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An exceptional volume of donations and new projects results in a record year for Concordia’s Records Management and Archives

More than 6,000 unique items were added to the university’s collection in 2023
December 14, 2023
By Eric Côté and John Richan

Archival photo of a river and a village beyond Photo of Fogo Island, Newfoundland taken during a research trip for a film on artist Geoff Butler, P0290-02-0042, Concordia Archives.

2023 was an unusually busy year for Concordia Records Management and Archives (RMA), thanks to the many archival donations received and projects initiated. Eric Côté is an archivist and John Richan is a digital archivist in the department. They prepared this summary of the past 12 months at RMA.

At Concordia Records Management and Archives, archivists work to ensure the ongoing preservation of unique material that is generously donated to Concordia.

The goal is to make these materials accessible to the public for future consultation and research.

RMA ensures each archival fonds is described with key details, so researchers have an idea of the material available at a glance.

To this end, this past year RMA helped support researchers from around the world by responding to more than 148 requests!

RMA’s digital transformation continued with ongoing digital preservation work. The team uploaded over 6,000 unique items to our Internet Archive collection. In total, over 90,000 item views have been recorded by RMA.

This year, RMA received many interesting archival donations from the community. Full descriptions of the fonds mentioned below are located in RMA’s online catalogue. All are available for consultation.

Generous Donations

In 2022, contemporary artist Pnina Gagnon donated material on behalf of her late husband, scholar François-Marc Gagnon. Gagnon was the founding director of the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art.

Archivists at RMA processed Gagnon’s archives during the first half of 2023. Processing these records offered unique insight into the former Concordia professor’s mind.

Archival images of an older gentleman and his wife and a page of text. LEFT: The late François-Marc Gagnon and his wife, contemporary artist Pnina Gagnon at the Governor General’s Awards ceremony in 2002, P0280-02-0034, Concordia Archives. RIGHT: Text for a presentation given in Ottawa in 1986, P0280 François-Marc Gagnon fonds, Concordia Archives.

Located within the fonds are manuscripts, texts of presentations delivered in France, Israel and the United States, correspondence, course materials and reference documentation. Themes of First Peoples’ iconography, the history of ancient art as well as contemporary art in Quebec are common throughout the donated material.

In the spring of 2023, RMA was fortunate to receive the archives of poet, playwright, translator, humanist and Concordia distinguished professor emeritus of English Henry Beissel.

The Henry Beissel fonds consists of over 40 boxes. It includes material related to Beissel’s writings, such as manuscripts of his poetry and plays as well as essays and novels. The fonds also contains his translations of German and Chinese writers, most notably Walter Bauer and Peter Huchel. Additionally, it also contains:

Archival posters theatre workshops by artist Henry Beissel LEFT: Poster for Crying out Loud by Henry Beissel, a Char-Lan Theatre Workshop presentation on June 4 and 5, 1975, P0287 Henry Beissel fonds, Concordia Archives. RIGHT: Poster for Where Shall the Birds Fly? by Henry Beissel with Joan Heney and Philip Spensley presented at the Vanier Library Auditorium of Concordia University on March 16, 1988, P0287 Henry Beissel fonds, Concordia Archives.

Film director, cinematographer and part-time instructor at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema Martin Duckworth also donated his archives to RMA in 2023.

Duckworth’s archival material consists of correspondence, notes, film processing files, reference documentation and photos related to the development of the many films he worked on between 1975 and 2017.

The Duckworth fonds also contains over 120 audiovisual items housed on VHS, MiniDV tapes and optical media.

The Philip Szporer fonds is also now available for public consultation.

This material sheds light on Szporer’s professional life as a filmmaker, journalist and part-time instructor at the Department of Contemporary Dance and the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability.

The Szporer fonds includes correspondence, press clippings, promotional material, course outlines and other teaching materials.

Ingrid Bachmann, professor in the Department of Studio Arts, sent RMA her archives in the beginning of the summer of 2023.

Bachmann’s fonds consists of material related to the many artistic projects she initiated: notes, video scripts, promotional materials and press clippings related to Fault Lines, Digital Crustaceans or Nomad Web installations, among others.

The fonds also includes some of her teaching materials such as course outlines and assignment directives.

The family of the late Barry Frank, former professor in the Department of Physics, reached out to RMA to donate some of Frank’s material earlier this year.

Included in the donation are copies of the many articles he’d written between 1969 and 1997 and copies of his master’s and doctoral theses.

Sister Prudence Allen also sent us additional material to add to her fonds: new texts for presentations and lectures, copies of her newest publications and other miscellaneous items. An effort was also made by Records Management and Archives in 2023 to digitize and upload to our Internet Archive some items from this collection.

The Prudence Allen fonds offers a unique perspective on the intersectionality of religion, philosophy, sexuality and feminism.

The George Rudé fonds, the Howard Fink fonds, the Kurt Jonassohn fonds as well as the Frank R. Chalk fonds have benefitted from further processing. The descriptions of these fonds are now more detailed and preservation measures have been taken on fragile items.

A selection of documents from these fonds has been digitized and added to our Internet Archive Private Fonds collection.

Institutional Memory

RMA plays a key role in preserving the university’s memory. RMA ensures that Concordia’s records management program is followed and records with historical value are preserved according to the best practices.

Many units transferred their historical records over to RMA this year. The Department of History fonds and the Department of Religion and Cultures fonds have both benefitted from generous transfers, helping us to further complete our newsletter and posters collections.

Archival posters for religion courses in the 1970s LEFT: Poster for the History of Ukrainians in the Old and New World course from 1978, I0054 Department of History fonds, Concordia Archives. RIGHT: Poster from 1978 announcing graduate programmes in the Department of Religion, I0097 Department of Religions and Cultures, Concordia Archives.

The Concordia Archives has also added more videos to our YouTube channel. Among the 200 videos available, one video of the Henry F. Hall Building’s construction is sure to catch attention. Digitized from 8 mm film, the 29-minute capsule offers a silent yet lively view of an important moment in Concordia’s history.

RMA also continued its collaboration with the McGill University School of Information Studies this autumn. The RMA Digital Preservation Lab welcomed 39 graduate-level students to participate in an experiential learning opportunity with a corresponding assignment.

This work has helped RMA with migrating Concordia’s digitized archival audio collection from optical media carriers into a standards-based preservation environment.

Coming in 2024

With more than 12,000 digital items available, the Internet Archive collection will be expanded even further in 2024. RMA is hoping to complete the digitization of Concordia yearbooks and add more issues of its newsletters.

RMA received historically valuable transfers from Concordia University Television (CUTV) and the Department of Recreation and Athletics. Members of the RMA team say they are looking forward to pushing the processing of these materials further.

RMA also received a first donation from Maïr Verthuy, distinguished professor emerita of the Département d’études françaises, and made an important addition to the Clarence S. Bayne fonds.

Both collections will be available for consultation in spring 2024.

To make an appointment to consult the fonds mentioned above, please write to

To donate archives, visit the RMA’s donating to archives webpage.

Learn more about Concordia’s history via 
the university’s Archives and Special Collections Shared Catalogue, a joint project of Records Management and Archives and the Concordia Library’s Special Collections.


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