Fisher has an excellent, and growing, collection of medieval manuscripts in French. Recent additions include: the earliest known copy of a French translation of the Secretum secretorum (MSS 01027), one of the most widely read works of the Middle Ages; a fine, and unusually large, copy of the Roman de la rose (MSS 07012); a beautifully illuminated copy of Clément Prinsault’s introduction to heraldry, the Traité de... Read more

The Otto Schneid “Treasure”
Date posted: Tue May 12, 2020

Exactly forty-six years ago today, on 12 May 1974, Otto Schneid passed away in Toronto. In 1998 Schneid’s widow, Miriam, donated his archive to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. The initial donation of 1998 was followed by two additional, smaller, installments of materials from his archive, in 1999 and in 2001. Miriam describes her late husband’s... Read more