Digital History - Histoire Numérique

Browse Exhibits (21 total)

Hollywood and the Cosmetics Industry in the Early 20th Century


This exhibit has been created to track the relationship between the bourgeoning cosmetics industry in relation to Hollywood and its celebrity culture in the early 20th century. From nearly its inception the film industry formed a symbiotic relationship with the cosmetics industry. Hollywood studios needed cosmetics to make-up their performers, and the cosmetics companies began to use their working relationship to market their products to the female consumer. Starting in the 1910s, as film became a more popular form of entertainment for the masses, cosmetics advertisements in magazines and newspapers began to grow in not only quantity but size, changing from small ads in the corners of the back pages to half or full-page advertisements. The amount of advertisements and actress endorsements of beauty products only continued to increase during the prosperous 1920s, as the film industry became increasingly popular. During the 1930s, cosmetics were cemented as essential for women, thus despite the Depression the market continued to prosper. By the 1940s, the new standard of femininity and female beauty centred around the use of cosmetics was solidified in American culture.

This exhibit will also explore the history of women as consumers of these beauty products. In the 19th century, the "painted woman" was a symbol of immorality, prostitution, and undesirability. The period studied in this exhibit covers the complete change in public opinion on women's use of cosmetics. It is important to note that the 'average American woman' that these companies were advertising to were by no means representative of all women across the United States. The primary consumer of these cosmetics, especially in the 1910s and 1920s as the mass market was being established, were white, American-born, middle and upper-class women. The consumption of cosmetics was also largely confined to large cities until the market reached a certain level of popularity and branched into smaller towns and rural areas in the 30s and 40s.

The ideal of the "New Woman" emerged at the end of the 19th century, but really started to take hold in the 1910s. The "New Woman" was more independent and pushed the boundaries of the male-dominated society. Hollywood's film stars were the role models for this new ideal, and became sources of inspiration and subjects for American women to emulate. As such, screen actresses became the beauty influencers of the period.


I am using Omeka to create this exhibit because it is the best tool to help me incorporate all of the visual sources I have found in my research. With a topic that is so centred around visual culture, using a platform that highlights visual aids is essential. 

Female Voices: Service with a Smile

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The subject of my research is telephone service advertisements from the 1940s to the 1960s. I have chosen this subject because initially, I had not thought that gender would be a pertinent part of telephone advertisements, but I quickly discovered that that was not the case. The differences between how men and women are portrayed in these advertisements reflect the gender roles of the time which were that women were meant to be housewives and their husbands were meant to be the breadwinner. Women were also meant to keep a friendly demeanour whereas men were encouraged to be bold and assertive. The stark differences between the portrayal of the genders in advertisements for this service are very fascinating and why I have decided to research this topic.

Using Omeka

I have decided to create an Omeka exhibit for my final project because it is an excellent way to share textual information with visual aids; it is a much more engaging format than a research paper with an annex for images. I also liked using Omeka because it is an easy way to share additional information that does not necessarily fit within the main corpus but is still valuable information. This has been a great opportunity for me to learn how to create a gallery such as this one because I now have the necessary skills to do this again or something similar for future projects. 

A Husband for the Kitchen:​ The Development and Advertising​ of Kitchen Stoves in Early Twentieth Century Canada​

This exhibit looks at looking at stoves, also known as kitchen ranges, during the first half of the 20th century for what design improvements were made and how they were advertised to women. The focus of this is understanding how gender has influenced the development of stoves. This will be done by looking at improvements made in the first half of the twentieth century and the advertisements that displayed these changes. Looking specifically at print advertisements between the 1910s and 1930s I looked at how companies were pandering to consumers and what they were focusing on as key selling points. After going through this exhibit, I hope you can gain some insight into the ways that gender is a part of our everyday lives including the creation of items we use every day.

Below is a table of contents where you can peruse the project in its entirety, or just focus on the sections that you are interested in.

Material Culture in Volleyball: Developments Throughout the 20th Century

Ever since the sport of volleyball was created my William Morgan in 1895, developments have rapidly advanced as the sport has gained notoriety around the world. 

This exhibit will be organized into 3 separate volleyball "eras" throughout the 20th century. First, we will explore some of the rules and terminology used to gain a better understanding of the sport. We will also look at individual equipment pieces that saw changes with the introduction of new rules and strategies.


This era, which includes the year volleyball was introduced in America, sees a very elementary version of the sport with few technological considerations. Early introduction to strategy in the 1920s and early 30s allowed for some players to excel both on court and sand. It is during this time that the sport would also see introduction to European countries and Canada, with the latter seeing an introduction in Ontario through the YMCA. 


In this period volleyball was beginning to gain notoriety in North America and Europe. The second world war saw the spread of the sport on beaches where the US Navy would play games during breaks in their duties spreading it to locals. After the war, in 1947, the Federation Internationale de Volleyball was created which would govern the many international tournaments to occur in the following years leading to today.


This final period sees volleyball evolving to the point as we acknowledge it today. The drastic evolution of strategy and international tournaments created the volleyball market which attributed to its massive growth. Additionally, by the end of the century, we see a more universal set of norms for both male and female players regarding uniform and play.


The last section will be attributed to specific pieces of equipment in volleyball by exploring the purposes of their development throughout the years and other important information.

A Company Town: More Than its Heart of Gold

This exhibit covers the role of the mining trade in the creation of Northern Ontario culture. Looking at Timmins, Ontario, we can examine the variety of influences that mining companies have held in the creation of local cultures through the deep integration of the mining trade in these towns. Looking at aspects like architecture, art, and the landscape, this exhibit will show exactly how mining companies have integrated themselves, not only into people’s lives for work, but also into the way they live.  

I would like to acknowledge that this exhibit was created on the unceded, unsurrendered Territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation. The majority of the content of this exhibit also is featured on Treaty 9 territory, the traditional territory of Ojibway/Chippewa, Oji-Cree, Mushkegowuk (Cree), Algonquin. Colonialism is an important element to keep in mind for this project, especially as it intersects with capitalism in company towns. Steven High describes this in their book, One Job Town, as the following:  

“If you look at the communities in Northern Ontario – if you go right to Hearst, to Kap[uskasing], to Smooth Rock Falls, to Cochrane, to Timmins – you go all the way down the corridor. In each of the communities, they were colonized by the mill coming in and all of that. But the point of the mill was not to colonize. The point of the mill was to make money. It was part of the capitalist system. And the capitalist system, certainly, has a diminutive power on its principals, on the people, on the worker bees, but that is just how our society works. We are not egalitarian in any sense of the word. Nor should we even think that we ever were.”(1) 

Though I am not emphasizing or trying to tell a specifically indigenous narrative, this perspective is always present in the underlying theme of companies' colonial impact in Northern Ontario.


  1. High, Steven C. One Job Town: Work, Belonging, and Betrayal in Northern Ontario. Toronto [Ontario]: University of Toronto Press, 2018.

The Early Days of Women in Curling



If you have been curling long enough you eventually get good enough to teach curling. When you are doing a learn to curl some of the first questions you will get is what do I need to bring? the answer to this is always the same, clean flat shoes and stretchy pants. Oh, and absolutely no jeans either or you will have an uncomfortable experience. The thing is when you look at these old photos of women in their curling gear often, they are breaking these suggesting we give today. The women in these photos are wearing heeled boots and long skirts. From a modern perspective, this would seem impossible attire to curl in. Today seasoned curlers wear shoes designed especially for curling and thick yoga pant. How could these women curl in heeled boots and long skirts? It is questions like this that will be answered. The goal is to investigate what it was like to be a women curler in Canada around the late 1800s to early 1900s.

War Art is Worth a Thousand Histories

Welcome to the exhibit “War Art is Worth a Thousand Histories”  

This exhibit reinterprets the classic saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” to display war art as being worth a thousand histories. Woven into each of the paintings featured in this exhibit are histories pertaining to the artists that created them, the individuals and materials depicted, the days and moments leading up to the event depicted, and the lifelong memories of war preserved years and decades afterwards.

This exhibit explores an important element of Canadian material history through a digital medium. Canadian World War I Art was created to preserve the Great War in Canadian memory and eternally honour those who served to protect our nation. This Omeka exhibit features 12 out of 1000 pieces of war art created as a result of the Canadian War Memorials Fund. 

Canada was the first allied country to establish a commission for war art at the beginning of WWI. As a result, talented Canadian artists dedicated their life's work to depicting the Canadian experience during WWI both on the battlefront and the homefront. This exhibit gathers a sample of Canada’s greatest WWI artworks and details the historical significance of each piece. Viewers can explore a variety of war art depicting both men and women on the Western Front and the Home Front.

The Western Front: 

In the first section, viewers can explore art depicting war at sea, war on the land, war in the air, and war from the perspective of horses. Within each of these categories, viewers will be presented with two unique pieces which were specifically chosen to compare and contrast the artistic and personal historical qualities of each artist as well as the historical significance embedded in each piece itself. 

Women at War:

This section intends to highlight the important and difficult roles that women played both on the home front and the battle front. Three paintings are featured in this section. Each painting pays tribute to either a female artist and/or women depicted in the paintings themselves. Female war artists faced much adversity during the early 20th century. Women breaking into the art industry faced many obstacles and were expected to paint only certain themes that conformed to societal standards. This section will demonstrate the ways in which brave female artists broke these barriers and found success.   

Ultimately, this exhibit will leave viewers with an enriched view and understanding of the historical significance of material history in the form of WWI Art.

Cookbooks of Ontario: A Century of Soup

Over a century ago, cookbooks were around in Ontario, but they were much different from today. Browse this collection to see different soup recipes from 1831 to 1935 from Toronto to Parry Sound. Take a read through these pages to learn more about soup in Ontario during the 19th and 20th centuries. 

White Paper/Red Paper Exchange: Indigenous Resistance and Activism between the 1960s and 1980s

A discussion of the White Paper/Red Paper Exchange and how this impacted the emergence of Indigenous political and legal activism on a national scale within Canada and an international scale in the United States and parts of Europe, between the late 1960s and early 1980s.

“Neither Black nor White” : Metis and ‘Half-Caste’ in Photography