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Speaker Series: 19th Century Postcards

April 26, 2018 - 19:00 - 21:00

SFDHS Speaker Series:
A History of 19th Century Canadian Postcards

The Smiths Falls & District Historical Society welcomes you to the latest installment of their annual heritage speaker series featuring Dr. Sarah McLean Knapp. On Thursday, April 26, Dr. Knapp will delve into the world of 19th century postcards and a discussion of early Canadian graphic arts.

“The postcard emerges as a mediator of modernity, a means to identify and possess the totality of the city at a time when it was in fact fragmented physically and socially” (Prochaska, D.; 2010, pp.xii).

The study of postcards provides insights into the history of graphic design and the curating of designed objects, collected as proof of our history. Historic postcards collections present us with a moment in time, which is both an industrial printed moment, as well as the social moment recorded on the card itself. It raises questions about collections (what has been formally collected by cultural institutions and what exists in old shoeboxes and drawers passed from one generation to the next). It also presents a glimpse at a historic social moment, what is remembered?

This presentation will introduce a snapshot of life in the thriving community of Smiths Falls in the 19th century through its printed ephemera. The discussion of postcards presents the industrial and activated lived history, focusing on the “cultural work the postcards perform” (Prochaska, D. 2010. Pp.xii). In the digital age of text messages and social media we will have a chance to consider the first form of quick disposable communication, one which has left artifacts.

Dr. Sarah McLean Knapp is a design theorist, historian and educator currently affiliated with Queen’s University, Kingston. McLean Knapp previously taught at OCAD University, Toronto, ECA, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland and the University of Brighton, Brighton, UK and has written extensively on pedagogy within higher education, specifically the teaching of design studies in Canada; and the role graphic design, illustration and branding plays within the lives of children. Her current research involves printed ephemera, specifically the design of postcards in the creation of the idea of the lived history of Smiths Falls, Ontario in the 19th century.

The meeting will be hosted at the Smiths Falls Heritage House Museum at 7:00 p.m, door opens at 6:30. Admission is $5.00 per person with free entry for those who are members of the Historical Society. The Historical Society has monthly meetings that focus on local achievements and events that draw on the experiences and memories of those who attend. Call 613-283-6311 for more information. Everyone is welcome!


April 26, 2018
19:00 - 21:00
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Smiths Falls Heritage House Museum
11 Old Slys Road
Smiths Falls, Ontario K7A 4T6 Canada
(613) 283-6311
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Smiths Falls Heritage House Museum
(613) 283-6311
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