Geolocating Old Images of Montreal: The Power of Partnerships in Digital Humanities
Like many other similar institutions, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) is considering the best approach for users to access its collections. As it turns out, the traditional tools for documentary research do not always meet the needs of users. As such, geolocating the content of museums, archives and libraries is a promising avenue.
Jean-François Palomino is a map librarian and a coordinator at Direction de la recherche et de la diffusion des collections, BAnQ. He will present a research project in digital humanities that aims to make old images of Montreal more accessible.
This project focuses on a unique collection of images, and a collection of urban images that belonged to an archivist and librarian named Edouard-Zotique Massicotte (1867–1947). As a great enthusiast for history and heritage, he collected over 6,000 images of Montreal, classified by street name, over a period of forty years. Bequeathed to the Saint-Sulpice Library in 1915 and now kept at the National Archives in Montreal, this collection includes newspaper clippings, excerpts from books and brochures, postcards as well as photographs taken by Massicotte himself during his walks through the city. These images depict various facets of Montreal from the 1850s to 1915, including the architectural landscape of the time, which is sometimes difficult to recognize today.
Through a collaboration project between BAnQ, Laboratoire d’histoire et de patrimoine de Montréal, and Université du Québec à Montréal, two mapping interfaces were designed, one for the staff and interns at BAnQ to geolocate images, and the other one for users to find images. This project was facilitated by the prior georeferencing of Montreal’s fire insurance plans, which are remarkably accurate.
The session is an opportunity to discover the potential of the tools used, the project background, the role of the partners involved, and the progress up to date.