Elspeth Brown,

Historian: markets, visual culture, gender, sexuality

The Family Camera

"The Family Camera" is a collaborative, community-based project at the intersection of photography and oral history. Beginning in 2016, our network of cultural institutions, researchers, digital librarians and archivists will develop the first multi-partner scholarly study of family photography as a critical building block for understanding self, family, community, and nation in Canada.

The project involves an ambitious three-part reseach program. First, the network will collect 70 oral histories and over 7000 accompanying family photographs. Partners in the network will collect materials from diasporic communities across Canada following World War II, capturing family photography at a moment of dramatic historical change. In the latter half of the twenteith century, diasporic communities were transformed through refugee policies, Cold War dislocations, family reunifications, LGBTQ marriage, and transnational adoptions. Family photos---and the many personal stories they anchor---are an important resource for understanding how such communities responded to these historical shifts.

Second, the Family Camera Network will build a digital platform that will make interviews and family photos available to scholars and the general public. Participants will also have the opportunity to preserve print artifacts at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

Third, in the later years of this program, we hope to lead a series of exhibitions and conferences in Toronto through the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives, the CONTACT Photography Festival, Ryerson University, and other cultural institutions. Through this collaboration, the Family Camera Network will strengthen Ontario as a vital hub for the study of photography, and set a new standard for the collection, preservation, presentation, and analysis of family photography.