Open Conference Service, TRY Library Staff Conference 2013

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Mad Men – Canadian Style: The Fritz Spiess Archival Collection
Brock Silversides, Rachel E. Beattie

Building: Alumni Hall
Room: Alumni 400
Date: 2013-05-07 02:00 PM – 02:40 PM
Last modified: 2013-04-05


Libraries matter more than ever in an age where the problem is not finding information but finding the most helpful information.  Libraries can stand apart from all the information on the web by providing important primary source material in their Special Collections and Archives.  Archival collections include information that, in some cases, is not even available in books. They can make important and unique information about our history available to researchers.

A perfect example of this value is the Media Commons Archive’s Fritz Spiess collection. Fritz Spiess was a German-Canadian photographer and cinematographer who was integral to the development of Canada’s advertising history. From 1951 when the Spiess family emigrated to Canada until his death in 1998, Fritz Spiess shot over 3,000 commercials for more than 300 advertisers, and he earned a number of national and international awards.  Spiess created these advertisements in the classic Mad Men era of Canadian advertising.  Like Don Draper and his associates, Spiess’s work had a strong impact on not only the burgeoning advertising industry but on how ordinary Canadians lived their lives through what products they were persuaded to buy. As such, the records that make up the collection are informative but also very entertaining look back into our consumer history. The Fritz Spiess collection is made up of completely unique photographs, text, film and video items that show the story of not only one of Canada’s foremost photographers and cinematographers, but also of the evolution of Canadian advertising.  Through an examination and demonstration of the highlights of Spiess’s collection, Media Commons’ archivists Brock Silversides and Rachel E. Beattie will demonstrate the rich research and entertainment potential in archival collections.